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Library Thinker Series: If You Had The Time

This post is a part of the Library Thinker Series where we examine some of the larger questions that we struggle with in librarianship and try to come to some insights together.

In the last LTS post there were a lot of enlightening comments. In one thread we got onto the topic of brainstorming and I wanted to carry that idea into this week’s post. In order to begin thinking about the work we do at our library, our director recently prompted us to brainstorm ideas with the question, “if time wasn’t a factor, what would you like to work on?”

Normally time is at a premium for librarians. We have to work reference shifts, teach, go to meetings, etc. But if all those things were taken out of the equation, what is it that you wish you could do?

When I thought about this question, the answer I gave was that I would spend more time learning from and about students. I wish I had time to do focus groups, or conduct usability testing, or sit and observe students’ behaviors. It would be great to ask students about how they use the library and what could be improved. I think we do a decent job paying attention to students and their needs, but I would love to be able to do it in a more thoughtful, structured way.

How about you? The sky is the limit for this question. What would you work on, create, or do if time wasn’t a factor?

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Library Thinker Series: What Skills Must a Librarian Have?

This post is a part of the Library Thinker Series where we examine some of the larger questions that we struggle with in librarianship and try to come to some insights together.

This week’s question is “what skills are necessary in the field of librarianship?” Are there “must have” skills that should be essential to librarians?

The most important skill that I see for librarians is to have a mindset of service. Librarianship is a career of service and not always the type of service you expect. Sometimes you get asked about a paper jam, or how to reformat a spreadsheet, or where the bathroom is. But sometimes you get asked for help with a job application or for help with research on media bias in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even though these second one’s are often more mentally stimulating, when you have a mindset of service you will answer all of those questions with similar zeal. You will want to do all they can to please their users.

This service mindset does not have to be only among public services librarians either. It could be an ILL librarian trying a lot of different avenues to get an item for a patron. It could be a web services librarian wanting to talk with patrons to genuinely improve their web experience. They don’t even necessarily even have to interact with patrons, though I believe this is extremely valuable. A spirit of service in my opinion is of the utmost importance in librarianship.

What is your take? What skills are necessary for librarians in this day and age?