Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Why not?

Posted by lpearle on 2 February 2007

David Warlick asked “who needs ’em?” about libraries. Joyce and Doug (among others) chimed in with their thoughts, and then 33 Reasons Why was posted.

All the while, I was thinking about the final paper in my first class as a graduate student. This was the obligatory Introduction to Librarianship course, so it was a basic overview of the profession. And it was over 10 years ago (just to give some context!). The teacher asked us to, in 8-10 pages, respond to a similar question: with all the new databases and the internet on the rise and e-books on the horizon, why would anyone want to become a librarian?

Somewhat facetiously, I thought of handing in eight pages in 90pt type W H Y N O T ?, and then a bibliography of all the things I’d read that inspired me. I didn’t actually do that, but that’s the response I give when the question gets asked of me by students and colleagues, as well as strangers.

So, why? Because it’s not boring (If you’re in a school library and you’re bored – get out. Now.) Yes, I love to read but even more I love to talk to people about books and hearing a student raving about a book I suggested makes my day. Even better are the times when a student comes to me and says that there’s a book that I must read now so they can talk to me about it. Today I had three periods with more than one class doing research – the variety of topics and questions and needs kept me on my toes. I learned as much from them as they learned from me. And that’s just the start.

Why are librarians important? Because we’re generalists. We can help students make connections between subjects, between media, between Old Technologies and New. We can help teachers find new resources for their classes and their personal needs. Because of the reasons that Joyce and Doug and Diane and Alice and Chris and many, many others have given over the years.

Because, really, why not?

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2 Responses to “Why not?”

  1. Sherri said

    I’ve known several librarians, but there is one who remains in my mind after so many years. She was my jr high librarian — Miss Olsen until she married Coach Bond and moved to the fiction floor of the Orlando Public LIbrary. She was the one who told me about books no one else checked out, and who gave me my sign out card at the end of each year. I read tons then and she let me check out more than the amount “allowed” at one time because I devoured them.

  2. Jandy said

    I have described myself as a generalist for a long time. When I took those career evaluation classes in college (don’t ask how long), nothing stood out. It took me years to figure out that being a librarian is the right job for me. But you’re right – it’s a great job for a generalist.

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