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Least Stressful Jobs of 2013 - 9. Librarian


A peaceful atmosphere and unlimited access to literature makes librarian a welcoming career option for the bookish. Librarians have many careers paths at schools, colleges and universities, city/county funded libraries and in corporate research.








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Not the average...

Im a Prison Librarian....#stressfull

"Most Stressful?" Give me a break!

As an ICU nurse, I got pretty pissed off that one person wrote being a librarian "belongs on the most stressful list". I'm sure you have stresses in your job, but it seems like the majority of the things people are complaining about are present in ANY job where you are working with the public. I'm sure working in an inner city library is more stressful than working in a small town library, but you'd have the same issues with ANY other job. Off the top  of my head I can think of TONS of careers that belong on the most stressful list above a librarian, so lets not exaggerate.

Deadlines, targets, greed and rejection. Try it

Based on the amount of time you had free to write this I would personally agree website website that you have an easy life.  Try being an energy analyst/consultant in the world of business.  Why don't you spend your abundance of free time researching the calamity that is the energy market. Try being a negotiater for 100's of companies in a market saturated by greed and spending half your day calling 100's of more businesses to find the person that takes care of the energy management ment to build leads and begin the whole process again.  I understand you do more than count boold and sort them but your blind if you think you have it harder than other people.

Not Stressful

For the most part this job is not stressful at all. I have had a multitude of positions in various fields. Bottom line. You have to deal with the public in most jobs. They are dumb, drunk, rude, and illogical. But sometimes they can be kind, thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring.Working for a library was way better than working in a heavily quotaed, very political, stilted corporate America (what most of us work in).  There are these things called "resposibilities" in almost evey job.  

Are You Kidding Me?

First off, where did you get your salary figure? I have 10 years of professional experience, and an MLIS and make $34,000. Librarianship isn't stressful? For this substandard pay, I plan programs for youth and teens, including a weekly storytime 9 months out of the year. I staff 2 reference desks, and occasionally the circulation desk. I deal with the rude, the drunk, the drugged, and the mentally ill. I deal with computer problems, e-reader questions, unattended children, deadbeat parents, and cleaning up after patrons who think I am their mother. Understaffing, budget cuts and demanding patrons make my job very stressful. Sometimes I regret getting my library degree.

I'd love to be a librarian!

It's not stress-free, but working PT as a circ. clerk, I enjoyed the combination of customer service and strategy that goes into running a library.  However, there are VERY FEW library jobs and VERY MANY applicants for them.  It takes a Master's Degree and often, relocation to find a career in the library.  This is kind of a "dream job" for academic types, which means it's tough to come by. 

I Could Not Agree More

There is even a hashtag for #librarianproblems on Twitter...take a close look and you will find out how stressful the job really is.


Glad to see this comment.  I'm pursuing an undergrad in history right now, and will then get my MLIS.  I have worked at a library for about a year as a work-study, and it was awesome.  Now, I'm in Financial Aid -- OMG -- talk about STRESS!

Is this salary for

Is this salary for librarian's for real??

You are all cry babies.

If i've learned anything from this, it's that everyone hates their job.

Is this criticism or the

Is this criticism or the start of an essay?

YOU ARE SO RIGHT! I'm on the

YOU ARE SO RIGHT! I'm on the ref desk right now!

Get thee to a library!

Libraries are awesome and have much to offer for all, terriffic resources and programs. Seriously, CareerCast, you need to check out some libraries, then you'd see the truth about the awesomeness AND the incredible challenges and job stress librarians must cope with.


This really pisses me off! Walk into any academic library and the stress levels of the staff are through the roof! What goes on behind the scenes is nothing like a member of the public would imagine.

Libraries/Librarians must combat this stereotype

As has already been outlined here by so many astute librarians, CareerCast's cursory analysis of what it is like to be a librarian is certainly lost in a sort of 1950s stereotype. Nevertheless it demonstrates how totally active and current and potent this stereotype continues to be. The "serene, peaceful" idea of libraries and librarians as being primarily bookish people who husband a primarily book collection is pretty much kicking our collective ass right now... Even though this is "only an idea" with almost no connection to the current reality of libraries nationwide, that idea is powerful and having a sweeping effect. Even though folks who actually use libraries know that such a serene "peaceful" picture of the library-world is ridiculous--- it is the continued existence of that stereotype in the cultural and especially political mindscape that is knocking us back (libraries=books, librarians=bun wearing, kindly (or passive-aggressive) "housewives of the collection").... This stereotype has been perpetrated so thoroughly that once we start to question the continued existence of the printed book as the main vehicle or platform for knowledge and stories, those who are operating from that stereotype naturally question the need for libraries and librarians---thus you get budget cuts and layoffs at precisely the moment when library use is climbing sky high....  But who and what perpetuate this stereotype? Perhaps in some ways we all do?Even authors who should know better like J.K Rowling, continue to propagate this stereotype (think Madame Pince, grumpy, controlling, and mean spirited in the Harry Potter books; her patrons must sneak around her or even break into the library at night in order to gain access to the materials they need). Yet at the core of every stereotype there is usually at least a thin sliver of truth---as organizations and individuals we must always ask ourselves if we are truly about access (on whatever platform)---and not just preservation/control---- and yet, that said----in most libraries librarians are absolutely dedicated to access! So dedicated that we do indeed in some cases put our lives on the line working with all comers to provide that access! The reality we are saddled with is that just at the moment when this old stereotype is truly outdated, its effects in the cultural arena are threatening the continued existence of libraries in a very real way. When politicians cut funding because they don't know or undstand the importance of libraries to the community and when parts of the community; especially middle or upper class strata ignore the library as though it could offer no service valuable to them---we are allowing, as a nation, that outdated idea of libraries to continue to have its narrow and outdated effect...

Yes to most stressfull!

I'm with you.  Stress, we got!  You forgot to mention the mystery poop found in odd places. But then again, I didn't enter the proffession because I wanted a relaxing, boring job.

Consider relativity please...

I am a librarian (#9 least stressful), and my husband falls under enlisted military personnel (#1 most stressful).  I would completely concur that his job is vastly more stressful than mine. There are always elements such as hours, location, unique events and problems, funding, and groups of people (coworkers/administration) that can contribute to higher or lower stress levels for individuals within the gamut of any given field. I would suggest that people remember that this is comparing general stressors across many fields to determine where a field falls in relation to other fields.  Any and every job can be stressful...but counting ones blessings can make it a little less stressful. 

Belongs on the MOST Stressful list

Try working with the mentally ill, homeless, drunk, and the verbally abusive.   Try working nights and weekends for no extra pay week in, week out.  Try having no control over your daily schedule and being sceduled for the public service desk at different times each day on the whim of someone who will give himself a much lighter load.  Try being responsible for finding, immediately, info and comprehensive answers to any and all possible questions in the areas of oh, ALL human knowledge for all of history using a depleted collection, questions asked by patrons both in person and simultaneously by phone while also acting as security guard, switchboard operator, maintenance man, traffic cop, psychiatric social worker, office supply denier (sorry, we don't have any White Out, envelopes, folders, highlighters, stamps, etc), detective (sorry, sir, that book was not in any of the places I looked), mind reader ("Get me book with the red cover, you know, the one with 'the' in the title), IT troubleshooter and more.   Try working with a Board of Trustees who have ultimate control but have Never worked in a library, and management with very little to no training,experience, or oversight. Stress? Who, us?

Makes me wonder which branch you manage.

Still, a very rewarding career when you can provide the services, the directors are fighting for you, and the tax base is solid. You could be working in a prison library, they also suffer.  Keep it up.

Another myth bites the dust!

Thanks for this truthful albeit hilarious rendition of a boring day in the life of a stress-less librarian!

Oh, I don't think so...

I would be interested in knowing what sources CareerCast used to arrive at this conclusion and provide the information. I cannot believe there were very many librarians in the mix.

Any public service job is stressful!

I must add to the pileup of contrary comments about the stress levels of librarians.  As a public library director, I have been dealing with a revenue decline of over 30% in the past 5 years; an inability to hire anyone who retires or leaves for another job; telling all my part time workers that their hours have been cut in half indefinitely; increased use; angry patrons due to not only the usual complaints but now shortened public service hours; stinky homeless patrons with nowhere else to go and you want to say this is an unstressful job?!?
And it isn't just the directors who are stressed - there are few jobs out there, they pay less than a teacher's salary, job security is shakier than it's ever been in 100 years.  We have two part time MLS degreed librarians who had their corporate library positions cut to half time, each after having been on those jobs for over 15 years. 
Add in the concerns about ebooks, downloadable audiobooks, streaming music and movies...In the past it might have been serene, but not now.

