The role of the Librarian

Below is an amusing flashback in time to librarianship from the late 1940’s. This clip, The Librarian 1947 Vocational Guidance Films, illustrates the various role librarians have in academic libraries, public libraries and special libraries. The clip highlights the social interaction between the patron and the librarian in the traditional reference interview. Over the last sixty-years much has shifted in the field of librarianship; technology has become one of the major challenges facing libraries. Gone are the days of simply finding resources in the stacks. The librarians of today may not appear to work the same way as the librarians of sixty-years ago, but they share the same values and struggles. Librarians provide an essential service to the community; perhaps how this service is delivered has changed but the principals have remained the same. I found the YouTube video to be a romantic view of the noble librarian profession

The clip provides two core values for anyone thinking about being a librarian a love for books and a love for people. Which is a slightly simplified statement because a love for books will not necessarily make a good librarian. Nor do I believe  a love for people is mandatory. A love for people is certainly helpful but I would argue it depends on the type of librarian. An outreach librarian needs to love people and have a desire to connect with the community. Whereas, a library catalogue specialist or a systems administrator may not necessarily need to have the same love for human interaction because they may not come into contact with the public. I think a passion for knowledge and information would be more helpful to anyone contemplating a career in an information organization. The librarians of today may not find themselves in the traditional library setting. Librarians are finding opportunities in non-traditional work environments that do not necessarily involve books and/or people. For example, the following job titles require an MLIS but don’t have the standard librarian title: Creative Project Manager, Directory of Community Services, Web Analytic Manager, and Documentation Specialist. These are just a few of the potential opportunities for MLIS graduates.

Overall, the goal of librarians has not changed: to provide a fundamental service to the community. The major shift in librarianship stems from the integration of technology and higher education. However, the same theories apply when accessing information through traditional print or digital databases. The community has needs that a librarian can fulfill by facilitating public access to information.  The landscape of libraries may be changing but the role of the librarian remains the same. Librarians of today are facilitators who are making access to information easier and accessible for everyone.

This Youtube clip provides an ideal overview of the library profession from sixty-years ago and highlights some of the core values of librarianship that still hold true. Enjoy!


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