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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Are Librarians the Only Silly Professionals?

Among the comments to the last post this one intrigued me:

In no other profession do you see such goofy foolishness as in the librarian profession. You don’t see doctors, lawyers, politicians, even hamburger flippers making pedestrian videos in an effort to make their profession look cool or hip or relevant. I work in a public library and everyday I know we’re relevant. I don’t need some churlish stuffed-shirt in hip clothing to tell me how to be a professional.

I don’t encounter many churlish stuffed-shirts in hip clothing, but it’s quite an image. I’m curious, though, whether the first statement is accurate: "In no other profession do you see such goofy foolishness as in the librarian profession."

My experience with most other professions is limited to friends and family. Outside of librarianship, the profession I’m most familiar with is the academic one. It is indeed hard to imagine the average professor of just about anything putting out some of the "goofy foolishness" as I’ve seen over the years from librarians. Not that professors can’t be goofy. They certainly can be. But I’ve never seen anything to rival the "Library 101" or "Digital Native" videos for sheer vapidity.

It could be because the average professor is smarter than the average librarian, or at least smarter in ways I appreciate. There are analogous concerns among professors, especially some of them in the humanities, that their profession isn’t appreciated or that it might go away. But when they worry about connecting to regular folk and making the case for their profession, they think about doing it with rational discourse rather than silly videos. Both are wastes of time, but the choice itself says something.

I know a few lawyers, too, and couldn’t imagine them doing some of the things librarians do to supposedly promote the profession. The same is probably true of doctors as well, though I wouldn’t put anything past politicians.

The difference between librarianship and more lucrative professions is that those professionals would never put out a document or video that would be forwarded around with the adjective, "cute," as someone mentioned the "Digital Native" video was. Serious professionals don’t want to be seen as "cute." Competent, intelligent, knowledgeable, yes. Cute, no.

Some librarians want the profession to be considered "hip" as well. Good grief. Who cares about hip when you have important work to do? The people most obsessed with their public image are the people with the least substance behind the image.

I don’t know what motivates this drive for cuteness or even hipness. Is it an inferiority complex of some kind? Were those librarians always picked last for things when they were children? The librarian leaving the comment obviously doesn’t feel inferior or unappreciated. Most of the librarians I know don’t feel the need to exhibit themselves as "cute" or "hip." They seem to feel okay plodding along doing things like…their jobs.

If the foolishness didn’t make professional librarians look like silly, desperate people, I wouldn’t mind so much, and the Annoyed Librarian would have little reason to exist. The cutesy and silly librarians don’t seem to get it, though. They just don’t understand how someone could find their antics ridiculous, or even professionally embarrassing. Any criticism is just too "negative."

Maybe one day librarians will be less desperate to show how cute and cool and hip they are. Or maybe there just won’t be any librarians. Either way, the problem would be solved. The question remains, though. Are librarians the only silly professionals?

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Comments

  1. RadicalPatron says:

    This campaign goes back awhile. In 1970 the ALA hung a daffy librarian from a pole on the cover of American Libraries.
    (www.radicalpatron.com/libraries-protect-that-brand/)

  2. M2M says:

    Agreed. Many of us use these tools the twopointopians keep promoting, but we’re not trying to base the value of the profession on them. We need to be pushing our value and credibility, not the kind of foolishness we’ve seen from the recent 101 and “digital native” videos.

  3. JustaMLSclerk says:

    The whole thing falls apart when you say librarians are professionals.

    Face it, they aren’t.

    They are no better than the high school grad who get hired at Barnes and Noble.

    And that goes for public librarians, academic librarians, school librarians, legal librarians, catalogers, reference, and any other group of library clerks that I have slighted.

    Have a nice day!

  4. fc7s3 says:

    I can see teachers doing something silly like that.

  5. Gruel says:

    JustaMLSclerk commented: “The whole thing falls apart when you say librarians are professionals.Face it, they aren’t.They are no better than the high school grad who get hired at Barnes and Noble. ”

    I keep wondering what it is you self-identified librarian “clerks” do all day, if you keep wondering what it is to be professional. The reason why doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc…, are seen as professional is because they aren’t insecure about themselves. They don’t question whether they are or not, they just are. If you saw a dentist that appeared to be having an identity crisis about his “professionalism” you wouldn’t let them treat you, would you? Same thing goes for a lawyer, astronaut or car mechanic. The reason you trust them is because they trust themselves to do the best job possible.

    Confidence is 9/10ths of the job interview. The problem with librarians is that many of them flounder about and do not understand what value they give to the community. If you see yourself as just a clerk who helps people find books and answers trivia questions, then that’s what you are. If, instead, you see yourself as contributing to your community by supporting their needs, like providing resume classes, e-government services, and literacy tutoring, then that’s what you are.

    The librarian profession is unique in that our job is defined by the needs of our patrons more so than any other profession. When the economy turns for the worse, we can respond directly to the crisis. Whether or not a library chooses to do so determines its success as an institution that has the confidence and trust of the people. So, if a librarian feels that they are just a clerk, then the value of the library itself comes into question – especially in times like these when the budget is on the line. It’s too bad that library schools do such a poor job at defining librarian identity and value, because it seems so many of the fold simply do not have an inkling of purpose to measure success or failure.

    Have a nice day!

  6. fat and grumpy says:

    Professions, foo! The practice of law is mostly networking, MDs and vets tell you to look up your disease on the internet. Pharmacists are just as silly as librarians, pretending that count, pour, lick, stick requires a doctorate (PharmD). Even nursing has been largely reduced to paper work with real care devolving on CNAs with a 12 week course in bedpan tending. The only difference between librarians and the other professions is that we get public with our silliness, the others reserve it for their conferences and trade journals.

  7. nerdyMLIS says:

    From personal experience, campaigns designed to make organizations (especially non profits like libraries) seem cool are usually doomed.

    What anyone who’s been declared not cool enough (or ever watched a teen movie for that matter) should recognize is that “cool” is a moving target. To be cool and stay cool is a full time job. And libraries (like churches and other community groups who often try this) rarely have the personnel or cash flow to keep that sort of thing up… if they even manage it once in the first place.

    Should we tell people what librarians have to offer? Sure. Most people don’t have a clue what a librarian does anymore than I have a clue what a Global Accounts Manager or a Senior Business Analyst does on any given day.

    Making sure the library’s intended users know what services are available to them through the library, and making sure those services are what those users need now, is important.

    Having useful things to offer and making sure people know we have useful things to offer is part of being relevant.

    But there’s no point in trying to chase the cool wagon. We’ll never catch it, we’ll look remarkably pathetic trying, and we’ll stop doing the important stuff that we’re doing as we spend all of our time trying to seem important.

  8. gd8t4 says:

    “I can see teachers doing something silly like that.”

    Teachers are not a profession either.

  9. gwern says:

    Clearly people have not spent very much time around programmers – er, I mean, software engineers and architects.

  10. Brent says:

    I think you are in a bubble AL. I’m not sure how you found this video, but it isn’t like many people will see these types of videos, anyway. People typically don’t go out their way to see bad professional videos. There are insipid videos at conferences or organizations for other professions, too. Look harder :)

  11. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    JustaMLSclerk – that’s some mighty broad generalizing in your post. Do you happen to work in a branch library of a big metropolitan library system? That might explain your bitterness. I worked for a brief while in a branch library (in an upscale part of the city) and found the work very unfulfilling. It was work that could have easily been done by a library clerk.

    I’ve since spent years in corporate and academic environments and there my abilities and skills have been appreciated. I have had lots of challenges, opportunities and fun times. I’d be bored out of my gourd had I stayed with dinky branch library work. I didn’t want to spend my life checking out books, handing out romances, tending children, etc.

  12. JustaMLScler says:

    “I’ve since spent years in corporate and academic environments and there my abilities and skills have been appreciated. I have had lots of challenges, opportunities and fun times. I’d be bored out of my gourd had I stayed with dinky branch library work. I didn’t want to spend my life checking out books, handing out romances, tending children, etc.”

    And how many times did academia come running to you to get your advice and wisdom on how to do things?

    Being a librarian is a joke. Anyone can work in a library and call them selves a librarian.

    Hell, most places don’t even require that you prove your abilities or have a license to work in the library.

    You want to cut someone’s hair — gotta have a license or risk legal ramifications.

    You want to be a doctor — gotta have a license or risk legal ramifications.

    Want to do nails in a salon — gotta have a license or risk legal ramifications.

    Want to be a librarian — just bs your way into the door and have at it kid.

    Face it, librarians are still looked at as doing woman’s work and it is not all that important and does not need to be taken seriously or pay as well as the hard stuff men do.

    Librarians never have been a profession and never will be.

  13. JustaMLScler says:

    “I’ve since spent years in corporate and academic environments and there my abilities and skills have been appreciated. I have had lots of challenges, opportunities and fun times. I’d be bored out of my gourd had I stayed with dinky branch library work. I didn’t want to spend my life checking out books, handing out romances, tending children, etc.”

    And how many times did academia come running to you to get your advice and wisdom on how to do things?

    Being a librarian is a joke. Anyone can work in a library and call them selves a librarian.

    Hell, most places don’t even require that you prove your abilities or have a license to work in the library.

    You want to cut someone’s hair — gotta have a license or risk legal ramifications.

    You want to be a doctor — gotta have a license or risk legal ramifications.

    Want to do nails in a salon — gotta have a license or risk legal ramifications.

    Want to be a librarian — just bs your way into the door and have at it kid.

    Face it, librarians are still looked at as doing woman’s work and it is not all that important and does not need to be taken seriously or pay as well as the hard stuff men do.

    Librarians never have been a profession and never will be.

  14. Gruel says:

    I find your comment interesting. Your description reminds me of my brother-in-law speaking about the way surgeons feel about general practitioners and specialists. The “I can’t imagine how they put up with that crap” sentiment. General practitioners have to actually speak with you and listen to you complain, whereas surgeons don’t see you until shortly before the operating table while you are being trussed up like a goose undergoing a liver operation.

    That said, hypothetically, do you feel that you are more “professional” than the children’s librarian who works in a big metro area? What if that librarian loves her job and by all accounts is incredibly successful at it? Would that make her “professional” if she treats it as not just a day-care job, but as her reason for being?

    I personally don’t care for her job either, but I am just trying to determine if our perspective of professionalism is jaded by what we see is unpleasant or pointless. While it may be true that you feel that you received a great deal more support and appreciation from your clients in academia and the corporate world, I bet I can find just as many people who feel the same way about their kids’ children’s librarians (when, of course, that librarian is comfortable and confident in their ability to interact with children).

  15. RealLibrarian says:

    A professional children’s librarian?

    All you need is the ability to read a short book, some Elmer’s glue, and the stomach to mop up after a three year old’s bowel movement following “Green Eggs and Ham”

  16. Gruel says:

    “pay as well as the hard stuff men do. ”

    Now, that’s a different story. Professionalism /= more compensation.

    There are plenty of jobs out there that get paid a great deal more than they are worth “professionally.” I also get the feeling that the silly videos weren’t about getting paid more money. Getting librarians to be serious about that is a different beast entirely – one that involves unions, lawsuits, and a true attempt to change the culture that sees us as easily placated.

  17. observer says:

    Look at all the articles in the “professional” journals, etc. about the need for libraries to market themselves. Go to an index of library periodicals, look up marketing and see how many hits you get. Books are being written on it, too. I would guess that the videos we are seeing are the fruit of that. I suppose its not just the folks who are tech savvy. They are doing what marketing they know to do with the means they have at hand. Some people write, some people apply for grants, some people lobby, some people do media.

  18. Gruel says:

    “All you need is the ability to read a short book, some Elmer’s glue, and the stomach to mop up after a three year old’s bowel movement following “Green Eggs and Ham”"

    + track a budget
    + interface with schools, teachers and parents
    + schedule large, +1 hour programs
    + coordinate staff, resources and volunteers
    + actual talent that engages children
    + enthusiasm to do this over and over again
    + many other qualities

    There is a huge difference between a successful children’s librarian that works hard to have great children’s programming (I am not even including collection development or other facets of the job) as compared to the children’s librarian that simply reads books and cleans up vomit.

    I had the “just read a book” librarian at my library. I fired her. The new one is working out much better.

  19. Real Librarian says:

    Wow.

    I am impressed Gruel.

    Where did you find those professional standards?

    Are they license requirements for being a Children’s Librarian, or did you make them up to fit your situation.

    Thanks for proving my point.

    Librarians will not be looked at as professionals until there are some standards to be measured against.

    And having an MLS from an ALA accredited school will on count for one tenth of one percent for those standards.

  20. another f-ing librarian says:

    1. if you have to work to appear ‘cool’, you’re already just not. give it up.

    2. we have a problem, and thrashing the ‘professionalism’ question isn’t going to solve it. our problem — reference librarians’ problem, that is — is that we don’t know where the line really is between our job and our readers’ job. in fact, it may well depend on the day. do we mediate searching? or do we get frustrated with our patrons because they haven’t attended search training; or because they did, but still don’t know how to search? does this depend on the day and our mood? do our patrons think we’re a bunch of psychopaths?

    face it. clearing a paper jam? our job. re-booting a crashed computer? our job. telling people where the restrooms are? our job. finding information? a lot of patrons think they know how, but don’t and aren’t going to ask, and aren’t going to tell even if we bug them. not our job. a lot of patrons do know how, some better than we do. not our job. library doesn’t have what they need? i.l.l. = our job. some patrons don’t know how, and admit ignorance right off the bat? totally our job!! we love these people the most, because they approach us with appropriate reverence and convey a clear understanding that we are way smarter than they are. and that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?

    we need to figure out our role and be consistent. which may be impossible, because *people* aren’t consistent in their moods or in their needs/desires.

  21. Techserving You says:

    Regarding the desire to be seen as “hip” (which annoys me to no end… it’s trading one stereotype for another) – my theory is that many librarians were total nerds growing up (and not nerdy in a good way, or at least nerdy before nerdy was cool.) Expectations for librarians are so low that anyone who is remotely cool… no, not cool, just normal (does not have a crippling personality disorder, does not put his or her clothes on in the dark each morning) thinks they are hot stuff. They have a chance to finally be cool, at least to someone, and they are embracing it.

  22. Gruel says:

    Real Librarian “Thanks for proving my point.”

    While I am unsure how the “Green Eggs and Ham” argument led to “standards”, I am happy to help.

    As a related subject, perhaps this is a good topic for the AL in the future:

    Should we fire librarians more frequently for lack of performance?

    I think that if we are going to create standards for librarians to follow, then they should be held accountable. In my experience, most library administrators are scared of firing anyone (unless something illegal was involved). They hold on to useless sacks of MLS certified people even though they detract from the quality of the library.

    If the ALA is not going to instill a sense of purpose, clear measurable goals, perhaps this is a case where library administrators can affect the standards by enforcing them by themselves.

  23. Real Librarian says:

    The ALA?

    You are kidding, right?

    Please tell me you are kidding.

    Once again, look at the name of the organization. American LIBRARY Association. They are the Man, man.

    It is as if Doctors looked to the American Hospital Association instead of the AMA.

    The ALA would much rather worry about social issues in Africa than librarians in America. It is cooler plus it keeps them looking like good guys instead of the bourgeoisie scum that they are, letting librarians think that they are part of something when they clearly are not.

    Sorry, I have to get back to work now. Before the boss comes in and docks me time for goofing off.

  24. Gruel says:

    Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear… Let me clarify my abbreviation:

    “As a related subject, perhaps this is a good topic for the Annoyed Librarian (AL) in the future:”

    I mentioned the ALA in the latter part of the post, because I was stating that they do not provide an adequate standard.

  25. Real Librarain says:

    “I mentioned the ALA in the latter part of the post, because I was stating that they do not provide an adequate standard.”

    Because they don’t care about librarians.

    Unless of course they are in Cuba, or are gay, or really really cool and bring in money to the Library.

    Otherwise, if you are a run of the mill librarian you are just $hit and should shut up and follow the party line.

  26. jadedlibrarian says:

    How about rodeo clowns? They’re professional and silly.

  27. Real Librarian says:

    “How about rodeo clowns? They’re professional and silly.”

    And licensed!

  28. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Don’t forget bartenders. They’re professionals, too.

  29. Real Librarian says:

    “Don’t forget bartenders. They’re professionals, too.”

    And licensed, too!

  30. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    You mean you have to licensed to be a rodeo clown? Shucks. There goes my second career. Wait! On second thought, I did waste my time earning an MLS, why not just get the license for a rodeo clown too and waste more money? What the hell.

  31. Real Librarian says:

    Yes, you did waste money on your MLS.

    If you opened up a business giving out information and looking things up for folks, you could do that if you were a grade school dropout. (Whether or not you stayed in business is up to the market and how good you were.)

    Try that by dispensing law. Your local bar association will have you behind bars in a matter of minutes.

    Practicing storefront medicine on your own? Better have a license.

    Day Care?

    Barber Shop?

    Seems the information game is one where any old schmuck can do it.

    MLS or not.

  32. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Real Librarian:

    I agree with you that the MLS is a waste of time and money. Look at many parapros in academic libraries. They do not have the MLS but they have decent jobs. Plus they did not go into extra debt earning a degree that is most likely not going to get you anywhere, yet, they work in a library.

    You know what pisses me off the most? How all of these recent grads are just groveling and kissing lots of ass to get these jobs and most of them are part time. That, or the library wants to hire someone with a gazillion years of experience just to earn $30,000. Talk about exploitation. Shame on them.

  33. Real Librarian says:

    Thanks LIS for the spot on analysis.

    If I were in the room with you, I would give you a big kiss.

  34. Rex_Libris says:

    Book cart drill team…. say no more!

  35. merricat says:

    I may not have a license, but I am one of the 144,000 librarians that are going to heaven to rule with Christ over the ALA; and, I have a cotton crown.

  36. Bruce Campbell says:

    I think that if we are going to create standards for librarians to follow, then they should be held accountable. In my experience, most library administrators are scared of firing anyone (unless something illegal was involved). They hold on to useless sacks of MLS certified people even though they detract from the quality of the library.

    YES. I’ve never run into so many slouchy people who never take initiative until I worked in libraries. Man, in this profession you can phone it in for 40 years and then retire. Set some standards for performance. We can only be taken serious if we take our positions seriously by having some expectations of our workforce.

