12 May 2009

Librarian: A Best ? Career Choice

US News reckons that "Librarian" is one of the best career choices for 2009.

"Librarian" recurs fairly often on the best careers list. On the whole, we don't get paid very well nor do we get much public recognition for what we do for our communities. Plus as a predominately female profession (approximately 80%), we have been stereotyped as either being buttoned down and severe, or closet Jezebels just waiting for the library to close in the evening before ripping off our clothes to engage in a wild, crazy, secret life. [The men (~ 20%) in our profession suffer from misconception as well. (For a rebuttal to Carmichael, read Mr. Lady - The Male Librarian). Librarians like to keep sources of information balanced among a variety of perspectives.]

US News describes the profession rather well:
Forget about that image of librarians as a mousy bookworms. More and more of today's librarians must be clever interrogators, helping the patron to reframe their question more usefully. Librarians then become high-tech information sleuths, helping patrons plumb the oceans of information available in books and digital records, often starting with a clever Google search but frequently going well beyond.

Most librarians love helping patrons solve their problems and, in the process, learning new things. Librarians may also go on shopping sprees, deciding which books and online resources to buy. They may even get to put on performances, like children's puppet shows, and run other programs, like book discussion groups for elders. On top of it all, librarians' work environment is usually pleasant and the work hours reasonable, although you may have to work nights and/or weekends.
All very true, with some slight variations depending upon what type of librarian one is.

Q: So, why did I become a librarian?
A: I already was a lifelong library lurker, so I reckoned someone should pay me to hang out and help other people become library lurkers, too. Seriously.

I have been a bona fide library lurker from age 6. My very first totally independent human act was to walk the two blocks between our place off Screven Street to the Georgetown County Library on the corner of Screven and Highmarket Streets. Going to the library by myself to select books, attend summer reading programs, or get shooed out by the purple haired library lady of the "Georgetown Room" (which held the treasure trove of the Morgan Collection images now online, by the way) and the Georgetown Times newspaper backfiles was a thrill. (I dared not venture into the "Georgetown Room" until I was 14. Mrs. M. was one very scary woman!)

Thus, for me, libraries have always been wonderful places full of amazing materials and services -- and rather bizarre people -- which are interesting, entertaining, and often thought-provoking. How anyone in the United States of America can choose NOT to support their public library by borrowing our materials, using our databases, taking advantage of the skills of the reference librarians, attending our programs is way beyond my understanding! IMNSHO: Libraries are the coolest cultural heritage institutions on the planet.

Why don't you drop by the BDC sometime and become a bona fide Beaufort County Library lurker along with me? You'll get paid in boocoodles of spiffy library resources and services.

Q: Librarian: A Best? Career Choice for 2009?
A: Yes, most definitely for me -- in 1980 -- as well as in 2009!

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