From: –Best Careers 2009: Librarian “A Day in the Life. You work in a small municipal library, where you have to do a little of everything. You start your day by leafing through catalogs from online database publishers and book reviews in Library Journal to decide which titles to add to your collection. Next, it’s out to the reference desk, where visitors regularly ask how to find something. Sometimes, it’s esoteric; often, it’s the bathroom. Later, you teach a class: an advanced lesson in Googling. Next, it’s back to the reference desk, but you’re soon interrupted by a group of boisterous kids, so you have to turn into schoolmarm: “You’ll have to be quiet, or I’ll have to ask you to leave.” You end your day reading about “automated librarianship”: data storage systems that let the public get needed resources without the help of a live librarian. Tomorrow, you decide, you’ll start writing a grant proposal to develop a computer kiosk that will help patrons find health information.”
–Best Careers 2009: Librarian
By Marty Nemko
Posted December 11, 2008
In a way, this describes what you should not be spending your time doing. I’m certain we’ll split hairs over this. Sure, everyone must pitch in -at all levels and all roles. Heck, in my old position I regularly cleaned the restrooms. I assure you I was not paid specifically to do this.
I’m going to ask you a question now: Should librarians, as their regular daily duties, be made to :
-give out directions to the bathrooms,
-enact police actions against “noise offenders’,
-leaf through … who has time to leaf through and isn’t there something called a collection policy and an ILS that can pre-determine what materials your library should buy (the point being your time is better spent elsewhere). Fine- we still need people to review some materials but this should be a very very small part of the job. The majority should be spent interacting with people- not books.
-handle the esoteric question?…er…how about handling the “esoteric” patrons? If you spend any time in a library of any kind, you will eventually deal with peculiar behaviors more than you will ever deal with esoteric questions. There’s no mention of the esoteric patron who screams loudly as you kindly tell them that they cannot shower in the public drinking fountain. And I’m not poking fun at the folks who scream as they talk. Seems like an extreme example? There isn’t a week I don’t hear about or read about some annoyed library staffer who cannot handle people with pscyhological disabilities and feels the need to blast this person with angry blog-platitudes rather than empathetic action.
-And, what about the Technological Fluency that is required of a librarian? I completely understand you may not dig technology. The absolute avoidance of being well versed, though, in a critical language needed for success in our profession is rabidly amiss. You do not want to be a stranger in a strange land unable to understand the strange language. Without being able to read, write, and speak eloquently as an advocate for the appropriate and strategic use of technology, your IT opponents will run circles around your arguments until they’ve stereotyped you as a Luddite clutching a book by candle light (which could be a really cool flickr pool to start).
Maybe your answer is yes? Why then? Again, I understand the need for everyone to pitch in. Believe me when I say I see no point in sitting at an antiquated desk or believing that you are above answering certain kinds of questions. My point is: should that constitute the majority of your job? Should your job be described this way?
I welcome your comments. Though, I obviously cannot cover every valid point. This one matters most: librarianship has changed but you still need to get back in the box. Merge the old traditions into the new. How can librarians retain the best of what they did and what they now must do? Maybe like this:
“McCracken County Public Library attributes much of its recent growth and change to the Good to Great philosophy… applying it and the questions it asks to every aspect from team building to community involvement… The goal should not be to create a great library… but to create great lives in the people served by the library.
Now that’s a job, career,work, life I want.