The Changing Role of Librarians

When making the decision to enter the MLIS program I did so with great consideration and thought toward the possibilities that I would be afforded from such a degree.  I was excited that an MLIS degree carried with it the opportunity to explore information organization both within the library context but also within organizations that utilize information.  In the present day, companies and individuals are creating data an exponential rate, it seems now more than ever, it is important that those of us interested in information create a solid foundation in information management.  The outcome of an MLIS degree is ripe with opportunity and possibility, I would have never thought of it any other way, until I watched ”The Librarian 1947 Vocation Guidance Film.”

This was an interesting exercise in devaluing a profession and marginalizing the role of individuals who chose to be librarians in the 1940’s.  As I watch this video, I wonder if librarians are marginalized due to their sex as most are female, certainly it can’t be due to their education as they required a college degree to become a librarian.   I am saddened that the only managers are depicted as male and the one time we hear a librarian speak, she comments on her inability to pronounce some difficult medical terminology, while simultaneously connecting a doctor with the information he required about this difficult subject.  According to the video the only two requirements of the job are “Love of books and love of people,” regardless of your expertise of level of specialization, these are the only two things that will matter.  While the film is sexist and overly simplifies the librarianship, I believe it demonstrated an occupation where educated women were welcome and during such a patriarchal time in society.  If anything I could see the fact that women outnumbered men as an accomplishment, however simplistic a vocational video may make it seem.

It seems that the requirements of those interested in libraries and information organizations have become more diverse and complex.  In contrast to the 1947 Vocation Guidance Film, the TedX talk by Lis Pardi outlines a different path for library’s and librarians.  Librarians are not only involved in cataloguing and lending but they are breaking down barriers for patrons by providing meaningful programs and services.  Librarians can be seen as an integral part of the community; bringing people together when so few are nowadays.  I am proud to be working toward and MLIS degree in 2015 when the possibilities are endless for career advancement.  I am proud that the profession has adapted to become more than just gatekeepers to books but rather agents of change that are making communities better and advocating for those all people not just a privileged few.  While the 1947 Vocation Guidance Film did not have great appeal for a library and information worker of 2015, we must all respect the foundation laid for all of us by the work of those in the past.  While the representations of librarians were of women in subservient positions, they were still women required to gain a college degree to work full-time at a lifelong career in a time when just over 30% women worked.

Worker statistics 1940’s  http://www.nber.org/digest/nov05/w11230.html

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