I believe there are certain misconceptions about the roles of a librarian. I think it is also safe to say that a lot of people do not have a full idea about exactly what a librarian does. This is true for me, albeit working as a Graduate Service Assistant in the Library.
Librarians at the University of North Texas (UNT) are awesome, and I enjoy working here. Given my direct access to the librarians here at UNT, I gave out survey questions in a bid to know more about them. Below, we see a summary of the answers I got. I aspire to become a full-time librarian someday, and hearing from the librarians helped me get a better idea what my role would be and how I can attain that level. As you read, I hope it helps you as much as it helped me. Do not hesitate to drop your comments and thoughts in the comment box below.
1. Why did you choose to become a Librarian? Before asking this question, I assumed, they had planned on becoming librarians. Reading their responses however, I realized they did not choose being a librarian as a career!! Librarianship chose them. See excerpts of their responses below;
2. What are the most essential skills to be a librarian? My presumption would be teaching, customer service, shelving books, organizing and so on. Well, the librarians surveyed said it is communication, organization, curiosity, creativity, innovation, flexibility; and depending on the librarian, skills differ.
- “I think librarianship picked me. It is my calling.”
- “You could say a career in librarianship sort of found me. I was in the retail book trade for several years while working part time in college and later managing two bookstores but was looking for change. The move to libraries as a natural one that allowed me to utilize my customer service and management skills while also leveraging the search skills needed in reference.”
3. What is the most interesting project you have worked on as a librarian? Have you ever wondered if your class curriculum was developed with the help of a librarian?
- “Communication and organization, every librarian uses these skills in some capacity.”
- “I believe that curiosity, creativity, and innovation are great skills to help manage the changes happening today in libraries.”
- “It depends on what kind of librarian, what kind of work you want to do in the field, and what type of library you want to work in. There are very technical aspects to the field that require programming knowledge and extreme attention detail to write metadata correctly but there are also public/customer service aspects that require communication/soft skills and the ability to analyze questions in order to conduct reference transactions. In academia right now, regardless of the librarians’ interest, about 75% of librarians will be assigned a subject area as a secondary component to their job. Unfortunately, library school rarely (if ever) cover the concepts of teaching information literacy. For me the ability to teach effectively–not just showing student how to access materials–is the more essential skill of my job. But not all librarians feel that way, though I would think that they would agree that the ability to convey information clearly and correctly to some type of audience is essential. I think most librarians would also agree that being flexible is essential as well as the ability to be cross-trained in several areas.”
4. What is the biggest misconception about your job? Some of the misconceptions that I had 3 years ago were: librarian jobs include shelving books, reading a lot, are stress free, and so on. See below what was shared;
-Games are the great learning tool, and it is wonderful that librarians are involved in supporting engaged learning through play.
- “I met with the English faculty in charge of first year English and helped them develop some class pages supporting their curriculum. It was fun and exciting along with working with new colleagues.”
- “My job allows me to engage others through play using games, so we have done some interesting projects in support of engaged learning through play such as creating escape rooms and puzzles to reinforce learning.”
5. Any interesting or cool thing you would like to share about your job? Here are some of the cool and interesting things that librarians shared about their jobs:
- “That I shelve or read books for a living. I have family members who still believe that’s what I do all day, even after I’ve explained to them what I actually do.”
- “Librarians sit around and read all day long. I wish. :)”
- “That everyone working in a library is a librarian.”
Thank you so much to all the librarians at UNT who had responded to my survey. This post is inspired by buzzfeed news
- “There is a lot of freedom to be creative and I love that.”
- “My job is amazing; I am constantly expanding my own interests by helping other discover theirs. I get to use my whole brain at work and enjoy the mix of logic and creativity that library work demands.”
- “Every day is an adventure.”
- “I think librarians are in one of the coolest professions since the core values of librarianship are: access, confidentiality/privacy, democracy, diversity, education and lifelong learning, intellectual freedom, preservation, the public good, professionalism, service, and social responsibility.”
- “In my job, I have been stretched WAY out of my comfort zone and forced to learn new about disciplines, new areas of librarianship, and new ways of working. I learn something every single day – a lot of what I learn is from the students with whom I work. I am very lucky to work as an academic librarian– it makes me a better and smarter person just being here on this campus and interacting with my colleagues in and outside the library and with the students.”
- “I love having the freedom to explore diverse projects and activities that put us in dialogue with faculty, students, and other people in the community. It’s great to be at the center of campus and scholarly life, even if it’s sometimes distracting and hectic to keep up with.”
- “I love helping people.
- “Engaging and collaborating with students as they learn and create is rewarding. I get to help people learn how to use new technologies that offer them new experiences that are often joyful. It’s great to be a part of that.”