If you’d asked the 23-year-old me what I did for a job, I would have told you without hesitation that I was an Information Professional. At that time I was in my first professional post and my job title of Information Officer helped back up my assurance that I was in the cut and thrust of the information world rather than the book-centric library world which I considered to be very dreary indeed. The Information Superhighway was still being talked about without a snigger and I was getting my first sense that this internet thing was going to be pretty darn big actually and despite my boss’s reservations I felt sure it would have direct application to our work at some point in the near future. Heck, I might even end up using it to answer some user enquiries!
Spin forward to 2002 and the 30-year-old me has long since got bored of explaining what an Information Professional is and despite my job title, Senior Information Officer, I’m much more comfortable with being called a librarian and I tell students this when I’m teaching them. In fact I’m at a point in my career when I think its high time the words library and librarian were reclaimed and for the world to be shown how much more there is to what we do. We librarians were the original search engines after all.
And here I am in 2010 and, with some 15 years of professional life behind me, I’m suffering the slings and arrows of outraged business school members who can’t understand why their beloved Library has just been renamed the Business Information Centre. I’m told how sad it is, and by some, how much they love books. I tell them I love books too but sorry that’s gloriously irrelevant. Our name has changed because, whatever way you look at it, the word library still comes with heaps of baggage. Within the echo chamber (pictured) it may feel achingly cool to be a librarian, hip even, but out there in the big bad world (in KMPG reports and on Newsnight) they STILL think we ‘stamp, shelve and shush’. My Library may be more on the business school radar than it was, but there are still not enough of our members connecting what we do with electronic information and our activities beyond the confines of our physical space (and this despite the numerous reports, papers and cases I write). You want to teach the inductions in the classroom? You want to teach ‘full stop’? Why are you interested in marketing when you’re a librarian? Why do you talk about information and data so much?
Fast forward to 2017. Can’t believe that I abandoned the word Library! What was I thinking? Libraries and librarians can be all encompassing terms. I’m convinced anew that I should be embracing them again.
And… repeat every 7 to 8 years until I get bored, retire to write full-time, and/or die.
“I know nothing stays the same,
But if you’re willing to play the game,
It’s coming around again”
That Carly Simon knew a thing or two.