Librarian Mythology From Within

Hello fair readers!

In my new position, I have had the opportunity to have some really interesting discussions with other new Librarians about our field, our realities, and more importantly, our myths.

And lots of the myths are not just coming from people’s stereotypes of the profession but from the community itself.  We have built up a certain amount of untruths about the profession, perhaps in an effort to up recruitment.  However these myths, in this writer’s opinion, can be destructive to the profession.  Recruiting people who maybe are just not suited to modern librarianship and do not understand how much the profession has completely changed.

For example:

1) There are lots of librarian jobs because all librarians are old and retiring.

Anyone else told this when they began to consider library school?  Well…let me debunk this for you.  Librarianship is a profession in which you can spend a great deal of your life.  It requires brain power and, for the most part, little physical power.  So yes, there are many older individuals who are librarians.

But!

They are *not* retiring!!  Despite what some journals would have you beleive, the job market is just as difficult and frustrating for librarians as it is for everyone else right now.  Something I have learned is that having your Master’s degree does not mean you are going to swept up by a library as soon as you receive that degree.  That is just plain not true.

When you get into our field, like most other fields, you need to face the reality that after school you are going to have to compete with many other library graduates *and* librarians in the field.  This is exactly how other fields work.

The idea that a library degree is the golden ticket to employment is just plain false.

And anyone who has graduated in the past year can tell you that.

2) “Why do you want to work in a library?” “I love to read”

Okay.  I love books too.  But it is certainly not my reason for becoming a librarian.  If fact, this is probably one of the *worst* reasons to become a librarian.

Repeat this with me:

“Librarianship is service, Librarianship is service”

Being a librarian means you have chosen to work in a service industry.  If you like to be surrounded by books all day reading, become a scholar…not a librarian.

There are lots of types of librarians. Corporate, legal, medical, media, school, young adult, public services, and more.  One thing that connects all of us is that fact that we all serve a certain community, whether law school or the public, and we provide information services to that community.  This is a difficult and complicated job and commonly, we have very little downtime.

So if you love to read, hurray!  That is grrrreat!

But you might want to consider that being a librarian requires a great deal of social interaction, services, talking in front of groups, and presenting of materials.  If the idea of this scares you, please do yourself and all library patrons a favor, and consider a different Master’s program.

I became a librarian because I love helping people.  If you love to help people and connect them with their information needs as well?  Then perhaps this field is for you too!

That’s right. Those dudes? Librarians.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This might seem like an uber hater post but I would not argue that these are reasons to avoid the field of librarianship.  Not at all.  Mythologies exist in most cultures right?

And if there is one thing I can say about librarianship?  Our culture rocks.   🙂

But I would argue that perpetuating these myths, can be destructive to the profession and to the patrons we serve.  It’s important for everyone going into librarianship to realize what the field really is….

librarianship is service, librarianship is service, librarianship is service

🙂

Have a lovely Winter week fair readers!

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3 responses to “Librarian Mythology From Within

  1. thanks for the insight! I’m entering the masters program this fall (hopefully) and it’s nice to know that some things I was thinking as true… aren’t… well… maybe nice is the wrong word, but better to know now then later 🙂

    hopefully going to be a childrens/youth librarian… but we’ll see….

  2. Hey Michelle! I hope that post didn’t come off as too harsh. 😛 Because don’t worry…you have plenty of time in graduate school to make connections and work your way into the field, that is if you aren’t already at a great library. And enjoy every second of grad school! Hopefully it will be a wonderful experience for you. 🙂

  3. Hello, we have a large framed version of the librarian up on the ladder but are having no luck in finding the artist. (above your #1 myth) Any thoughts? I can relate to the #2 myth and at one time each one of my children said that very thing. Luckily they and their children are all voracious readers, though as of yet, not one librarian amongst them, but you never know. Thanks for your thoughts on the art work!

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