Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Am I a Librarian?

Why are you a librarian? People want to know! Specifically, Webtamer guest contributer Lee wants to know, or at least he claims he does. And being a librarian, or some sort of professionally informational person, Lee has of course decided to approach the problem in the rigorous manner typical of all top level library science research. That's right, he went to Surveymonkey. Take the survey! It's great fun. [Update: the survey seems to have moved here. Very tricky.]

The survey has three questions, if you can call them questions. It seems designed to be even less useful professionally than the comments section of the AL, and that's saying something. Still, we want this survey to be statistically valid, even if it doesn't tell us anything interesting, because it's possible he'll be able to get an article out of this and he might be on the tenure track or something. That means you all have to click through and take the survey, filling in the answers in the straightforward and thoughtful way that we approach everything at the AL. If everyone reading this takes the survey, then that should be plenty to make it valid. And if he gets an article out of it, we'll all have fun reading it later.

I took the survey, and am sharing my answers with you below. Feel free to do the same for me.

"1. Why am I a librarian (or insert your favorite information professional title here)?"

You seem to be having some existential angst here. Hence your question. I have to say, I give up. I don't know why you are a librarian, and I don't particularly care. Nothing personal. I'm just not naturally curious. If you want to tell me, I'll listen politely, but I don't see how I can possibly answer this question. I thought this survey was supposed to be about me, but I guess not. Still, why don't I tell you why I'm a librarian, and then later you can answer your actual question for me once you've sorted out your emotions. I'm a librarian because it's an easy job with decent pay, light work, and low stress that required almost no effort to get. I assume that's why everyone is a librarian. Oh, and I get a lot of vacation. All the interesting and challenging jobs required too much effort and ambition, and I'm lazy and almost completely lacking in ambition.

"2. How I became a a [sic] librarian (or insert your favorite information professional title here)?"

This isn't even a question. You may have heard this before, but sentences need complete verbs, even interrogative sentences. "How I became a a librarian" might be a good title for a blog post if you left out the second a, but it's not a very good question. Still, I think I understand what you're getting at. You meant to ask the question, "How did I become a librarian?" didn't you? Well, I don't know how you became a librarian. Perhaps it was just fate. Perhaps you failed at everything else in life. No, wait, those are more why answers than how answers, aren't they? How did you become a librarian? That's more of a process, isn't it? I have a feeling that going to library school was a step. Then perhaps applying for a librarian job. Am I getting warm here? Why don't I tell you how I became a a librarian, and maybe that'll help you formulate an answer to your question. I became a librarian by getting an MLS (very easy to do, by the way) and then getting a job as a librarian (also pretty easy to do). It was really that simple.

3. Do we need librarians (or insert your favorite information professional title here)?

Who's this "we"? Is that you and me? Just between us, I don't think we need any librarians. We could go out, have a martini, and discuss your survey without any librarians around. Probably better that way, actually. And I personally don't need any librarians. If any are around, they're just competition for me, and I don't like competition. That's why I became a librarian. Competition just means more work for me, and I'm naturally lazy. (Please see above.)

On a final note, I'd be happy to tell you where you can insert your favorite information professional title, but this is a family blog.

32 comments:

Tudor Rose said...

1) Why am I a librarian?

Technically not a "professional" librarian yet, still a few classes away, but I've worked in libraries for like 7 years on and off (since high school) and am one of those few that think that makes me a librarian, even without the MLIS. So anywho I'm rephrasing the question to "Why am I becoming a librarian?" Easy. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in something I can't get a job with. Took me three years to figure that out. So I decided to go back to school and being a librarian made sense 'cause I already had experience and didn't want to have to work too damn hard in graduate school.

2) See above

3) Well all my instructors seem to fear that librarians are going to be replaced by Google (and would that *really* be so bad?) so apparently someone out there thinks librarians are arcane. All I know is that I'm gonna need a job once I graduate, so, uh, yeah, for that reason alone we still need librarians.

ed crank -- librarian said...

As long a people are lazy, we will need librarians.

The technology that will take our place is not Google but the next generation of browsers that does everything for you.

The question we get asked the most is "Where is the bathroom?" and I know that if we offered wiping services, our lazy patrons would take us up on it.

Talk about not wanting to do the paper work.

ed crank -- librarian said...

Another reason to become a librarian, at least one on the public dole, is that you get a bunch of non-holidays off.

Slackers.

Anonymous said...

1) I'm not really good at anything else

2) I spent $30,000 or so

3) WHAT DO YOU THINK I'M GOING TO SAY GENIUS

Anonymous said...

In his classic book "Growing Up Absurd," Paul Goodman asked "What's worth doing?" Having been a rural small town librarian for the last 33+ years, I'm certain that librarying has been worth it. It's a great way to be in and "know" a community.
"The Crook Librarian"

Anonymous said...

Another Internets poll.

Some days I long for the monks and their quill pens.

Anonymous said...

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/02/18/cb.lousy.job/index.html

Sounds like everyday at my library.

