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.


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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  • At 8:43 PM, Blogger Liz E said…

    OhI'll see your rant and raise you one :-)

    This issue has been on my mind a great deal lately. I'm single with no children and I share a house with my grandmother and mother because none of us alone could afford the mortgage and the taxes. And this is in Pennsylvania which is supposed to be more affordable! And while I live in PA, I work in NJ. My commute is 50 miles each way and even though I have an extremely fuel efficient car, the gas prices are killing me.

    But I love my job. I left law school with one semester to go because I knew it wasn't what I really wanted to do. While I'm happy with that decision, I owe a fortune in school loans. That coupled with my library not meeting the NJLA minimum for a senior librarian means that I have to put off having a child because I simply can't afford it.

    There has been so much talk this campaign season about the "working poor." Yet, those reports usually stress college graduates who are earning low incomes. They don't talk nearly enough about graduate school students who are earning the same low incomes with proportionally higher educational debt ratios.

    I'm at the point now where I am wondering if I shouldn't take a job in the corporate sector just to build up a financial portfolio. And that just frustrates me to no end. It's hard not to think that the pay inequity is a direct result of this being a traditionally female profession.

  • At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am a full-time reference librarian in Florida. I am married with one child. My husband also works full-time, but I make almost twice what he makes. We are all under my insurance.

    If we were still living in the tri-state area (Jersey Girl), there is no way we would be able to survive on our current income. The sad part is that it really isn’t that bad.

    If you have seen the recent article in Library Journal about Florida Libraries you may already know that the libraries down here are facing major financial cuts. I love my job and hate to see this happening. My husband and I are prepared for the worst, however, even though I love the culture and especially the food that can be found in Jersey, I would not be making the move back up north anytime soon. It is just too expensive.

  • At 12:23 PM, Blogger Kerry said…

    I'm a NJ native, and the cost of living is the reason why I never moved back to the area after college. And one of the reasons why both my sisters left NJ in 2004.


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