I’ve been reading two very good books by the Sociologist Richard Sennett. The first is called the The Crafstman the second is The Culture of New Capitalism . Sennett writes a lot about labor, work. How it has changed. How it conflicts with our life, our identity.
In short, I caught myself thinking on a section in The Culture of New Capitalism where he discusses how people find meaning through work. His example involved new immigrants in the UK working menial jobs, cleaning perhaps. Those that worked for a government run hospital took much more pride in their work, more satisfaction. They felt that they were supporting a valuable institution and that made them proud.
Now I’m sure you see where this is going. I know most of us work in libraries because, well, we love the place. I wonder for myself which I enjoy more, the work or the place. I do enjoy a lot of the tasks I perform in a library environment (helping answer questions, create access to information, develop technology to share culture and information) but I do think that in the end, it’s the place that is most important to me. If someone enjoyed a lot of these tasks (as, presumably many computer savvy people might) but don’t love the place, well, I don’t think they could last. It’s nice to be part of something.