What Is a Librarian: An Unsolicited Response

I’m actually really rather nervous to write this post, though I knew that someday I would want to do so. In order to help keep me relaxed (and even happy), I’m peppering my thoughts with pictures of cute baby animals. After all, cute baby animals make everything better.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already feeling better – thank you adorable puppy!

Last week I received an incredible email from the wonderful Bryce of Bryce Kozla Blog. She asked me to read a preview of a blog post she wrote.

I think that I surprised both her and myself with my response, which went a little like this:


Because of my reaction, I realized that the time had come for me to share with the world something that I have tried to keep on the down low for fear of how my work would be perceived, and how I might be treated within this profession that I love:

I have a BA in English Literature. That’s my only degree beyond high school.

I’ve never shied away from telling anyone the truth…if they’ve asked. I’m proud of my education, my position, and my life. But I’ve heard stories that have both saddened and horrified me from fellow non-degreed librarians, and so I’ve not wanted to risk having those experiences myself.

Let me tell you a bit about the library that my Director and I have cultivated over the past 5 years – both because we’re proud of our library and our staff, and because I think that you’ll understand my thoughts and feelings on this topic a bit better.

At our library, our staff has a wide range of educational backgrounds – and you know what? I truly believe that we’re stronger for it. We hire based on what is best for our library, community, and team. Both my Director and I LOVE surrounding ourselves with people who love to learn, bring different skill sets, and challenge us to both and be better.

We’re delighted to have MILS students join our team. They almost always bring an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm with them. For most, this is their first job in an actual library, and it’s a great honor to share with them the possibilities of what libraries can both be and do.

We also love to watch members of our team succeed, grow, and surpass us in the field. It’s the best.

We also expect our staff to be as cross-trained as possible, because you never know when someone is going to come up with a way to revolutionize a process that we’ve let become a “that’s how we’ve always done it” sort of thing. Plus, we’re a small staff, and we don’t want any of our services to come to a screeching halt when someone takes a vacation, is sick, etc.

Every team member who has moved on to a full time job at another library? I am so frigging proud to have been part of their careers, and I hope that they bring with them a respect for those of us who, for whatever reason, have not pursued our MILS.

Finally, we know that the public views us all as librarians – whether or not we have earned the official title – and therefore we want to conduct ourselves in a way that would make everyone in our field proud.

And lord knows, there are times (like almost all of the time) that I feel like I need to work incredibly hard to live up to the standards that librarians are supposed to have.

Are you a fellow non-library-degreed librarian? Share your story with me – I know that I’m not the only one who’d love to hear from you!

Note: All of these adorable animals pics are from the wonderful PxHere site. This site offers free CC0 images for you to use/modify. Definitely check it out!

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