Introduction Part 2: The Reckoning

Hello again, and welcome to my blog for Library Science 6010. My name is Melissa and this is my first semester as a grad student at Wayne State University. In the coming months, I’ll explore some of the relevant topics related to the profession of librarianship, learning about my chosen field even as I express my own opinions about it. I hope to encourage frank discussion and unhindered honesty; the best ideas are often formed through debate and dissent, so I’m looking forward to contradicting ideology as much as comments that support my own thinking!

A little about me:  I received an undergrad degree from The University of Michigan in 2012; my focus was English and Psychology, though I originally wanted to be a teacher and have taken a lot of Education courses as well. I’m actually just two classes and a semester of student teaching shy of a teaching certificate– it took me a long time to figure out that my passion for working with kids and avid love of books did not necessarily translate into wanting to be a teacher. However, my obsession with literature and my general adoration of libraries has made me realize that an MLIS degree might give me just the opportunities I’m looking for.

I live in Michigan with my husband of three years, Joel, and our cat. I’m interested in a variety of topics and ideas, and I tend to geek out heartily about life in general. If you’d like to know more about me– particularly my penchant for wry humor– please see my previous Introduction post. Go ahead, take a look. I’ll wait. Awesome, right?

My assumptions and beliefs about librarianship:

1) Librarians are not the guardians of knowledge; rather, they are its protectors. The difference being, of course, that while librarians keep knowledge safe and preserved– imagine the things we would never know about the past without the written records that have been painstakingly maintained!– they do not get to decide who has access to it. They are not gatekeepers or soldiers meant to keep people out; on the contrary, they have a professional obligation to make information available to whomever seeks it out.

2)Libraries aren’t meant to be intimidating. If people are hesitant to step through your doors, you’re doing it wrong. Though the most grandiose of libraries can certainly be overwhelming in their splendor and sheer size (the Bodleian comes to mind), patrons should never feel apprehensive about open your doors. Whether you work in a public library that is open to all, or a special library that has very limited access, if people are afraid to use your services, you are not upholding your responsibilities as a librarian. Libraries should be safe havens, welcoming and warm.

3) People in the LIS profession are as diverse as those in any other. Though most people imagine the stereotype of a tight-bunned old lady, shushing people and harassing them about overdue fines, there are as many different types of people in the field as there are anywhere else. Young and old, male and female, fat and thin, funny and humorless, cutting edge and conservative, interesting and dull. There is no such thing as a “typical” librarian, just as there is no such thing as a “typical” mailman, welder, doctor, lawyer, or dogwalker.

4)LIS degrees are more versatile than you think. Aside from public libraries, there are a plethora of occupations that utilize library and information science degrees. School media centers, museums, hospitals, opera houses, law firms, government offices, the list is endless. LIS professionals can be used in the tech field, in book publishing, in so many areas of life. There is an abundant need for those who can catalog and organize vast amounts of information, for people that can teach others how to access the ever-growing resources made available in the digital age. Being a “librarian” doesn’t necessarily mean working in a library!

5) LIS professionals are going to have to be technologically savvy in order to stay relevant. Computers, smartphones, tablets, iPods, ereaders– the average person expects their librarian to know how to use their resources; indeed, they expect that the librarian can use them more proficiently than they themselves can! Technology is changing and growing exponentially, and it is slowly becoming integrated in every aspect of daily life. People studying LIS need to be prepared to tackle tech-oriented issues head on, and realize that librarianship requires almost as much education in computer science as it does in anything else.

This just scratches the surface of my ideology, but  look forward to conversing with you all in the coming weeks about much more. Until then, cheers!

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