Do I Library?

While this blog is mostly about teaching, I am also a librarian, though I’m not really sure about whether I am a librarian. I went to school and got a degree that is accredited by the American Library Association at a school that is listed one of the top library schools. And I needed an ALA degree to get my job, or a doctorate in a related discipline. There actually isn’t “Librarian” in my title at all. I’m an Assistant Professor of Library Science as my academic title and my other title is “Business Information Specialist”.

I don’t catalog books, I don’t usually buy books for my library. We buy databases, and I don’t even really have much control over that, as I think people would prefer that I just focus on my teaching and my research.

I like to think of myself as a librarian. I went to school to become a librarian.

My office is not technically in the library. It’s the floor above the library. I sometimes make a concerted effort to walk through the library floor versus take the elevator just so I can feel a little bit more like my job is connected to that space. I teach mostly in other departments. We don’t have a library school so I don’t actually teach students to become librarians either.

I have some colleagues who tell me that they don’t really think of themselves as being librarians, but rather as professors who research and teach.

I remember a senior official introducing me at an event to a newer person and saying that I was lucky that I had started in librarianship now because I didn’t have to relearn things. It’s actually a little concerning that I play the role of the librarian though I do very little that could be accepted as librarianship in my own work. I think it feeds my imposter syndrome. People sometimes offer me up as a “model” for how librarians should look and act in the future, which also feeds my imposter syndrome because I am not really sure that librarian is the right way to describe what I do. One of the benefits of being a picture person is that I can see the connection between my work, the overarching values of librarianship, and the objectives of my university library.

I imagine that others might feel similarly to me. I can think of all the times I’ve talked to other librarians, very resentfully, about how non-librarian folk think that every person that they meet in the library is a librarian. But I also feel a little jealous. It would seem as though “person who works in a library” would be a pretty good description for a librarian, and I wish sometimes that things were that simple.

Do I library? Does it matter if I library? For my institution, it probably doesn’t matter as long as I am valuable. I think it’s important to wonder, but to also question the boundaries of a professor, teacher and librarian. It’s our responsibility as libraries to find ways to make information and libraries valuable to the university, and our privilege to try to convince people of that role.