Librarian Worth

By Martha J. Spear

Library media specialist
Berkley (Mich.) High School

As a high school library media specialist, I have the good fortune to work with, and sometimes mold, young people. If I’m lucky, I discover what they do after graduation. Recently, one of my favorite students informed me that after earning her humanities degree at a tiny private college, she was pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies. Congratulating her, I jokingly said, “Watch it. That’s awfully close to a master’s in library science.” She laughed and said: “Oh, I’d never do that.” Somewhat defensively, I replied, “You could do worse.”

Long after this brief conversation, I wondered, where did we, as librarians, go wrong? Why is there such an onus on this profession that a bright, young person would choose, well, anycareer but that of librarianship? I think it’s sad. Librarianship has much to offer, and I think we can do better in promoting our profession. Toward that end, I present my top 10 reasons for being a librarian.

Ever-changing and renewing

The single thing I like most about being a librarian is that it is, to paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, a moveable feast. I’ve been employed in academic, public, and school libraries in three different states working in technical services, public services, and classrooms, and with street people, teachers, and young adults. I’ve booked psychics, mountain climbers, rock musicians, and landlords for programs. I teach, catalog, book talk, advise, troubleshoot, demonstrate, connect s-video cables, and shelve . . . in a single day. What I learned in my master’s program bears little resemblance to what I actually do in my library today. Yet the principles remain; and, through conferences, professional literature, and networking, I hold my own. If the new books don’t excite me, the new technologies do. Most importantly, I learn something new every day. Can you say that about working at McDonald’s?

Romance

Okay, so I may be stretching things a bit here. I married a librarian. (For the record, we met in a singles group; but our paths would have crossed in local library circles eventually, I’m sure.) My case may be extreme, but there is help for the lovelorn in libraries—either in the wonderfully interesting colleagues we meet (see reasons #2 and #7) or in the books and resources libraries offer.

Useful skills

I did not enter library school with a soaring heart. I viewed the degree less as graduate school and more as a kind of trade school. Truthfully, my library education was both. I learned the value of organization (I finally put my massive LP collection in alpha order by artist). I discovered the importance of collection development, equal access to resources, and intellectual freedom. I learned valuable skills in locating and using information that serve me to this day, whether I’m helping a patron write a paper on the Manhattan Project or figuring out the best place to buy a teakettle online.

Great conferences

Librarians host good conferences. I love the hustle and bustle of ALA Annual Conference. I consider my state conference to be so necessary to my mental well-being that I often pay my own way. My husband’s ties to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions have taken us to Nairobi, Tokyo, Havana, and elsewhere. What better way to see the world and recharge the professional batteries? Conferences are blessed events, and you don’t have them when you work at Wal-Mart.

Time off

Librarians may not get great pay, but we do generally receive liberal vacations. As a public librarian, I got six weeks off and as a school media specialist . . . well, you don’t want to know. In any case, these vacations have made it possible to visit Paris in April, and Beijing in September, and to spend five weeks in Scandinavia. And when I’m not away, I’ve been able to repaper my hallway, paint the family room, and put in a patio.

A job with scope

As a child, when people asked me what I wanted to be, I have to admit I never said librarian. Although I used and enjoyed libraries, it never occurred to me to actually work in one. I did say that I wanted a job with scope. I am not sure what I meant by that then, but I know what it means now. It means being a librarian. I do dozens of different things every day. It’s not a desk job and it’s anything but routine. When you work with people, changing technologies, and always-new resources, how could it be?

It pays the rent

As a librarian, I will never get rich. However, it has allowed me to live alone (without the dreaded roommate), subsist moderately well, and be employable in different markets and in changing times. I have made a living as a librarian for almost 25 years and I’m not on the street corner selling pencils yet.

Good working conditions

I’ve worked in factories where I stood on my feet for nine hours. I’ve worked in kitchens where I came home smelling of puréed peas. I was a production typist where my derrière routinely fell asleep, not to mention my brain. In a library, you’re clean, dry, warm, and working with people who are generally happy to be there.

Cool coworkers

I love librarians (also see # 9). We are intelligent, cultured, well-read people who bring a myriad of skills, backgrounds, and interests to the job. Most of my fellow librarians, myself included, have degrees and/or work experience in other areas. I backed into librarianship after realizing that a major in English and German wasn’t going to make me very employable. I know librarians who are former attorneys, truck drivers, teachers, and factory workers. This experiential, intellectual potpourri makes for an interesting mix. And librarians are readers. The conversational gambit “Read any good books lately?” is met with a din around librarians.

