24 Sep Librarian without a library
It’s been a while since my last post, longer than usual anyway. I’m not going to apologise for this; partly because I get fed up with reading posts from people apologising for not blogging (personally, I’m all for organic blogging rather than forcing blog posts), but mainly because it’s sort of been a conscious decision whilst I’ve been contemplating.
I’ve been settling into my new job (almost 5 weeks now, gone so quickly!), and with that a whole new institution (and accompanying procedures and acronyms) to understand, and a whole new way of working. So far I am really enjoying it, and it’s getting more exciting now I’m getting stuck into the actual work, but it’s a very different world to get used to. Technically I’m still part of an academic library department, and I still refer to myself as a librarian, but truthfully my job role doesn’t need any library experience or qualifications (although it is an advantage), and I could successfully fulfill my job role and very rarely set foot in a library. I know I’m not unique in this way, there are a number of people within the profession who don’t work in libraries; information specialists, independent consultants, and others working on library/information service related projects such as myself. But it’s taking a bit of getting used to after 5 years of being fully immersed in working in libraries.
I’m lucky in that I have a network of fellow librarians and information professionals who I am in regular contact with, but no longer being in a library, particularly at this time of year (the busiest time for an academic librarian), is very strange. No running round like a headless chicken frantically trying to cover all the induction sessions and tours, no working extra long hours to prepare for these sessions and try to keep on top of other demands, no Fresher’s flu even (fingers crossed!). OK, so if I’m being totally honest there are some things I don’t miss, no one enjoys having Fresher’s flu. But on the flip side I won’t get that feeling of exhausted satisfaction when someone truly appreciates the session you provided, the warm glow when you know a session has gone down well and genuinely helped people, or the feeling of pride when someone recommends you to a colleague because your support was so invaluable to their research.
It’s given me a different perspective on things, and I’m so glad that I’ve had that experience so that I can understand how the work I currently do (research and evaluation for the information community) can support the core of the profession – the library environment. I don’t want to lose touch with that, and I’ll be making a conscious effort to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Some things haven’t changed, my network for one, which has been a massive bonus whilst changing jobs (and it has also helped tremendously that I knew some of my new work colleagues before I started and they have been wonderful at helping me settle in – if you’re reading, you know who you are, thank you!). I’ll still be blogging, although the nature of the posts may change. I have always kept my blogging separate from my work anyway, but a lot of my blog posts stemmed from issues/developments which emerged through my work as a librarian, and I’m unlikely to come across everyday problems from users within my work; I’m not even sure technically I am a librarian anymore (though I still very much feel like part of the library profession).
It takes me back to a much earlier popular blog post of mine, which got some really interesting views in the comments – what makes a librarian a librarian? It’s a different angle on the issue from when I initially blogged about it (when the focus was on the value of qualifications), but it’s a question which has been running through my mind a lot recently. What defines a librarian? Do you need to work in a library? Will anything change in the future? Am I still a librarian even though I don’t work in a library? I’d be interested to hear other’s views.