This blog was originally created as a requirement for my MLIS program and as such posts may be course assignments. These library journal entries are such.
Every time I speak with muggles about being a librarian the same comment is made: “oh I’d LOVE to be a librarian so I could read all day!”
Librarianship has been an official profession in Ancient Sumarian times. Why is it that people still don’t know what we do?
This is a question I’ve asked myself frequently and I keep coming back to the same conclusions. People don’t know what librarians do because for some reason we are terrible advocates for our own profession. People have vague ideas what doctors or teachers do and why they are essential to the functioning of society but librarians still haven’t broken free of the stereotype.
Yes her. The bespectacled, bun-wearing shushing book pusher. One of my favorite films is It’s a Wonderful Life. Remember poor Mary. She couldn’t find a husband and so her terrible fate was to become the spinster librarian.
Despite all we do, people still don’t know what it is we do. Every course I take in library school (that’s another surprise for people, that you need a Master’s degree to be a librarian) I learn something new about what we do as librarians. Why aren’t we shouting this from the rooftops? Why are we not advocating for our profession in a way that breaks through?
For example, the value of school librarians has been researched since the late 1960s when it was found that students in a school with a full-time librarian have higher academic achievement than students in schools that don’t. Yet who is the first person to be let go in a budget crisis? The librarian. Where I live there are no full-time MLIS librarians at non-private schools.
It’s imperative that we, as librarians, and especially school librarians demonstrate that we are as important to the schools as the classroom teachers. Because we ARE teachers. We’re so much more, but at our core we are one of the most valuable assets a school could have. It’s time we made that known.
I recently was trying to find the reference to the article above (from 1968, I believe) about the importance of school librarians. What I found is research is quick to bring back results talking about how important libraries are, but not librarians. I ask you, is a school with no teachers a school? Is a hospital without doctors a hospital. This is a core reason I think our profession is overlooked. Often attention is cast on the facilities, the building or space of the library but not on the persons who maintain, organize, and work in that space. People know libraries are important, but they forget about the people. This is why I’m a librarian advocate, not just a library advocate.