Those social media fans amongst you may well recognise the hashtag in the title of this post - #iamalibrarian. Exploring this feed on Twitter enables you to see a small snapshot of the lives of Librarians across the globe, certainly fascinating reading in such a varied and often misunderstood profession.
It seems that despite Librarians having been in existence for centuries, there is still so often a misperception and stereotype that a Librarian solely stacks and loans books. Yet, those of us in the know are fully aware that this is not the case. A library is about so much more than the physical space it inhabits, and the skill and value of a Librarian stretches far beyond the loaning of a book. Diverse though as their roles are, all Librarians are united by one common passion - to discover and share information. It is this zest for learning and the desire to pass it on to others that prevails across industries, organisations and even borders.
So, what do we see as examples of the true value of Librarians?
There’s no better way to put it than in the words of yourselves:
As Kaye says, Librarians very much are search engineers. There is a wealth of information available to us, and search engines such as Google - invaluable as they are - tend to exasperate the misconception that technologically competent Millennials can do it all themselves. Though, as we see, “Google can bring you 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you the right one”. Whilst search engine results may be there in number, their quality, accuracy, relevancy and currentness remain to be seen. That’s where the Librarian saves the day.
From navigating questionable information:
To finding what’s important in and amongst the white noise:
What about when Librarians surprise sceptics?
Despite the incredible value of Librarians, the library stereotype means that scepticism and poor understanding continues to prevail.
When users and coworkers don’t believe in your skills:
When you bust a couple of misconceptions:
#iamalibrarian & I spent the day saving a burning PC and writing HTML code for another librarian, all whilst wearing jeans and NO tweed.— Tom (@TommyMarkP) September 30, 2016
#iamalibrarian - student once said to me, "I didn't realise men could work in libraries - I thought it was just women"— Tom (@TommyMarkP) September 30, 2016
Or when someone learns that there’s so much more to your role than first perceived:
#iamalibrarian and I also spend most of my days fielding questions about how many books I stamp— Rosie Scallon (@rosiescallon) September 30, 2016
Wait, what do Librarians really do?
So we’ve challenged the lack of knowledge as to the value that Librarians and libraries bring, we’ve explored some of the ways that Librarians have surprised sceptics, and considered a handful of the challenges Librarians across the board face each day in fighting for their budgets.
What about what Librarians do day-to-day? By now we are more than aware that it stretches far beyond the perceived stamping and lending of books.
From offering invaluable guidance:
To helping save lives:
#iamalibrarian and today I am checking the budget report and helping out dementia team by finding info to reduce falls— Heather Steele (@HeatherBake) September 30, 2016
Whilst some are working with technology to create something new:
#Iamalibrarian and today I'm working on a PHP script for a web application to submit user registration data to the Alma API.— Simon Barron (@SimonXIX) September 29, 2016
And others aren't even using books:
#iamalibrarian and I work to make sure that NHS staff have access to the best evidence. Sometimes I go all day without touching a book.— Rachel P (@archelina) September 29, 2016
Why be a Librarian?
The most common theme that comes up time after time again, speaking with Librarians in person, via Twitter or elsewhere is a passion for the unknown day - not knowing what will happen or how the day will pan out, only that they will surely discover and learn something new.
No two days the same, each more rewarding than the last. Constantly surprised, constantly inspired #iamalibrarian— Joanne Cousins (@JoanneCousins) September 29, 2016
It seems that Librarians from all sectors - public and private - are united in a passion for what they do and why they do it. It is this zest for learning, discovering and sharing new information that transcends roles and industries to unite all those that say #iamalibrarian.
Tell us, why are you a Librarian? How have you broken the stereotype? Join us on Twitter to continue the conversation: