White Plains Public Library director Brian Kenney in his essay “So You Think You Want To Be a Librarian?”
Great, snark-laced illuminations for anyone in the profession who needs a reality check or those looking to jump into it. Pair with Meredith Schwartz’s “How To Become a 21st-Century Librarian,” and one night at the bar with me, and you’re set.
Since reading Kenney’s article yesterday, I’ve been trying to figure out just how I feel about it. It’s not that I think he’s wrong, obviously, or disagree with any of his points, but I guess what I want to say is I’m kind of tired of reading articles like that.
Yes, being a librarian in the 21st century is all about customer service and technology whether you’re in front of the desk or behind one. But that’s just the thing—many of us are still, in fact, behind the desk. I’m a cataloger (and proud of it). I don’t work with our customers on a daily, face-to-face basis. But that doesn’t mean what I do is any less important or valid. And while I do agree that we should always stress the customer service aspect to anyone going into librarianship, I also don’t think we should discourage anyone from training for and seeking out their ideal position in the library world.
I kind of think of myself as the “accidental cataloger” since that’s not why I went to library school and certainly not the job I thought I’d end up taking. I wanted to be an archivist, and nobody in library school discouraged me from going down that path. Thank goodness.
So, if you ask me, if we want to keep promoting libraries and information science and encourage more people to become librarians, then we must also remember to continue to promote the great variety of potential jobs and careers that are available within our field.
The Central Library Plan (CLP), at enormous cost to New York City and its taxpayers, would irreparably damage the 42nd Street Research Library – one of the world’s great reference libraries and a historic landmark. The CLP would demolish the library’s historic book stacks, install a circulating library in their stead, and displace 1.5 million books to central New Jersey. The new circulating library would replace the Mid-Manhattan Library (at 40th and 5th Avenue) and SIBL (Science, Industry and Business Library, at 34th and Madison), which would both be sold off.
• It will be hugely expensive, costing a minimum of $300 million (probably much more), of which $150 million will come from New York City taxpayers. There is great concern that the Library’s focus on a highly-complex construction project will absorb desperately-needed funds which might otherwise pay for renovations of branch libraries, and replenish slashed curatorial and acquisitions budgets.
• It will radically reduce the space available for the Mid-Manhattan and SIBL.
• It will threaten the 42nd Street Library’s status as one of the world’s great research libraries.
• It will threaten the architectural integrity of the landmarked 42nd Street building.
• It does not take into consideration more efficient and less destructive alternatives, such as combining SIBL and the Mid-Manhattan into a rehabilitated and expanded building on the Mid-Manhattan site.
Underlying the widespread concern is the closed process through which the Library administration has made its decisions. Despite the fact that the 42nd Street building is owned by the city and is one of our most iconic structures, the plan was formulated with minimal public notification and no public input. The $150 million that the city has earmarked for the project was awarded without oversight by the City Council and with no public hearings. If alternatives have been considered they have never been disclosed, and no cost-benefit analysis or detailed budget has ever been presented.
Sign the petition at http://signon.org/sign/save-new-york-city-libraries?source=c.em.mt&r_by=6817161