Though I chose to quit my MLIS after five classes, I learned quite a lot during my time in grad school. For example, I learned:
Most of all, I learned to appreciate libraries and librarians more than ever before. Though I've always loved libraries, and I've always known that libraries are for more than books, I never really understood the true purpose and scope of the library as an institution. And I never respected librarians the way that I do now.
Pretty much the first thing you learn in your MLIS degree is that the true purpose of libraries is to provide for the information needs of their community. Whether a library serves a college, a hospital, a city, or some other community, the librarians need to be able to anticipate their patrons' needs and provide assistance in research, entertainment, and learning. Indeed, "information needs" is an incredibly broad spectrum, because of the sheer volume of information that's out there about every possible subject. That means librarians have to be extremely intelligent and versatile--and yes, they have to be technologically savvy, since the Internet and social media is a major purveyor of information in the modern age.
Librarians are information professionals, which means they've been trained through an intense Master's degree program on how to access credible, accurate information of any kind. Even if they're not an expert on a topic, they can help you find whatever you're looking for. During one of my classes, I had to ask librarians questions and analyze how they responded. I found that librarians can be quite helpful, though it's important to note that many of the people who work at libraries are assistants, not full-on librarians, so they may not be as well-trained! Regardless, this assignment helped me in a lot of unexpected ways:: in combating my mental illness, getting back into the flow of my own writing, and increasing my spirituality.
In their work, librarians consider the information seeking trends of their communities. If they live in a community with a large Latinx population, they may hold cultural events or classes in Spanish about particular issues like citizenship. If their city has many homeless people, they may hold classes about getting housing or job-seeking. If they have many elderly patrons, library events might focus on health issues and retirement. One topic that libraries are especially well-suited to teach is literacy, including English literacy, information literacy (aka being able to locate accurate information), and health literacy. But literacy, as important as it is, is far from being the only thing that's taught at libraries. And librarians don't just help people find information in catalogs and databases--they also act as educators, community leaders, and event organizers.
Of course, librarians don't ignore patrons who don't fit community trends. Librarians try to serve every person in their own unique, diverse situation. In fact, the main tenet of librarianship is that information should accessible for all people, regardless of gender, age, race, income, disability, etc. That's why public libraries provide access to books, movies, and more for free! (Related to that, librarians as a whole are strongly against censorship. One has to consider the fact that the materials people most often try to censor tend to be materials that provide diverse perspectives and empower marginalized people.) Librarians are always thinking of more ways that they can make information accessible. For example, most public libraries have services where they take resources directly to the houses of those who are ill enough to be homebound,. Some libraries provide tools and materials for basic skills that their patrons may need help learning. If you have an information/learning need that isn't being met, I'd talk to your librarians. It's highly possible that they'll find a way to serve you!
However, libraries face a lot of budget troubles. For public libraries, income comes primarily through taxes--which is why you should always vote yes for library taxes, levies, etc.! With all the services libraries provide, and all the good they do in the community, not giving them necessary resources does damage to our society. And that's another thing that makes librarians so amazing--for all the work librarians do, for the high-level education that's required of them, they make about as much as teachers, which we all know is not a lot. But because they love information and serving their community, they do the job anyway.
In summation, while librarianship turned out to not be the right path for me, I have an immense respect for it. Libraries and librarians do so much good in the world, and I'm eager to support them wherever I can. LIBRARIANS ARE BOSS, DUDE.
Thanks for reading! I'll be back next week with a post about the classes I liked and hated the most during my school career. See you then!
Images via Thomas Picard on FreeImages and 1041438 on Pixabay.
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