When I received the diploma for my Masters of Library and Information Studies last Spring, I had two thoughts. 1) Thus forward I shall be referred to as “Master Darcy.” (It’s not fair that doctoral students get an honorific and we don’t!) and 2) Now I have a job title: Librarian.
My official job title now is actually “Senior Reference and Instruction Librarian.” This may or may not mean anything to most people. It’s not as obscure to the average non-MLS person as “Systems Manager” or “Digital Content Supervisor,” but basically, people understand what I do. Whatever your role in the library, you are among the semantically blessed. You have a straightforward answer to the question:
“What do you do?”
“Why, good sir, I’m a librarian!”
Even if people have no idea what librarians actually do all day, they have a mental image (probably something like this), and usually positive associations with the title. This is why calling people “Information Professionals” makes no sense to me. Job titles these days are at best euphemistic (Sanitation Worker) and at worst completely meaningless (Senior Associate for Development). As a librarian, I have an easy handle to give people. If they’re positive about librarians, we can have pleasant small talk. If they have no opinion at all, the conversation moves on.
But even though I’m proud to don this moniker, I have had reservations at times. After all, I am not only a librarian. I do other things, have other identities. Before deciding to make a career in libraries, I always introduced myself as a writer. “Writer” was a lot harder to explain at parties and was generally followed by the annoyingly obvious question: “What do you write?” I still write and consider myself a writer, but it’s an identity I wear on the inside now. I love what I do for a living, but does “librarian” really express who I am?
I’m wondering how the rest of you feel about the title. Some of you have been working professionally in libraries for almost a year now, others of you are newly minted Masters looking for employment. Some of you have pursued other careers and creative interests. In fact, almost nobody I know wanted to be a librarian from the time they were little.
How do you feel about being called–and introducing yourselves as– “librarians?” (comment below)