Supposedly everybody loves libraries and librarians. We hear this all the time from the desperate among us who find our worth in the opinions of the masses. Until now, I really did think everyone except librarians was at least happy with the title librarian. After all, I’ve never heard anyone outside the harried ranks of librarians suggest that librarians should be called cybrarians or (shudder) human search engines. I suppose there’s the general category of information professional, but I don’t think anyone would really go into a library and ask to see the information professional. That would just be weird. It’s always librarians who want to add pizazz to their sad lives by pretending they’re something they’re not.
Until now. All I can say is, I’m glad I’m not a librarian in Edinburgh, Scotland. Check out this article sent on by a kind reader: Librarians to be renamed ‘audience development officers.’ There’s only one word to describe this. Yuck! Why, oh why would anyone think this a good idea? Progress, that’s why!
"Council chiefs in Edinburgh want to re-brand librarians in the city’s network of 25 community libraries with the title of "audience development officers".
People who work in libraries have been known as librarians since the first library was created in the Middle East around 2,700 years ago.
But council chiefs in Edinburgh have decided that the job description, although it appears to "do what it says on the tin", needs to be updated.
They want to re-brand librarians in the city’s network of 25 community libraries with the not very catchy title of "audience development officers".
The proposed move is part of a widespread shake-up of library services which the local authority says will bring the service into the 21st century."
(One would think that a nice conservative newspaper like the Telegraph would allow paragraphs longer than a sentence, but alas even conservative British attention spans are apparently not what they were.)
So far, it doesn’t seem to me there’s much good to be said about the 21st century, so I’m not sure why anyone would want to bring their service into it. If the 20th century hadn’t been more or less of a moral disaster,there’d be no reason at all to say anything good about the 21st century. The Edinburgh council chiefs obviously disagree.
Would this mean that libraries would be renamed "audience development centers"? That would seem to be the logical implication, though the article doesn’t mention it.
The union dislikes the change, of course, though unions dislike everything. They also oppose self-checkout centers because of their overwhelmingly negative effect on service to the "audience." No, wait. "The union Unison fears this proposal could result in 40 librarians losing their jobs over the next three years." A union guy also said "there were real concerns that the changes would lead to a drop in the level of professional services provided." I don’t know anything about these Scotch libraries, but if they’ve got librarians checking books in and out, they’ve got too many librarians giving low levels of professional service anyway, so what would it matter if they now have stupid job titles.
How long until something like this leaves the rural backwater of Edinburgh, Scotland and moves into the cosmopolitan communities that dot our American landscape? I know trends usually move from America to other countries, which explains the increasing number of Big Mac eating, Coca Cola drinking obese people in the world, but it’s possible something Scottish could make its way to America and have an effect on libraries. Andrew Carnegie did, after all.
I’m sure you can all guess my sympathies. I think librarians should be happy being librarians and stop giving themselves high-falutin’ titles. I also know nobody listens to me because I’m not hip enough. Surely we would have no "audience development officers." That’s just silly. But I can see some of thebusinessy librarians asserting we should all be customer service officers. Maybe "officer" sounds too Scottish. Customer service representative is more our speed. It sounds just as stupid, but adds two additional syllables, and American bureaucrats are prone to multisyllabic affectation.
Maybe we could take a hint from the twopointopians and call ourselves 2.0brarians. No, that’s just dumb. Webrarians? Internet facilitators? Social software gurus? They’d probably like that one, since they tend to think that all true librarians spend their time Twittering and posting videos on Youtube.
What might the gamey librarians suggest? We could perhaps be known as Dance Dance Revolutionaries. Yay!!
Better yet, let’s just hope this Scotch nonsense stays on the other side of the Atlantic. Then we, quiet reactionaries that we are, can remain librarians. It’s a dull job, but not a bad profession if everyone would just keep their radical ideas to themselves.