The career college librarian at the State Library Association
Hehe… that title makes me giggle. Why wouldn’t a librarian for a for-profit college be a member of their state library association? To me it seemed an obvious thing to do. But when I first got started here I heard another librarian in my institution say that our state library association wouldn’t allow her to be a member. I was so completely amazed I assumed she was just joking, I think I might have even laughed and said “Oh come on.” But she was REALLY serious. She thought the association wouldn’t accept her membership because she worked in a for-profit college. For the record that is NOT the case – I’m actually the membership committee chair for the NCLA and certainly I need to be a member for that station on the board and I do work in a career college. It does bring up a really good point though; how do librarians in other libraries see us? And maybe just as important, how do we see them?
In the last several weeks I have been surrounded by the huge chasm between individuals working at a career college and those working in a traditional or community college. There are discussions on LinkedIn about reputations for certain for-profit colleges and all kinds of news articles and studies, in fact a new study came out by some researches at Harvard (David J. Deming, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz) just recently. It can really make you feel “less than” when talking to others in your field. It can also make you start to create an image of the snotty “real” librarians in your mind. Thank kind of thinking is dangerous for our profession – we need to be collaborating inside and outside our field freely.
Well here is one way to start changing that perception – join your state library association. Get involved, start volunteering and TALK about what you do and why it’s important. Show the library director for your State’s University that you are smart, capable and a damn fine librarian! Yeah that’s right – strut your stuff! And at the same time learn – learn for those in institutions different from yours. Find new ideas to bring to your space and share them with your students, faculty and administration. It is so much easier to get involved with your state association than the ALA or SLA and it can do wonders for your networking and professional image. Besides – it’s FUN!
What is one other way to challenge these divides? I challenge you to post a comment, send a tweet or share on Facebook one other way you can think of to reach out to librarians everywhere – no matter what kind of library they work in. GO!