  37. merricat says:

    @Bruce: “YES. I’ve never run into so many slouchy people who never take initiative until I worked in libraries. Man, in this profession you can phone it in for 40 years and then retire.”

    Yeah, I mean, you’re right. This is definitely one of my favorite ways to kill time. I also like to go down into “the stacks” for naps. The best thing about my job, however, are the leisurely strolls I take at lunch, usually to the park for a game or two of chess. When I get back I like to check up on my Facebook, perhaps roll one before I move a few papers around on my desk. You could say its a great job!

    I like to think of myself as The Dude of librarianship.

  38. Bruce Campbell says:

    @Merricat Your revolution is over. Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a real job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, merricat?

  39. merricat says:

    @Bruce: Ah, F-it! :)

    The Big Lebowski has the power to bring nations together!

  40. Professional Librarian says:

    I have to say that your blog is a disgrace to the profession that most certainly is librarianship. Perhaps the people who have commented on your blog in support of librarians as a “silly profession” need to walk in the shoes of a librarian. I can honestly & unequivocally say that my job is a profession, I have worked hard to shape it and improve and not just anyone could do my job. Those of you who do not believe this be true have truly never encountered a librarian. Yes it is true that the public sees anyone who works at a library as a librarian, but I can guarantee that not everyone who works at a library can call themselves a librarian. How dare you demean an entire profession as a whole for our creative, if not slightly left of center endeavors? If the public knew of our vast knowledge and value, then we would not have to stoop to the level of silliness. Librarians are however, humble and eager to help the public in any shape or form, be it silly or otherwise.

  41. Progressional Librarian says:

    We’re humbled, Professional Librarian. Will you accept our full contrition?

  42. me too says:

    You all need a beer and a good shagging. Take a breath. We’re all going to die someday and nobody will give a sh*t. Listen to a bird singing or something, but put your bullsh*t to rest. I mean it: go grab a beer and chill.

  43. TwoQatz says:

    A lot of this reads like sour grapes – people who got the degree and cannot find a job, people who got the degree (because they “loved” books) and find they hate the work.

    A good children’s librarian is a treasure but I don’t want to do it and couldn’t do it well for $500,000 a year. I do like college students, young and old, and in our small private university environment, most of the librarians are regarded as valued members of the academic community. We have a couple slackers but you find that in every workplace. Sometimes the dummies, the sloths and the checked-out have powerful allies.

  44. Legal-Beagle says:

    “We have a couple slackers but you find that in every workplace.”

    Sorry TwoQatz, if you slack here, you are fired.

    We have accountability here at the firm and if you give incorrect, outdated information or do not meet a deadline, you are gone.

    All librarianship is not touchy-feely.

  45. Cranky in NE says:

    Not to imply that I am a supporter of these dopey videos- because I am not; but it is not clear to me why, exactly, the AL is so concerned about them? Perhaps it is my New England blood but I think she should mind her own business. The silly videos don’t impact her one iota. I would bet that she (and the rest of us for that matter) are judged by the quality of our work and our abilities – not by these tragic attempts at ‘hipness’
    Do you think that maybe you are giving the videos and their creators more importance than they deserve simply by blogging about them? Maybe that is what makes librarians different; I have never seen an attorney wringing their hands over the stupid adds by ambulance-chasers on TV and wondering if it makes their profession seem less professional.

  46. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Cranky, you need your 7/11 Coffee. :) While the second video probably didn’t deserve the attention it got, I truly believe the first video deserved what it got, and the AL’s pointing out of the Emperor’s new cloths stopped a bad thing from getting worse. Remember they had a whole marketing campaign including blogs, Facebook pages etc. It was planned as a campaign.
    Cranky your right about the ambulance chasing commercials making lawyers look even worse; thats why we have to stop bad library videos before they get out to the public.

  47. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Legal beagle: just don’t whack me on the fingers with a ruler. I suppose you have never accidentally given wrong or outdated information ever in your career?

  48. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Professional librarian: “I can honestly & unequivocally say that my job is a profession, I have worked hard to shape it and improve and not just anyone could do my job.”

    I didn’t realize that I need skills to point to a copy machine or bathroom and say, “It’s over there.”

  49. Mayor McCheese says:

    Politicians?

    Man they will do ANYTHING to get attention.

    They attend every pot-luck in their district. They promise everything to every group.

    Why?

    So they can get elected to office.

    And what is their chief occupation once they are in office?

    Trying to get reelected or elected to a higher office by going to a bunch more pot-lucks, baby kissing, etc.

    They don’t do anything substantial.

    Ever.

  50. Legal-Beagle says:

    “Legal beagle: just don’t whack me on the fingers with a ruler. I suppose you have never accidentally given wrong or outdated information ever in your career?”

