Saturday, 21 June 2014

Taking myself too seriously.

There are times when librarians are guilty of taking themselves too seriously and, like most professions, get fired up about the importance of what they do, how they're not given the professional recognition they deserve, and how some in the field are letting the profession down by propagating negative stereotypes.

I'll be the first to admit that I do it from time to time. The library and information profession is what I've devoted my life to, and I work hard at it, so of course it's important to me. It's frustrating when I see barriers in the industry that impede progress and innovation. It makes me angry when I see professionals losing their jobs or having their roles downgraded because of a perceived redundancy of their skill set.

But really, if these are the things that make me angry, then maybe I need to check my privilege. If the worst thing that happens in my life is that I'm under-appreciated for my skills and knowledge, then perhaps I don't really have anything complain about.

Because I have job security.

Because I have a strong support network.

Because I'm independent and don't have children to feed, or a mortgage to pay.

Because I have locks on the door, food in the cupboard and a bed to sleep in.

Because I don't have a disability or a terminal illness.

Because I can walk down the street at night, without worrying about the threat of sexual assault.

Because I'm not from a persecuted minority, where I could be attacked, tortured or killed, purely based on the colour of my skin, or the family that I came from.

And what right do I have to complain about libraries being closed, when the alternative might be education programs or health services that are cut?

There are times when I have so much doubt about any real importance or meaning in what I do.

Am I really helping the community, or am I just reinforcing antiquated values and knowledge systems that mostly just serve to keep me in a job, and provide free reading material to educated people who can afford to buy them anyway?

I mean, I've spent the past three weeks moaning about the trials of career progression in the information profession, when the reality is that it's all just one big first world problem. Perhaps I'm just perpetuating the stereotype of the redundant clueless librarian who is too buried in information to understand anything of the real world of today.

I suspect this is what happens when you set out to blog every day about libraries for a month. You lose perspective.