Tuesday 3 June 2014

Librarians and their opinions...

Being a librarian managing a small library, it's easy to lose perpective of all the big issues in the industry. I could spend yeard in this role, buying books, managing print collections, subscribing to e-resources, and working with kids in improving their various literacies, without really feeling the need to do anything that different. It's what plenty of librarians do.

On the other hand, reading other librarians' blogs, it's easy to gain an inflated sense of professional entitlement. I could start feeling frustrated because my manager won't let me overhaul the system, install open source software, build a makerspace, set up a console gaming suite, and let people pay for printing using BitCoin! After all, this is all part of being an information profession, right? Why won't they let me do my job?!.

And everywhere along this spectrum, we have librarians, with their opinions on where best practice and innovation lies. And their opinions on other librarians, and whether they are too strident in their oushing of innovation, or whether they are holding the industry back with traditionalist views.

And I think the feal danger is the idea that there is One True Path for profession practice in the library and information industry.

When I was living in Japan, there was a saying amongst the English teachers - every situation is different (or ESID). At the time it felt like a copout excuse for not demanding a consistency of standards and conditions for workers. However, libraries are as varied as the people who frequent them. It's one thing to have principles of best practice, but the reality is that best practice is ultimately the best service you can provide for the specific needs of your patrons within the available resources.

And this is going to be different for every library that I ever work in.

So, things I blog about won't necessarily be relevant to any other librarian who reads it, and the blogs I read might not be relevant to the practice in my work. Is this a problem? Possibly - especially if we want to appear united as a profession in the services that we can provide. But our opinions are still valid, nevertheless. And who knows, we might even learn something from one another.

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