by Yandee Vazquez, former Head Editor, INALJ Texas
previously published 3/28/13
Librarians v Googlers: How to Advocate Kindly for Libraries
LIBRARIAN? LIBRARY SCHOOL?! Please, we don’t need libraries; we have Google!
This is something that I heard in school and continue to hear now when people ask me about my job/education/interests. Without a doubt it’s something most of you have heard. Even using the more accurate label of “information professional” doesn’t save my ears from the dismissal or even surprising vitriol people have against their idea of the profession. I even get the occasional person who calls me a waste of taxpayer money. We know to keep on keeping on, but we would like to help people understand that our goals aren’t simply to sit frumpily in a corner shushing passers-by.
How do we educate them? There isn’t a surefire way to teach anyone anything, but here are a couple of suggestions that have worked for me.
1. The common “Google/Internet is all we need!!”
People and the media like to talk about how obsolete the libraries and librarians are in the world of the internet, when they think of us at all.When someone brings up Google, provide an example of how that doesn’t always work and/or provide some suggestions that help clarify Google searches which many people aren’t aware of. I’m often surprised at the number of people who have never heard of Google scholar, or the medical professionals that use Google instead of PubMed.
2. The changing world of technology!
This is something follows similar thinking to the first. Some people don’t know libraries aren’t only repositories for books and the knowledge held by librarians doesn’t solely pertain to books. Really. This is a chance to demonstrate our passion toward professional issues that affect everyone–ipads and ereaders in libraries, copyright problems/solutions, digitizing quandaries, anything that gets you going! This isn’t meant to start an argument, but to show that we are a part of that changing technological community and that it extends far beyond the stacks.
3. We are one of you.
Another interesting point people don’t really realize is that libraries, even the academic ones, are a part of the community. We don’t operate in a bubble, but often try to work with the community in which we exist to provide amazing services. It’s an amazing selling point. It doesn’t really hurt to talk about community events that show us as members of the community, especially if you can know of events that might interest the person you’re speaking with.
4. Agree (in order) to Disagree
“Gee…you know, maybe library obsolescence isn’t too far off but, man, I really will miss having someone help me navigate the maze of [insert interesting, complex journal that takes experience to search].”
You don’t have to be snarky, but subtly reminding them of what exactly they might lose with the defunding/obsolescence of libraries and information professionals. People do forget the many things that are tied to the continued existence of libraries. Extra points if you can remind them of a moment when they got great help from a librarian.
5. If all else fails…
Smile. Wish them the best and be an amazing source of help if they ever need it.
The best way to advocate for your value is by demonstrating the usefulness of your skillset. People remember receiving excellent help and we are all walking advertisements for our profession. Let’s put on the best face we can!