What do you think of when you read the following word: LIBRARIAN? Do you think of mousy-haired women in pencil skirts shelving books? Grumpy people behind desks telling you to “shush!” or that you must pay $10 immediately before checking out any new books? Perhaps you imagine Mary from It’s a Wonderful Life? Well, today we are erasing all those stereotypes.
In an earlier post, Library Lover, I wrote of how much I love the library. Love it for that beautiful book smell, the silence, the freedom to reach out and grab knowledge, and the zero dollar price tag (as long as you turn the books in on time). As it turns out many of you love the library, too! It seems Kari was correct in her LiveDifferent Challenge 20: Patronize!, the library bug is indeed out in full force this summer. So in the spirit of library-lovin’ I’m excited to bring you “Five Things You Didn’t Know About Your Librarian,” courtesy of Carrie Consalvi, librarian-in-training at the University of Hawaii:
1. Librarians have Masters degrees! The most common response I get when telling people I study Library and Information Science is, “You need a masters to do that?” The answer is: YES! Librarians don’t spend all day organizing books, scanning bar codes, and shushing everyone. Your librarian is bursting at the sides with information services. He or she is trained to look critically at the world of information and organize it in a way that makes it most accessible to you. This involves keeping pace with changing technology, organizing information so that it is easy to find, polishing search skills, and getting the most accurate and well-rounded resources to you as part of your right to free speech and thought.
2. Librarians do your work. I never understand why people don’t exploit Reference Services more often. Librarians are available for more than the occasional question, “Where is the bathroom?” and “Can I borrow this stapler?” They are trained to answer your most difficult research questions. For instance, if you have a huge project due for school in two days and you don’t know where to start, the Librarian can not only lead you to the best databases on your topic, but also point you to articles, books, and Internet information. If you are working on a business proposal for a product you’re marketing to China, your librarian can not only lead you to population statistics, but also trends and research. You can also find out how to make Swedish meatballs, the number of ants in the United States, or what the world record is for jumping on one leg. This is the most underestimated resource in the Library. It’s a librarian’s job to do your research!
3. Librarians design. The focus in recent years has been on integrating all information science into library studies. In other words, librarians are becoming the best sources for finding and designing information on the Web. A major aspect of this process is creating websites that lead users to the best information available. For instance, the Library Internet Index is a searchable database that has been developed by Librarians and offers a range of websites that are current and accurate on any given subject. Librarians are also working to create fully interactive websites for patrons. We want to help you wade through the misleading and worthless sites to the best sources.
4. Librarians teach. Since librarians are on the cutting edge of technology, a major part of their job is to provide instructive presentations on information resources. At any given time, your library is hosting courses that teach computer or reading literacy, searching strategies, or even website design. I should also mention that Librarians value continuing education, so efforts are made to bring in prominent speakers and programs that further your community’s progress. The library opens it’s doors to activities, book clubs, tutoring, language courses, business meetings, cultural experiences, and other community events. The library is essentially a gathering place.
5. Librarians protect. The number one goal for Librarians across the country is contributing to and protecting intellectual freedom. With the USA PATRIOT Act in full swing, Librarians have seen an increase in privacy violations and threats to your first amendment rights. Several cases have already gone to court concerning library records and unconstitutional efforts from government bodies to get information on you! In reaction to this threat, Libraries have developed privacy policies and altered how they serve patrons. As mentioned in my comment on the previous post Library Lover, librarians keep no records of books you’ve borrowed, times you’ve used the internet, or preferences you’ve exhibited. This is to ensure that when the FBI asks, you are protected by default. They also make special efforts to provide materials that present all sides to arguments, and have procedures they follow when a resource is challenged. Every effort is made to allow you access to any information you want as well as protecting those same rights for your neighbor.
Carrie Consalvi is in her second year of study at the University of Hawaii Manoa. She is married to Brandon Consalvi, assistant pastor of South Shore Christian Fellowship on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. She does not wear her hair in a bun, enjoys singing and playing percussion, and is excited about library and information sciences. She is also a good, loving friend. Carrie welcomes any comments or questions, so please don’t hesitate to fill out the comment box below.
Let’s hear three cheers for these protectors of our first amendment rights, these helpful, intelligent, educated Librarians who keep books on the shelves and the doors to information thrown wide open!