1. Suggest a question for us to answer
Aug 012012

Con, having gone all Zen about work, has asked me do you still consider yourself to be a librarian?

For those who do not know me very well, I qualified as a librarian in 1989 but now teach technology and public librarianship in the Information Studies Department at a university. The other part of my job involves research (currently into creativity and public libraries) and service to the profession and the community.

I guess this question riffs on the conversation I had with one of my colleagues who told me that they do not consider themselves a librarian, but an academic. My friend, Kate, who is also a library school lecturer identifies herself in her twitter profile as an “(ex?) librarian”.

Greenhill, Kathryn. That’s Not My Mug …, December 11, 2007. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sirexkat/2110264087/.

I no longer select, acquire, organise, store, retrieve or circulate information for other people. Well, except for creating material for my students. And in the way that almost everyone who touches on social media professionally curates and shares information.

It all depends on how one defines “librarian”.

If a librarian is someone who works in a library, then clearly I am not a librarian.

If a librarian is someone with formal qualifications recognized by an accrediting body, then my Masters of Information Management makes me a librarian… and I will never, ever not be a librarian.

If a librarian is someone who formally qualified AND works in a library, then again – I am not a librarian. Seems obvious, but the blurring of positions, where formally-qualified librarians work as researchers, records managers or policy officers, suggests that maybe teaching people about libraries and how to work in them MAY make me just as librarian-ly as those who do not work in a library building but still consider themselves to be librarians.

If it is about a natural aptitude and love for organisation, a curiousity about knowledge, an inbuilt desire to share what I know, a love of technology, systems thinking to streamline operational processes and a sense of fairness for all people – then get me to sign the register, make me wear the t-shirt,  teach me the special handshake and call me “librarian”. I can go with that.

So, right back to you Con, my question for you to answer in your next post is “Zombies, werewolves or vampires?”.

  3 Responses to “Q17: Do I still consider myself to be a librarian ?”

  1. This was a really good read. 🙂 It reminded me of the difference between formal power and personal power.


    I like your last definition of librarian; shows it as a philosophy before an occupation.

  2. I was at a meeting last week where the question of whether or not library’s need librarians came up. As a younger Librarian I was concerned at how easily people wanted to abandon the profession. I wish I had read this last week, it may of helped my defence.

  3. […] One of our workshop presenters, Kathryn Greenhill, reflected on this very topic in her August 2012 blog post – Do I still consider myself to be a […]

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>