Let me prove our worth

Let's see in a public library, I've had to confront a drunk patron with a machete... the woman working by herself next door at the dry cleaner's had her head bashed in with a rock, she was raped and beaten. Trying calming staff and patrons down after that one. There are daily encounters with the mentally ill, homeless, and/or lonely. If the library is any good, everyone is working their tails off because so many people are using it. Library work that makes my heart sing (I agree that fulfilling work does lessen stress), but to say we're not stressed because we have "access to literature" implies we sit around reading all day.Instead, let me prove our value. I would ask you to figure out exactly what you pay for your library services annually. Figure out how much you and your family would have to check out to get exactly double your money back each year. Too easy? (I know!) OK, how about triple the value of your investment? (Still too easy to do? (I know!!). How about quadruple times your yearly investment?What were you saying again? About librarians not being stressed? We're working and loving every minute of it. But we may be stressed. 

I disagree with this less stressful post

The better educated public knows better than to set foot in a public library. People smell. Mostly homeless hangout in the downtown locations. Hordes of children whose parents have no money for childcare cram into the library every week day hogging the computers for games yelling and cursing (and that's the elementary school kids). People demand to know why you can't pull a specific book out of your ass RIGHT NOW! BECAUSE I PAY YOUR SALARY DAMN IT! Old people who can't see or are illiterate want you to enter sensitive information about them on the computer for them. No one over the age of 60 that comes to the library knows how to use a mouse. Children ask you for food every five minutes. People think that you can do their taxes for them for free when you can't even do your own taxes. Don't even get me started on summer reading. That's three months of nonstop summer fun where I drink a bottle of wine every day and cry myself to sleep. THATS how low stress my job is as a librarian. And not dangerous! My friend was held up at gun point three times in one year at different branches of a public library. Why? Because crazy people like to frequent libraries as in "I'm off my meds..let's go to the library! and take a gun..."

Sorry, can't agree with your comment!

How I wish what you have said were true. I have worked as a para-professional librarian in a public library for almost 20 years. Though I've never seen anyone die here, I have seen many patrons carted off in ambulences for one reason or another. I've had to call the guards on many occasion when I have felt threatened by out of control patrons and have even called the police myself to come and break up fights when they were beyond the ability of our guards to control. Most of our staff is hired as part timers so that the library (County run) does not have to offer ANY benefits. The part time staff must find their own health insurance, and we receive no vacation or sick day pay.  We all only put up with this stuff because we love libraries, and we love what we do when our patrons show appreciation for our services.

library land

Bookish individuals do not perform well in the public library; it's all about the people!  people of all stripes, all looking for what they need, what they want, and they want it right now!  And we expect them to pay fines?  Pay for damaged books?  What nonsense.  Yes there is stress, and stress aplenty.  We welcome all--and all will include mentally ill, physically ill, out of sorts, out of medication--all kinds of people.If someone works in a non profit, taxpayer supported institution, one that welcomes all comers, there will be stress.  Get real, please!  And we haven't even spoken of the lack of a reeasonable budget, low pay, poor management, unqualified board members, etc.

no one dies in a library....

You are wrong.  The first day I started at an academic library a man overdosed in a bathroom.  In the 20 plus years I've worked in libraries, staff members have dropped dead at their desk, visitors have died of heart attacks, staff have been physically threatened by patrons, patrons have been attacked by other patrons.  We see it all.  Prostitution, drugs, lice, bed bugs, urination in the elevators, poop running down someone's pants leg all over the floor, children throwing up on the carpet - you name it we've seen it in our libraries.  This daily stress on top of constant budget cuts every year, seeing our valuable co-workers get laid off and their work dumped in our laps, taking work home because we don't have time to do it all "while on the clock".  Don't get us wrong, for the most part we love our jobs and the people we serve but stress free it is not!Branch Manager, Tacoma Washington.

not quite right!

