I thought I would include this resume onto my blog. I’m pretty new to professional resumes so I’m happy to hear any constructive criticism.
The year is 1947. World War II ended two years ago. India has just gained independence from Britain. The United States Congress was televised for the first time earlier in the year. You are a young person trying to decide what you want to do with your life. You feel overwhelmed by all the options when you happen see this helpful film.
I think this is a pretty fascinating little slice of history. There’s a lot you could say about it as a time capsule of its times for the library profession. The librarians are almost universally white women with the exception of the administrator who is a white man. The filmmakers included the blind but they excluded any other form of diversity. We modern viewers can cringe at the comment from the hospital librarian about not being able to pronounce the medical terminology. Equally, we marvel at the phonograph as the peak of audio technology of the time.
Almost seventy years later and we find ourselves in a radically different world. Let’s contrast it with a more modern depiction of librarianship, uploaded to YouTube in 2011:
Well, there’s a lot more diversity, which is a pleasant change. There’s subtitles for the hearing impaired. The technology is radically different (but looks a bit dated for 2011 so it is entirely possible this was filmed earlier.) There are lines of continuity, however. The librarians are still universally women. The tasks being described are identical save for the inclusion of aspects of databases and technology. The fulfilment of providing good service remains the closing selling point of the video.
A bit earlier in the school year I wrote a paper contrasting two documents about how to be an effective librarian. One was written in 1958 and the other was written in 2003. In that paper, I argued about that there are major continuities of values between what is described in the earlier document with the one from 2003. Since then, I’ve written a number of other papers for other classes and I’ve watched both of the above videos.
It cannot be denied that much about the profession has remained the same. The broad strokes of a librarians tasks are similar if not identical. The passion, patience, and interpersonal skills that served librarians of the 20th century still serve us well today. And yet I wonder at actually seeing the visual contrast. A value that I’ve come to think of as integral to the modern librarian is advocacy. Librarians are the people who work in the public sphere and refuse to back down from meaningful societal issues. Defence of diversity in the library is essential to my conception of a good librarian. It makes the 1947 video a bit tough to see.
I know trying to bring these values of advocacy to the 1940s would be a massive anachronism. I think it just emphasizes to me that the profession has changed and that those changes have been firmly for the better. I disagree with my papers argument that enough is the same to not prompt a re-evaluation of librarianship. By all means, let us continue revising and changing. Let’s incorporate even more advocacy into what we do. And let’s show at least one male librarian who isn’t the boss, please?
I wanted to share this interesting post. It outlines a situation where an individual with different learning needs was involved in a larger group for an information literacy session being facilitated by Mr. Library Dude. I think he outline the potential challenges of the situation effectively. As librarians, inclusivity is extremely important and being mindful of the challenges he outlines is essential.
I was sitting in an auditorium yesterday. It was packed with people all waiting for their orientation to begin so that it could be over and they could eat the free pizza and cookies they had been promised. Every person of the hundreds present were in graduate school. I couldn’t help but marvel at how incredible that statement would have been even fifty years ago.
Hundreds of people all partaking in a level of education that was reserved for only a very small group of highly dedicated individuals for much of the 20th century. If I’m being honest, it made me feel pretty secure in my current professional aspirations. In a world of so many highly educated people, how important must the information specialist be in the coming years. How important they must be already.
I spent a few moments in blissful self-congratulation before I looked at that a bit harder. This incredible gathering of aspiring specialists were not simply the victims of credentialism or a poor economy. We are all living in a far more complex world that offers an immense amount of technology. That technology can ‘complexify’ just as much as it clarifies but it does clarify.
I thought about something I’d heard about vaguely, in the way one can only vaguely hear something through social media. This apparition of an idea said that humanities jobs were one of the few safe ones in the coming years since machines were likely to be able to handle most everything in math and science. I’m certainly not saying I take that with anything more than an exceptionally small grain of salt. Still, the looming Luddite horror of the growing power of the digital era bears thinking about.
How much has technology muscled into the turf of the information professional? How many present in that room would never consult a librarian but instead cling to Great Mother Google to guide them? It made me feel curious about the realities of today and the future. It made me consider the role that a person can have in world of such infinite complexity and specialty. In short, I felt like I was getting oriented to think seriously about information.