End of Year Reflections

It’s the middle of April and classes have ended at the School of Information Management at Dalhousie University. Those of you who know me personally will be aware that this Spring marks the end of my first year of the 2-year MLIS programme. Is it too sappy to think about end of year reflections? Likely not – it’s good to recap the good things that have gone on in one’s days.

If there’s one thing I learned this year – aside from the hardship of maintaining a blog when time is never, ever on our side – is that librarians like people. And technology. Face it, blogosphere: a large contingent of up-and-coming professional librarians are incredibly tech-savvy. We blog, text, and tweet. We’re all stuck on our feed readers and our Delicious bookmarks and our mobile devices. And we catalogue everything we can – not because we were born to be cataloguers, but because we’re absolutely head-over-heels in love with our LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Delicious Monster accounts. Librarians, in short, want to share all the great things that these gadgets can do with others.

But let’s not forget the People Factor. The latest breed of librarians love the tech, yes, but we also love people. Sharing is coded into our DNA, and we like to share information and information sources with people who are looking for the goods as well as the people who look like they need a hand but don’t know how to ask what a Fail Whale might be. People – not the tech, and not the info – remains at the core of our work. We’re masters of our trade so we can work in the service of others. The best tech and the best social media is only as good as the people behind it. I’m reminded of the end of the Wizard of Oz: we must make sure that the person behind the curtain is the genuine article. The best blogs and the best Delicious feeds are maintained by an individual on behalf of an institution. The person and the personality is vital because sharing information is all about building relationships. If the reader or the user or the patron can’t see us as another individual who is happy to procure information, than we’re not using the tech efficiently.

Whether we call them clients or patrons or customers, the work we do for the people we serve demands that we create and maintain a relationship with them. So let us take all the tech and all the social media and let us run with it as far as we can. But let us all remember the importance of building bridges within our communities. That’s what sets us apart from the Googles and Facebooks and Ask.coms. We’re people, just like our clientele. And we’re happy to help them, because of the relationships we’ve built and the communities that we’ve nurtured..

Anyway.. now that this little manifesto (read: circular argument) is complete, I’ll end by promising to write an entry more than once per term.