Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Job Misery Letter from Madame Librarian.

Dear Hell in a Hand Basket University,

Goodbye and good riddance. Also, thank you sincerely for not renewing my contract. If you had renewed me, I might still be trapped in the tiny closet of an office I shared (shared!) with another faculty member, fighting administration to keep on attempting to help my students. I might still be fighting a nasty case of depression, hiding in the bathroom at work, waiting for the latest piece of horrible to fall on my head.

Every day when I would enter my tiny sardine can of an office, my office mate and I would wonder aloud "what fresh piece of hell" would descend from on high. We would watch administration do baffling things, and let the people who contributed the most horrible continue to do so. You would not let me buy books. You would not let me tell the faculty I wasn't allowed to buy books.

But you did not renew my contract. And so I left.

Instead, I'm here, at this delightful community college with colleagues that don't hate each other, or administration. I have an office, with a window that faces a grassy field and college buildings. I get paid more, with summers off. I work with an administration seems to try to do the right thing, even if they sometimes get it wrong.

And it is funny, Hell in a Hand Basket University, how everything we warned you about is coming true. Your new initiative is under-enrolled. Your students hate you. You have fired most of the dedicated and hard working people I knew in the last 6 months.You have the faculty union after you. You have the other colleges in your system in despair.

But your misery is no longer my misery.

Thanks again for firing me,
Madame Librarian


  1. @Madame Librarian: Congratulations on your escape. I wonder if you're considering calling up your old office mate and inviting hir to work with you at the new school.

  2. Every job and/or school I left realized how good they had it once I was gone. I hope you get the same satisfaction.
    I'm experiencing it first hand right now, having just switched jobs but remaining at the same place. It's taking two people plus an occasional Helping Hand from me to do my old job. And to think, as recently as six weeks ago I was a "ne'er-do-anything" that just sat in my office by myself and "didn't productively contribute to help the cause."

  3. When deciding whether to leave a job, we overemphasize the value of the current job or overestimate the difficulty in moving/adjusting to a new job. We know how bad it is but we don't realize how good it can be.

    Stories by Madame Librarian, Sawyer and others need to be widely shared. Often, faculty are not appreciated until they are gone but administrators may begin to notice when their best talent leaves. Even though they can replace the departing worker, it is still an expensive and time consuming process. They might begin to realize that treating their employees better is easier than replacing them.

  4. It took two people to replace me when I left SLAC to go to another SLAC. SLAC #2's enrollment in my program has grown 330% since I've arrived. Hmmm.....I know correlation doesn't prove causation, but I sure do like pretty numbers.

  5. It takes two of me just to get out of bed every day knowing I have to face the students, all of whom add up to half of a functioning human being.

  6. I definitely feel like the job market woes in the academic profession as a whole (and for librarians, specifically) keep people in situations that are terrible for us out of fear.

    And to be fair, without the help that unemployment provided, I might not have been able to keep job searching for the 8 months (from being told my contract would not be renewed, until starting my new job) that it took me to land my new job.

    Also: if your contract is not renewed (even as an adjunct), you CAN apply for unemployment. Some colleges will claim you cannot, but you can. Please do. Unemployment is set up to help you find a new job, and the resources my local office provided were really helpful.

    As for my poor office mate, she was just fired a few weeks ago... But she has the union after them now. So that should be interesting...