03 August 2009

Why I didn't share my Library Day in the Life

Last week, a number of colleagues and friends posted their Library Day in a Life. This was one of those memes that made me stop. And while I think Bobbi Newman rocks for putting this together, I have been asking myself what I can learn from the experience. What is it that librarians are trying to acheive by participating in this meme? What does it tell us about ourselves? About our profession?

The first thing that it tells me is that we lead incredibly varied lives. It really makes me proud to be in a profession that brings so much intellectual and creative energy to the information stream.

However, at the same time, I ask myself who we are writing these memes for. It would be one thing if we were taking these various "day in the life" scenarios and publicizing them in a way that encouraged patrons and other professions to rethink what they mean when they say "librarian". All those folks that cock an eyebrow or give a little giggle and a joke about Dewey...those folks could learn so much by reading these expositions on our profession.

But that's not what the library blogosphere is up to with this meme, really. And it really wasn't until I saw Amanda McNeil's tweet this morning that it really struck me as to why I didn't participate in this meme:

Amanda's link to an article wasn't what took my attention here. It was the vibe that she picks up on. I love being part of a group of people that are proud of the work we do. And I love working with people that speak up and speak out. But this meme leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth in part because I don't see the meme itself having a role in our relevance, or our creativity, or out sociality (is that a word?!). Are we using these memes as collaboration tools? As ways to develop our own practices based on the practices of others? If you are, BRAVO! And share that! THAT is what I want to hear about. THAT is what I want to see happen with learning more about the nitty gritty of our day. THAT is what makes the technology we feel so comfortable with and the wealth of librarians being social media butterflies (had to steal Andy's metaphor there!) so valuable to our profession. But just sharing what you do on a daily basis--that doesn't have value in and of itself. And as Steven Bell rightly points out, we need to be spending our hours adding value to the learning process. And not just in the classroom. But amongst ourselves. At our conferences. At our Tweetups. On our blogs. I'm not saying we should abandon fun, laughs, and humor on our blogs (although, I haven't seen a single Library-Day-In-The-Life that admits to checking their Facebook or watching a YouTube or reading the New York Times). But I do think that the intentionality to learning that we bring into our classrooms could have a valuable role in our social media.

What do you think? Have you gotten something from the Library Day in the Life posts that have given you more value than I am allotting? Share it! I am dying to know.


Meredith said...

Hey Sarah, I don't know about everyone else's motivations for participating in the meme, but I just wrote about my own motivations on my blog here http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2009/08/03/why-i-participated-in-library-day-in-the-life/. For me, it's all about creating a real day-to-day snapshot of our profession for people who are considering becoming librarians.

db1974 said...

I second what Meredith said. As a librarian in training, I loved the "Day in the Life" posts. It helped give me a better idea of the day to day activities of librarians much more than libray school ever could (outside of an internship, of course).

Lynda M. Kellam said...

Hi Sarah, I'll make the case for the need to share information in the profession. I'm in reference and often I have no clue what is going on in technical services or admin or even with individuals in my own department (beyond what i learned in library school). I enjoyed reading the entries to see what a cataloger (et al) actually does all day.

While I agree it is somewhat navel gazing-esque, we don't communicate enough across boundaries within our own profession. I'm in a niche job (data services) that has its own little professional world. I could retire never knowing what the info lit librarian actually does in her daily worklife. Personally I think that is a shame and detrimental to the profession. Day in the Life is certainly one way to promote a culture of sharing within the profession. Not the only way though, by any means.

And no I didn't include my Facebooking in my posts, but can't we just assume?? ;-)

lauren pressley said...

I'm chiming in to agree with what's been said. From the first library day in the life project, I have assumed it was primarily for folks considering librarianship, who might not know what librarians do besides work with books. Only after I've gotten more into my own narrow part of the field have I begun to think of it as something for the people already practicing librarianship. Now it's really nice to be able to see what other jobs are like, and what my online friends actually do in their day to day job. Just my perspective, though. :)

thewikiman said...

I didn't personally get anything out of it. People can be quite glib about the benefits of reflecting on one's own experiences etc - but I didn't learn anything about myself or my job by writing it down.

I did this because it is an opportunity to show people what we really do. This is important because fewer people than are needed are being attracted into a profession wrongly thought of as boring. Whilst I don't for a minute kid myself that lots of non-Information Professionals will ever read my blog, I still feel we need to take every opportunity to challenge the general ignorance surrounding our profession with every means possible. Day in the Life seemed like a positive step towards doing that.

The Sheck said...

Thank you all for the comments. I love the idea of librarians-in-training using these posts as an opportunity to get a sense of what we "really" do. Meredith, your post helped me take a step back and remember what it was like to be looking for a profession. Perhaps these types of posts can have a lasting impact on those considering librarianship.

Lynda, I love your point about using these posts as a lens into our colleague's lives. What a terrific team building experience! I love it!

Lauren, thanks for making the point that these types of posts help contextualize the work many of our online friends and colleagues are doing. That is another perspective I hadn't given full consideration to.

Each of you has made me think more about the project. I hope that other librarians participating are being as intentional in their posts.

HCPL Techincal Trainer said...

I found the Library Day in the Life a powerful stepping stone for librarians to promote what they do in "libraryland."

Librarians and other working for the common good professionals often fail at self promotion within both sympathetic and apathetic communities.

When libraries are threatened with budget cuts library staff know that libraries provide a valued service to the community.

Unfortunately, if your institution and its core supporters are the ONLY ones who know your value then you may not have any value to the community.

The Library Day In The Life can serve as a way of promoting the added value and multiple services that the superb, average and below average library provide to any community.

Promotion of your library and what YOU do is key to the survival of any library.

Bobbi Newman said...

Hi Sarah, You asked some interesting questions and points I figured I'd better respond. Although I forgot to mention in my blog post why I didn't include my visits to Facebook in the details of my day, I guess I don't see visiting Facebook as remarkable. I put it in the same category as what I had for lunch or how many times I visited the loo; not very interesting and sort of a given. ;-)