Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Roundtable: How Has the Profession Changed since You Graduated?

Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Roundtable: How Has the Profession Changed since You Graduated?

Article excerpt

Gerald Beasley

Holly Hendrigan

M.J. D'Elia

Compiled by Jessica Lange

Welcome to the second edition of Roundtable! Roundtable provides an opportunity for librarians to reflect on their own practice and experiences related to a particular question. In light of our 10th anniversary issue, the topic for this issue's Roundtable is "How has the profession changed since you graduated?" I'm delighted to have three librarians with a variety of experience sharing their thoughts on this topic. Enjoy!

Gerald Beasley

Vice-Provost (Learning Services) and Chief Librarian, University of Alberta

I believe the library profession has changed as much or more than I have since I graduated from University College London in the UK in 1985. I was fortunate to have excellent instructors in a School of Library, Archives and Information Science who emphasized attitude more than aptitude (although learning the principles of Universal Decimal Classification made every classification scheme I subsequently encountered look easy!). Computer science was an option-thank goodness I took it-and my submission of a small but exemplary card catalogue now seems embarrassing. Still, I believe I carry the values that were reinforced at library school into my current work, especially by recognizing that librarianship continues to be about sustaining and developing communities through intelligent access to organized knowledge.

Having entered academia after many years of working in professional and special libraries, I wish I had not seen barriers arise between the various career paths. I now think I was just lucky. In general, the reward systems for public and special library work do not seem to have kept pace with the compensation and benefits offered to academic librarians, yet I believe the work remains comparable at all levels. Disappointingly, our failure to communicate our professional value has meant library work in nearly all sectors has become more precarious.

And I am dismayed that school libraries are under threat everywhere I look, and that volunteers are expected to replace trained professionals in many local libraries in the UK. On the positive side, however, I also believe the world has learned a lot from our profession. We are surely the unsung leaders in thinking deeply about the worldwide web, intellectual freedom, open access, and knowledge as the engine for economic and personal growth. The more that commercial interests shape the societies we live in, the more our professional expertise will be valued by those seeking a safe and informed environment for exploration and learning. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

Holly Hendrigan

Liaison Librarian, Applied Sciences; PI, TechBC Memory Project, Fraser Library, SFU Surrey

Douglas Coupland has remarked, in numerous formats, "I MISS MY PRE-INTERNET BRAIN." Occasionally, I MISS MY PRE-INTERNET LIBRARY. At the very least, I feel privileged to have worked in one.

I graduated from UBC's library school in 1993, and had the great fortune of securing an auxiliary position in the busy Central branch of the Vancouver Public Library shortly thereafter. These were the final years of a predominantly print-based information marketplace. Granted, VPL's catalogue was automated, and subject divisions held a few databases on CD-ROM, but the pre-internet days were a golden age in which librarians were called upon to provide answers to both in-depth and ready reference questions from the moment we opened every morning. In order to answer them, we relied heavily on reference books and maintained our own index card and newspaper clipping files.

The index card drawer banks in subject divisions were magnificent. Sub-organized by subject or format, these physical databases contained citations or complete information on a wide range of topics: artists, authors, quotations, "quick reference" facts and statistics, boat plans, recipes. Some enterprising librarian even created a "Collective Noun" file, saving future librarians time when asked for the group term for, say, owls ("parliament") or monkeys ("tribe"). …

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