Daily Archives: January 17, 2013

21st Century Librarianship Is Not For Casual Librarians


I commute to work about 30 minutes through city streets and Interstate. I am not a casual driver. My pilot training and experience gave me a sense of driving with precision and purpose, as well as driving defensively and decisively. I like to get where I’m going as efficiently and quickly as possible. That’s why I prefer to commute before the 7:30AM and 5:30PM “rush hour” rather than during rush hour. After six years of commuting in the same city, I have found that during the early hours there are a preponderance of more purposeful drivers on the road trying to get where they’re going, rather than during rush hour when everybody else is commuting – not to mention the ‘flow of traffic’ is much faster. I also know the roads well enough to vary my route depending on the traffic situation, like yesterday when I could see Interstate traffic backing up and lots of flashing lights a mile ahead and took an earlier exit that would keep me out of a traffic jam.

This morning I was running late and ended up right in the rush hour traffic. It struck me again that most people who drive during rush hour commute are what I consider “casual” drivers. A little like Sunday afternoon drivers. Many don’t put 100% focus on driving, consider it a chore they can do while focusing on something else (I HATE TEXTers), don’t anticipate traffic situations and make last-instant poor decisions that put everyone else at risk, and they drive slower. They don’t strike me as serious about driving, even though they are exposing themselves to more risk during rush hour. Most act like this is their first time traveling this route – they’re tentative.

So what? you ask. There is an analogy between casual drivers and casual librarians. (That is librarians with a casual attitude toward the profession, not librarians who work “casual hours.”)

Casual librarians tend to not take their profession seriously, or work with any great purpose. They tend to go along with the crowd and stay in the main stream of everything – technology, customer service, advocacy, etc. Casual librarians tend to not consider the bigger picture of the profession, but just get through the day doing their job.

Casual librarians generally don’t anticipate their circumstances or situation to keep from making last minute middle of the road decisions about what are really important issues. They would rather amble along with the crowd than venture out to find their own route – they’re tentative.

A 21st Century librarian is not a casual librarian.

The 21st Century librarian works with an intense purpose and desire to achieve the higher objectives they envision. They don’t go with the flow, but lead the flow at their own express pace, hoping others will keep up. They work to make things happen, not wait and watch to see what is happening around them, because they know what should be happening – they’re decisive.

The 21st Century librarian knows what is going on around them and is able to make decisions that will improve the situation, rather than make a traditional decision regardless of the implications of a situation. They read and study professional publications, and get involved in stimulating discussions. They take an intent interest in innovations that improve the library’s relevance to its community. 21st Century librarians are so knowledgeable about the profession they are ahead of situations and making adjustments rather than always playing catch up.

The 21st Century librarian performs their profession with precision and purpose, as well as decisiveness. They lead with passion and determination to make a difference. The 21st Century librarian is anything but a casual librarian.

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