I have a friend who works as a librarian for a small private Northeast college. And she’s utterly miserable, because her boss is insane.
I don’t mean to say that she’s insane in the way that everyone’s boss is insane. I mean to say that she’s clinically paranoid, irrational, inconsistent, and expects her charges to be both superhuman and mind-readers. Consider the following:
- Boss expects to be told about every single thing that happens, preferably in real time. That means that if a student asks to use a stapler, make a photocopy, or have a tissue, she expects an email reporting this fact. Apparently, nothing is so trivial that she doesn’t want an alert about it.
- She is convinced that students who come in to ask questions are actually being sent by higher ups to report back on the quality of service, and as a result wants to know what each of them asks, and what they were told, and carefully scrutinizes what information was sent out..
- She doesn’t want work-study students to do *anything* other than sit and do their homework and “be a face” at the desk. They aren’t supposed to actually help anyone, re-shelve anything, or interact with patrons. They are occasionally trusted to count the number of patrons in the building once an hour. but one gets the feeling she begrudges them even this.
- She forbids the librarians from referring students to resources outside the library. Any resource or information that comes from beyond the walls of the institution is suspect, and finding out you’ve done so will invite a severe reprimand. They *certainly* aren’t allowed to use the Internet as a tool for finding information.
- The librarians are forbidden to participate in professional mailing lists, and have been told that if they find themselves in a place with other librarians, they aren’t to talk to them, because she doesn’t want other libraries finding out about their “secrets”. (Hey, lady, I have news for you. You don’t have trade secrets — you’re a *library*. And even if you did, you’d help people research what they are. You know why? Because you’re a freakin’ *library*.)
- On being told by friend that she didn’t know how to perform a particular task, Boss replies, “You’re a reference librarian. You should know how to do that.” (I suggested that “Well, I know how it would be done in a real library, but how would you like it done here in Bizzaroland?” would probably be impolitic, satisfying though it might be.)
- Boss frequently issues reprimands to friend in front of co-workers, which makes her feel even worse about things.
- Boss doesn’t want the librarians to talk to each other any more than absolutely necessary. She was incensed when one of friend’s coworkers sent her a report that friend had requested, containing information that friend needed for the task she’d been assigned to do.
- Now that friend has been ‘exiled to Siberia’ (read: the other campus), Boss is wanting *hourly* status emails about what’s going on.
- My friend was promoted, shortly after being hired, when the person in the vacant position quit without warning. My friend protested that she didn’t really have the experience for the job, and was promised she’d be mentored at every step of the way and allowed to grow into it. Subsequent to being promoted, she had a huge amount of stuff dumped on her that she didn’t know how to handle (mostly related to instructional classes that needed to be planned, organized and taught.), was told to “just deal with it”, and then yelled at when the results didn’t match her expectations.
- After valiantly trying to cope with this stress for weeks, friend finally went to her boss and said “i can’t do this. It’s too much.” Since then, she’s been treated like an incompetent toddler, despite the fact that she was never given the support and direction that was promised her.
- Last week, friend was asked over to the main campus to attend an instruction tutorial session, with Boss and two co-workers. Upon arriving, Boss told her that *she* was teaching the class, a task she had not being given any opportunity to prepare for. Boss seemed quite irked that my friend wasn’t capable of teaching a class she’d never taught before on a moments notice without preparation.
This is by no means a complete list. I spend a great deal of time alternating between gobsmacked disbelief at this crazy woman and frustration that my friend, who is quite dear to me, is stressed nearly to the breaking point over this incredibly irrational work environment. When she took the job a few months ago, she was so excited about it. She’s good at what she does, and was looking forward to the position. Now, she’s trapped in a miserable job with a crazy boss, no openings in her area to try and apply to, and financially unable to just walk away. (Though the latter option is looking better and better to her, it’s also generally not a good idea to just up and quit a professional position. This isn’t retail.)
I’m sharing all this with you because….well, because it’s just amazing to me, and I had to share it with someone. Though I’m sure my friend will appreciate any sympathy or encouragement you have to offer.