Do you feel like a librarian? What makes you feel like one? With a recent blog post on the subject (Joy Weese Moll’s Feeling like a librarian from Wanderings of a Student Librarian) and a comment left on one of my posts (from Corey of the Tech Explorer blog), I have been thinking about how one comes to identify oneself as a “librarian.” Joy Weese Moll discusses teaching in her post and concludes that “I feel more like a librarian when I’m working on those prep assignments than I do at any other time.” I would imagine that this is true for many librarians. But Corey’s recent comments are making me think about systems people and how they come to identify themselves as librarians or if they even do. Corey has recently become a systems librarian and is interested in furthering his systems education. He writes that “Essentially I’m looking for post graduate studies that will train me to be a better Systems Librarian, not a course that will train be to be a better reference / research / liason librarian as that’s not who I want to be.” I can admit to feeling the same way that Corey does – I’m not really looking to be a reference / research / liason librarian – good or otherwise.
MLS graduate schools focus on several core tenets or principles of librarianship of which reference and research are a large part. I am not arguing that these aren’t important nor that everyone in an MLS program shouldn’t have some exposure to these principles. However, I don’t necessarily think that current MLS programs of study provide the best curriculum for systems librarians. I think this is in part due to the fact that colleges and universities tend to focus on theory and not practical experience. I personally don’t expect to learn skills in my MLS program that will help me be a better systems person. I would certainly be interested in being able to take a broader range of courses on systems (especially ILS), web page design / creation / maintenance, information architecture, internet search engine strategies, database design, etc. Currently, SCSU has many of these classes – yet, I will not be able to take most of them due to the way that courses are offers, professors that I do not want to take classes with and time constraints. But the question is, will I feel like a librarian when I graduate?
Ultimately, I am wondering if the majority of librarians feel like they are librarians when working on reference or research projects for patrons. I don’t do this, don’t intend to do this nor do I want to. Has anybody heard of someone feeling like a librarian when they finally get their Ariel computer configured and working or finally get ColdFusion set up for an Interlibrary Loan automated system? Is it even important to identify oneself as a librarian? Is there often a divide between systems librarians and other librarians? I know that in many cases, the systems librarians participate in regular reference rotations – but just as often, they do not. Systems jobs can be significantly different from other jobs in the library. In my job, I often feel as if I have much more in common with the IT staff than my colleagues in the library. I somewhat suspect that I may never really feel like a librarian. I have no clue whether that is good thing or a bad thing.