Friday, January 23

The Paradoxes in Librarianship

Do you have what it takes to be a librarian? That's the question that prompted this post. There's some definite traits a person should have before he or she should consider become a librarian. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these traits can be rather paradoxical.

So the idea for the post changed. I'm naming the paradoxical traits often found in librarians. For instance:

You still mourn the loss of the Library of Alexandria

found on Pinterest

but also...

You can handle the ever-evolving nature of libraries in the digital age. 

from TechSoup

We're definitely not the libraries we were fifty years ago. Heck, even ten years ago. (For-real-heck, pretty sure libraries didn't have "selfie stations" a year ago.) Technology is evolving rapidly. Does that mean the library will go away? No way dude. We're evolving with it. A librarian will help you find the information you need in whatever form it comes. Read more in this article on Good, from earlier in the month. Or the Washington Post, for example.


You love the weight, smell, feel of an actual book in your hands

from Buzzfeed

but also...

You can easily make your way around a tablet, eReader, and other such devices

Like I said above, libraries evolve with technology. Which means the librarian should be ready to help whichever patron walks through the door with whatever device they're having trouble with. Luckily, these two traits aren't too paradoxical. I love my eAudiobooks and my book books. I have my cake and eat it too.


You'd rather stay at home and read all day

but also...

You're really good at working with people

If you're working at a public library, you will be working with the public. Obviously. You are the search engine, the tech help, the teacher, the event host, the...well, almost everything. So in the end, I guess I'm an introverted extrovert.


You cherish books more than the average person

from Amanda on Tumblr

but also...

You can throw away dead books without remorse

from Mr. Library Dude, who also explains why behind weeding

Okay, maybe you can't picture yourself as the grim reaper librarian right now. I, myself, was saddened the first time I had to weed through a collection. But remember: it's making room for the new and amazing stuff. And some materials can become outdated rather quickly. And then there's the really tattered/gross ones. It's better in the end, I promise.


You like things organized, neat, alphabetized, and catalogued

From Cynthinee on Library Signage Flickr

but also...

You are extremely creative, messy, and playful in your library programming

Sure, each book has its place. But how about each patron? I think a librarian needs the creativity (the brashness, almost) to try any sort of program at any time to pull the public in. Storytimes need to be engaging. New programs need to be tried. Librarians are often the ones responsible for trying out new ideas. It requires a lot of inventiveness.


I can see myself adding more to this as I think about it. There's just some funny things about being a librarian. But I love it. What other paradoxical traits can you think of?

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