Robert M. Lindsey said...

OFF TOPIC:
AL, I don't know how to contact you so I'm going to ask here if you've seen this:
http://whyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/dumb-and-dumber.html

j- said...

*Blogger Tudor Rose said...

1) Why am I a librarian?

Technically not a "professional" librarian yet,*

Thanks, that's all we need to here. Next.

* still a few classes away, but I've worked in libraries for like 7 years on and off (since high school) and am one of those few that think that makes me a librarian, even without the MLIS.*

You're not one of the "few" who think that, but you can still stop taking the survey.

I've worked in a hospital for a few years--does that make me a Doc?

*3) Well all my instructors seem to fear that librarians are going to be replaced by Google (and would that *really* be so bad?) *

In your case, no, since you're not a librarian yet anyway.

*The technology that will take our place is not Google but the next generation of browsers that does everything for you.*

I doubt even whatever that will be will replace us. If you troll too many comment sections on the web, you'll invariably find someone asking a simple question that Google can answer quite easily, like: "When do Cubs tickets go on sale?"

Even a stupid site like Yahoo! Answers is full of dolts who could have answered their own f*cking question by, um, typing it into Yahoo's search box, rather than waiting for some other dolt to answer it for them.

Alex Grigg said...

1. Computers and books are fun. Getting paid decently is good. Sucky pay rules out chain book stores, but allows for librarian jobs.

2. Realized an undergraduate degree in English and German was worth jack squat. Decided to try for a degree that was associated with an actual job.

3. Only if we are are convinced that the masses should be assisted in their attempts to better themselves through information and education. I'm still up in the air on the issue.

Anonymous said...

1. I'm better at it then the rest of the office so they appointed me library liason. Now I am no longer in the Science office, but I am still good at the library thing. Natural fit.

2. I got here the same way everybody else did...out of a woman's tummy. [I could have used the other version, but I thought this is "cleaner."]

3. Libraries are obsolete. Informations Centers are the Future. Librarians are Obsolete. Information Porfessionals, Helpers, techs, etc. are the future. If this is so hard to understand, look no further then the people quivering in their boots about google and yahoo clearing their reference desks of all questions except "where are the bathrooms."

~merc Kat!

Anonymous said...

Not only are libraries obsolete, so are books.

If your "library" isn't putting on Dance Dance Revolution parties and Guitar Hero happenings, then you are so behind the times.

The future is in kids who can play video games. Just look at the weaponry the Army is developing to use to fight our enemies. Radio controlled and video game based. The last thing they need is a bunch of kids who can't operate a joystick and question the moral dilemma of war.

So I became a librarian to help fight the global scourge of terrorism.

Anonymous said...

AL, the link to the survey doesn't work (survey is closed). Did Lee actually close the survey to prevent AL readers from giving their 2 cents?

There is a new link on Webtamer's blog: link

Anonymous said...

j seems like she (or he) is trying to out-nasty the AL, but it's not working out. for one thing, she (or he) is confusing which comment she (or he) is responding to. if you want to be like the AL, you have to be clear.

though lack of clarity could just be called laziness, in which case j might simply be trying emulate the AL, rather than outdo her.

soren faust said...

1) I became a librarian because the drugs weren't working anymore.

2) The probability of me becoming a librarian was in my favor, 1:1

3) Of course, librarians and libraries will be around in some form or another, particularly after we settle Mars.

Anonymous said...

Just say NO to nonsensical surveys! I'm glad you didn't though - makes for a pretty funny posting.

Anonymous said...

I became a Librarian because:

A) It is indoors

2) There are a lot of intelligent women to be around (and I am a male looking to increase my "smarts")

c) You get to answer surveys

and

D4) You get to classify things and come up with meaningful lists

Elizabeth said...

1) Why am I a Librarian?

The armed forces told me so. It was my #1 profession on the ASVAB. Right before mechanic and Special Forces (hand to God). So I became a Librarian because I'm good at it, I enjoy helping people, I'm a big nerd, and I really didn't want to learn how to fire an AK-47.

2) Realized I didn't want to be a lawyer or teacher with my history/poli sci BA. After spending lots of time doing research decided I would try this. And I love my job I do even though I snark on it a lot.

3) Yes, but in a different role from what we have now. There will still be the need for Libraries to act as archives and repositories for knowledge, and help people access said knowledge. The how and the where will change.

Now I'm off to flex my mad Librarian/covert ops skills on the Reference desk.

Anonymous said...

AL, you're wickedly funny today. I love it.

a a Conflicted Librarian

j- said...

*The armed forces told me so. It was my #1 profession on the ASVAB. Right before mechanic and Special Forces (hand to God). So I became a Librarian because I'm good at it, I enjoy helping people, I'm a big nerd, and I really didn't want to learn how to fire an AK-47.*

An AK??? What Warsaw Pact/Third World Army were you fixing to join?

Anonymous said...

