For the Love of “Librarian”

by Naomi House, MLIS

For the Love of “Librarian”

IMG_6534Anyone who has been following INALJ even for a short period of time will have come to know just how passionate I can be about outside-the-box and non-traditional jobs for librarians and library staff. I even have a list of mostly non-Librarian Keywords for Job Searching on the left sidebar of every single page. So it may come as a surprise that I also have a deep love and appreciation for the term most commonly used for MLS/MLIS graduates, Librarian. My second library job ever was as an assistant at the ICBA (Independent Community Bankers of America) Information Center as the assistant to the Director, Susan Fournier. Susan had a huge influence on my career and gave me so many opportunities to grow and learn. I am forever grateful. She was President of DC/SLA that year and allowed me to attend all the events that were hosted, made sure I had access to additional training and was an all around advocate and inspiration for librarians and staff. But the lesson that stayed with me the longest has been her advocacy for the respect and use of the term Librarian as a job title.

One of the changes to her title over the years was to change it from Director of the Library to Information Center Director and that rankled her to no end. She was proud of her degree and proud to be a Librarian. Her concern with the name change had to do with a perceived lack of respect for the skill sets and knowledge base that librarians have and are trained in. Being a librarian was her work identity and one she insisted on keeping. I smiled and watched her insist on the proper terminology and how she conducted herself as a professional and was impressed. When I was a practicing librarian for over three years I too referred to myself as a librarian. Frankly even now, even though I am no longer a practicing librarian, when asked I often introduce myself this way as an opening to better explain our field to others. Librarian is a term people are not only familiar with but curious about and so I use it as an opening to share just how broad our skill sets are.

So what are some things about the word Librarian that make me love it so?

  • The history and long association of using the term Librarian to mean someone who works in a library and/or with collections of books- it is a recognizable term
  • The people I know in the LIS field who are practicing Librarians make me love the term even more
  • it is the term closest to Library/Libraries, which is used in many associations I belong to such as SLA and ALA
  • That our field is one where new voices are heard especially on social media. Thankful for social media as a platform for discussing issues within the field and intersectionality  – I specifically am referring to the LIS Microaggressions Tumblr and Fobazi Ettarh’s In the Library with the Lead Pipe article, Making a New Table: Intersectional Librarianship
  • That we as Librarians are being considered for a wider range of job titles now, because our field and skill sets are better understood
  • The websites that Librarians run to help job hunters make me love my volunteers and all those giving time even more!

Librarianship for me was an economic step up and a good job to have coming from rural and impoverished  western New york state. I feel lucky to be a part of this field.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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