The heat is coming. Summer reading is coming. We all know what that means, don’t we? Interlibrary moans. And not the good kind. Or the kind that accompany that joke.
Nope, I am talking about the types of moans that proceed shelving accidents and grizzly happenstances with book carts. The type of moans that come from in the dark place of the human psyche, the part that heat unleashes and allows to boil. And nobody wants a boiling librarian.
What can we do to stop Cindy from Circulation from snapping and putting a bestseller up Kathy the Cataloger’s keister? How can we make Randy from Reference not jam a pen into Sheila the Shelver’s eye socket?
By labeling your fellow workers and spotting the problem before it happens, of course.
First, we have to make sure everyone is getting along or at least communicating. We have to get those feelings out and into the world before they blow up like a tube of biscuits in a hot car. We have to learn who everyone in the office is by personality type, bottle them into that personality type, and then push out random stereotypes about that personality type at every opportunity. Let’s learn about those personality types now:
Quick to anger, dominate and control. This type must be in control at all times and is very detail oriented. The circulation section is the model of efficiency. Books go in and out like a Swiss clock if Swiss clocks were able to be checked out. Should a new book be taken to the stacks, however, hell will pay. May often challenge the Director with decisions about leadership.
When they lose control, attempt logic. When this does not work, walk out of the room and leave them alone until they calm down. Lock them in the room if need be.
Calm, rational and easygoing to a fault. The reference area is a place where everyone is welcome and no question is dumber than a bag of hammers on Tuesday. Questions are taken with a smile and sometimes maybe a hug. And sure, they can take on an extra shift or two. Or a dozen. And not say anything. Until they can not. Then they break down and snap, trashing a computer in the name of Britannica.
Give them ample freedom to work on projects and organize their work environment. By allowing them the belief that they control what they do, you can keep piling work on them.
Loaner Loner Leader
Quiet and full of ideas, but overburdened by them. Often a candidate for leadership, the deep thinker of the bunch will have big ideas and enough connections to implement them. They will spend hours alone researching and typing up grants and making phone calls to get every cent they can to make the library just a little bit better. Heaven help us if something does not fall into plan, if one small step is missed or something falls. Then someone will pay, either through self depression or outward attacks.
Give vague estimations on reports of projects they handout. Leave lots of room for “wiggle space.” Never lie as they will remember, but never tell the truth either.
Always happy, upbeat, talkative and probably crazy as a shithouse rat. Quick with a joke or a turn of phrase to turn that frown around, they will emphasize every happy aspect with a song or a painting or by cutting up a magazine and glueing it back again into fun shapes. Everyone’s friend and talking buddy, the social butterfly of the library can find themselves in a web of lies as word of mouth is what they are. The “never-think-about-yesterday” attitude can become a problem, too, when yesterday comes up behind them and clubs them over the head with a future shovel and buries them in the denial graveyard of depression. They may also be on medication.
Know where they keep their happy pills and when they call in with a migraine, just let them stay at home. Nobody wants to hear that shit.
As we arm ourselves with definitions, we can not be sure that when the heat comes and blood starts to boil, everyone has a place. Everyone is labeled. Because that’s what we do as librarians, we label and categorize people and things. To make a better world where everyone gets along.