I work at the circulation desk at a public library. I recently had a dream in which one of our most challenging patrons apologized for being such a nuisance, then meekly paid all her fines. This was so startling that I woke right up. Inspired, I logged into my favorite librarian hangout on Facebook to ask: “Do you ever dream about library work?” It turns out that I’m not the only librarian who dreams about her job:
I dreamed about cataloging biographies last night.
I dream about shelving books all the time. I’ve been told by my husband that I make shelving motions
in my sleep.
I had a dream that we were trying to close for the day but the patrons refused to leave. We were turning off the computers and they were turning them back on again.
My recurring nightmare: due to funding cuts, ALL of the library’s lighting has been removed, making it very difficult to shelve books.
I often dream that I’m working in a library that I don’t know with people I *do* know.
I dreamt that my library hired Jimmy Fallon as a reference librarian. (We all really liked him but he wouldn’t answer reference questions. He just told jokes. We didn’t know what to do about him.)
I once had a dream that our building was half library, half pizza arcade. We were closed but we couldn’t stop the arcade customers from stepping over the duct tape line that separated us from the arcade.
I recently dreamt that I opened a closet and was buried in catalog cards. Easy to figure that one out.
I often dream about work… and I frequently solve actual work problems in my dreams.
I dream that I’m shelving books and the Dewey Decimal numbers rearrange themselves just to mock me.
One of my co-workers had a dream in which he couldn’t find the Reserves shelf because I’d shifted it and wouldn’t tell him where it was.
I dreamed that somebody had mixed all the 641s and 746s together and I had just 30 minutes to fix it. Of course, Final Jeopardy music was playing and several people with clipboards were watching…
I have a recurring dream in which I get up in front of my Story Time crowd and realize that I’m completely unprepared. All the moms tell me that I’m the worst librarian ever and all the kids cry.
Last night I dreamt that I was working with a student who was researching Russian media. (I found her some terrific resources and was disappointed, when I woke up, that she wasn‘t real.)
I often dream about finding supply closets I’d never seen before and getting mad at my co-workers for not telling me about them.
A while back our library had a lot of books that needed shifting. I dreamt that I was doing it all night. And when I got to work the next day I had to do it all over again.
I have this dream all the time: We’re trying to lock the doors at closing but people just stream in through the unlocked ones. Meanwhile, patrons are having stand-offs: “I’m not leaving until SHE leaves.” etc.
I had a dream that for some reason one of our Library Board members was forbidden to come into the library. I was working the desk and looked up to see one of my co-workers wrestling with him in the entrance way.
I had a dream that somebody was moving all the books on the shelves around and I couldn’t say NO. I could only sit there and watch the destruction.
I dreamed that our digital media lab instructor challenged me to a West Side Story-style gang rumble, so I grew Wolverine claws and shredded his leather jacket. He conceded defeat. I work with him all the time and we get along great so I don’t know where that came from.
I just had a dream that my house was somehow attached to the library, and my kids opened the doors too early. I was running around the library in my pajamas trying to get everything ready when it dawned on me that my pajamas violated the dress code! So I ran back to my house to change and found one of my most problematic patrons rifling through my closet. Then I woke up. But that panicky feeling stuck with me all day.
I had a dream that the TARDIS was broken and I was trying to work with the Doctor to fix it. But I kept getting interrupted by patrons.
We moved to a new building 10 years ago. I often have dreams that we’re back in the old building.
Neil Gaiman once came to the reference desk in my dream. We chatted about books. I was sad to wake up.
I had a dream about a young teen who asked for books with the word “blue” in the title. She said that’s all she would read. I thought of half a dozen actual Young Adult books with blue in the title. (And they were real books, not just some weird dream titles.) She was pleased and I woke up feeling accomplished.
What — if anything — do these library dreams mean? Who knows? Of course, I can look it up. The Dewey Decimal number for books about Dreams is 154.6.
Or perhaps I’ll just go to sleep tonight and dream about doing it.
(If you liked this piece, you might enjoy Librarians! Here’s A Little Snark to Brighten Your Day.)
(Roz Warren is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR.)