Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto

Common Sense Librarianship

1. The world of information has always been in a constant state of flux. As technology continues to change the world of information, it is preferable for information professionals and the institutions they serve to adapt rather than perish.

This is not a new idea.

2. The most important qualities an information professional can posses are adaptability, resourcefulness, a habit of looking for better/easier/more efficient ways to do things, creativity, and a love for solving problems.

This is not a new idea.

3. Organizations providing information services should pay as close attention as possible to the needs of those whose information needs they serve. Where these needs can be measured, they should be measured. If you can find something that your library is regarding as more important than user needs, something is very wrong.

This is not a new idea.

4. Whenever possible, obstacles between users and the information they seek should be removed.  Among these obstacles are academic jargon and expecting users to care about cataloging minutia (it is minutia to them, get over it).  Information professionals should be champions of clarity and concision who find accessible ways to describe complex topics.

This is not a new idea.

Much of the above comes from conversations with really smart and insightful people like Amy Buckland, Kathryn Greenhill, Jenica Rogers, and Maurice Coleman.

Any good stuff above should be credited to them. Any stupid stuff should be blamed on me.

15 thoughts on “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto

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  3. Bravo! I’m not much for manifestos, but I this not only for it’s content, but for the way it actually walks the talk. It is clear, concise, and written in a simple yet engaging voice. It’s got style and substance 🙂

  4. on the shoulders of giants I’d say. This ordered list looks a lot like Ranganathan’s 5 laws of librarianship published in 1931. I guess that’s what David meant by saying “this is not a new idea”

    1) Books are for Use
    2) Every reader his or her book
    3) Every book its reader
    4) Save the time of the reader
    5) The library is a growing organism

    I would add only 1 to the ordered list:

    Librarians should and must play an active role in shaping the information landscape for the betterment of their users.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

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  6. I really like #4. I think removing obstacles to information is really important and often overlooked. We use terms like “catalog” and “periodical” and “ILL” and expect users to know what they mean. Jargon is a big obstacle that can’t always be overcome. But I think a key skill for librarians to have is to make the convoluted and perplexing systems or technologies or ideas seem simple. When creating something like a screencast or composing an email explaining something I try to take extra care to craft my language just right so it’s accessible to my audience.

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  10. Toss the jargon! I tend not to use jargon when I’m talking to people. Like Meredith, this is a manifesto that I can stand behind. Can I also chip in with my sort-of peeve? If specialist librarians (like those working in health, law etc) want to be important to their clients, they should attend their clients conferences and learn how their client-base think and what their pet subjects are. Don’t just attend library conferences ….