Librarians, stressed?

<p>The Guardian reports this morning that librarians are up there with hairdressers and speech therapists as the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/aug/02/mentalhealth.workplacestre... stressed out workers in Britain</a>. It&rsquo;s an essentially fluffy fact, slipped in to a much more serious report about the high risk of depression faced by young people starting out on their careers, but it&rsquo;s the one that set me thinking.</p>
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On the one hand you would expect the life of a librarian to be pretty stress free: All those hushed environments and walls lined with books, without the nuisance of sales targets or profit margin worries. Plus there&rsquo;s the position at the heart of a community, and the tremendous sense of satisfaction when a user tells you they&rsquo;ve loved the book you recommended.</p>
<p>But for all those with any knowledge of the change and controversy that beleaguers the library sector, this low stress-rating comes as a great surprise indeed.</p>
<p>Professionally qualified librarians in <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/41984-librarians-culled-to-save-cash.h... and Kent </a>face having both their pay and status downgraded as the councils find ways to meet budget cuts. In Hampshire, librarians must work in the knowledge that the man running the service, director of recreation and heritage Yinnon Ezra, thinks there may be <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/42901-library-chief-do-libraries-need-... need for libraries to indulge in fiction at all</a>. And all across the country library staff face cuts to their pay as councils slash library opening hours; criticism as book stocks and lending figures fall each year; and an uphill struggle if they want to pioneer any change.</p>
<p>It would be interesting to know what the people on the ground think about the ranking. Presumably they work in libraries because of a love of reading and sharing reading rather than any great financial motivation, so how does it feel to come up against all those downgrades, pay cuts and criticisms? Perhaps it doesn&rsquo;t really affect their daily work life at all? Or perhaps they will be pleased to know that the folks in the &ldquo;top managerial positions&rdquo; &ndash; the ones designing the budget cuts and the new strategies &ndash; are up there with the most stressed workers of all.</p>