I just finished the “Librarian Thread” in The Atlas of New Librarianship, and it was pretty terrifying. This is the chapter that talks about what an awesome librarian of the future should be, in view of the tenants of new librarianship that the book laid out in seven the five (ish) previous chapters.
I am fully aware that I shouldn’t be terrified, but this chapter got a little religious and it listed a lot of competencies and skills. It all seems unattainable.
But I am also very aware that none of this is going to go down the way it looks on paper. Cataloging is never going to be as easy or straightforward as when I do the examples in my cataloging class. Conducting reference interviews is not going to be anywhere near as easy as it was in the simulations in my reference/youth services classes. And I’m going to go out into the world with this whole big framework, and then put it all on a high shelf once I start swinging at curve balls. It will all still be there; I’ll be aware of the ideals scenarios. But then I’m going to do whatever I need to do to get through my day.
So, I’m going to set all of this idealism aside for a moment, because I’m getting tired of it. And I’m going to think for a minute about, realistically, what kid of librarian I am going to be:
Ruth the School Library/Media Specialist — A Word Picture
- I am probably going to have to grow into cataloging; so far, it is boring and tedious and I lack real-world examples/context
- I know I am going to like setting up educational programs to help teachers and student develop practical skills
- I already have ideas for AWESOME library-based school clubs; I’m looking forward to the Publishing Club and the Crafting Club. (Details upon request. Currently accepting better name proposals.)
- My budgets will be meticulously recorded, and gorgeously formatted, because I like spreadsheets
- I will probably spend way too much time helping everyone who asks with technology, because that seems to be a constant in my life, and let’s face it, I’m good at it.
- I will almost certainly take on too many projects and complain about it but secretly love it because it will make me feel needed
- I will try to rise above the petty political crap that exists within all institutions, but probably won’t be able to because it is usually impossible. I anticipate feeling annoyed.
I’ll probably do way more, but I’m going to start with these. Ultimately, I think the entire message of The Atlas isn’t supposed to be terrifying or scary. It is really just saying that librarians should tune into their communities, be proactive and flexible, rise to meet challenges, and acknowledge their own, non-neutral perspectives in order to use those perspectives to their advantage.
I was totally going to do that anyway…
Luckily, I turned the page after the “Librarian” chapter, and there is a two-page spread that details what everyone should do next.
I’m going to go read that now.