No, it’s not a new children’s book. Rather, it’s a wonderful essay by Sarah Glassmeyer that was recently published in VoxPopuLII. Here are a few tasty quotes that I quite enjoyed:
…if an overly cautious, slow moving, non-evolving primate that responds to threats by a poison tongue or hiding and pretending the threat isn’t there didn’t remind you of anything, well then I guess you haven’t spent much time around librarians.
…librarians don’t cling to print materials out of some romantic notion of the superiority of books, nor do they make repeated demands for stable, authenticated archives of electronic materials just to make you crazy. When one is tasked with the preservation of information – on behalf not just of those looking for it ten years from now, but also of those looking hundreds if not thousands of years from now – and no one else is really in the information distribution or storage business, it pays to take one’s time and be cautious when determining what container to put that information in, especially when what you’ve been doing for the past 1,000 or so years has been working for you.
…with librarians this risk aversion has grown like a cancer and now manifests itself as a fear of failure. This fear has become so ingrained in the culture that innovation and progress are inhibited.
As it stands now, librarian participation in a multidisciplinary project is often regarded as more of a hindrance than a help. If librarians don’t change, they will eventually stop being invited to the conversation.
I’m sitting on an airplane, headed off on a vacation that I have been looking forward to for months followed by Internet Librarian (IL). The past few days have been a whir of travel preparations and finalizing my presentation.
The process of creating this presentation has been an interesting one for me. I’m a consummate procrastinator, working best under the pressure of a deadline, but with two co-presenters, I felt a sense of guilt over not finishing up sooner. But, it’s done now, and except for a few tweaks based on recommendations from people I respect, all I have left to do is deliver it next Wednesday.
What am I going to be talking about, you ask? Workflow tips and tricks for electronic resources in a small library. Sounds impressive, right?
I must admit, it seemed like a much better idea back when we proposed it six months ago. Not many people have been talking about this at IL/CIL in recent years, so I thought we could bring a fresher topic than ebooks and mobile reference services. And, maybe it will give the non-ER librarians at Internet Librarian an glimpse at what we do, much like the reference and instruction related sessions that I’ve attended in the past have given me a better understanding of that aspect of librarianship.
I have a tendency to learn a new process or workflow and then incorporate it so fully that I forget others may not be familiar with it. It seems so obvious to me now that breaking it out and highlighting the things that create efficiencies is a challenge. I went through several versions of notes and outlines before finally settling on a few broad strokes and listing out some of the successes and failures I’ve had in creating efficiencies within them.
In the process of creating this presentation, I also managed to squash the bug of “but I’m not an expert!” that plagues me every time I think about presenting to my colleagues at the more electronic resources focused conferences like ER&L and NASIG. It made me see that we’re all swimming through this together and learning from each other as we go. Some process that I’ve taken and modified might trigger a colleague to take it and tweak it even more. If I didn’t share that with them, they may never have even realized it was possible.
So, it’s not that I or anyone else who presents or writes on a topic are the “experts” so much as we’re just the ones willing to step out there and share what we know. Honestly, I’m hoping that the feedback or questions I get from the presentation will help generate the projects I’ll be taking on in the next few years.