Sarah Cohen wonders what motivated people to participate in Library Day in the Life and who we are writing these for. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I wanted to share my own reasons for doing it (and since this is a bit long, I thought it better to post it here than to Sarah’s blog).
I wasn’t one of those people who first worked in a library before going to library school. I started library school about a month after I started my first job in a library, so obviously I’d made the decision to pursue this career before I had the inside scoop on what library work was like. I’d read a number of articles about digital preservation and digitization of special collections materials and thought that librarianship seemed to be an exciting profession that allowed people to pursue all sorts of interesting and diverse work and would have a tremendous impact on the preservation of born digital materials. Also, coming from a helping profession (social work), I was looking to do work where I felt like I could make a difference in people’s lives. But did I have any idea what I’d be doing as a librarian on a day-to-day basis? Not a clue! I took a huge leap of faith and luckily it paid off. I would have loved to have had a better idea of what librarians do in their jobs, but, at the time, there weren’t really many resources that offered that sort of information.
Because of my blog, I get a lot of people emailing me for advice on whether or not they should become a librarian or asking me what librarians do (or what I do as if my experience is somehow representative). I never tell someone if they should or shouldn’t go to library school, but try to dispel some of the myths about librarianship (it’s not stressful, you read books all day, etc.) and point them to resources that give them a sense of the breadth of experiences in our profession. That, I think, is what Library Day in the Life offers. It paints a picture of the diverse work we do as librarians in a very real and unromanticized sense. If you’re interested in working in public services, you can visit the blogs of librarians who work in public services and see what their days are like. If you’re interested in working with library systems, you can see what sorts of projects those librarians are working on. It doesn’t romanticize, doesn’t cheer our work — it just lays out what we do in a way that people who are interested in our profession can learn from.
So, I guess I’d say that I was writing this for the “me” of seven years ago, or for people who, like me, have not worked in the profession but think librarianship sounds like a good match for their interests and might want to participate. And while it’s valuable for future librarians, I also found it interesting myself to see what people at other libraries do during their work days. It’s fascinating to me how different the work of instruction/information literacy librarians can be at different institutions. But, again, I think it’s less for us than for those people who are searching the web in an effort to get a sense of what this profession they’re thinking of joining is really like.
When someone emails me and tells me they’re considering becoming a librarian, I will tell them that before they make any sort of decision, they should look at librarians’ library day in the life posts and see what the work of a librarian is really like. It’s an awesome resource and I applaud Bobbi Newman for starting it all.