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Stressed Out Truthiness

Posted in Stephen-Colbert, stress, The-Colbert-Report, truthiness on January 12th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: I don’t remember working harder or feeling more stressed at work than the past few weeks. Apparently things are worse for my colleagues in the UK, where a new study “suggests that being a librarian induces more stress than working for the emergency services, driving a 125mph express, or teaching a class of ill-behaved children.” Or is it really? The author of the study, Saqib Saddiq is a consultant with a recruitment company. He notes: “It seems they are sick of being stuck between the same shelves of books all day. They also found their work repetitive and unchallenging, and overall had very little job satisfaction. Although police officers and firefighters find themselves in stressful situations, they are at least able to get out and about, and there is much more variety in their work.”

My educated guess is that he interviewed circulation and shelving staff, and considered every employee in the library to be a librarian – just like everyone in a lab coat in a hospital is a doctor. I’ve spent half a day shelving books myself from time to time, and am aware that done full time, it would be excrutiatingly boring. I remember my cataloguing professor in library school telling our class that the Library of Congress had full-time card filers working there for decades. I’ve worked as a librarian for 27 years, and while the stress level is high, the work is never boring nor repetitive. As for being stuck between the same shelves of books all day, I’d be surprised if I’m in the book stacks more than once or twice a month.

.: Congrats to Stephen Colbert, who in “The Wørd” segment of the first episode of his brilliant show, The Colbert Report, returned the word “truthiness” into the mainstream – watch the video segment here. Truthiness, a word dating back as far as 1824, was voted the 2005 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. The best coverage of the path of truthiness from its appearance on the debut Oct 17 2005 episode of The Colbert Report to the 2005 Word of the Year is at Language Log. Start with Truthiness or Trustiness?, and follow through to Colbert Fights for Truthiness.

The Wikipedia entry for truthiness provides some background and history, yet opens with the line, “”Truthiness” is a term invented by Stephen Colbert as the subject of a feature called The Wørd…”, which is incorrect, as noted above.