Survival Lessons for Libraries: Educating Special Librarians-'The Past Is Prologue'

By Matarazzo, James; Pearlstein, Toby | Searcher, March 2011 | Go to article overview

Survival Lessons for Libraries: Educating Special Librarians-'The Past Is Prologue'


Matarazzo, James, Pearlstein, Toby, Searcher


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

When we began writing this series of articles addressing survival lessons for special libraries, we had more questions than answers; this is still the case. What we have learned is that there is no one "right way" to be successful as an information professional in a corporate or other type of special library. Frankly, though, it was pretty straightforward to come up with several wrong ways that make being successful even more of a challenge.

Arriving at the right ways to succeed and thereby ensure survival is more difficult. Nonetheless, we do firmly believe there is one generic formula that makes success more likely--strategic alignment with your parent organization or potential employer. How you go about "doing the math" depends totally on figuring out how to achieve that alignment.

We thought it might be useful to "peel back the onion," so to speak, and look at the roots of how someone who wants to be an information professional in a special library would achieve that goal. This led us to review some of our initial questions about the likelihood of special library/librarian survival in the context of library education--basically going back to the source of how we as information professionals learn about our profession and how to pursue it specifically when working in a specialized environment (corporate, medical, government, legal, etc.). Here is where we believe we might find the root cause of many of the obstacles to success with which special libraries (and the information professionals who work in them) struggle.

For the purposes of this article, when we talk about library education, we are referring to graduate level library/information programs accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) and resulting in a master's degree or the myriad similar degrees related to information management currently being offered. (2)

Deja Vu All Over Again (With Apologies to Yogi Berra)

Writing in the journal Special Libraries in 1910, John Cotton Dana had already realized the challenge faced by the profession in formulating a definition of a special library. He characterized an early definition, "the library of the modern man of affairs," as not sufficiently inclusive. Even his beloved modern businessmen's branch in the Newark Public Library, though it had proved itself of great value as a "useful tool for business firms of all kinds in the city," was still considered "far from being a typical special library of men of affairs." (3) Dana found there was already such a variety of special collections of books, reports, and other printed materials that no definition could satisfactorily include them all. He predicted an even wider and more rapid development of all kinds of special libraries.

By 1914, when the number of special libraries had grown, Dana described the driving force behind this growth:

   One can only say that managers of scientific, engineering,
   manufacturing, managerial, commercial, financial, insurance,
   advertising, social and other organizations, including
   states, cities, government commissions and the like,
   are ... coming every day in increasing numbers to the obvious
   conclusion, that it pays to employ an expert who shall
   be able, when equipped with proper apparatus, to give
   them from day to day news of the latest movements in
   their respective fields. (4)

From our perspective, the role of providing "day to day news of the latest movements in their respective fields" is simply another way of recognizing the value of the special librarian who is aligned with his or her employer's mission. By 1919 Dana was being even more explicit:

   [The special library] contains all the useful things in all
   aspects of the organization which maintains it, and can
   obviously contribute to that organization's success; and it
   contains much, very much, that can help the men behind
   the organization--the "workingmen". 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Survival Lessons for Libraries: Educating Special Librarians-'The Past Is Prologue'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.