Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Librarian is...

This entry of the blog began many months ago but was never published. For some reason every time it was just about ready to post, something seemed out of place. As if the definition of a librarian was not fully developed or explained. It really isn't difficult to describe what the profession provides to a community. What can be a road block often tends to be ripping apart the stereo-type of librarians. Perhaps the best way to describe who a librarian is and what the job entails is to address the myths.

Myth number one: Not all librarians are quiet, nerdy and spinster. Added to that being uptight. Each librarian, as in any profession, has their own personality, quirks and passion. Librarians happen to be a pretty interesting group of people. Recently, librarians have had to become a little bit vocal due to the budget cuts that are effecting libraries nationwide. That is a good thing. It's time to break the myth that librarians are the quiet, respectful and let the chips fall where they may types. Give it some thought, librarians have the ability to be rebels of society with a simple mouse click. Information is a dangerous thing at times, and librarians are just the rebels who can help the masses get a hold of information that will make some in Washington quake in their boots and listen to their constituents.

Myth number two: A librarians job is great because they get to read great novels all day long. Any smart librarian will agree that their job is wonderful, but what it's not because they get to read all day. (That is only the case with retired librarians, underemployed and unemployed librarians.) The days of a librarian are filled with book reviews, ordering, programming, answering question and cataloging. In some small libraries, it may even consist of one librarian doing all of the above us circulation duties, inter-library loan and the list goes on. Don't assume that a librarians knowledge of literature is a by product of the job. Much of it is because it they read on their own time. Just like everyone else who loves to read but can't do it on work time.

Myth number three: The profession can be done by someone with a high school diploma. To this day, most people don't realize the training that a librarian goes through in order to obtain a librarian's job. First of all, the time and financial constraints that are placed on a person to obtain a Master's degree is well worth the work. Before obtaining the degree, librarians must understand the process of research, information organization, and identifying resources tools that fit the needs of a particular library. For example, a small town library may not invest in the same databases that a medical library would and vice versa.

Myth number four: In regards to Children librarians, their job must be the easiest of all in the library because they don't deal with "adult" topics. That is so false it's not even funny. Children Librarians deal with every child from birth to ninety-nine. Grandparents seek the Children librarian's advice when looking for titles that will appeal to their young grandchildren. Parents consult librarians on how to foster and encourage their children to read. Children from elementary school through high school need homework help from the local library. All of this is mixed in with storytime, programming and collection development. Whew! Talk about your Super Hero who does it all in one day and still finds time to save the world.

Myth number five: Librarians are not with the techie times. Really, more often than not librarians are keeping up with digital trends such as e-book and social media, not only to keep themselves up to date but also to help their patrons to stay on top of all the changes in gathering information. Cascada's music video "Everytime We Touch" is both humorous and infuriating. While giving the artist credit for choosing a male librarian as the object of her "serenade", one has to ask what library still has a card catalog? Libraries and librarians have long let go of the ancient tools for a novel invention called computers, digital catalogs and databases. Why if Cascada is really interested, she may even find out that library patrons have access to their library's catalog in their homes by using the internet novel idea. As a side note, if a librarian is planning a Wii party, they may choose to use Dance Dance Revolution which by all accounts would get the teens in a dancing frenzy, but hey, it's all in the day's work of a librarian.

Myth number six: Librarian know it all. Well, partly this true because of all the weird trivia facts that have made their way into reference questions. Some facts are just hard to shake out of your head. Why else would a librarian know what the ethnic generational background of a person who is Quadroon is? In truth, librarians don't know it all but they do know the proper place to look for the information.

Librarians don't make a ton of money, but for all that they do there is no proper way to compensate their talents. In the words of the famous MasterCard commercial, "Book Budget $50,000, Library programming for adults and children: $10,000, Cost of a librarian with a Master's Degree: PRICELESS. Soon it will be National Library Week consider a thank you note to your favorite librarian. Their value to your community is Priceless.
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