The Globe and Mail had an article yesterday about the Canadian Federal Government upgrading the “Working in Canada” website to “let Canadians know what jobs will be required in the long term so students who are planning their education can look ahead and plan their careers.”
The good database-friendly librarian that I am, I went to take it for a test spin using an obvious keyword. Here is the result for “librarian“:
Librarians (NOC 5111-A)
Librarians select, develop, organize and maintain library collections and provide advisory services for users. They are employed in libraries or in a department within a library.
Included job titles: bibliographer, cataloguer – library, cybrarian, librarian, library consultant, library
There is related result for library managers, too. It is possible to think that this description is a little lacking. To be fair the description of essential skills is not too bad, but it’s a little sterile in my opinion. As a Data-fixer, the closest (non-librarian) job description is Database Analysts and Data Administrators. Right now, I’d say I’m somewhere between librarian and that.
This has me thinking about how I describe what I do to people I meet and potential employees.
What librarians do is important and relevant, but there is a sense that the name is still left in the dusty book shelves of old preconceptions. And, the job description the Feds are using doesn’t look like it’ll help break down those stereotypes. Moreover, for people looking to sell themselves to employers or for employers looking to find people that can do what LIS people do, it’s really not that helpful.
There is something to the “Librarian” brand that we can and do capitalize on. I’ve watched the on-going dialogue about the librarian term and new terms that are creeping into our job titles. I am totally fine with this.
If you think about it, I could just as well be a “Database Analyst”, but I prefer “Librarian.” This is perhaps because it signifies something greater, perhaps a commitment to values or a connection to a tradition of practice. Other job titles just don’t seem to carry the same weight.