Friday, 6 June 2014

When it sucks to be a librarian...

There's been a bit of bad news popping up amongst my librarian friends at the moment... in one case, a substantial number of them are being relocated from their Inner-City campus library to another campus in freaking ZONE TWO - adding over an hour of extra travel each day to work

Another - at Melbourne University - was told yesterday that the university needed to cut 540 "administrative jobs" - which included members of the library teams. This is despite the fact that the Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis has already indicated that once University fees are deregulated with the 2014 Budget, fees will be increased by up to 61%.

I couldn't help but feel a little guilty about my recent reckless attitude to employment - although, working in Melbourne anywhere outside of Zone One is a deal breaker for me, regardless of my career ambitions.

I often find it annoying and somewhat bewildering that there are so many articles and presentations where librarians are obsessed with their image and public perception. It seems ridiculous to me that any profession should feel the need to justify their existence as a profession, and frankly, it's almost pathetic when they get obsessed over traditional stereotypes of being old-fashioned and bookish.

Similarly, when I hear librarians talk about needing to have an "elevator pitch" to promote libraries, which phrases like "They're not just about books anymore!" I can't help but think, "You're trying to hard." Just do your job well, and people will appreciate the profession work that you do, and value the service that your library provides.

And yet, when these staff are seemingly dismissed as expendable admin staff - purely an overhead cost that needs to be trimmed - then I start to think that maybe image and perception is an important thing.

The only problem is that when it's us librarians making all the noise, it sounds like we're only doing it to serve our own interests - after all, it's our jobs that are on the line. We need to find our own champions - outside of the library - to advocate on our behalf, and get active when libraries and their professional staff get slashed.

So, don't just get angry when these things happen - spread the word so that others can get angry too. For starters, there's a petition here to protest the changes happening at Melbourne University. It's more than our jobs on the line - our students deserve a quality education.