Yes, I’m a library lady.*

I knew that pursuing a career in Library Sciences would likely have some Rodney Dangerfield-esque consequences to it.  Say it with me kids… “I get no respect!”  But I did it any way ’cause I’m bad ass like that and because I really loved what libraries did for me as a youth.  As if books!! on books!! on books!! weren’t enough, they also had cool programs, free plays/performances, story telling, classes, poetry readings, art shows, etc.  I always felt at home in a library.

Fast forward 20 or so years, I have the requisite degree–A Masters in Library Science, I work in my local Central branch and I often get met with the terms of disrespect (henceforth referred to as T.O.D.) that I anticipated about my line of work.  Usually its something like; “Don’t you just shelve books all day?” or “Librarian? Isn’t that boring?!”

I usually don’t sweat it because on some level I knew it’d be par for the course and mostly it comes from people who really don’t use the library and therefore don’t see the value it brings to the community.   Normally I just use that as a teaching moment and fill the person in about library awesomeness.  But there was a recent incident in which an intelligent, learned person (who used library services often) uttered the T.O.D. in these particular words: “Degree?! You need a degree to put books in alphabetical order?!”

This was a pat your weave moment boys and girls.  I guess you could say those were the T.O.D. that broke the camel’s back.

After my weave was sufficiently patted, I explained to the young woman that the degree was needed to do a myriad of other things that we library ladies* (and fellas) are charged with doing.  I’ll illustrate below.

Lets just get this one outta the way:

Yes, some Librarians do shelve books.

But we also do this:

A library is an agency–an institution, it needs to be managed. Librarians manage them doing things like accounting, acquisitions etc.

What are they doing? Why they’re being librarians! Cataloging and classifying all kinds of resources from personal papers to books to music, film etc.

Librarians can also work in a limited curator’s capacity as many libraries host art installations.

Librarians frequently teach, train and present to the public as well as to colleagues.

Librarians often digitize resources as we move into a largely electronic resource era.

Project management is a very common duty for librarians.

Not to mention research, outreach, story time, teen and adult programming etc.  Just thought I’d give folks something to think about.  I don’t expect to change the perception of librarians overnight.  It’s enough that I love what I do (88% of the time) and that I’m rockin with the late, great Rodney D!

Loved that guy!

*Since folks like to deal in archetypes, think lunch lady but subtract the hair net and add glasses and a sweater—now I will admit that I do stay with a sweater on my shoulders. Its cold in here!

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