Midwinter is almost over and soon will come the obligatory wrap up post. I’ve had a wonderful conference as usual, but I’ve noticed an interesting theme this time around in several conversations about what it means to be a famous librarian. Now to be honest this is professional navel gazing at its best, but I do appreciate the need/desire/craving for acknowledgement, especially when we put so much of ourselves into our public service profession. If you haven’t seen any of this, check out Meredith Farkas’s blog for a nice discussion.
So, why am I throwing in my voice? I woke up this morning thinking about my experience with ALA and the profession. And the truth is I think we should be craving fame, but we have to be careful what we wish for. While I’ve lamented not getting on to the top 10 tweets at ALA (I’m a funny gal! Come on!), this is textbook misplaced fame. Instead we should be craving fame from our users and administrators and communities. That might not be the fame that necessarily leads to a movers and shakers nomination or invited keynote presentations, but it is the kind of fame that will keep libraries at the center of our communities.
The library fame that we should be craving is the kind our first year instruction librarian has gained by helping a Sociology faculty member with Endnote. She now has the entire Sociology graduate program queuing up because they call her the Endnote expert. It is the kind of fame the scholarly communications librarian at Wake Forest has because she is willing to travel around the country teaching the library community about what (the heck) scholarly communication is and can be. It is the kind of fame the North Carolina Library Association’s Government Resource Section has received simply because its priority is to train as many librarians throughout the country on whatever topics they want through the Help! I’m an Accidental Gov Info Librarian series. It’s the kind of fame that gets a librarian as Chair of Faculty Senate or fully integrated into the mission of the University Faculty Teaching and Learning Center or embedded into the Business School and teaching entrepreneurship credit courses.
It is the kind of fame that has students on waiting list to get into the section of a Political Science course taught by the librarian. Yeah, students WANT to be taught by a librarian. If that isn’t added value I don’t know what is. And finally it is the kind of fame where a student says to you in her final year of college, “YOU are one of my favorite professors” even though all I’ve ever taught her was library instruction.
We need to become famous and fabulous in the communities we serve. Celebrate these things in your life. Celebrate the comments and shout outs that come from the community. Don’t lament the BS that honestly doesn’t matter.
I have lots of “famous” library friends for some reason, both those famous in the community and professionally famous. The uniting characteristic that makes me seek out Kirby/Justin/Patrick/JP/Lauren/Buffy/(insert fab person here) to be my friend is that each is a genuinely nice person who cares about being a public servant. They aren’t in it for the fame or the keynote or the money (LOL); they are in it because they LOVE their users and know that libraries are critical to the functioning of the community. Fame to them is the library as the center of the universe.
Go and move and shake it in your own community. And when you do, let me know and I will lift a glass and celebrate YOU!