Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Teaching what I do

This morning I went to a human resources class and answered questions about what I do. They have to write a job description of what I really do. I hope I did a good job. They had to turn in their questions beforehand, but I didn't know the questions until I got there. And the ones the professor picked were good ones. The ones I can remember were, "If you were your own boss, what would you change about the job?" "What do you spend the most time on?" "Why does a person need to get an MLS to do what you do?" "What would happen if you didn't come to work for a few days?" "What is the urgency factor in what you do?" "Do you focus your attention and energies more on students or faculty?" and "Summarize what you do in a few words." For that last one, I chose "helper" first and "educator" second. Towards the end, he asked me besides money, why do librarians choose to do what they do. I told him money actually was not a factor, that we are nutoriously underpaid as a profession. I know what teaching faculty here make since I'm engaged to one, and we make significantly less. I told them that if you take inflation into account, I made more with a bachelor's degree. The professor was surprised. Afterwards, I explained that those who go into librarianship are usually librarians at heart. We love working with students, we love books and knowledge, we love promoting information literacy and other ideals that librarians stand for. I told them I do it because when I get out of bed in the morning, after the initial shock of the alarm, that I look forward to going to work. I think that is why any librarian at heart goes into our field. I say "librarian at heart" to distinguish between the types of librarians I work with and the types that go and get an MLS because they don't know what else to do for a paycheck. I did not make that distinction in class, I didn't think it was necessary. I also stressed that I use and love Google and Wikipedia, but it is important for people to understand how they work.

He gave me a job description for another library that happend to correspond almost exactly with what I do, which is pretty incredible. I was impressed that it talked about working with faculty, staff, and students to improve reference and instructional services. I was also impressed that it didn't ask for an additional master's degree. It did ask for more technology skills than reference librarians are likely to have, Meredith Farkas has recently written an interesting post on this issue. It was not a bad job ad, but he wants the students to really give a good idea of what I will actually be doing.

One or two of the students had already read part of my blog, which I was really impressed with. I wrote the URL on the board for the rest of the class, I wonder how many will look at this. I think it gives a better idea of the issues involved in our field. I think being professionally aware beyond your own library's walls is particularly important in our field. There are other professions like lawyers, doctors, and professors as well, but I don't think this is that important in most business jobs, at least not in the broad perspective that is required of us. Professors are the same way, they need to know what is going on in their field, but that is a very narrow focus.

Okay, I'm getting abit long-winded here. I'm trying to remember it all and summarize for myself what kind of image I presented and if I covered everything. There's so much to cover, and he described the breath of work we do from what I talked about. I don't think it is an easy profession to explain, particularly with how fast things are changing.

Now, wearing my jeans and my National Eating Disorders Awareness Week t-shirt (that says "Embrace your genes," thus the genes/jeans play on words) that I agreed to wear, I'm off to the career fair to be a part of campus activities. It's part of what I do!

1 comment:

Toni said...

What great questions! They definitely learned a lot about your job. You must have had a great time.

Thank you for sharing this, and for representing librarians so well: it's definitely about the love of learning, not money.