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Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fool's -- Foolish Musings About Libraries

It's a day late but it's never too late or too early to examine foolish "beliefs" about libraries in general. Librarians, no matter the size of the library, have heard these foolish statements at least once or twice whispered in the library, in the schools or in local stores. These foolish beliefs sometimes have a life of their own. Which leads to to a creation of an urban legends which are taken as gospel truths. Here's an attempt to at least arm librarians and advocates with responses that will stop the urban legends from growing. Who knows, it might even help educate patrons about libraries. Foolish beliefs number one: Libraries are Obsolete. Of course, this is easy to say when ebooks, social media and apps appear to be able to provide patrons with everything they need in an instant. Truth is statistics prove that during hard economic times, demand for library services go up not down. Libraries' "brand" is books. The challenge now is to tweak the brand just a bit to "information". Foolish belief number two: Librarians read all day long. If only that were true! The bonus part of librarianship is discovering great authors and books. However, it's not because librarians get to read all the time. On the contrary, its due to diligent reading of book reviews, collection development criteria, and patron's requests. After all this is done, reading for entertainment is done after library hours. Foolish belief number three: A high school diploma is the only requirement for librarians. No, not really. In some small libraries this may be the case. However, they are few and far between. A professional librarian has a Master's Degree in Library/information Science. It shouldn't be a shock, however it is to most people. Foolish belief number four: Libraries refuse to keep up with the times. if that were true, patrons would still be looking for their books in card catalogs of long ago. Libraries biggest struggle is not with technology but rather with budgets. Too often the latest in technology often comes with a price tag that is out of reach for many libraries. If only money grew on trees! Thank goodness for grants! Foolish belief number five: Librarians are quiet, smart and mousy. Um... not really. If the secret ever got out, the world would never be the same. Librarians are smart but quiet and mousy is just an "act". In reality, librarians are a wild but tamed group of professionals. If these foolish beliefs could be put the rest librarians could focus on other library related interests. Such as, how to entertain eighty children while waiting for a performer that is extremely late for a library program. Never a dull moment at public libraries!
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