    Yes I have.

    And gotten docked pay, called onto the carpet and screamed at, had to work until 3 am to fix the problem, etc.

    And yes, I have been fired several times.

    Any of the above may happen again, but that is what the world of giving out meaningful information is.

    When ALL librarians stand behind their profession and are willing to take a bullet for it, then it will be a profession.

  51. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Legal Beagle: I have to respectfully say that either

    a) you are in the wrong profession and need to find another line of work

    or

    b) you worked for some very unreasonable employers.

    I am not saying that laziness should be rewarded (but it will be because of the administration we now have in DC–but that is another issue). We all make mistakes at the desk. Not every reference interview goes smoothly or we always give the most accuate information. Yes, if it is habitual, that person needs to be let go. But if you were fired or screamed at because of one or two mistakes, those people are just too uptight and I am glad I do not work for them.

  52. Legal-Beagle says:

    LIS, you have never worked in a law library where lawyers need accurate information right now and if you can’t provide it they will find someone who can.

    And I bet you haven’t worked in a medical library where information is a matter of life or death.

    Now, go back to your reference desk and dispense whatever it is that you do. Right or wrong. It doesn’t matter, it is an answer, isn’t it?

  53. Un-professional Librarian says:

    “I have worked hard to shape it and improve and not just anyone could do my job.”

    I saw that on a sign above the station where the guy who cleans the vomit out of taxis works.

    Does that make him a professional?

  54. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Legal-Beagle:

    I am not saying an answer is any answer. We just try to assist the patron as best as we can. Sometimes we miss the mark. I understand that accuracy is important, but you cannot expect to be perfect all the time.

  55. Legal-Beagle says:

    “I am not saying an answer is any answer. We just try to assist the patron as best as we can. Sometimes we miss the mark. I understand that accuracy is important, but you cannot expect to be perfect all the time.”

    Nope.

    We cannot always be right.

    But, in many library settings, you have no feedback as to whether or not you gave out good information. If a patron is unhappy, more than likely they will just grumble and moan and go on with life. Few and far between are the ones that actually complain.

    If a lawyer goes to to trial with misinformation and has his head handed to him by an opposing attorney or judge, they never let it slide.

    You hear about it.

  56. Recent MLS Grad says:

    When are some of the top end boomer professional librarians going to finally retire so I have a shot at a job.

    This is what is going to kill the “profession”. People are going to hang onto their jobs because they are indispensable and the next generation of librarians will wind up at McDonald’s.

    By the time they wheel out these dinosaurs, there will be no one wanting to move into these jobs because the innovation will have been totally sucked out of it.

  57. Michael Cera says:

    Impossible is the Opposite of Possible.

  58. JR says:

    I think that this focus on being hip and offbeat is a detriment to librarianship. If librarians want to be perceived as true professionals, they need to focus less on image and more on being knowledgeable professionals. Spending more time advocating for funding support for better technology so that the perception that libraries are no longer relevant, which is perpetuated by lousy library technology, would also help the profession. There’s a great article– “From Wisdom to Wi-Fi” — in the Feb. 9, 2010 Wall Street Journal that highlights the changes in libraries.

  59. Bruce Campbell says:

    I respect Legal-Beagles POV and his profession.

    A real profession has consequences. I don’t think librarians have consequences. That’s why it attracts slouches. I’ve worked in two different public library systems and I’d say I was the hardest working guy. Mainly because I was a new fish and wanted to impress. But it was also because no one was really raising the bar.

  60. Big Pig says:

    To Recent MLS grad: Perhaps you’ll get some experience in public service at McDonald’s. Being a boomer does not make a person a dinosaur anymore than being a new MLS makes a person a grand innovator. Hope you land a professional job soon; perhaps you’ll gain the maturity you need.

  61. Recent MLS Grad says:

    Just the canned response you would expect from someone marking off the calendar until full, vested retirement.

  62. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Recent:

    Exactly! You will have “public service experience” at McDonalds, but because it wasn’t in a library, you will not get hired. Big Pig either works for ALA or is an instructor at a library school. IGNORE HIS/HER ADVICE AT ALL COSTS!

  63. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Legal-Beagle:

    If this is the case, again, I say this respectfully, I think you should avoid the law and medical libraries because you mentioned getting fired a lot. You should find another library to work at where you are not as pressured and can have more job security.

  64. Legal-Beagle says:

    Thanks for the advice.

    I think I will go work in a public library.

    I can tell people anything and because I am a Union hack, it will take an act of God to have me disciplined.

