Thursday, April 5, 2007

Personal responsibility and professional development

Over in the Liminal Librarian, Rachel Gordon has a pithy post about personal responsibility on the part of new librarians. The last few sentences sum it up nicely:
If we're going to continue to remain relevant as a profession, we need first to take personal responsibility -- for remaining informed, for building something that goes beyond ourselves, for moving forward in our careers. Our institutions are nothing without their people; our profession is built from our multiple and ongoing contributions to the field. It's difficult to be proactive in moving ourselves or the profession forward if a sense of entitlement and a belief that we are subject to forces beyond our control permeates our careers.

Rachel is discussing this sense of personal responsibility from the perspective of newer librarians, regardless of age. I've had a growing frustration with more experienced members of our profession who hold desperately onto the idea that "all that technology" has no relevance to good librarianship. In fact, I've been thinking so much about this idea that I submitted an abstract for Internet Librarian on "Making Them Care: Demonstrating the relevance of Library 2.0 to staff and management"

What I find most ironic about this resistance to learning about new technologies -- or even new ways of doing this work that don't require something electronic -- is that libraries have been trying to position themselves as "the people's university" or "a place for lifelong learning." How can we claim that title if the professionals providing support for that learning don't keep learning themselves? Particularly about tools that are becoming increasingly pervasive in our patrons' lives, and our own?

I've often felt that I, as a 30-something librarian with nearly a decade in the field, straddle the fence between the techno-evangelists and the reluctant adopters. I see the benefits of slow transitions to new technologies, of not running off hare-brained after every fad. But I also see where willing ignorance and the inability to see why this is important are keeping us from serving ever-growing numbers of our patrons in the best possible way.


Rachel said...

I think that would be an excellent program for Internet Librarian, hope to see it there!

Jessica Steytler said...

well said. I do hope that your proposal is accepted! You should consider sending it over to Simmons for continuing ed there, too.

The Eclectic Librarian said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Rachel. I hope to see you there as well (I actually met you during your Infotour during last falls' IL).