An Army of Change Agents?

Something has been plaguing me for the past few weeks. Once the post-SLA buzz wore off and reality of routine returned, I began having an existential crisis.

Yes, I’ve been struggling with the ultimate question: Do I want to be a librarian?

When I voiced this question to my partner, he sort of gave me that exasperated look. You know, the “you just decided this now, six months after you graduated library school‽” look. A few of my colleagues gave me that same look, although not quite as annoyed. (They didn’t have to put up with me working on papers for school.)

So why have I been thinking this? Is it just the regular “What’s the point of it all?” sort of question or is it something a little deeper? I don’t know. Part of my angst stems from the personality of the profession. (Oh yes, “the profession.”) There’s the tension between the old and new. People who want to stay the course and people who want change. There is a consistent strand of the profession that likes to wag its finger at us telling librarians and libraries that we need to shape up and modernize with little support. We’ll never be good enough. Then there are the people who try the nice approach, where minor victories are treated like sea changes. There are many other shades in between. (Where do you fit in the spectrum?)

Really, we’re all just Change Agents but we come in different flavours. On one hand, that’s really exciting because there’s so much energy. On another hand it’s sort of frustrating because there’s lots of buzz but not much real signal. Sizzle and no meat. Well, there is some change, but there could be a lot more.

I think that’s where I am on this spectrum. Somewhat dissatisfied with the state of things, frustrated with people regarding small gains as the end of the process, and really just lots of hot air. I think I’m too aggressive and too angry for this profession. I lamented to a friend that I don’t feel like a librarian, that that’s my problem. She told me, “Redefine ‘librarian’. All the cool kids are doing it.” Well, I’m doing that. Unfortunately, I no longer feel like a librarian, but is that such a bad thing? I mean, maybe that’s the change?

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