Excuse Me, Do you Stamp Books?

I was helping out at a career fair recently and my instructions were clear – to tell visitors what librarians do and how they too, can join this challenging and multi-faceted profession. Being someone who kind of liked talking (especially about herself), I took my place at the booth, enthusiastically waving a fistful of brochures at startled passer-bys.

However, my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened when one of the visitors I stopped exclaimed loudly, “Oh, I know what librarians do! You guys chop and shelve books right? Need Master’s Degree meh????”.

I looked at her for some sign that she was joking but she gazed back in complete seriousness. At that point, I thought to myself, man, do I have my job at the fair cut out for me. I proceeded to explain that the profession of librarianship is not defined by “chopping” and shelving books. We are firstly information specialists, charged with acquiring high quality information and teaching people how to use it effectively and efficiently. “Huh???”, she said, pulled a brochure tentatively from my white-knuckled fist and strolled away.

I was understandably perturbed by her reaction. If she could think this, I shudder to think how many other people share her notions. It dawned on me that there is indeed a gap for us librarians to bridge, a need for us to raise awareness amongst our users of what librarians do, where and how.

So librarians out there, what do you do? Let’s share.

  1. Librarian by Day...by Night!

    Strangely, perceptions have still not changed since I joined NUS Libraries in ’82. It is a real shame that people out there still don’t see librarianship as a meaningful profession.
    Is it the image of librarians that perpetuates this perception of the profession, I wonder? If only people knew what we get up to? Librarian by Day… by Night!
    I think one of things that have kept me in the profession all this while is that we are a ‘service’ profession – like the doctors, teachers and nurses out there. It is about making a difference to someone every day. I know I get that sense of purpose and satisfaction when I have been able to locate an article or recommend a book that will make a difference to someone’s assignment,teaching or even that earth-shattering research project. I know that I have been instumental in some way and made a difference, even though I may not be acknowledged for it.
    Pity that our customers do not realise the difference we make in their lives. They say ‘KNOWLEDGE is POWER’. I for one know I am instrumental in that process of acquiring knowledge.

  2. Author The Naked Librarian

    Well, you rock, then. 🙂

  3. Author The Naked Librarian

    Was reading QQ Librarian’s…It seems that a degree in a particular subject would lend gravitas to what we do. TNL doesn’t have a subject degree. Therefore, should the university students I serve be worried?

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