What is a librarian?

I have a plan. (187/365)Warning: this post is more than two sentences long…

Librarians are at the most critical time in history to define themselves. Yet there appears to be an ongoing  struggle to find clarity/passion  around  core functions or even a desire to get real about “owning” the fantastic set of skills that librarians possess!

Library users just want help, on their terms. They are not necessarily interested in all of the cool ways that librarians manipulate the world of information, even though we very much want them to care! They just want great service for all of their needs; and one stop works best in their busy lives! But, how well does this work when librarians hold on to traditional models of what an academic, public, and school librarian do for the user? Is it possible that librarians are willing to serve the user as long as the user need fits nicely within the realm they reside in?

In our search for staying relevant and moving towards the library of the future, the library workplace  is becoming much more demanding, requiring broader skill sets. This change in expectations often causes discomfort and some even question whether an MLS is what is needed in the field!

I recently read a great blog post called What is a Librarian? on the LITA blog which examines this topic, and it is worth a read. My favorite quote from the piece is this…. “If you care about information and want to do good with it, that’s enough for me. Others are free to put more rigorous constraints on the profession if they want, but in order for libraries to survive I think we should be more focused on letting people in than on keeping people out.” Amen!  Oh wait, there is more…

In a related  post titled MLS Required, Barbara Fister writes….”… when undergraduates ask about library school I try to be realistic – jobs aren’t plentiful, the pay isn’t great, some organizations are pretty toxic. Getting a foot in the door is really hard. You will have relatives who will repeatedly use the phrase “buggy whips” and laugh. But if you do apply to library school, don’t do it because libraries feel like safe places. Get good advising, try things that you feel ill-prepared to do, challenge yourself. Because those challenges will keep coming and you might as well get the hang of it.”


Image credit: http://tinyurl.com/qc788l4, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0