I took the survey, and am sharing my answers with you below. Feel free to do the same for me.<<

Well, if true, that was pretty silly. You do know surveymonkey records IP addresses, do you not? Or perhaps AL is clever enough to use an anonymizing proxy?

AL said...

"Or perhaps AL is clever enough to use an anonymizing proxy?"

The AL is indeed clever enough to do that.

Anonymous said...

I'll add to what ed crank said and say that as long as we have lazy and STUPID people there will be a need for librarians. I see no shortage of those people in the future.

Anonymous said...

>>The AL is indeed clever enough to do that.<< Yes, but did she? And, is Webtamer guest contributer Lee bright enough to check the logs? Enquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

I know Lee quite well. He put the survey up out of sheer curiosity. I guess you've forgotten about sheer curiosity? It means you are interested in the world around you. Maybe you forgot that.

Anonymous said...

I hate being a librarian. I wish I had never done it. I want out. How do I get out!?

Anonymous said...

Jim says:

Hey, Elizabeth,
After some days at the Library, I wish I DID know how to fire an AK-47!
(Oh, great, does that mean Homeland Security will be looking for me, now?)

1) cause I couldn't advance in the Library world without an MLIS degree, and because I certainly knew I could do the job better than that -- um -- woman -- who was my boss at the time.

2)I went to school and got a job at the Library, dummy, what other way is there to do it?

3) judging from the expressions on the faces of high schoolers who come in looking for a book, yes, we still need librarians. They don't know their alphabet, let alone how to use the catalog (yet they can ace all umpteen levels of "Halo" 1-3 faster than I can load the first game on my X-Box -- not a 360, by the way). And as long as teacher insist on assigning reports on 'who invented the programmable remote control', they will need us to help.

Anonymous said...

I hate being a Public Librarian. I hate the patron who took a dump in the urinal, I hate the masturbating 20-something I had to throw out of the study room, I hate the psycho bar fly who screamed at me because SHE lost a DVD, I hate urinator who pees in the corner, I hate the army of beligerent, unwashed, peasants who marinate all day at the computers and then complain that the internet is too slow, I hate my boss for NEVER working a full 40 hour week and then telling me to "handle it." Don't even get me started on the lovely mothers that leave their kids unattended all day. Since I have been working at a Public Library I have not actually been able to be a librarian! A janitor, a babysitter, a computer tech, a counselor, a emotional punching bag for everyone who has had a bad day... but not really a librarian. That's it, I am quitting for good. Nevermind all the money I blew getting my Masters. I'm done. Uncle. I would rather spend my days expressing the anal glands of an aggressive pit bull than ever again have to deal with the bags of useless crap that somehow manage to silther, creep, or drag themselves into the library.

Anonymous said...

BTW: I am a different anonymous than the one that said: I hate being a librarian. I wish I had never done it. I want out. How do I get out!?

There's a lot of us out here who hate it.

Anonymous said...

"I hate being a Public Librarian. I hate the patron who took a dump in the urinal, I hate the masturbating 20-something I had to throw out of the study room, I hate the psycho bar fly who screamed at me because SHE lost a DVD, I hate urinator who pees in the corner, I hate the army of beligerent, unwashed, peasants who marinate all day at the computers and then complain that the internet is too slow, I hate my boss for NEVER working a full 40 hour week and then telling me to "handle it." Don't even get me started on the lovely mothers that leave their kids unattended all day. Since I have been working at a Public Library I have not actually been able to be a librarian! A janitor, a babysitter, a computer tech, a counselor, a emotional punching bag for everyone who has had a bad day... but not really a librarian. That's it, I am quitting for good. Nevermind all the money I blew getting my Masters. I'm done. Uncle. I would rather spend my days expressing the anal glands of an aggressive pit bull than ever again have to deal with the bags of useless crap that somehow manage to silther, creep, or drag themselves into the library."

Nice. I am an RN who is applying to an MLIS program. What you described sounds like an every single day at the hospital. Sign me up!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous RN, don't do it. The pay is crap, and you really don't have any prospects of advancement or raises. Being a public librarian means being a glorified Kinko's clerk who makes less than the average babysitter and had to spend money and time on a master's degree to do so. It also means dealing with smug administrators and board members who make 3 or 4 times what you do, yet think you should be able to get along on the same pittance of a salary year after year.

Forget the ALA's propoganda about being the glue that holds your community together--you're basically a dumping ground for the lowest common denominator in your community. If anything, go for a job at a medical library. Avoid working with the public at all costs.

Anonymous said...

A modern MLIS degree is more akin to IT these days. On the corporate side, you have business intelligence and data warehousing, database management, data mining, etc. I write lots of code and deal with fussy servers too.

Instead of library patrons, we have users (coworkers from other departments) who interrupt us and push the definition of morbid imbecility to heights unimagined. Luckily, the server room has a raised floor and we can stuff bodies under their for weeks.

I think chicks would dig a librarian with muscles. 12 more lbs of muscle and I can be "Conan the Librarian"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZHoHaAYHq8

A actual 1.0 library? I haven't been to a book museum in years.