Reflections on Atlas Threads: Librarians

This thread was so packed with essential concepts to consider, I hardly know where to begin. So when in doubt, begin at the beginning. From the very first page of the thread, I appreciated the distinction between competencies, skills, and technologies and techniques. As a new new librarian, it is easy for me to focus on all the technologies and techniques I don’t know (it’s worse than that: many of them I’ve never even heard of.) Add to that the speed with which these techniques are changing, and it all becomes overwhelming. Therefore, it helped me to step back and think in terms of broad competencies. There’s still a lot to learn, but these are concepts I feel I could reasonably learn in my time in the program, and then apply to real situations in both internship and future career.

There were several competencies/skills discussed that jumped out at me as ones that deserve my immediate attention. One of these is technology. First, I have to confess that the description of bibliofundamentalists hit home with me. I come from a family of bibliofundamentalists (my father is an antiquarian book dealer… I can’t help it!) and I think I probably fit into this category as I applied to the program. I was open to new technologies right up to the point where they threaten to replace books, and then suddenly they became my enemy. The reading for this class has helped me to rethink this stance. I’m now becoming convinced that this dichotomy (book vs. tech) is a false one, and that the real importance lies in the knowledge creation, not the tools used to get there. Do I still think books are great tools for sharing knowledge? Indeed. But I’m also now excited rather than grudgingly willing to explore they ways in which technology can enhance connections and communication in my work. Getting up to speed on these technologies is not effortless for me (Lewin’s change model: I’m uncomfortable!) but I’m game. 

Another skill that jumps out at me is in the area of management/administration. This is another area where I lack formal training, and I can see how important it will be to develop this skill set. Even in my dream job as a school librarian, where I won’t exactly manage a staff, I will need to work closely with a paraprofessional library clerk. I appreciated the section in the thread that addresses collaboration with paraprofessionals. As a teacher, I was often troubled by the tiered system between teachers and paraprofessionals in schools. I entirely agree that these skilled workers deserve more respect and opportunity for advancement. In my future job, I would want to tie together this sense of collegiality with some successful management strategies in order to make the most of that relationship.

I’m running out of time and space, so I’ll try to make a few more quick points about other bits of the thread that stayed with me. The section on collaboration with other fields took on new meaning for me while working on 601 projects this weekend. The experience of working in a mixed LIS/IT group made real for me both the challenges of finding common language and the benefits of sharing brain power in this way. I look forward to more collaborations like these through my career. Which brings me to my final point: the idea of formalized continuing education in LIS. Yes, please! It’s already so clear to me that I’m going to finish this program with so much still to learn. I would love to have access to something other than occasional conferences to continue to hone my skills and think in new ways about the profession.

 

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