Some things never change. The general public has no idea what librarians do. Nor do they understand that everyone who works in a library isn’t a qualified librarian. Although amongst ourselves, we talk about this, we know it’s much harder to get the word out to those who aren’t librarians. This Atlantic piece should help.
The author, Derek Thompson, who is on Twitter as @DKThomp, asked librarians to submit their views on what the misconceptions are about librarians, what they “don’t get about working in a library.”
I particularly like Librarian #2, who said “I do research, I teach classes, I catalog, I develop our collection, I work on our website, I fix computers. I am an aggregator, a citation machine, a curator, a specialist in whatever it is you want to know about.” Sounds like a solo librarian.
This is a fantastic opportunity for librarians to move outside the echo chamber and explain the many facets of modern librarianship. Atlantic is really widely read. I’d like to believe that ONLINE has the same number of readers, but I know that’s not true!
Not that librarians haven’t explained to non-librarians before what we really do, but it’s an ongoing activity, if we want to bring the perceptions of our profession into the 21st century.
I’m intrigued that, of the librarians who contacted Thompson, none mentioned the idea of embedded librarians, which I think will become more key to our professional advancement than ever going forward. I’m delighted that David Shumaker, the expert on this, will be giving a pre-conference on the topic at WebSearch University. I wish I could attend, but I scheduled my business research pre-conference at the same time. Bad me.