Librarians are everywhere - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Librarians are everywhere

No, but really, they are.

You don’t think so?

I have proof.

Librarians are in your schools.  They are in your towns, they are in your parks, they are in your places of work.

They make your search engines, they anticipate your queries, and they sort your tacit knowledge.

(“I didn’t even know I had tacit knowledge!”)

(We know.  That’s why it’s tacit.)

Librarians are even on your vacations.

Don’t believe me?  I know.  I’ve gotten that incredulous look before.  My librarian friend Lauren and I were just chatting about this today (thus, this post was born).  “I just don’t think people realize that librarians are almost everywhere, in so many organizations,” she said.  “They think we just sort books, but they don’t realize that librarians are really information professionals and  our job is aiding findability,” and not, in my words, putting those magazines you flipped through back on the shelf.

Even though we love doing that, too!  At work, I circulate Time and The New Yorker with pride.

Okay, but back to the ubiquitous bibliophiles thing.  It’s becoming a well-known fact that librarians and libraries are stepping up to serve the public in visible, myriad ways.  Stephen Colbert is on to it, he’s exposed our communisticlendingtendencies, and our infiltration everywhere.  Nation, listen to this man!

But jokes aside, here is my nugget of wisdom for the week:  go find the closest librarians to you!  Where are your librarians?

They might be at your public library, or they might be upstairs at work.  This is what we call “embedded libraries.”  Sometimes the folks that run them go by the title “Knowledge Manager” or, as I mentioned, “Information Professional.”  “Records” or “Documents” managers also count!  As you hunt, you may come across the words “media” or “data.”  It’s not just books, folks!  Anyone who collects, organizes, and makes information available does the work of a librarian.

(Here’s a quick mind-blower:  try to define the word “information.”  It took my graduate class three hours without any success.)

Museums, music halls, television networks – all of these need libraries.

Lauren puts it like this:  “We’re the ones that can point you to the right resource (book, article, database) and show you how to use the resource that you need, and discover new resources for you.”  We’re your friendly intermediaries.  Like a (dare I say it) human Google!  But better!

(As I type that, thousands of veteran librarians roll their eyes in scorn and derision.)

So go find the librarian in closest contact with you, and you just might find out about someone’s really cool job, and some awesome resources for yourself, as well.

Just in case….

…you don’t know where to start, Librarian Lauren also suggests a list of pretty funky places librarians hide, waiting to pop out for a moment’s reference!

  •  -Law firms.
  • -Most major corporation.
  • -Most hospitals.
  • -Museums
  • -Pharmaceutical companies.
  • -The US Government (and we’re not just talking Library of Congress here.  Each agency also has their own!).
  • -The CDC.
  • -Publishing houses.
  • -Publications, such as The New Yorker & Vogue magazine.
  • -QVC!

And finally (this is definitely my favorite) the New York Philharmonic.  Check out thisguy.  He’s their principal librarian.  Doesn’t he look commanding?  Full of presence?  Knowledgeable?  Like he could take you out with the self-same tuba on which he sometimes freestyles for the Philharmonic?

He looks that way because he has an awesome job.

But I know you can’t focus on looking for librarians before I answer for what’s been bugging you this whole post:  “This hooligan mentioned before that librarians are on my vacations.  That is whack.”

Sorry, no, it’s not whack, it’s real.  If you don’t believe me, you can check out thisjobposting for a cruise ship librarian.  Now if that is not one of the craziest, coolest jobs around, I don’t know what is.  It came across my graduate school listserv this morning, and though it’s not my dish, I think it would be a perfect fit for other wanna-be roaming librarians!

Where are your librarians?  Six degrees guarantees you know at least one!  Give me a shout!

*Special thanks to Lauren Obenour, for her enthusiasm which inspired these posts.

 


About the author

Chelsea Woods

Chelsea Woods is a full-time graduate student in the Rutgers University MLIS (Master of Library & Information Science) program. Woods also works as a part-time clerk in both law firm and public libraries. She’s seen many libraries, but her favorite is still the Bodleian at Oxford University, where she studied briefly before receiving her B.A. in English from Villanova University. Though the public may believe librarians to be anal, tight-wad, type-A spinsters, Ms. Woods does not admit to ever having been any of these things. She has also never been “secretly sexy,” rolling in tax-payer money, or practiced in the art of the “Shh!” She does, however, wear really cool glasses, and when she’s not informing the library’s Teen Clubhouse of the proper Scrabble rules, or chasing down the latest Inter-Library Loan, she is definitely reading like mad. She also enjoys life outside the gates of knowledge: sewing, hunting for vinyls, and trying out new recipes. Contact the author.
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