Saturday, September 20, 2008

The bookless librarian?

I've been a Rachel Singer Gordon fan for a number of years, ever since I reviewed The Accidental Systems Librarian for Public Libraries magazine (pp.60-61) back in 2003.

Her is a good source for job-searching, and Info Career Trends is a good online newsletter for library staff to subscribe to.

More recently I've subscribed to the RSS feed of her blog, The Liminal Librarian. Gordon explains the title in this way:

Liminality, the state of being “in between,” is inherently unsettling, yet full of possibility. Liminal librarians are on the threshold, mindful of their in-betweenness, taking issue with absolutes, and excited about what the future may hold.
Note: She also has a second blog, Beyond the Job (articles, job-hunting advice, professional development opportunities, and other news and ideas on how to further your library career) which I've just started to look at.

Gordon's latest post on The Liminal Librarian is "The bookless librarian." You should read the post itself, plus the posts it links to, but here's a quick summary and some reaction.

Gordon writes:

I know intellectually that people process information, and prefer their entertainment, in different ways, yet it always gives me pause to hear librarians talking about how they don’t tend to read a lot of books, or about how they’ve never personally liked to read. So, I was interested lately to see a couple of higher profile librarians mention this.
She then quotes from John Berry’s most recent LJ posting:

I never “loved” reading, the way so many people declare they do. It is especially true among those you encounter if you spend your life around libraries, books, and librarians.....

In this new phase of my life, I have begun to view the progress of media and information technology as advancing my liberation from reading, or at least from much of the guilt and drudgery I associate with it….
Gordon voices her own concern:

I spend a lot of time reading (and, obviously, writing!) online, but couldn’t imagine ever giving up my books. Not only do different media serve different purposes, I think they also feed different parts of our soul
But then she says,

the less knee-jerk part of my brain wonders if we actually do need different types of librarians to match up with our different types of patrons....

[Do]we need more librarians like me, who entered the profession in large part because of...a love for the physical book? Or, do we need more librarians like Jenny Levine, who has greater insight into, say, gaming than I’ll ever possess....
As anyone who knows me or has read The Surly Librarian knows, I'm in the former group.

Nonetheless, I vote for All of the Above.


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