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Librarians don't read on the job

Michael Carney, State Library of NSW and Holger Aman, NSW Law Courts

Tuesday 16 September 2014 – Concurrent session 1, 11:30pm to 11:55pm

Abstract

Michael Carney and Holger Aman are new graduate librarians, but not brand-new. Having started in their graduate positions at the State Library of NSW and the NSW Law Courts Library around 3 years ago they’ve now had adequate experience to assess what working as a librarian is really like.

In their presentation, Michael and Holger will investigate the way in which people’s expectations of becoming a librarian match their lived experiences. Is a day working as a librarian full of reading books, constructing Dewey numbers and avoiding eye contact with people? Or is it a dynamic, rapidly changing vocation that calls upon highly developed communication skills and a strong connection to contemporary society? Speaking from their own experiences and drawing on results of a survey from other librarians, Michael and Holger want to explore people’s perceptions of what a librarian is, and how this role will evolve into the future.

To gain a well-rounded understanding of people’s experiences and motivations of becoming a librarian, Michael and Holger have devised a qualitative survey featuring 6 questions:

1. What were you doing before you became a librarian? 2. What made you decide to become a librarian? 3. What did you expect librarianship to be like when you first considered it? 4. Did your studies change your expectations? 5. How does your current experience as a qualified librarian compare to your expectations? 6. Is there anything you now wish you knew when you decided to enter the profession?

The questionnaire will be delivered to a target study group of 20 librarians from a variety of experience levels and workplaces.

The authors will assess the responses from the survey and analyse the extent to which people’s expectations of becoming a librarian differs from their experiences. Anonymous quotes from the responses will be used both in the paper and presentation for purposes of illustration.

The authors are still awaiting all responses from the survey, however early indications suggest that considerable differences exist between people’s expectations of the profession and current practice. Whilst people may have entered librarianship for love of reading, finding employment after completing an arts degree, or for a ‘nice quiet job’, their experiences have involved management of people and resources, developing new technologies, publically presenting, and a multitude of other skills they did not expect.

Paper link - not available

Presentation link 

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