You’d think that reading, librarians and libraries would be as natural a cycle as day and night; and for the most part it seems to be.  As a reflecting profession librarians are encouraged, nay mandated by contract, the read widely across the broadest spectrum of literature and research.  But, and here’s the rub: why is it every time I make time in my working day to sit down and read a book in the office I can see the glances my office mates give me.

A pile off books, waiting to be read
A pile of books, waiting to be read

“Slacker” they seem to say, though none of them have ever gone on to vocalise it in anything more than a lightly humorous manner.  But there’s that unspoken, but evident, peer pressure that unless you’re hitting the keys, or shifting around the web, or talking with a student or academic, or sitting in a meeting reinventing operational and strategic priorities that you’re not actually working.

Which is weird.  It’s not like I’m whipping out a dog eared copy of Jurassic Park and thumbing through it whilst reclining in an easy chair.  Sure I try and adapt my fantastically back-breaking office chair into some semblance of comfort better suited for reading that the standard bolt-upright keyboard position; but this is so I can read as fast and effectively as possible.  I don’t just have professional literature to read too, I write for an academic review journal as well which means I need to read text books quite extensively in the course of this.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little over sensitive perhaps.  Should I adopt a more bullish attitude of reading in plain sight and turning my whithering librarian glare on any who dares to challenge the assumption that I am not engaged in reading.  As it is I find I squeeze in my reading at times when the office is quiet: start and end of day, and lunctime.  Not to mention whenever I’m on a train.  I can’t believe I’m the only one shoe horned into this pattern – but in a big public office where one is constantly on display, there’s not the opportunity to shut the door and hide away with a book.

Which in a library seems a crying shame


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