Since I started blogging for AISL, there have been some months when my entry is 100% planned and outlined, and other months when a topic bubbles to the surface because it needs to be addressed. This is one of those “bubbling” months.
Have you ever had a colleague who truly doesn’t understand what you do and thinks you sit back eating bonbons and reading books all day? I’m sure we have all had to address that person. This week, though, I had an interaction that I just can’t shake. It was implied that their job as a classroom teacher was so much more important to the students and that they couldn’t just “get up whenever they want to get lunch,” etc.
While you digest that, let me ask: do you even remember getting time for lunch? I don’t. Lunch happens to be the busiest time of the day in a school library, because that’s the time when students have the freedom to visit the library. Most of the time I am frantically eating right at the circulation desk while answering all kinds of questions from the students and faculty. Let us not forget that my eating does not go unnoticed by students as they ask why I am allowed to eat in the library and they can’t. Lol.
You and I know how much work goes into getting our education and/or experience. We know the challenging task of organizing an entire library, curating a collection, evaluating sources and databases, making sure said databases actually work, teaching classes, answering reference questions, helping students find that *perfect* book, advising teachers, attending countless meetings, maintaining the privacy of patron accounts, etc. (often without an assistant or clerk). Each of us has that special capacity in our brain where we can compartmentalize and cross-reference questions and answers in a blink of an eye in the midst of controlled chaos. But I am preaching to the choir here.
Especially since I am still processing this particular encounter, I suppose my question is this: What do you do when a coworker doesn’t understand your position?
It’s good to know that we are not alone here.
Oh Reba… Thank you for this VERY SPECIAL post! Hahaha!!!
While it hasn’t happened often to me, I doubt that there’s a school librarian anywhere that hasn’t walked in these shoes. As a classroom teacher, I worked at a school with a school librarian who was… Uh… LAZY and NOT GOOD so I generally try to assume that my colleagues don’t know how awesomely helpful good school librarians can be! When that’s the case, it is an opportunity to educate colleagues and hopefully build new partnerships!
And then there are the TROLLS. Hahaha!!! Trolls, in my experience, have usually been of the passive-aggressive comment variety. In my view, passive-aggressive behavior IS, ultimately, aggressive behavior and aggressive behavior is not acceptable so I just say what needs to be said to extinguish the unwanted behavior in a manner “professional enough” to assure my continued employment. Over the years, I have worked to cultivate a reputation for friendliness and helpfulness, but in all honesty letting colleagues know that they should also be a little wary of me has actually been helpful to our overall program goals over the years.
David, thank you for your response! I agree that passive aggressive behavior is actually aggressive, and I love the idea that’s it’s okay to allow colleagues to be a little wary of me. I suppose the hardest thing is to “extinguish” the behavior and saying my piece while still retaining my job. And not to get bogged down by the interaction. 🙂
I just have to laugh as I am sitting at my desk reading this while eating my lunch at 3:30 in the afternoon!
I agree with what David said, it’s really about showing them what we can do for them and how much we do for everyone. Once they start using the library more and seeing how many people are in and out all day, they’ll understand the demands of our jobs. Until then, I just smile and try and reflect back their feelings “it sounds like you’re really frustrated and wish you had more flexibility in your schedule.” this usually leads to a conversation about my expressing that I wish I had structure in the day so that I made sure to eat!
I’m laughing because I had popcorn for “lunch” at my desk between non-stop one-on-one research conferences with students, attending a webinar on the new Credo platform – now known as Source Reference (really?) – working with a US History class on finding primary sources, more one-on-ones, working with a teacher on the best way to review note cards on NoodleTools (we settled on having the students export the cards to GoogleDocs and then share with her) and then a debrief of our MLK Day programming. I am now at the front desk and have a moment to breathe and catch up on my calendar and emails! I’m sorry you got ambushed by someone else’s unhappiness with their position, because who even has time to resent a colleague? Not a librarian, for sure! I find dealing with comments like those a slippery slope so if someone has found a sure-fire way to respond, I’m all ears. I hope you know we hear you and couldn’t be more sympathetic.