Raise your hand if you’ve done any or all of the following in your role as librarian:
- Carried heavy bags of books (or snacks, craft supplies, etc) into your school from a distant parking lot
- Changed table & chair configuration of your teaching space multiple times daily
- Transported boxes of books to & from classrooms (and up/down stairs) for book talks and/or displays
- Moved furniture in your library by yourself when you should have asked for help
As cerebral as our jobs can be, I’m increasingly reminded of the physical demands of librarianship. Carrying a heavy bodily load is not new to those in schools (teachers are often loaded down with marking to be done, although perhaps less now with digital submission), and certainly not to our field. Look at this excerpt from a current job description for Reference Librarian with the Maine State Library:
“The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; sit; reach with hands and arms; climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.”
25 pounds is the weight of a car tire – that’s a lot, but I bet many of us do it more often than we like to admit. Then there are the ergonomic issues: a 2009 study that looked at the issue of on-the-job injury published results with the title “What Do Meatpackers & Librarians Have in Common?”.
While our intellectual prowess is valued and exercised every day, sometimes our jobs are hard physical work, so let’s take care out there. I’m now dropping off heavy items at the entrance before parking my car and while I love a nice heel as much as the next shoe-obsessed person, I’m slowly accepting that flats are my friend.
On that note, I just looked out my window and realized that I clearly need to share this with my new colleague who is carrying pumpkins in for an arts activity – gotta go!