or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

The Single Life

   June 25th, 2009

This post has nothing to do with librarianship - just my own over-sensitiveness.

I've started to worry about being (almost) 35 and single. I mean, come on - male librarians usually need to turn down leading roles in Hollywood movies and offers to be on the covers of paperback romance novels.

But being single at an age when most other people are married with families seems to cause other people to go out of their way to include me and let me know they're okay with my singleness. Like, at Christmastime, when all my siblings and their spouses and kids each gather around the tree to take family photos, they make sure to remember to have me stand by the tree, by myself, so they can take a photo of my "family." Thanks for that, guys.

So, I also have to send out a thank-you to Amazon. This week I was browsing for books and noticed they have a whole section devoted to "Single Authors." I appreciate Amazon pointing out that unmarried authors are just as important as married ones.


But really, what? I'm guessing this refers to a book of poems all by the same author. I know they know what they're talking about, but perhaps less ambiguous wording is in order; this ranks right up there with the "Adult Movies" section in libraries.

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16 Responses to “The Single Life”

  1. Michele Says:

    That is messed up about your family taking a single picture of you. I’m glad I spend Christmas with my family only every few years or so. You shouldn’t feel bad or weird about being single though! (I’d go on and on about it, but I’d only be deluding myself about being a single librarian myself.)

  2. Leslie Says:

    Clearly there is a market for a librarian dating service… Let’s get started on that immediately.

  3. Jenna Says:

    With marriage comes all sorts of new pressure, though. I got hitched a year ago, and now the standard greeting for me at family reunions is along the lines of, “So, are you pregnant yet? How about now?”


  4. Winnie Says:

    “Single authors” – your description looks right on but if they felt the need to make this distinction couldn’t they have come up with a better name? I wonder how many Amazon searchers will think it means unmarried authors? I also saw this term used somewhere (if only I could remember where!) to designate authors who only had one published work.

  5. Mary Ellen Petrich Says:

    So… are you getting a little sensitive about this? I have many, many, many friends … well, two … who are about your age and also single. It is not for everyone. Relationships take up a lot of time that can be used for other things.

  6. lesbrarian Says:

    Here, let me make things worse:

    You meet new people all the time: every day, all day long, by nature of your job, you meet new people. You do not even have the standard excuse: “Ach, well, I’m just so busy with work that I never meet anyone.”

    I speak out of sympathy, mind. In examining my own circumstances I very nearly concluded that there must be something wrong with me, but instead I decided that there must be something wrong with *everyone else.* This worldview is sort of… completely misanthropic, but it’s very soothing for the self-esteem.

    As for single authors, I just thought about it, and realized that all my favorites– dead, living, famous, obscure– are married. Great. The only one who possibly might not qualify is Connie Willis. I just don’t know, one way or the other. I’m happier not knowing.

  7. Brian Herzog Says:

    Ha – thanks everyone. I hesitated publishing this post, because I don’t mean to be knocking being single – more the stigma that seems associated with it. Everything has pros and cons, of course, and relationships are certainly no exception.

  8. Auntie Nanuuq Says:

    And? I’m 54 and a “single librarian”! What’s the point?

  9. Liz Says:

    lesbrarian said: ‘You meet new people all the time: every day, all day long, by nature of your job, you meet new people. You do not even have the standard excuse: “Ach, well, I’m just so busy with work that I never meet anyone.”’

    It is for that very reason I am considering criminal law as a vocation: so that when people ask “but don’t you meet any nice single men through work?” I can reply “sadly, no – just felons.”

  10. lesbrarian Says:

    Liz: sorry, that’s not gonna fly. See The Prisoner’s Wife: A Memoir, by asha bandele (poet meets and marries man serving time for second-degree murder) or Bridget Kinsella’s Visiting Life: Women Doing Time on the Outside (memoir of a literary agent who falls in love with an inmate, as well as a sociological examination of women who love prisoners).

  11. Liz Says:

    Aww man. I should know better than to argue anything with librarians – you’re the only group of people I know who can cite sources more readily than we law students can. 😛

  12. Brian Herzog Says:

    An off-shoot from @Liz and @Lezbrarian: while getting my MLIS at Kent State, I worked in the campus library at the reference desk. A coworker and I decided that we’d be reluctant to date patrons, because when the relationship ended, we wouldn’t want the patron to stop using the library because they knew we’d be there.

    Granted, an academic library is different than a public library, but how do you think that logic squares with your “meet people through work” theory?

  13. Liz Says:

    Ahh, what a little spare time, and a good deal of MS Paint patience, hath wrought…

  14. The REAL Liz Says:

    Hey, I didn’t say that! But I did improve it and send it to Brian, so I’ll forgive the misappropriation of my name.

    Won’t the real Liz Shady please stand up?

  15. lesbrarian Says:

    No, you’re looking at it all backwards. The reason not to date patrons is that THEY STILL CONTINUE TO COME TO THE LIBRARY, even after the relationship ends. And then you have to be civil and professional toward them. It’s horrible. A guy asked me out once because he liked the books on my Staff Recommends shelf (well of course he did, I have impeccable reading tastes), and that was all well and good at first, but after everything went kaplooey? He still kept visiting the library, instead of falling off a cliff like I’d asked him to.

  16. Karen Says:


    You are way too cute to be worrying about being single…