Monday, October 7, 2013

Defining ourselves within the profession

I just read A. Nelson, J. Irwin. "Defining What We Do -- All Over Again": Occupational Identity, Technological Change, and the Librarian/Internet-Search Relationship. Academy of Management Journal, ScienceDaily, 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 16 Sep. 2013
In the article, Nelson talks about how librarians and information professionals are redefining themselves as searchers of information particularly in terms of "who we are" and "what we do". I'd like to expand on the two phrases from my point of view as a veteran librarian who has been teaching and working in the field for decades.

Librarians have always defined themselves as those who help others find information, and as a profession that disseminates information. It's important to recognize that we disseminate information. We help get that hidden 'knowledge' out into the hands of researchers, historians, students and teachers, financial planners, investors, and anyone else who wants to know something. To me, that's the key to the job and the profession. Using the internet to find information is great. The internet is now the key for doing research and it is the first step for finding information. 

There are other proprietary databases, print resources and indices that are not readily available on the internet. Libraries, archives, and information centers subscribe to these 'fee-based' resources that provide access to other materials not readily available to the general public. As a librarian, it is important to know about these resources and to be able to mine the indices and databases for requested information. Not everything has been digitized and made available online. Public records, corporate records, government records and documents are just some of the types of materials that exist in print form that may never be digitized. Or the indices may be available, but not the actual records. The researcher has to go to the sources to complete his or her project.

While the information on the web proliferates at an astounding rate, librarians and information scientists continue to help those who ask find what they seek. Our job and our field, while it evolves quickly, is rooted in the idea of helping our client base, our patrons, find information. If you keep that in mind, you'll succeed throughout your career in the mind-boggling and ever challenging field of library and information science.

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