Professions Do Not Stand Still 4

I keep coming back to this post “I didn’t get an MLS to do that.”

Professions do not stand still.
Have you ever met a plumber who doesn’t work with PVC? An electrician who only uses knob and tube wiring? A firefighter who thinks those new fangled breathing masks are just too complicated? No, professionals who don’t keep up with the technologies that affect their work go out of business. Librarianship is not immune to that.

We don’t have a choice.
To me this is the most important reason. Even if we don’t like computers, our patrons do. Libraries have established themselves as the place to get on the internet. We market this. We brag about it. We get federal funding for it (well, a little…). It is not responsible to provide access to computers without also providing the staff training necessary to make sure our people have the competencies to help patrons with them.
Furthermore, the line between information tools, social software, games and productivity tools is thoroughly blurred by now. To expect that we can choose what part of the technology we will help patrons with is simply unrealistic.

The jobs we signed up for may not exist anymore.
Or, they may. It depends on how you look at it. I signed up for this because it’s a service profession. Nothing drives me more than getting someone exactly what they want. The “what they want” has changed in the years I’ve been on the job. If professionals cannot adapt to that or cannot accept this, then I understand when they say they didn’t get an MLS to do this.

When you’re confronted with blogging instead of writing the “What’s New at the Library” newsletter, or asked to participate in a Learning 2.0 course as part of your job, or recruited to implement a game program for teens at the library, think about this post and about the “blurred lines” between information, play and social interaction.

4 thoughts on “Professions Do Not Stand Still

  • Cindy Judd

    OK…I was excited after I read this post, so my knee-jerk reaction was to comment quickly, thus the first comment. (Sorry to fill the comments, Michael.) Then, I read David Lee King’s post from today, and thought these two blog posts had similar themes: adaptation, growth, flexibility, change, and discovery. David points out that there’s not really a rigid set of boxes that one checks to verify that s/he is a 2.0 librarian, and in a similar way, there is no strict definition of what any of us sign up for when we get our MLS. I do like the idea of moving along the “spectrum” (or whatever one wishes to call it) in order to have a more realistic sense of what to expect when we enter the profession of librarianship. Things certainly aren’t the same now as they were even 5 years ago. And, they won’t be the same 5 years from now. The lines are certainly blurred, as you point out…and, as David mentions/illustrates, I think as professionals we might be wise to see the value in evolving to meet the needs of those we got into this profession to serve.

  • Ryan

    Definitely plumbers have to work with PVC now (and actually the PVC stuff is easier to work with than copper).

    But if a plumber were to ask me to convert my water system because he didn’t know how to handle copper, I would look for another plumber.

    Staying relevant is more than about adopting technology. You are probably not disputing this fact, but it has to be said. We need to be covering all our bases, and I’m not totally convinced we can do this by converting all librarians to bloggers/techies.

    That said, staff should know something about blogging (actually, they should know how to interface with your average web service is a better way to put it — Blogger oficianados could still get lost using WordPress and vice versa).

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