A potential solution – An evolution away from the ‘library’

Libraries have a very heavy and weighted history with a very distinct role in society’s psyche. This role is very much focused upon the book. I’m not saying this is correct or in anyway accurate however the overarching role is focused upon books. You may disagree with me but if you do I want to ask you one question:

When you tell someone what you do how often is the response  something along the lines of ’So you must like reading then!’

Even today the bizarre although inaccurate equation still sticks: library/librarian = books.

This isn’t a bad thing. As members of the library and information profession we help people to access book stored information which they may not otherwise have the opportunity to access. But this is only a small element of what we do. To ease that awareness of what we do within the modern society I think we need to adjust the overarching label for your services. Yes that’s right – change the name.

This may (or isn’t) appropriate for a lot of people however for people like me within the corporate library field I’m becoming more and more aware of the necessity to come out of the library shadow. Whilst I would be sad about no longer be known as a Librarian or someone who works in the library, I believe, it would help me and people in similar positions to become more embedded within the organisation. To be able to apply our unique and very relevant skills in areas where they previously haven’t been applied. Now I’m not saying this isn’t occurring at present (it is – I see and do it every day!) however I do think that further could be done by taking away the automatic assumptions associated with being a library in a corporate environment.

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2 thoughts on “A potential solution – An evolution away from the ‘library’

  1. Hi Alex, I can very much sympathise with this post coming from a health librarian perspective. In the health information context, some organisations have toyed with the idea of changing our titles to open up perceptions of our roles and capabilities – in particular, “Clinical Informationist” has been one of the newer titles we use for clinical librarians, usually with an additional clinical informatics skillset included.

    What would you change “librarian” to in your (or any) professional context?

    • I think I would be going with something along the lines of Researcher. It’s plain, simple and is the dominant part of my role.

      In a previous life I was an ‘Information Consultant’ which was good and bad. Bad because when I told people what I do 99.99% of the time I got a blank look in response. This blank look was also good because it was always followed by the question ‘whats that actually mean?’ This enabled me to target the ‘what I do’ to the person I was talking too.

      Our jobs are so varied that sometimes the ambigious titles are really helpful in creating an opportunity for us to ‘sell’ our expertise to the individual needs of users.

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