Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thursday Thirteen


Thirteen things you might not know about librarians

Last week when I suggested this as a possible topic, I got an overwhelming demand (3 or 4 at least) to include it. So here goes my best shot.

1) The largest library in the world is the Library of Congress of the United States. The Librarian of Congress has never been a librarian. The current and 13th Librarian of Congress is James H. Billington, appointed in 1987.

2) Most of the people you see working in libraries are not librarians. Librarians are probably in the back room dealing with personnel issues, budget cuts, unhappy board members, preparing a speech for a consortium, or working through a license for a new database.

3) Librarians as children loved going to school--and they keep on going. A Master’s in Library Science is the entry level degree in the United States, but many librarians I know have double masters or PhDs. To my knowledge, there is no Bachelor’s degree in library science and hasn’t been for about 50 years. It may be possible to have an education degree with a minor in library science, however.

4) We are often wannabees--both staff and librarians. It’s not unusual to find a librarian or library staffer who is also a performing musician, a published novelist or poet, costume designer, archaeologist or historian. I met many former teachers, a few former lawyers, a former nurse, and one former veterinarian who became librarians. I've only met one librarian who started college with a goal to become a librarian.

5) A survey done during the 2004 election of political party preference came up 223:1, Democrat to Republican for librarians--the biggest lack of diversity of any profession. Not even Hollywood is that liberal. But we have a librarian in the White House.

6) Librarians are entrenched in their own value system. These values do change over the years. Thirty some years ago when my children were little I asked the children’s librarian to stop offering “Little Black Sambo” during story hour, and got a response something like, “It’s a classic, a delightful story and the children love it.”

7) Librarians have a strong missionary spirit--that everyone needs a good library is an article of faith (this is doubtful since many people find salvation in bookstores or worship Google). However, librarians aren’t particularly good at evangelizing (marketing to) the unbeliever--unless the poor soul accidentally get trapped inside the library and sees some really terrific bulletin boards or displays.

8) Librarians are slavish about following "standards" approved by the profession even if they don't apply to a specific situation (think NCLB on steroids). But only when it suits them.

9) Although there are exceptions, librarians are thin-skinned, tenacious, opinionated and determined with a very low tolerance for debate. And defensive. So don't let on you know this. I certainly include myself in this description, so I’m not telling tales out of school. When librarians get together for lunch, we really do talk about what we just read and push our favorites off on each other. Librarians also are gentle, caring, kind hearted, very service oriented, and most have a terrific sense of humor that leans toward irony and wit. Although there are exceptions.

10) Library school graduates (now called information specialists) of the last 10-15 years, the techno-geeks, are everything the old style librarians of my era were, but with computer street creds and coding skills. Some of them are just awesome in their skills, but might have difficulty in a for-profit, entrepreneurial environment.

11) On an introvert/extrovert scale of 1-10, you'd be hard pressed to find a librarian who is a 6 or 7 (that would be me). I’ve never seen a survey to prove this, but I think our birth rate is rather low, therefore new librarians have to be lured from non-librarian families unlike doctors and lawyers who seem to create their own successors.

12) There is a career slot for all tastes--public libraries, academic libraries, private libraries, school libraries, government libraries, and special libraries; some jobs will put you in a cubicle, others will have you facing a demanding public all day. Willingness to relocate is an essential attitude in today's market.

13) You will make a librarian’s day if you ask a question, especially if it is one not heard five times this week, or “where is the wi-fi hot spot.” So think up something challenging, but tell her she must find it in a book. If you get a blank stare, you haven't found a librarian.


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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things.

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38 comments:

Pink Chihuahua Princess said...

I really like this week's list. I find it interesting that most people choose to become a librarian as a second career.

My TT are also up. Happy Thursday!

Kimmy said...

Yay! This was one list I wanted you to do. 13 interesting facts. A few I knew... all amazed me!

My 13 are up, too!

Jennifer said...

VERY cool list! love how informational it is!! mine is up... but it's all pix this week!
Killired: Thursday 13

Anonymous said...

I like this list - you know, I've never met a librarian I didn't like. And yes, I've met ACTUAL librarians - not just the staff.

WendyWings said...

I was JUST talking about Little Black Sambo yesterday to my husband what a coincidence.
It is the one story from preschool I can still vividly remember the teacher reading LOL

MaR said...

