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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Fred Syndrome

Most library staffs consist of two types. These two types are completely different in their work ethics and general attitudes on life. They are the Fred worker and the Sharon worker. Sharon’s outnumber the Fred’s numerically but the Fred’s have more political power. They can be men or women, paraprofessionals, or may possess MLS degrees. They dislike each other but in the end they need each other and the library inevitably needs both of them.

Today we will deal with Fred. Fred is the overachiever. The one who comes in early, stays late, and never takes a coffee break. Fred will work at home and come in on his day off to finish a project. Fred will spend his/her own money on supplies, if need be, and he makes the library director look good.

Fred is the audiovisual head who will come in during his vacation to show the Monday night movie. She is the Children’s librarian who buys her own supplies for her craft programs, which she assembles at home. Fred allows the library to offer services that it would otherwise not be able to offer. He makes the Library Director look good to the Board. When the Board says, “I don’t know how you do it, Sarah”, the Director knows it is because of the Fred’s she has on staff.

All is not paradise with a staff that has Fred’s. There are pitfalls. It is difficult for a supervisor to criticize an employee on a project he/she did at home. If she antagonizes Fred he may quit or just start working with library funds or at his/her assigned hours. Then the library director might appear to be less effective as an administrator.

Fred breaks union rules and is resented by the staff. A staff member who is financially strapped and is raising a family cannot do what Fred does and hates looking bad because of it.

Personal changes can affect Freds. Someone who didn’t have a life may suddenly have one. The Children’s Librarian who runs a popular Saturday story hour when she is not scheduled to be there finds a new boyfriend. The Saturday story hours abruptly end.

“But why did you end the Saturday story hours?” asks the troubled patron. “Funding cuts,” the patron is told.

Finally, when Fred leaves, his successor will be put in a terrible quandary. No one will tell his successor this, but eventually a patron will make a remark about a service that they miss. The new employee finds out that her predecessor spent his/her own time and money out of his/her own pocket. That’s why the craft programs were so successful.

Why did the book sale used to have such a good selection? The previous employee picked up books for the book sale on his weekends. Why were the tax forms always so well arranged? Because the former staff member used to fill up the tax boxes during his lunch hour. This blog seems to have a lot of references to food.


Blogger Sarah Louise said...

So what is the Sharon profile?

12:58 PM  
Blogger Mister Mustache said...

I have it but I need to clean it up a bit so as not to be negative about our profession. I'll do it before Labor Day

7:53 PM  

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