Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Librarians and Professors

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education features the article, "Show Your Librarian Some Love," by Todd Gilman, a librarian at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library. Gilman discusses the factors that lead to librarians feeling unappreciated, and says that the main reason is that some members of the teaching faculty treat them as second-class citizens. I'm sure all academic law librarians know this feeling all too well!

Gilman himself seems to have a good relationship with the Yale Department of English, his "chief constituency." He conducts research-training sessions for both undergraduate and graduate students in English classes, and every year gets more requests for such sessions. Many faculty, however, are hostile to librarians' attempts to provide research instruction to students. Some faculty may feel they don't have enough time in the semester for a visit from a librarian; others may feel that their students already know how to research--of course, any librarian would tell them that knowing how to Google is not the same thing as knowing how to conduct research, and most students today truly do not know how to research. Gilman urges teaching faculty to recognize librarians as colleagues and to be receptive to the notion of "research education," as he calls bibliographic instruction. As Gilman says, "Through research education, students are learning to help themselves learn, and that can't help but pay off in our information age."


Jacqueline Cantwell said...

Librarians in many fields lament the lack of respect demonstrated to them. Just think how public libraries have to fight for budgeting. That is so dispiriting. Court librarians have it better in my experience. The judges, attorneys, and public value our services.

Many of our problems are shared by nurses, also a female dominated profession. Nurses have improved their status by emphasizing their knowledge and contribution to positive patient outcomes. Their struggle was not easy and continues. The articles listed below give some background and suggestions for improving our public perceptions.


"Collaboration between theory and evidence-based practice - two cultures: librarians and professors." Judith A Segal.
A really interesting article on the attempt to get faculty status by librarians and missed opportunities due to lack of political understanding.

"What Do Nurses Really Do?" Suzanne Gordon. Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2006;6(1) ©2006 Medscape Posted 02/02/2006. Available through ree registration in Medscape.
This article suggests that librarians should stop emphasizing the social interactions of their services and emphasize their skill sets.

SilenceKills: The Seven Crucial Conversations in Healthcare.
This may not seem applicable to libraries, but I have often noticed how fearful librarians can be to initiate conversations challenging authority.

Betsy McKenzie said...

Excellent and helpful comment, Jacqueline! One sad note about the parallel between nurses and librarians: Nurses' salaries did not really rise despite their training, PR and key contributions to health care UNTIL they UNIONIZED. The same has been true of the lack of respect for K-12 teachers, another highly feminine field. Am I paranoid or just cynical? Pink is still a dangerous color to choose!