This very much depends on the library you work in - I personally know a few librarians, and they have seen deaths, robberies and had the police involved on many occasions due to threats to their personal safety. Libraries are open to everyone and provide free internet/IT access. This means they are often full of very dodgy characters, particularly in some of the poorest urban areas. Libraries now are used by a wide range of social groups, certainly not just the better educated.
The "independent business person" is a totally meaningless statement too, as this covers such a wide variety of different roles (self-employed window cleaner, stock trader, book publisher). 

Danger in the library

People do die in libraries, they also deal drugs, and get in fights. If you're lucky as a library worker, you have security on hand, if you aren't you get to deal with it yourself until the cops can arrive. And the non-violent people? Let me tell you about the time a grown woman pooped herself and then proceeded to sit on ALL OF THE SEATS...

From an irritated Librarian

As a public librarian I need to say that you are completely CLUELESS about what we do.  First of all, we work with the public.  ANY job that deals with the public on a daily basis should not be on any least stressful job list.  Second, how long has it been since you've been in a public library?  Because the way it is being described as this quiet place filled with books - it hasn't been like that in a decade (plus the comment about books not talking back is asinine).  Libraries are not "quiet" places anymore (instead there are designated quiet areas) and they aren't just filled with books.  There are meeting rooms, and DVDs, and Music CDs, and magazines/newspapers, and programs going on constantly for people of all ages, and there are loads and loads of computers which require loads and loads of maintenance and support.  We have over 500 people per day come through our doors and the majority of them need some sort of assistance.  And I'll tell you this, when I can't find the book or DVD or periodical or get the digital item that my patron wants - it IS my problem.  And last but not least, with the attack on public workers going on in this country and particularly in my state of Wisconsin, the last thing you can call our jobs right now are "least-stressful".  Our jobs are in peril of being eliminated and we need to prove ourselves continuously.

Less stressful?

As a retired air traffic controller working in a public lirary, I disagree with your evaluation. Come to a public lirary in a moderately-sized town with a state prison, state mental hospital, county jail, area training/job facility for the developmentally challenged all within 25 miles, at a downtown location convenient to several missions, with free electricity to recharge powerchairs and electronic devices and sit and observe for a while. Besides assisting our patrons with their literary and research needs, we also watch over, mediate, and maintain the peace while performing many of the duties mentioned by other commenters. I still love my job. It's less stress than air traffic control. And there are those moments when a patron is just totally pleased for our help in finding information, or a book, and their gratitude is what makes my day.

Less Stressful

No one dies at a library.  No one is in danger of losing limbs.  The public which uses libraries tend to be a better educated group than the general public.  And there is a decent (not great but decent) paycheck every payday with full benefits.  Yes a job in a library is much less stressful than a doctor, police, or even an independent business person.

Working in the public eye

  • Working in the public eye 5
  • Physical demands (stoop, climb, etc.) 10
  • Hazards encountered 5
  • Own life at risk 6
  • Life of another at risk 10
  • Meeting the public 8

Those are my scores for librarian.I put a 6 for "own life at risk" because, unlike some of my colleagues, I have come very close but not been physically assaulted yet.

REALLY??? I thought the 10.58

REALLY??? I thought the 10.58 stress level was out of 10! I have to say the salary level is pretty accurate at least from where I work, but seems to go astray from there. I was an elementary school librarian for 11 years with excellent evaluations when I was given two buildings to cover for two years and then moved to the middle school as well as having my position cut to half time. I was  never lucky enough to have any clerical help  when I was responsible for planning and teaching 35 classes as well as being responsible for teaching all staff how to use any technology our district purchased and was responsible for all clerical, admin, teaching, janitorial duties. lI did and still do love my job, but stress free????? Has this reviewer not looked at a news source in the past ten years??? 

I love my academic library

I love my academic library job, but yes it is very stressful...I also had to fight very hard for it. My advice to anyone out there reading this is to ask yourself how much are you willing to give up for your dream job.

Are you kidding?

