No such thing as a library emergency

“There is no such thing as a library emergency.”
This is one of my favorite sayings, and one I frequently use with colleagues and employees in an attempt to remind us all not to take ourselves too seriously.

A corollary is “There is no such thing as a Reference emergency.” In these stressful times, I have been feeling the need to remind myself and others that there is nothing so important about our work that requires us to sacrifice our physical or emotional well-being.

Because of my particular background, I sometimes get to embellish the saying with:

I served for 10 years in an organization that legitimately required me to put my life on the line in service to the mission. The Army could legally require me to perform my duties under physically dangerous conditions, at any hour of the day or night, and for as long as needed. This (the library) is not that kind of organization.

Let’s not take ourselves too seriously. If we have to close a service point a half hour early because someone’s kid got sick, I’m pretty sure that teaching and research will not grind to a catastrophic halt.

There is no such thing as a library emergency.*

(* Yes, I am aware of the very interesting exceptions for medical libraries attached to hospitals and the like. If a surgeon calls the reference desk from the operating room, I suppose that is an emergency; but I don’t work in that kind of library).

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4 Responses to “No such thing as a library emergency”


  1. 1 Rebecca Blakeley May 27, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    A professional mediator specializing in library work conflicts spoke at a library conference I went to and I’ll always remember her saying, “As long as we are not killing babies, then no one deserves to be yelled at in a library.”

    Like

  2. 3 Nic ENglish May 27, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    It’s all a question of context really. We’ve had snakes (venomous ones at that) in both our campus libraries but is it an emergency?
    The other corollary is one of my favourite sayings is “One person is not a queue” which was a bit hard on our client service officers who wanted to help every one.

    ps love the blog ;-)

    Like


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