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A Few Thoughts on Today’s Librarian

March 27, 2015

The PaLA Northeast Chapter will soon send out a call for proposals for its annual Spring Workshop. You can see it now on our Facebook page and we’ll post it to this blog early next week. Today, though, I want to share some quick thoughts on why I like the workshop title we chose. [I should make it clear that I’m speaking only for myself, not on behalf of the Board.]

Potential workshop themes we discussed mostly revolved around innovation and leadership in the face of change. We wanted to highlight innovative ways librarians are responding to new challenges and I think it’s also fair to say we were interested in exploring how the profession itself is evolving. (David Lankes’ The Atlas of New Librarianship is a good, if somewhat controversial, starting point for this discussion.)

After identifying some topics that related to these general themes, we needed a title. Now, granted, this was not a long or emotional discussion. We weren’t arguing over semantic nuances. Everyone agreed that “New Librarian” and “New Librarianship,” were both potentially confusing because we’re not focusing solely on new librarians. “Modern Librarianship” didn’t meet with a universal nodding of heads either. After a few minutes, we settled on “Today’s Librarian.”

Personally, I really like this title. For me, it emphasizes a focus on the possibilities of the present moment and the need to meet current challenges, not on divining the future of information work. I also like it because, unlike “new” or “modern,” it doesn’t necessarily imply a radical break with the past. Rather, it acknowledges that most of us, regardless of how long we’ve been in the profession, are adapting to meet the needs of our communities. (Yes, I’m overthinking this, but I kind of enjoy overthinking things.)

Today’s librarian must anticipate the opportunities and challenges of the future, while also learning how to operate most effectively within the current context. Change management, intercultural communication, important new skills, and evolving best practices are all relevant topics for a workshop on today’s librarian.

The title’s use of “Today” firmly situates us in the present. And yet, even as we marvel at our current moment, the very reference to time also brings to mind its passing and gently reminds us to remain humble. For, as silly and obvious as it may seem, today’s librarians will be yesterday’s librarians tomorrow. It will happen to all of us.

I told you, I really like the title.

Thanks for reading!

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 30, 2015 1:34 pm

    I like that choice, as well! “Today’s librarian” has a very practical feel to it, more so than the other options.

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