The Surly Librarian:
Being professionally nice to people as a karmic lesson

The subtitle for this blog is not a joke.

Phyllis Diller
My hero, Phyllis Diller
Attitude Adjustment

Surly Librarian is another storytelling persona, this one  a sort of professional SFW version of grouchy old Walhydra.

I’m one of those introverted people best suited for solitary intellectual and creative pursuits, or for creative collaboration with a few close colleagues.


Having to be nice to anyone who walks up to the reference service desk requires assembling a courteous, helpful—did I say subservient?—persona.

Hence the subtitle.

From 2000 through 2016, I served various librarianship roles with Jacksonville Public Library. I started The Surly Librarian in 2008 as a challenge to myself:

Can I turn my private grouchiness into essays for library professionals, essays that might actually be encouraging?

See “Customer Service for curmudgeons” as an exemplar of my attempts.

Some of these posts were discouraged recession era “news reportage” about budget cuts, but more of them are meant as genuine cheer-leading for library folk—though, granted, out of left field (I am left-handed).

I take a couple of themes very seriously:

  • First, the quality of human interactions between library professionals and their clients is far more important than collections or technology.
  • Second, the primary mandate of public libraries is to ensure free access to essential information, together with instruction on how to use it effectively, to those who cannot otherwise get or afford it (see “Poor Richard Redux: A Manifesto“).

These selected rants—and the whole blog, for that matter—are meant to get at the heart of genuine librarianship, which I believe requires authenticity, integrity and compassion.

And a sardonic sense of humor.













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