Welcome to Librarian Burnout, a new platform on cup of tea with that book, please, where we will both share different factors that cause burnout and our librarian burnout stories:
A company, or in this case an organization, is useless without dependable and hardworking workers. They are the gears that allow a working place to be a well-oiled machine. Good workers are what make a working place functional.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for most people. They might have the unfortunate case of dealing with bad co-workers. You have to pick up their slack, hear their complaining, witness their laziness, all this on top of the duties you have to do yourself. You are then seen as the dependable employee and are always called on to take on more duties because, if you don’t, you feel that you are letting everyone down and it reflects poorly on you. You overwork yourself to prove to not only your superiors but to yourself, that you are nothing like your co-workers. On the outside, people see your conscientious attitude but what they don’t see is the burden and exploitation that is reaching its boiling point.
There are very few people I can depend on at the branch that I work at. But that is not enough. The lack of dependable co-workers can be a huge cause of librarian burnout. Working in public service is not a job that can be done alone. You need people who you trust and you can depend on. If you don’t have that, then you feel most of the burden falls on you. In my situation, it is the case of the new employees, “the newbies” vs. the employees that have been there for a while, “the lifers”. There is constant clashing and very little chance of incorporating new ideas into the library. To them, everything is fine the way it is so why try to change anything? But their lack of determination and tenacity can cause you to doubt yourself and become so disillusioned with what you are trying to do. It hurts the most when you know that you don’t have any support behind you.
What can be done? The only advice I can give is to stick to the people who you can depend on. They are the ones that are going to help you get through the work day and when you are working with the public, that is an absolute necessity. Stick to your own thing and your own ideas and try not to let anyone bring you down. It will not be easy, especially overcome with negative energy, but the positive will win in the end. However, this is another situation that needs to be brought to management’s attention. In order for libraries to have a future, ideas need to evolve. And that cannot happen if we are stuck in the past. Libraries need employees who embrace that philosophy.