Alchemists never really go on vacation. After all, it’s not like I turn off my brain or heart just because I’m not in the building. I promise you, I’m having plenty of fun.
However, I’m also catching up on my newsreader, really looking at some of those things I’ve saved for later. Today’s sticky wicket comes in the form of the notion that the librarian is the product.
This is one of those times when I wish I’d actually seen the presentation, because while I get the metaphor just fine, I still find it troubling. And while I don’t wish to upset any applecarts, I have to state emphatically that I am not a product. A facilitator, sure. A resource, sure. A library ambassador, sure. One public face of my library’s service, sure. But I am not now, and I never will be, a product. My services and I are not for sale.
Well, except for that whole paycheck thing, right? I am a huge fan of both money and regular meals. Does accepting money for what I do make me a product, albeit an ethical / sustainable one? Like buying fair-trade, organic, shade-grown coffee from a local business and taking it home in a canvas bag?
Perish the thought. We call our conversations with patrons “transactions,” but is what a librarian provides really something that can be commodified and sold? I don’t think so.
Questions and issues like these are why I joined SRRT and never looked back. Every year, when I try to figure out how to spend my limited professional development dollars (sorry, ALA) I find myself hesitating over the list of associations. I’m still kind of wet behind the ears, so maybe I should go back to NMRT. I work in a public library, so I should be in PLA. Reference rocks my socks, so I should go back to RUSA.
I never hesitate, though, when I get to the box marked SRRT. Because, at the end of the day, the technology and the reference books and all the other trappings of library service don’t mean diddley if they are not informed by values. SRRT consistently demonstrates the values that are most important to me as a librarian.
I wonder, sometimes, though, if feeling this way means that the overall direction of the profession has already passed me by, and I should get cracking on that application to the Peace Corps. I’d like to hope not, but, despite all the blogs and the IMs and the chatter and the insta-punditry, I feel so all alone when I start thinking about things like heart, soul, spirit, vocation.
And that’s why I’d love to see a group blog called “The Spirited Librarian,” where questions of this nature were raised and debated on a regular basis. Consider that my holiday gift to library world, gratis. Somebody, please, take that and run with it.
Possibly more next week, but if not, enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate to the hilt.