There are three main reasons I want to encourage noobrarians not to fall into the trap of trying to Do All the Things. First of all, you’re new! People are thrilled that you can sit at the reference desk unattended without drooling or falling asleep and that you know where to send people when they need to fax something. For the first few months, the very best thing you can be doing for your library is learn how to do your job really well. Don’t try to give yourself extra work. Once you’ve learned how to do what’s actually assigned to you, then you can branch out. You can be a tremendous librarian without putting so much stress on yourself. You don’t have to be a rockstar. A much better use of your energy is trying to be the kind of librarian you’d want to work with. Put your energy into that, my friends. And try to be the kind of librarian your patrons want. Maybe that means working on your business reference skills instead of getting on an ALA committee before your 30th birthday [Editor’s note: or even before your 40th]. So be it!
I love this post so very much. As a n00brarian for the second time over (I just started my academic library job in January), I have been trying very hard to remember that right now, the best investment of my time and energy is just in Figuring Out What I’m Supposed To Be Doing. It takes time to learn the job and the workplace culture, *especially* in environments like academia and government.
And remember, “just” doing your job is almost always more than enough to make you seem awesome to your patrons and your coworkers.
Fortunately, librarians are the original oversharers, and they’ve produced a body of literature—from blogs posts to articles to books—to help you with your decision. This is especially useful since librarians come in different stripes—public, academic, school, special—with some significant differences among them. Librarians also conduct a lot of their professional lives online, so blogs, Twitter, and e-mail lists are all great places to soak up information.
I don’t know about “original oversharers”… seems like we may have picked that up from our patrons’ tendency to ramble on about things sometimes. ;-)
But it’s definitely true that there is more and more focus on people, even as we also dabble in all things technological.
Though libraries have always enabled discovery, we didn’t call it that until it was a software layer. We had catalogs, we had indexes, we had databases, and we had too many of them. Discovery layers to the rescue! This expensive and tricky-to-implement software takes in a simple search query and retrieves sources from all of those different databases. For the busy lower-division undergraduate who doesn’t need to fine-tune a search when all he needs is five scholarly articles, it offers something as easy as Google. Only … it turns out, maybe not. Because Google puts a lot into tweaking the relevance formula; discovery layers have a hard time being as slick. And in the end, students still have the same frustration. Turns out, it wasn’t that they couldn’t find sources. They simply weren’t finding the perfect source. And discovery layers don’t make that any easier.
This neatly summarizes my own personal skepticism about discovery layer systems. I would much rather point the students to a guide for their subject, which has stuff I’ve personally picked out with the most-likely-to-be-helpful database at the top of the list. But maybe that’s just me. :)
And, as always, the rest of the article is well worth reading.
To say that “librarians are the original search engine” is to concede that search engines do what librarians do, which would be another way of saying that there is no reason to talk to a reference librarian if you can just Google it.
If you want a slogan for a coffee mug, I would prefer to see one with an SAT-style analogy, like, “Librarians are to search engines as astronomers are to telescopes.” People who don’t know much about astronomy can get some use from a telescope, but we understand that with an astronomer’s knowledge it can become much more powerful as a tool for discovery. We would not say, “Astronomers: The original telescope,” and we wouldn’t think for a second that that a slogan like that would be flattering to astronomers or supportive of the astronomy profession.
Whether you’re just joining or have been part of this profession for a while, we all have our goals. Ultimately, we want to provide as much as we can in the best possible way in order to make people happy, regardless of what our title or work place looks like.Except no matter what you do and no matter how hard you work on something, you’re sometimes going to piss people off at the same time, be it patrons or be it your colleagues. There is no way to be an effective change maker or advocate for yourself and services without making someone unhappy.…To be as good as you want to be and to further your goals in providing the best service and experience as a librarian, you have to suck it up and stick to your beliefs.That’s not to say don’t follow the rules. Just push against them as much as you need to. That’s the only way change can happen. If it means pissing off one or two or six people for the betterment of a community? It’s worth it.
All of her tips are good things to remember.
We’ve recently been through the process of interviewing and hiring several new librarians at my library (yay!!). These were my first times on the other side of the table, so to speak, and interviewing was definitely an eye-opening process. As I was poring through resumes and cover letters and Skyping with candidates, I thought about what advice I would give to people applying for librarian jobs. A lot of this might be stuff you’ve heard elsewhere, but evidently not everyone has heard it.
…Librarians begin to believe their value as a wallet and a shopping assistant is an expression of a philosophical value, “to provide the information our community members need.” But that’s a function, not a value. That’s like taking “the customer is always right” as a higher calling. The practices that assume satisfying individual needs are what a library is for runs counter to the communal nature of a library and the deeper values of librarianship.
Here’s my conclusion: ebook models make us choose. And I don’t mean choosing which catalog, or interface, or set of contract terms we want — though we do make those choices, and they matter. I mean that we choose which values to advance, and which to sacrifice. We’re making those values choices every time we sign a contract, whether we talk about it or not.
While there was a big outcry against SOPA that included protest from many well-known Internet giants like Wikipedia and Reddit, the backlash against CISPA hasn’t had quite as many champions. Some sites that came out against SOPA, like Facebook, are actually pro-CISPA for very self-interested but logical reasons. Along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), whose opposition to the bill is frankly no surprise, the American Library Association (ALA) has also come out against CISPA, and in doing so have suddenly become my heroes. Here’s why.
Okay, so… I don’t know if this will be of use anyone but me, but I was trying to go over the Computers in Libraries sessions (both those I attended and those I didn’t) to find what I could of the presentation slides/handouts/blog posts and I was getting bogged down in links and files, so I made these lists of links. If anyone knows of stuff that could be on here that I missed, do let me know (use the ‘ask me anything’ link).
Librarianship is an awareness — a hypervigilance to any needs of a community. Everything we see or come in contact with is collected and disseminated to those who seek that information. On another level, though, we also retain that idea, and can share it with someone else. In that way, librarians are libraries, indexes, databases; polymaths. “Jack of all trades; master of none” no longer applies–librarians are constantly educating themselves and mastering the next big thing. Good librarians are interdisciplinary, as challenging as it is to sustain.
Oh, look, it’s actually Thursday now! :) It’s also the last day I have this week to really get stuff done—tomorrow I’m only working a half-day and have a ref desk shift and an all-hands meeting, so I won’t have much time to focus.
And that’s it for me today.
Today I staffed our one-librarian satellite office downtown, so it was pretty much like being on the reference desk all day. With computer problems. It wasn’t even 9 a.m. when I decided the day’s word was probably going to be *headdesk* (or ARGH).
Soundtrack of the day: