Finding Common Ground: An Analysis of Librarians’ Expressed Attitudes Towards Faculty

I recently read this article:

Given, L.M. and Julien, H.  (2005).  Finding Common Ground: An Analysis of Librarians’ Expressed Attitudes Towards Faculty.  The Reference Librarian 43(89-90), 25-38.

Interesting article, but my main takeaway was from page 34:

“I NEVER use the word ‘serve’ when describing what librarians do, I always say ‘support’ the faculty or the curriculum, or student research needs.  We facilitate, assist, co-teach, but we do not ‘serve’ the faculty.”

I never really thought about this idea until I read about it.  And I completely agree with it.  I never really liked the idea of providing service to faculty and students, because the word just has certain connotations that I don’t think really apply to what I do.  ‘Support’ is definitely more accurate, and helps get across the idea that librarians are here to help, but we are partners in research and learning.  Librarians don’t just give you something when you ask for it, we help you find it, understand it, and learn from it.  There’s way more to that interaction than just a give and take.

I even caught myself in a “serving” position a few weeks ago, by accident.  I met with another faculty member and left the meeting really excited about our new plans, but then also immediately felt a lot of pressure to hurry up and do exactly what the other person wanted me to do, even though I was panicking a little inside.  After going over the plans with another librarian, I realized that I was just reacting to the other person, rather than doing my job, and critically thinking about the best way to move forward on the project.  After I took some time to slow down, and do a little assessing, I realized that I needed to adjust a lot of the plans, and go back to the other faculty member to work out course of action.  I’m much more enthusiastic about the idea now, and it’s become more of a collaborative project, which will definitely benefit the students in a much better way.


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