It recently struck me that librarianship, like so many professions, is a continuum from basic fundamental skills and enthusiasm, to highly developed skills/knowledge and service/dedication. I have never known nor heard of anyone entering the librarian profession who was not first a lover of books. Isn’t that where it all begins? Have you ever known anyone who said; “I think I’ll become a librarian because I want to serve the public, regardless in what capacity.” or “I think I’ll become a librarian because it pays so well, and has such incredible prestige.” If you have, let me know.
A continuum begins with the very basics of the concept, or profession in this case and builds toward the very best ideals and practice of the profession. As one begins their career, they begin with basic skills and knowledge and acquire more skills and knowledge, as well as the dedication and professionalism that come with maturation within the profession. That’s just the way life works, assuming that the person has the capacity, desire and opportunity to progress along that continuum.
Unfortunately, in the librarian profession we have some who have been in the profession for many years, but have stagnated at the “book-lover” level. That’s all they’ve ever wanted to be, and they are perfectly happy to be just that and let their career progression end there. They are more interested in books than serving the public. They are more interested in their self-perception as a librarian, than in any recognition from their peers or profession as a “librarian,” or any professional standards. They simply want to be among their beloved books and be allowed to enjoy their surroundings.
At the opposite end of the continuum is the professional librarian. Interested in learning all there is to know about the profession. Dedicated to making the profession all it can be, as well as ensuring that it survives in the 21st Century environment of drastic change. They are those who lead the profession into that uncertain future. The professional librarian helps the profession grow and remain relevant.
I firmly believe that the professional librarian striving to achieve the pinnacle of the profession will become knowledgeable in these following areas, and numerous others that they don’t teach in library school.
• Business Acumen
• Cloud Computing
• Customer Targeting
• Digital Discovery
• Discontinuous Thinking
• Open Innovation
• Planned Abandonment
• Social Networking
• Subject Matter Expert in Community
Only when a person arrives at this skill and knowledge level along with the service and professionalism can they consider that they have reached the high end of the continuum as a “librarian.” That is where the 21st Century librarian is found.>/b>