Impressive list, I must say. Thanks for sharing all these facts, it certainly took you some time to write it down so precisely. I will think of something to ask next time I go to the library! I love libraries. Happy TT !

Tanya said...

I had no idea!! I only know one librarian, and she never talks about her job.

My 13 are up.

Alice said...

Very interesting. I'm wondering if all that applies to my blogger friend who also happens to be a librarian - when she's not watching the football.

My 13 are up (thanks to Tanya).

Anonymous said...

That is a great list. I have learned so much about librarians from it. Thanks! :)
My 13 are up.

Wystful1 said...

Hmmmmmm, interesting list. Ya know?--most people 'view' in their minds that librarians are quiet and resourceful.... Very interesting list. And quite a learning experience, I love it--thanks for all the information. Really impressive.

My T T is up---campaigning for 2008 *wink*.

Carol said...

I enjoyed reading your list - and I learned from it! I'll go ask my school librarian a question today! Actually my classroom is right next to the library, and she and I chat all the time. Thanks for visiting my TT.

Chi said...

Very informative TT...thanks so much for sharing. *s*

Carmen said...

Yea for librarians! Woo hoo! Cool list.
Mine's up here
http://carmenhasgonetoplaid.blogspot.com/

Mary said...

Wow! That was awesome and very informative! Thanks! My TT is up too!

Just Me said...

Who'd have known that becoming a librarian in the states could be such hard work. I've looked up librarianship in the UK and found this:

http://www.lib.ox.ac.uk/owl/libraryschool.html

it's fascination!

Micehelly said...

Very interesting. I was especially interested in the fact about the Librarian of Congress.

Amy The Black said...

Thank you for the post. I've known only one librarian personally, and he was actually a poet and a dancer. So your "wannabees" mention was perfect.

My TT is up.

Kel said...

I enjoyed reading your list a lot. I learned so much!

Unknown said...

Norma, you rock! Could I link your post to my site? What a great TT! I am also a librarian that is wannabe! How true! (I do costume design on the side.)

Emily said...

Great list! My mom is a librarian, so I have a lotta love for them ;)

Kelly said...

Funny... I would never have known any of that. I wish I could be a librarian. Also... last week you asked if my Thursday banners were there for the taking... They will be soon! I am not quite ready for that yet!

stacey said...

I always felt intimidated by librarians when I was younger. I felt as if they were aggravated by the people that came into their library. Is there any truth in that?
My TT is up.

Amanda said...

Very interesting! Thanks for introducing me to the world of the librarian...

My 13 are up.

feedscott said...

Norma your comment section would not open for me last night, sorry :(

Great List!

pvtbfs

Lazy Daisy said...

Norma, you crack me up. Loved #9 ....especially the "there are some exceptions" clause. I love being educated by you every week...almost as good as a trip to the library. My T13 is up.

Jane said...

I still remember the librarian at our local library when I was a child. She was always so sweet to me when I was there.

My list is up.

Courtney said...

Informative and interesting list! Enjoyed reading it :)

Sheri said...

What a cool list!! I'll have to search out our librarian and stump her with a good question. (So far it hasn't happened, in fact she knows everything I've asked without even having to look it up...)

Anonymous said...

Ahh, what an unusual list, enjoyed reading all of it :-)

More content in it than mine...

Anonymous said...

Wow - this was very informative. Thank you. I had no idea about the education :)...

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting. My daughter Melissa is going to college and has spoken to us about becoming a librarian. Great list :)

Thanks for visiting my TT. Take-care of yourself...

Natalie said...

Great list. I knew most of these, as I grew up with a school teacher turned librarian. :)

Anonymous said...

I think these informative 13's! I didn't know much of that. My 13 is up.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting list...
Thanks for visiting me last week and voting for the "doll".
I posted mine tonight - better late than ever - I linked yours again too!
Smiles,
Chrissie

Jen said...

This is a seriously interesting list. Who'd have known?

I'd like to work in a library, just to be around the books. But, I have serious organizational issues, and I never shut up, so I don't think I'm probably their best choice in hirees...

Just D said...

Awesome! I'm printing this now for my librarian!

Joan said...

Great, as usual, Norma. I have been "out of the loop" for a few days with emergency babysitting, home maintenance problems, and the death of a friend. I hope to get back to the computer soon.

Ruth said...

Norma,
Loved your list, I got it through See Suzy Spin. I am a Children's Librian Asst. and my favorite question was "Where does the Muffin Man live?"