Did you know that in addition to February being Black History Month, it’s also Library Lovers’ Month? In honor of Library Lovers’ Month, I thought I’d share a little about librarianship and what it means today.
Here’s the Dictionary.com’s definition:
In my opinion, this definition needs to be updated, as librarianship has changed a lot over the years. Today, when you think of the term “Library,” what comes to mind? A public library like Sunnyvale Public Library? A library in your school or your child’s school? There are libraries in places you may not realize have libraries! For example, United Airlines has a library for organizing and storing manuals that come with their planes and other equipment. NASA has a library (The Goddard Space Flight Center Library) for engineering and scientific research. There are libraries in law firms where lawyers can go for legal research and research assistance. There are also medical libraries, fashion libraries, and libraries that even I as a librarian do not know about. And Sunnyvale Public Library today is different from the Sunnyvale Public Library of even five years ago! Today, we aim for our library to be more like a community center where people can gather and hang out.
When you think of the term “Librarian,” what do you think of? A public librarian at your neighborhood library or the librarian who worked at your elementary school? Those used to be my only ideas of librarians before I became a librarian and learned that there are so many more types. There are also librarians who work in middle and high schools, as well as colleges and universities. There are librarians who work entirely with digital images, such as one who works with X-rays at hospitals. There are librarians who repair and organize rare book and other collections. And in case your mental picture of “librarian” includes one who wears her hair in a bun, you can also learn that this isn’t always the case. Visit Librarian Wardrobe to get a peek at a sample of today’s librarians.
At Sunnyvale Public Library, your librarians do more than sit around and read or answer questions all day. Collectively, we create programs and presentations, lead Children’s storytime sessions, tweet from our Twitter account, post to our Facebook page, provide assistance regarding patents and trademarks, buy new books, CDs, DVDs, add items to our catalog, write these blog posts, visit local schools, teach people how to download eBooks and use eBook readers, and more.
Usually, to become any type of librarian, you need to earn an undergraduate college degree and a Master’s Degree in Library Science (or some programs call it Library and Information Science or other variations). There are graduates with this type of degree who don’t work in a library at all! Often, the skills picked up in library school can cross over to other areas of employment. For example, you may have a Library Science degree and work for Amazon.com and help create algorithms, keywords, and organization schema for their predictive online search feature. After all, librarians are trained to organize information and help people find what they seek.
Want to learn about what different types of librarians do in a typical day? Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day started a program called “Library Day in the Life” in July, 2008 to allow librarians and library workers to “share and learn about the joys and challenges of working in a library.” The most recent round was held from January 31 – February 5, 2012. You can view synopses from 350 people who identify themselves as a type of librarian! And if you want to see what everyone said on Twitter, during that week, do a search for #libday8.
For more information about different types of librarians, visit these organizations:
If you’d ever like to know what a Sunnyvale Librarian does throughout the day, always feel free to ask!