one big reason to go to the library: modern librarians


This morning, I encountered an article, Give Me a Reason to go to the Library, that portrayed high school libraries in an unfavorable manner.  The worst part?  The author of that article was a high school senior in Texas at the time.  A couple of years ago, Andrea wrote, “A library is a place where you have to be quiet.  All the time.”  Her high school library experience taught her that, “libraries try to appeal to 17-year-olds with the same old Crucibles and Scarlet Letters they have been trying to shove down our throats for years.”


I hear you, Andrea, I really do.  In one of my experiences in a high school library, I was directing a class of freshman into the library for a lesson that I was executing.  Thinking that I was a substitute teacher, they groaned terrible groans and adamantly expressed their disapproval of forty minutes in the library.

It’s a tough pill to swallow to hear that the profession I respect so much, that which I have decided to devote my career to, is so quickly dismissed by our own patrons.

If I may reiterate: ouch.

But listen up, Andrea, freshmen, and all other non-believers.  The horror and heartbreak that these negative sentiments evoke in librarians like myself are exactly what we need right now.  We hear your cries, understand your concerns, and genuinely care about changing your opinion of us.  We are modern librarians, and there are a whole lot of us.

For example, there’s Brian Hissong, who integrates technology seamlessly into the traditional public library archetype.

And then there’s Luis Soriano, who is not a certified librarian at all, and who is a long way from setting up Dance Dance Revolution gaming events for his patrons.

And I can’t even begin to tell you about my classmates and peers, who have continually astonished me with their boundless creativity and passion for librarianship.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we got into this field of work because we are genuinely excited to help you.  We want you to come into the library and get what you need, but we want you to have such a fantastic time that you want to keep coming back.  More than providing access to information, we want everyone we meet to get as thrilled about learning as we are.  Yes, we absolutely are geeks about it, and we want you to understand our mission.  We aren’t watchmen of books, or guardians of office supplies; librarians do what we do for you, our patrons.

I was particularly stricken by Andrea’s article because my dream is to create a spectacular and engaging learning environment in a high school or college library.  And, yes, I know that it makes me a nerd (and I don’t care).  So, if we haven’t yet changed your mind about what libraries are becoming, just wait… because we will.


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