Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2008-03-29

Single In Library Land

Cynthia of Library Garden asks an interesting question: Library Jobs: Single People Need Not Apply?

Cynthia looks at it from the point of view of a part-time worker being asked, "can't you get insurance from your husband's job?"

From the point of view of a full-time worker (and, like Cynthia, a refuge from the corporate world) my answer is that being single in libraryland requires financial sacrifices. And I wonder at a profession that either requires these sacrifices, or (more likely) assumes that they will have a "traditional employee" where the library salary is a second income going into the household.

I think it is fairly safe to say that, due to finances, I will never afford to own a home in NJ again* or to adopt a child, unless I either win the lottery or get married or become the next JK Rowling. In other words, get more money. For the first five years as an MLS librarian with a full time job, I lived at my parent's home because rents in Ocean County were so high, I did not have a boyfriend or husband to share rent, and I wasn't prepared to do the ramen noodle/laundromat lifestyle again. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

But I do wonder, based on the report about the working poor in NJ, how families that are not two income do it. And why should people take a job, such as librarianship, knowing that if the worst thing happens -- death, divorce, unemployed spouse -- they have chosen a career where it will become a problem to pay a mortgage and put food on the table? Knowing that they can never say to a spouse, stay home full time with the children, pursue your dream of being an artist, homeschool the kids? Basically, that with an education (something which the report recommends to escape being the working poor), you will forever be working poor? Or, at least, for a hella long time.

* I used to be a home owner; sold it when I went back to library school. Sometimes I wish I hadn't because my mortgage with taxes was less than $800. I know! Back before the real estate market exploded.

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