The face of librarianship is different these days from the stereotypic dowdy, bun-wearing shusher. We are just as likely to be wearing headsets, tattoos and eyebrow piercings (at least if your library has a more relaxed dress code than mine does).
Or feathers. Our library celebrated Mardi Gras in the spring. We all wore bright shirts, beads and feathered masks. I scared one adult patron, coming out of the stacks like that, but a child gazed up at me wonderingly, amazed. Isn't that how you'd rather kids think of librarians, though? As opposed to hornrims?
We think of ourselves differently, too, I am finding. We are a scared bunch these days, frightened that we won't find jobs, now or ever. We're scared that libraries won't keep their place in society. Or that they will, and we won't like it. We're scared that the generations who are clashing on our staffs won't ever get along. That the techno-terrified will hold all the rest of us up, or the techies will drag us all kicking and screaming into a future where we will be replaced by machines.
Let's not ditch all the past. Get rid of Marian the Librarian, but remember what else we do, too. Please.
We hold hands. We open eyes. We walk through doors with people through the information we provide. We boldly go where no one has gone before, through teaching people to read, showing them new possiblities, giving them options. One piece of information has the power to change someone's life, and we get to do it every day. Every day!
We do some of it through technology: virtual hand-holding and eye-opening. But my opinion? We do most of it through love. We love what we do, we love people, we love information, we love connection. Some love the very technology, too.
I'm not saying the problems aren't there; they are, just as frustrating and endless and grumpifying as people say. But that's not the whole picture. Librarians are some of the smartest, most creative people around, balanced between information and inspiration. And there are problems in every profession.
It's just that this one is worth it. It can't be the pay, right?
All you discouraged people in library school who are writing to me: come on. Keep going. Reassure yourselves: it's a practical profession, stimulating, fun. Most of us do this because we love it, despite all the griping. Walk down the dock and jump on the ship. Join us feather-wearers who are waiting for you.
And you discouraged librarians: remember why we do this. Put on your feathers and hold on to the rail.
It will be the ride of our lives.