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Librarians: A Great Good Place for Cranky, Stressed, and Under-Fire Librarians


Whenever I feel cranky, about my library, my patrons, our dysfunctional wireless service, about Congress, about people who don’t and won’t use libraries but feel free to spout off about their uselessness, about children who have been denied the pleasures of story time or experiencing the library as a “The Third Place” (See James’ Great Good Place and Oldenburg’s Great Good Place), and other sources of crankiness, e.g. librarian listserve participants who don’t actually contribute productively to a conversation, an argument, a discussion, or a teachable moment – or even offer simply a light moment…:

I often turn to Will UnWound (formerly known as Will Manley, fired library journal sex columnist – yeesh – some things you can’t live down – but he does so with style and substance – he also wrote about Guerrilla Librarians).

Will is old-fashioned; Will is cranky. Will is annoying. Will is a librarian, one of “my people.” Will has been for many of us in the public library world, a virtual (and literary) rock and mentor. I’ve survived, with no small degree of grace and dignity, some very tricky library administration situations due, almost solely, to reading and thinking about some of what Will has written over the years (as well as listening to other mentors’ advice). Will and I don’t always agree, but I always learn, from his humor (read his books!) and his practical words of experience, which are seldom off the mark.

Yes, there are other places I turn when I get restless and want out (Montepulciano sounds pretty good right about now), including reminders of why I am a librarian (Unshelved, Mankoff, Cul de Sac, Ranganathan, and Sacred Stacks: The Higher Purpose Of Libraries And Librarianship, by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell) or to tasks where neither books nor libraries can be found, though silence or good conversation still flourish (friends, music, food, gardens, etc.)

But I highly recommend Will UnWound for new librarians, old librarians, droll librarians, and wry ones. Happy ones, cranky ones, and especially for those feeling a bit tightly wound. Skip the parts about retirement and grandkids; if you’re really librarian-cranky and in need of immediate intervention, go right to his posts and his many, many Commentors (his Unwinders) and enjoy.

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