[Libs-Or] Volunteer opportunity discussion. Another point of view

Kati.Arzeta at CH2M.com Kati.Arzeta at CH2M.com
Fri Jan 14 10:00:28 PST 2011

I do agree that we don't know the specifics of this situation and I'm sure we've all been part of something similar (or at least something that would cause debate amongst our peers).

However, as a special librarian, I've been very excited and thankful for the discussion that has been going on. It has both introduced different points of view that I hadn't considered and in a general manner highlighted some of the complexities that we all face, particularly special librarians.

How do we balance the ideals of our profession (always hire a professional librarian) with the realities of the organizations we work in (being happy that they are having a library at all and not asking facilities to manage a book-shelf)??? I struggle with this EVERY DAY.

Perhaps the fact that there is some disagreement amongst us on when a professional is needed (as well as what exactly makes us professional) is part of the problem? Not that we have to - or will ever - always agree. I just think if we could somehow channel all of the energy spent on this issue and put it towards furthering the understanding of the technical prowess of librarians, there would never be a doubt as to the importance of hiring a professional librarian.

How to make that happen is the question though!

Kati Arzeta

From: libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Judy Anderson
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2011 9:22 AM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Volunteer opportunity discussion. Another point of view

Enough everyone...
It's that organizations business on how and who they would like to take care of their project.

May I suggest reading and discussing
The Politics of Professionalism by Juris Dilevko
If the topic of library professionals is really of interest.


Judy Anderson
Reference & Instruction Librarian
Concordia University - Portland
Phone: 503 493 6453

From: libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Bob Jones
Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 3:28 PM
To: 'Kyle Banerjee'; libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Volunteer opportunity discussion. Another point of view

Apples and oranges, Kyle.  Changing a light bulb should not require an electrician, unless it's a very specialized and expensive light bulb.  But...

The initial creation of a tiny library is like planting a seed.  If it's done well, a great library can grow from the those 225 items.  If it's not done well, either (a) a poorly organized, perhaps unusable library will develop, or (b) someone who knows what he or she is doing will have to undo it and start all over again.  As the old saying goes,

If you don't have time (or staffing) to do it right, when will you have time (or staffing) to do it over?

-Bob Jones, MA, MSLS, CAS
Library Director
Milton-Freewater Public Library

You wrote:

I haven't given this much thought, but my gut reaction is that unless I'm really missing something, hiring a professional librarian to organize a collection of 225 books, a few periodicals, and a handful of videos is like calling the fire department to help plan a candlelight supper.

The overhead of even taking the first volunteer that walks through the door is likely to exceed the labor that should be expended on this project, though it could be a good way to get people more involved with the organization.

A librarian could physically arrange the materials according to some logical criteria, add consistent metadata, provide a good access mechanism, etc, but any user would have to be some kind of loon not to just walk to the collection and just browse it as that could be done in a few seconds even if everything is in random order. It's hard to imagine how it wouldn't take longer for users to deal with even a good organizational scheme than to simply go to the stuff.

I am somehow reminded of a place I lived in years ago where we would be fined if we got caught changing a lightbulb (required procedure was to fill out a work order so a union electrician could do the job). That kind of situation is bad for everyone. It's a total waste of skilled labor, and the schmucks who have to pay an arm and a leg to be forced to wait too long in the dark start wondering what the pros really have to contribute.

Happy Thursday to all, and as you've undoubtedly surmised, I'm representing only my own views ;)


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