A Michigan library employee is suing for wrongful termination after being fired in 2008 for writing a book about her experiences in the library with unpleasant patrons. This brings up a question: do we, as librarians, have the right to talk about our job experiences in public?
I have not read the book in question. I have, however, seen many books, blogs, twitter accounts, and videos that discuss both the joys and hardships of being a librarian. A great deal of these librarians hide in the anonymity of the Internet. I myself stay relatively hidden as I make my snarky comments. Do I fear losing my job? Not really, but I do worry about undermining the integrity of my position and the confidence of my patrons, which is ironic considering how much trouble a few of them can be. I protect you so you can yell at me. Heart swells.
At the same time, I do not remember ever taking a vow of silence. Sure, I will protect your secrets to the best of my ability, but you don't get to walk into a public building and expect privacy. If I say something dumb to the guy at Walgreen's and it shows up on NotAlwaysRight the next day, then I should have watched what I was saying. The basic law of librarianship is the same as medicine, "Do no harm." I will give you the best information possible from the best sources possible. If you act like a jerk about my help, I need to have some place to vent or I might as well hand in my library decoder ring before I go crazy and start chucking bestsellers at people.
Now, what I promise to always do is vague it the hell up. The problem with "ole-miss-write-a-book" seems to be that she allegedly did not cover up her patrons enough when she wrote her "fiction." Again, I have not read the book so I can not give judgement on the matter, but crazy don't have color or age. You can spin that person who stole the first page out of 20 books around to look like your eighth grade math teacher and nobody would know the difference.
So that's what I have... I reserve the right to write. I like it. I can, on occasion, be good at it. I promise not to embarrass anybody that is not directly related to me. I cannot do anything more than that.