Hello again, friends!
I haven’t blogged for a while and now I’m on a rampage! I’ll admit, though, that most of these posts are for a class assignment – including this one.
Care to watch a video?
I had to watch this for my Managing and Working in Information Organizations class. The purpose of this assignment is to watch the video and, using our knowledge of the context of information organizations and information workers post WW2 and now, comment on it. With that in mind, I began watching the video ready to be outraged by the classic gender bias I’ve noted in previous “retro” materials and looking for inconsistencies in the profession between then and now. But, in reality, I didn’t see much of a difference. I mostly saw consistency. And about my outrage, there was none. Actually, I loved this video. That’s right. I loved it. Who doesn’t enjoy stepping back in time and seeing what life was like? Isn’t it funny/interesting how people used to talk in 1947? Why don’t we talk that way now? Maybe I’ll bring it back in style: The fashion is simply marvellous. Have you a real love for fashion and learning? You do? That’s good. – See? It’s great!
But I digress…here is my analysis:
Lets start with the overarching theme of this video which is that librarianship is for those individuals who enjoy working with people and who have good customer service skills. Correct. This is still true today, in my opinion. To support my opinion (because I always have to support my opinion), I looked up the American Library Association’s values statement. Guess what? The ALA lists “Service” as one of the core values of librarianship. So, I’m right.
Public libraries in 1947 had a range of librarians: cataloguers, reference librarians, circulation librarians, children’s librarians. What’s changed? Nothing in that regard; except now we don’t need to check items off a list when conducting reference work, so I suppose I should note the advancement in technology.
Did you notice that almost all the librarians portrayed in the video were women? I think there was one man. Though the ratio of men to women in the library profession is slightly more even these days, I wouldn’t say by much so there’s not a great difference there, either.
How about the overall organization of the video? There is a huge emphasis on public librarianship and just a tiny segment each of a few special librarianship options. This is also representative of today’s library world. A classic overemphasis on public librarianship over special librarianship. “Pshhh” you say. And to that I say “ya-huh!” All of my first term courses deal with public librarianship and, just like this video, offer only a small segment of the curriculum to talk about special libraries. We rarely, if ever, talk about issues affecting other types of libraries and librarians or other information professions. I understand that this might be a bias on the part of my university, but it seems like most of the information (videos, articles, etc.) I find online that speak to the roles of librarians also deals with public libraries and librarianship, despite the huge demand for information professionals in other fields.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the public library and its purpose and I frequent my local public library on a weekly basis; however, it is not the way of the future. When will we information professionals embrace what is right in front of us and talk about the impact we can have on the world through different avenues of information professions and organizations??
While we think about that, here is one final (positive) thought: re-watch the video from 1:08 – 1:12. Look at the smiles on those patrons’ faces when the librarian “radiates” her knowledge on them. That’s why we get into the field – regardless of the type of library or information organization we decide to work in!
P.S. Aside from the obvious gender bias and bearing in mind that, now a days, a special librarian probably isn’t running from library to library looking for information, but rather using online tools, HOW FUN DOES THIS LOOK? That’s my cup o’ tea, y’all.