Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Two Types of Librarians (Of Which I Have NEVER Met Either)

In an effort to fully flesh out the classification of the different human elements found in public library service, I have decided to define types as I identify them, leaving the complications associated with establishing an in depth system to the side for a moment.

I decided to start with two types of librarians, which I am lucky enough to only have witnessed at other libraries and never had to work with...

The first group are known (by me) as the SQUATTERS. They want to stay where they are and not change a thing. They have spent years of their hardest work (?) to prepare procedures and a corporate culture that ensures no change is possible. They only thing that will dislodge them is time combined with a concerted effort by their successors. The squatters were not always this way, however. They used to desire to change, to do things their way. At some point, they realized that this isn't all it's cracked up to be, and they found, magically, that the spot they were in at that moment was perfect. They then spend their careers trying to keep it that way. They kill innovation via the informal filibuster. They also know every detail of every policy, either because they wrote it or they don't like it. Ironically, their e-mails can often be identified by extremely ornate backgrounds, fonts, theme music, and other HTML goodies.

Go figure.

The other type to define today are the
IDEALISTS. These folks are either fresh out of library school, or have recently been reintroduced to the public sector. They expect a library to function smoothly, with rational thought at the reason for rules and policy. They are still blind to the reality of their positions as babysitters and movie finders. They are still waiting for the opportunity to enlighten the masses. They wait so long that helping some high school kid do his homework by showing him how an index works actually passes as a victory.
Librarians can remain idealists forever. They can also, after years of fruitless struggle, morph into a squatter. A third option is that they ride the belief that they can make a difference all the way into a management position. This is how they become the nemesis of the squatter. Once in management, they find that they are too busy listening to the complaints of squatters and the ideas of the new idealists to get anything done other than scheduling.
The other option for idealists? Complete burnout and profession change.
They can be identified by the tired smile on their faces and the frustrated tone of their e-mails.

1 comment:

Layla said...

Enjoyed your post very much and is so true! I also am a Librarian in North Richland Hills.