On Twitter over the last few days I’ve seen debates over whether people should be actively promoting the library profession. And I have tried to stay out of it, because apparently, unless I’m willing to sing and dance and say how much I just loooooove libraries and the library profession, I’m not allowed to define myself as a librarian, and that pissed me off, which would lead to a more incoherent than normal blog post.
But the whole thing is ridiculous. I’m a librarian, but I don’t love “libraries” as a concept. And I’m not an activist, I don’t “do” promoting activities for any service other than my own. Yet I remain a librarian, regardless of whether I think libraries are the best thing since sliced bread or not. I did the qualification at University, and I continue to prove my professionalism through my work and the Chartership and Revalidation process: nowhere did I sign a form saying “to be a librarian, you have to do everything someone else thinks you should do”.
I’ve also stayed out of it because I was busy using my free time to live my own life. Why should I be expected, because of the larger profession that I am part of, to promote to others a service I don’t use, and never have used, (public libraries – it’s never about anything other than public libraries) in order to be able to be accepted as a “proper” librarian? Why can I not just have a job, do it well, make sure my users are happy with what I do for them, and go home at the end of the day, to continue with my own life, without being accused of being lazy? I am involved in plenty of professional activities to aid my peers that I don’t shout about – but because I’m not saying “I love libraries” in general, I’m useless? Making sure my service is the best it can be, and I’m doing the best that I can for both my users and my peers should be enough – that is how I advocate. Not by doing what others declare I should be doing.
I don’t see what entitles anyone to judge my actions and make sweeping statements, with no knowledge of my circumstances, or what I feel able to do in my own free time.