  65. Sonny Hill says:

    LIS degrees are a joke: why don’t you spend a little more time trying to find a job, or working a little harder at the one you have and apparently hate, and a little less ranting on a professional librarian’s blog? If you’re truly spending your time pointing toward the bathroom, clearly you are not a professional, and that’s not the fault of the industry, it’s your own.

  66. John says:

    If what we do is professional work, it should be self-evident to our customers through our work product.

  67. John says:

    Bruce Campbell wrote:

    “A real profession has consequences. I don’t think librarians have consequences. That’s why it attracts slouches. I’ve worked in two different public library systems and I’d say I was the hardest working guy. Mainly because I was a new fish and wanted to impress. But it was also because no one was really raising the bar.”

    That’s pretty much my experience, too. I mean, I’m here on a reference desk casually blogging.

    I’ve worked in three different professions and in three different systems as a librarian, and I’ve never worked a library job that made serious demands on my time. Maybe there are overworked librarians out there, but outside of directors, I’ve never, ever met one.

    By the way — I loved you in Evil Dead. Great movie!

  68. Jane says:

    Just noticing a trend here.

    If you are a gold-brick and nobody checks up on you, you keep your job and get promoted.

    If you try to be innovative, proactive, and do your job to the utmost of your ability you get a pink slip.

    I guess librarians are the utmost of socialists.

  69. Hippieman says:

    Yeah, socialists don’t work. What a crock. The criminal corporatists on Wall Street don’t do a lick of work, man. Sit around pushing papers while real people create the wealth, and these cretins live off their labor. Capitalism is a swindle, man. The biggest fraud since authoritarian communism. Matter of fact, there isn’t much difference between Soviet Marxism and US Social Darwinian capitalism.

  70. Jane says:

    Hippieman,

    Go smoke another joint and chill.

    Your boss won’t care because he is cool with the cause and you don’t really have to work.

    Peace out, man.

  71. Techserving You says:

    Uh, Professional Librarian, I think most of the people commenting ARE librarians (and therefore walk in the shoes of a librarian.)

  72. Techserving You says:

    And yes, I have the degree, I got a “good” job (decent pay for a librarian, cushy office, great benefits, elite institution) and have always gotten every job I have gone for.

    Still I agree with almost everything the AL says. It’s not sour grapes on my part.

  73. AL=RK says:

    “Uh, Professional Librarian, I think most of the people commenting ARE librarians (and therefore walk in the shoes of a librarian.)”

    Sadly, the AL is not a librarian, but a paid journalist.

    Too bad the grand poo-bah here is out of the loop.

  74. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Jane:
    Hippieman is just a troll and knows absolutely nothing about economics or business. That’s why he is a librarian.

  75. Jane says:

    I couldn’t distinguish between the troll smell or the hippie smell.

    All I know is that if you truly are a hippie and not a hippie wanna be, you should be seriously thinking about retirement.

    Then, you could just flashback on your glorious career and entertain the folks down at the old Marx home.

  76. librarEwoman says:

    In response to Bruce Campbell, Jane, and John:

    I agree that many libraries seem to set a pretty low bar for employee performance. The public library where I work is no exception. I especially appreciate the comment Jane made about innovative thinking not being rewarded in many libraries. Where I work, I have actually been scolded for pointing out areas in which we can improve and starting discussions about how these improvements could happen. Why? Because my manager did not think of it first and thinks she will look bad if anyone realizes this. That attitude permeates the workforce of our entire library. During my MLS program, I was taught to be innovative and strive for the best service possible to library patrons. What they should have taught is a class on workplace politics. When considering these workplace politics, innovators are rarely appreciated.

    Of course, the library workforce is not the only place in which this is a problem. I’m sure every workforce out there has plenty of people who stifle innovative employees because they make others look bad.

  77. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Jane:
    Really. Someone needs to either get out of the 60s or stop wishing they lived during those times. Revolution: FAIL!

  78. Jan Brady is Dead says:

    I don’t know why y’all are bitter over having a job that doesn’t require much effort. I thought this was everyone’s dream. Instead of complaining about how hard librarianship ought to be, you should be singing its praises for offering the kind of low-stress profession everyone craves. I’m happy to have my legs up on the desk with an Irish coffee and plenty of time to kill in between projects to read all the hilarious nonsense on this blog post.

    And as for the dumb kid who thinks us older people are going to quit our jobs so his/her false sense of entitlement-arse can have my job: HA! a fool’s paradise is better than none, I suppose.

  79. Dr. Innovation says:

    I have stopped trying to innovate on the job.

    The last couple of ideas I have come up with were shot down by the boss as impractical.

    They did come to light when the boss ran them up the flagpole and got a raise and promotion for innovative thinking.

    It must be nice to be a MAN in charge.

  80. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    “It must be nice to be a MAN in charge.”

    Yes, it is as a matter of fact. Thank God I’m male!