Sounds like folks from CareerCast haven't stepped foot in a library since the 1950s.  Public libraries today are about bringing people together; the days of shushing people are long gone, and we are the crossroads of all society.
That said, my day includes dealing with any of the following in a variety of combinations: unreal demands from the public, breaking up arguments and fights over internet stations, unannounced visits by 60 grade 2 kids, individuals with behavioural issues (mental illness or other), keeping up websites, FB, Twitter, scheduling, payroll, staff training, annual reports, performance reviews, blowing breakers (old building), water seepage in basement, returned material that is wet, mouldy, has body fluid on it, preparing for and presenting public programs, visiting schools, planning summer programs, buying juvenile materials (all formats) for 8 branches, monitoring 39 budget lines, attending staff and committee meetings.  I spend time every day keeping up with new publications, review journals of books, DVDs, CDs, computer games (School Library Journal contains hundreds of reviews), professional development materials, and listservs.  Weeding the collection takes hours of work, coupled with determining which titles need to be reordered.
I've had a knife pulled on me, I've dealt with drunks, gang members, and drug dealers, and will give my time of day to any teen who needs someone to lend them an ear (this has included runaways, victims of abuse, homeless kids, all of whom find a safe and warm refuge through our doors.)  And then there's the ones that think sex in the library is okay.
Then there are the job cuts, full-time positions being converted to part-time, poor salaries (librarians have master's degrees), and work is constantly offloaded from management onto the rest of the staff.  Training opportunities are generally few.
In short, I love my job, and I love what the public library stands for.  Descriptions such as that presented on CareerCast do librarians and library workers a great disservice by reinforcing stereotypes about libraries.  We already have too much to deal with to need that added aggravation.

Problems DEFINITELY equate to less stress...

SERIOUSLY!!!! I wonder where they distributed their surveys!  Academic librarians, public library librarians, corporate librarians, information knowledge managers, deans of libraries, directors of libraries, and other library-related positions are all very stressful! Having to deal with angry library users who swore they brought the book/s back; having to deal with the students who refuse to pay their fines; having to deal with the homeless who defecate (this really happened) near the computers; having to deal with administrators who don't believe in using quality resources to increase information literate studentS; having to deal with vendors who charge an arm and two legs for electronic access to ebooks and databases; having to deal with library users who scream and cry on the phone to staff who try to help solve research crises --- all these problems and issues most definitely make libraries the least stressful places to work. 


Spoken like a true librarian. :)

Is it just me, or is it odd

Is it just me, or is it odd that those stacks don't have call numbers on the book spines? 

LOL Not so peaceful in my library!

No stress? Yea, try dealing with faculty who think you are there to compile all their research FOR them, students who want you to hand feed them assignment answers without doing any work themselves, no money from school administration to maintain or expand collections, disrespectful public patrons (many of which are homeless), and ever demanding programs which are hoping librarians will pick up teaching course loads so they don’t have to hire another low level adjunct. Yep, academic life in a library is SOOO peaceful! Oh, and my only reading these days is either a work related journal or an audio book.  Who has time to read?

Not So Peaceful

Public and academic librarians constantly deal with drunk, high, abusive, and even mentally ill patrons.  And then there are the patrons who defecate, urinate, masturbate, and even fornicate in the rows of books.  Does that sound like a “peaceful atmosphere” to you?  Do you think the police officers and security guards patrolling libraries are there to check out books?

This description is inaccurate for public librarians

I don't think the salary is inaccurate when you take into account that it is the median salary, so yes there are librarians who make far less, but also those who make far more. As a full-time librarian in a "regular municipal library," I have no complaints with how much I make. It's competitive for the area and my experience.However, I have to completely disagree with the job not being that stressful. Between patrons who have no respect for what I do (and that I have a Master's degree to do it), and the lack of an adequate budget, the job isn't all peaches and cream. We're expected to give the highest level of service without the financial support we need.Plus, the "peaceful atmosphere and unlimited access to literature" comment is completely off the mark for a modern public library, which makes me think that whoever wrote this hasn't stepped foot in a library for quite some time and is going off the stereotype that libraries are places where talking and fun are prohibited. Come during storytime, and you'll see that is no longer the case. For "unlimited access to literature," we get what the public gets, and I wish people wouldn't assume that our job is to read all day. The average public librarian has far too much to do to be able to read during work hours, so we read like crazy during our personal time so we can be more effective when helping our patrons. That's our version of taking work home with us, and I can't say I mind. :)

salary is WAY off

OK, if you are hired by a university to be a 'research librarian' you might make that wage. But if you are working in a regular municipal library you are probably only getting a part time job. And if you get lucky with a full time position it will be way below $54,500! It is true that it is not that stressful.

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