Monday, September 26, 2005

Questions about becoming a librarian (Part 1)

One reason for this blog is to give non-librarians an insight into what a public librarian might do. Of course I am NOT the only public service librarian around; what I do is NOT the definitive Public Librarian job scope; I do NOT blog everything about what I do as a public service librarian. Truth be told, I'm more in a management position (but hey, management and librarianship are not mutually exclusive).

OK, let me share something that I believe most librarians would have experienced. Whenever someone ask us what we do (usually out of politeness), and we start to answer, we're likely to have the following responses:
  1. The other person's eyes glazing over;
  2. They give the perfunctory "Oh, that's nice" response, but they really don't have a clue what the heck is it that you do, except that you work at "The Library".

So I thought blogging a little of what I do (i.e. show-and-tell blog-style) might be a more effective way, especially when people tend to Google nowadays. There was a chance of people doing a google search, picking up a (Singapore) librarian's blog, and learning more about the things ONE particular librarian does.

What I did not expect was people contacting me to ask about careers in librarianship.

It's a bonus of sorts. I think one would have to first understand a bit about what a librarian does, before one got interested in being a librarian. So I'd hazard a guess that I've met one of my initial objective in a small sort of way.

Of course I don't get tons of enquiries about being a librarian. To date, I think I've got 3 or 4 emails asking me what a librarian does (and at least 2 of them were interested in applying to NLB to be one). And recently, these comments posted here. Maybe I should start getting an exact count.

I've heard librarians say that Librarianship is not respected as a profession. I don't profess to have answers to resolve that image problem.

But I know first-hand that blogging about what we do is one way to connect with our customers and potential colleagues to the profession.

And I most certainly agree with this quote from Cluetrain:
There’s a new conversation between and among your market and your workers. It’s making them smarter and it’s enabling them to discover their human voices. You have two choices. You can continue to lock yourself behind facile corporate words and happytalk brochures. Or you can join the conversation. (p. ixi - Foreword)

(Next, Part 2)

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  1. cool. can't wait for your next post in the series.
    i'd say librarianship is not respected as a profession here in singapore, because librarians here (from my experience) have been largely inaccessible, and thus have not been able to change my perceptions (you're a glaring exception). most of those 'librarians' i've come into contact with are not librarians in the technical sense of the word - they are just people who work in libraries, and i have not been impressed by them.
    but i was (still am) highly impressed by this librarian (a professor) in the US who contributes to this list i'm in - he's hyper-efficient, always ready to give a reading list whenever someone asks. and you know he knows his stuff.

  2. You can't wait? Oh boy... the pressure :) Thanks for sharing your perspectives. I speak for myself what I say it's important for librarians to know what non-librarians really think or perceive about our profession.

  3. Do u work at the top floor ultr uber cool new library HQ along North Bridge Road? Wonderfully fantastic view u've got up there, i must say.

  4. Anonymous1:34 pm

    Thank you for answering my question in your previous post, though i think you completely missed the point of my query. I wanted to find out about the job from you, hence I read your blog and posted questions. Nonetheless, I will patiently await part 2 of this post for the answers. From the title, I anticipate you will be providing alot of information.

    Best regards.

  5. Hi Michael, no I don't. :)

    To Kitty: Sorry if I didn't address your question completely. Well I thought I got your point and gave a close-enough reply, just that it wasn't something that had a direct answer -- I ramble, remember? :) So anyway, I'm writing this series of post to address questions like the ones you've asked. Thanks for waiting.

  6. Anonymous8:40 pm

    This post was a Ringmaster's (Editor's) Choice for the Carnival of the Infosciences #9 which can be found at:


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