Library Work? It’s A Dream

It turns out that I’m not the only person who dreams about her job at the library.

I work at the circulation desk at a suburban 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 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 dream that I’m shelving books and the Dewey Decimal numbers rearrange themselves just to mock me.

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. The moms tell me that I’m the worst librarian ever and all the kids cry.

Last night I dreamt 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.

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 had a dream that the TARDIS was broken and I was trying to work with the Doctor to fix it. But we kept getting interrupted by library patrons.

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 135.

Or perhaps I’ll just go to sleep tonight and dream about doing it.


Roz Warren