Wednesday, November 14, 2007

note this

David C. McClain who is a fantastic librarian at Baptist Bible College has been hooking me up with all sorts of good articles/information both on and by librarians.
This following excerpt is an email from Anthony Verdesca who is a reference librarian at The Warren Library of Palm Beach Atlantic University.

I can't help but be irked by the notion of librarians changing job
titles as a way of receiving a boost in salary. Does a librarian want a
substantial increase in salary? Then get a second job, or change
professions. You don't enter librarianship to become rich. It's not
like it's one of THE professions. In fact, I have my doubts as to
whether librarianship is a profession at all. A librarian is, after
all, a perpetual student, a lifelong learner par excellence. You don't
really become a librarian as much as morph into a one. How does this
formation begin? I believe it begins with that virus that traditionally
has gone by the name of bibliomania. You begin to love books-the look,
feel even the smell of them-and then you also love to be surrounded by
people who love books, who talk books and write books as well as those
who deal in them, retail or second-hand, even those who make them. The
virtue that naturally flows from this mania eventually translates into a
desire to put one's "knowledge" to the test by assisting the earnest
inquirer. This "putting to the test" is the librarian's meat, making
his labors, however mundane, sweet.

I've found that the work of the librarian, and particularly the academic
librarian, is the best job in the world! The librarian is afforded the
opportunity to read. And yes, I mean on the job as well as off. Bib
records, blurbs and publisher's brochures only serve to whet the
appetite. The librarian can't help but imbibe the review literature,
book excerpts, and abstracts out of the professional literature as well
as the articles they represent. Sorry, no time for Maxim or McCall's,
or anything else of un-redeeming value. There's much too much
substance. Those who restrict their reading to popular literature are
best suited to serve in the public library. Those who subsist on the
business literature or other professional fare such as medicine and law,
are cut out for the special library--where the "big money" is. Academic
librarians, however, read what faculty read-and write. That means they
luxuriate in the ancients and the moderns and all the lit crit in
between. Indeed, it is a truism for the librarian: you are what you
read. And as if reading were not enough, the librarian has the
privilege, the responsibility and the opportunity to write: to
contribute to the review literature and/or to submit articles and enter
into dialogue with his peers, crossing swords or sharpening irons.

I can't help but be irked by the notion that librarians, perpetual
students, require second degrees to become more educated or marketable.
Oh perhaps a second degree would be helpful at a research university,
but then the librarian sheds the very thing that makes him unique: his
command of generalities. Does he desire to become a subject specialist
and thus narrow his outlook? I prefer to swim the limitless sea of
generalities. Leif Eriksson, not St. Jerome, should be the patron saint
of librarianship. Who but the librarian sets sail, the world's wisdom
before him, to discover and explore? Why, his library is the heart of
the university! There are enough books on the shelves to last a
lifetime. And there are enough books on the shelves to make a scholar of
every student. That perpetual student characteristic in the librarian
must rub off on the student. The Almighty provides the miracle of
sight; the grammar school teacher miraculously instills the reading
arts. The student need only supply the discipline.

I can't help but be irked by the notion of librarians concerning
themselves with what the public imagines a simple and quiet job.
Librarianship today is not simple and quiet enough! The librarian's
work is simple and yet profound, quiet, but its silence is its strength.
If this simple and quiet profession is in jeopardy, as Mr. Gates states
(and I believe it truly is), it's because librarians are fast becoming
useless on the vine and find themselves, consciously or not, grasping at
paradigms based on business models instead of common sense. Why
useless? Because like a cat at play, our country's long-bemoaned
erosion in reading habits is having its way with the profession. We are
living the transition that's been the subject of association discussions
for quite some time now. I fear the transition has long shown signs of
our having entered an age of "sub-literacy." It would only be natural
that in an age of sub-literacy, there would be less call for traditional
librarians. And indeed that is the case. Librarians were useful in the
past to the earnest inquirer precisely because these librarians were
widely-read. Wide reading, discrimination, a grasp of context, a sense
of history, an understanding of order-librarian characteristics all. I
can go on. But today, we prefer to strain after trends and trinkets and
more rounds of self-serving and self-fulfilling poster sessions, while
the modern world fades into intellectual atrophy.

Rather than engage in novel schemes and yet another generation of toys,
librarians would do well to start a campaign of pruning. Yes, pruning.
It's very simple. It costs nothing and I think it quite biblical: slash
the distractions that so easily beset and rob the young and college-aged
of their God-given gray matter, those distractions that devilishly
decrease their attention span and their patience and undermine the very
notion of discipline. In the end, the young lose the desire and the
sympathy for anything that went before them. And after all, anything
that went before them is what libraries and librarians are all about.
If we can read the signs of the times and act accordingly, maybe, just
maybe, the earnest inquirer will return, and with him, the sense of the
inestimable value of the simple and quiet librarian.