“You’re a librarian?! You stamp books all day, don’t you?”


From a very early age, it was apparent that at some point in my future, I would probably end up working in a library. The signs were all there: bookish and obsessed by reading (I blame my shortsightedness and varies other eye issues on the many hours I spent reading in the dark after lights out); my mother was a librarian herself and we would frequently reach for the pile of Stuff to be sorted at the same time; my toy Post Office set was seldom used as a Post Office in play because the stamps and various slips of paper screamed library to me. Indeed, I even drew date sheets.

I’ve held a professional library qualification since 2005 following four years as a library assistant and gained chartered status of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in 2007. My entire career post-qualification has been spent working in the field of electronic resources in all their forms, from electronic journals and databases, to institutional repositories collating and storing intellectual output, licensing and access issues with a smattering of copyright knowledge thrown in. It’s interesting and varied work, and vital to the operation of a modern academic library.

There’s so much to being a librarian; it’s far more than stamping books all day. There’s masses and masses of anecdotal material to illustrate what makes a good librarian, some of it I would disagree with, but  CILIP suggests the skills a professional librarian should possess:

  • Organising knowledge and information.
  • Knowledge and information management.
  • Using and exploiting knowledge and information.
  • Research skills.
  • Information governance and compliance.
  • Records management and archiving.
  • Collection management and development.
  • Literacies and learning.
  • Leadership and advocacy.
  • Strategy, planning and management.
  • Customer focus, service design and marketing.
  • IT and communication.

I can tick off quite a number from this list. The other skills I am developing all the time.

What do you think a librarian should be able to do? Is it all about stamping books, or these days, is a in-depth knowledge of how to exploit Google to the full more helpful to the service? Is it all about shushing, or is it about enabling intellectual development by providing suitable materials and study spaces? Why not let us know what you think we should be doing! We’re always very keen to hear your views and we make important decisions about on services based on what you have told us.


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