  81. too much coffee man says:

    Profession? Who would WANT to be professional? Amateur is so much more enjoyable.

  82. krankor says:

    Yes, innovators or anyone who wants to make simple changes are objects of scorn by the old guard. I am not a millennial and I notice it, too. Mediocrity is lauded. I have worked in many places and they are all the same. MLS programs do an awful job preparing new librarians for the realities of the workplace. In addition, I am afraid the cult of the “rockstar librarian” who touts innovation after innovation you find out there in blogland is no help either. They are either flat-out lucky or their colleagues secretly resent the hell out of them.

  83. Midge says:

    You know what other professions don’t do as much as librarians? Whine.

  84. krankor sore says:

    And look at some rockstar librarians resume. They never last anywhere for long.

    They are always moving on to bigger and better things.

  85. wassup says:

    I have seen some of these “innovators” come up with self-described brilliant ideas after a month on the job, which if ennacted, resulted in 1)wasted $, 2)fire hazards(!), 3)negative impact on other areas of the operation, which in turn, created a larger workload for other staff, who, by the way, may have had a similiar “brilliant” idea when they first started. Improvements that don’t hamstring other operations can be extremely beneficial, but sometimes change for the sake of change can be damaging to morale and to the organisation.

  86. Glenn Storbeck, PCLS says:

    If folks need some sort of justifaction for why we are here, I suggest reading “Books on Fire”. Libraries have always been under threat and yet find some way to survive because they are critical to all literate societies. Now if we can only survive the idiots of our profession (I am not an ALA member, no way), and the young librarians who know little but think they have solved all of our problems, we can survive anything.

  87. merricat says:

    One of the greatest assets of the traditional library is human interaction; but instead of it being supported as our “niche market” in the world of information some librarians are more concerned with keeping up with the Googles of the world. This is impossible for so many reasons, e.g. dearth of resources (mostly financial, but also the sad pay the profession pays does not attract the talent that a Google can afford to attract), it is therefore doomed to fail accordingly if competing with Google is its goal.

    The other thing is that if in fact human interaction is our greatest strength, it is nevertheless weakened due to the preponderance of introverted socially inept people attracted, ironically, to a public service / customer service profession, which is something that always amazed me.

  88. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    wassup has a point – over the course of 30 years as a para and a librarian I’ve seen my share of “innovators.” They leave their mess behind and move on to other library systems. Where they do the same thing. A real innovator is one who comes in to an organization that has been stripped of morale by years of bad management and revitalizes the whole shebang. In one library it was as simple as the new head believing in participatory management – people who had given up decided to recommit themselves to the profession/work/whatever you want to call it. The biggest problem I’ve faced in 30 years is bad bad bad managers – too many libraries are the embodiment of the Peter Principle.

  89. de la Tour d'Auvergne fan says:

    Stop writing pissy comments and help the people find the books.

  90. de la Tour d'Auvergne fan says:

    (…and that was directed only to the people actually writing pissy comments. The ones writing comments with well-constructed arguments and cogent observations are OK.)

  91. Pissant Librarian says:

    de la Tour d’Auvergne is full of piss and vinegar.

    Too bad dlTd’A doesn’t write well-constructed arguments and cogent observations.

    Now all of you, GET BACK TO WORK and do what I say. If you had any good and inventive ideas, you would be engineers and not clerks.

  92. de la Tour de Auvergne fan says:

    Yes, Pissant Librarian, when I wrote the comment I was full of piss and vinegar as you say – which is no worse than many others who comment here. It is indeed too bad I didn’t write a comment with a well-constructed argument and cogent observations, but I figure I’ve done that before enough and I was due my turn at a pissy, baseless comment devoid of substance. Also, I wrote that on my day off, not when I should have been working, so your get-back-to-work directive can’t apply to me because I wasn’t supposed to be working in the first place. So ha-hah.

    Also, I’m just a de la Tour d’Auvergne *fan*, not a member of the family myself.

  93. Dan says:

    It makes me a little ashamed of myself to see all of the criticism directed to librarians trying to act cool. I’ve done it myself, but the criticism seems cruel and lacking in empathy. The library profession probably draws heavily from people who were bookish and intelligent, but not cool, even when they were young. As we age, we feel even less connected to popular culture and more desparate to be relevant and included. There isn’t much to celebrate in pointing at the unhip, the geeks, the unattractive, and the unpopular and ridiculing their attempts to be part of the world, to be thought of as cool, and to be loved. That action seems an equally sad attempt to distance oneself from the uncool.

  94. TheCommonGood says:

    Did you mean “desperate” Dan?

    I have known some librarians who were desparate: “containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements.” :) Whether intentional or not, the typo made my day.