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[visit my blog for uncensored version -- a while back I semi-promised to tone down the cursing.]
This trend of deprofessionalizing librarians, in Edinburgh's (Scotland) case, calling librarians "audience development officers" deserves a ginormous WTF??!!
Where do Audience Development Officers work? In a library, or in an Audience Development Station? I don't even know what those three words are supposed to mean. It's like they took all the words in the dictionary that could relate to a librarian and threw them all out and these were the three that were left. Seriously, all I can think is that an Audience Development Officer is just someone who opens the doors in the morning and lets people into the library.
Culture leader Cllr Deidre Brock said: "Growing use of the internet for reference and information is enabling us to structure the service so that our staff can better cater to our customers' needs."
Really? "Enabling" Let's put that positive spin on a bad situation.
So Dierdre is telling us that libraries are killing off the librarians.
Figures show there were only 66 full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified librarians in May this year, compared to 85.2 a year earlier. And 24 per cent of the city's 26 libraries no longer employ a head librarian.
Under the council's libraries review, all 300 staff are to be given new job roles and job descriptions, while staff have new teams and managers.
When libraries change their mission from education to entertainment, this is what happens to the librarians. They get unhired or get reclassified.
Oh, yeah, they still want us to help patrons apply for unemployment assistance and find out if their doctor has been sued and show them how to convert their homes to wind power, but they want to treat us like Internet babysitters. So we will be downgraded to Audience Development Officers, or worse.
I don't know what the solution is, but every one of you "librarians" who works in library that is offering the TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE of providing Internet on 99% of the computers in your library, better come up with something.
You have to find a way to use your computers so they don't get labeled as entertainment machines and you end up just being Entertainment Machine Cleaners.
Do something that lets your users know that you don't just tell them when their Internet time is up and then throw away their McDonald's bag when they neglect to clean up after themselves.
You can try to be the Gamer Librarian, but I guarantee that they will downgrade that position as soon as some kid shows he can press Play and do it for $9 an hour.
There is no way to stop the future from happening. There will be a time when the economy gets stronger and everyone will have access to movies and Internet and books through their portable devices.
So unfortunately, I can see the wisdom in the Edinburgh decision on the name change: We had better start to Develop our Library Audience. It is up to us to market the library to the people who can keep us employed.
But all you other librarians: make yourselves relevant. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I'm sure what you do now is important. But these others may not see it that way. You can't just work the desk and answer questions and pray that the payroll department keeps writing you checks.
You can show people how to use Twitter. Or Facebook. Or even, dare I say, your library catalog to reserve books. Or show them how to download whatever you offer to download. Or do it for them. Tell them to bring in the thing their kids bought for them that they don't know what it is and you will load a book on it and show them how to read or listen to it.
I could walk through our library and yell out, "All idiots who have their laptops in their bags because they can't connect to our Wifi, we're having a class over here to show you how to do it." And six people will sit in.
So if we want to remain "librarians," we'd better rewrite what librarians can do, and sell that shit. (sorry, couldn't resist.)