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Some Great Thoughts On Librarianship

There have been several really great posts recently about the philosophies and thinking behind librarianship. I wanted to briefly highlight them here and make sure that folks didn’t miss them. They’re all pretty short. I know they all made me stop and think.

A Stealth Librarian Manifesto:

This first Manifesto is from John Dupuis at York University in Toronto. He argues that in order to

“thrive and survive in a challenging environment, we must subtly and not-so-subtly insinuate ourselves into the lives of our patrons. We must concentrate on becoming part of their world, part of their landscape.”

He focuses on academic librarians insinuating themselves in the world of professors. He suggests instead of always going to library conferences, go to academic or teaching conferences. Give presentations with other faculty members, not other librarians. Some of the things he says may be more controversial like “we must stop writing the formal library literature.” He says instead that we should get our ideas out there in the literature of our users. It seems like his ideas would not just insinuate us with our users but also help us get out of the echo chamber and gain a fresh perspective.

Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto:

This second manifesto is by the ever thoughtful David Rothman. His very short post doesn’t propose anything radically new, but he outlines what librarianship should be about in a very succinct and powerful way. My favorite one is probably #4:

“Whenever possible, obstacles between users and the information they seek should be removed.  Among these obstacles are academic jargon and expecting users to care about cataloging minutia (it is minutia to them, get over it).  Information professionals should be champions of clarity and concision who find accessible ways to describe complex topics.”

In Praise of Ideas:

This last one isn’t a manifesto, but it is a great guest post on ACRLog by Emily Drabinski a librarian at Long Island University. She talks about the ideas we bring to librarianship. She discusses how our personal philosophies and understanding of the world influence how we teach or conduct a reference interview or interact with patrons.

“What it’s possible to know, or even conceive as a question, depends on the context–what has come to count as knowledge over the course of time. It may not be a set of how-tos, but the notion of kairos does provide me a frame through which I work, every day, in my office, at the reference desk, and in the classroom.

Here’s an example: If knowledge is contingent, then I’m never looking for right answers. Instead, I’m looking for ways to engage students in their own active knowledge pursuits, pursuits that happen in time and are never final.”

Go check out these thought provoking posts.

Andy Burkhardt

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