Grand purpose

As librarians, we support the freedom to read. We champion the right to access information for all people, regardless of race, creed, religion, or economic disposition. Libraries are everyone’s university. These may feel like clich‚s to the converted (us librarians), but they remain truisms.

In sum, I feel very much like Evelyn Carnahan in the film The Mummy. To refresh your memory, our leading lady is in the midst of describing—and defending—what she does for a living to a roguish male. They have been drinking.

Evelyn: Look, I—I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell! But I am proud of what I am!

Rick O’Connell: And what is that?

Evelyn: I am . . . a librarian!

I couldn’t have said it better.

This article originally appeared in American Libraries, October 2002, p. 54–55.

world and information 

​During the new changes in different sector also library has increase in various pattern in addressing information and materials. 

We had study all the various institution of libraries and come out with top ten best libraries institution in the world .
Tips on how we characterized top libraries .
*The amount of information usage and values
* The number of cited books and materials in such library .
*Large storage accountability and undated information.
* Most recent published journals in various field’s of study.
LIST OF TOP TEN LIBRARY’S N THE WORLD
10. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Toronto, Canada

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book library is the largest rare book collection in Canada. The library is affiliated with the University of Toronto. The collection includes numerous notable works, including Newton’s Principia (1687), Shakespeare’s First Folio, the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), and a Babylonian cueniform tablet that dates to 1789 BC. The library also contains a large and notable collection donated by a man named Robert S. Kenny, who was a Communist Party of Canada member. The collection is made up of over 25,000 items dealing with labor movements worldwide, with a particular emphasis on Canada.

9. New York Public Library, New York, New York

The New York Public Library is awe inspiring in its scope and breadth. It is the the third largest library in North America, has over 50 million items in its collection, and consists of 87 libraries serving 3.5 million people. The Rose Main Reading Room features grand windows and chandaliers, as well as a beautiful gilded and painted ceiling. The Library special collections include the first Gutenberg Bible to come to America, and a special emphasis on Americana. The Library is one of the most recognizable on our list, with multiple appearances in feature films, with its inclusion as a key setting in the film “The Day After Tomorrow” and as the setting of a significant portion of the movie “Ghostbusters”.

8. Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada

The Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada is a Canadian landmark, so much so that it adorns the back of the Canadian ten dollar bill. The building was inspired by the British Museum Reading Room. The walls of the Library are supported by 16 flying buttresses, and the main reading room has a vaulted ceiling complementing the walls and stacks which featured white pine paneling with beautifully detailed carvings of flowers, masks, textures, and mythical creatures. The collection of the Library consists of over 600,000 items, curated by a staff of 300. Access to the facility is generally restricted to Canadian parliamentary business, but tours are often made available.

7. Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library is the first publicly supported library in the US. It was established in 1848 and has since grown to its present collection size of 22 million items, which makes it the second largest library in the United States. The Central Library consists of two buildings, the Johnson Building and the beautiful McKim Building. The McKim building houses the library’s research collection and exhibitions. It was built in 1895 and contains many beautiful murals, including Edward Abbey’s most famous that depicts the legend of the Holy Grail. The main room of the McKim building is Bates Hall which has an amazing coffered ceiling. The research collection at McKim is made up of over 1.7 million rareties, including many medieval manuscripts, incunabula, early Shakespeare that includes a First Folio, colonial Boston records, a major Daniel Defoe collection, and the libraries of many famous men of history including John Adams, William Lloyd Garrison, and Nathaniel Bowditch.

6. National Library of St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy

The National Library of St. Mark’s is a Renaissance building and is home to one of the most important classical texts collection on earth. The Library was built over a lengthy period of time and began in 1537, but the collection began as early as 1468 when Cardinal Bessarion gifted his collection of 250 manuscripts and 750 codices. Beginning in 1603 a law was created that required one copy of all books printed in Venice to be housed at the National Library. The Library today holds more than a million books, over 13,000 manuscripts, 2883 incunabula, and more than 24,000 16th century works.

5. Vatican Library, Vatican City, Rome

The Vatican Library is the library of the Holy See and one of the oldest libraries in the world. It was established in 1475, but existed in early forms roughly since the beginning of the Catholic Church. The library has added to its collection over the years primarily through bequests and gifts. The Vatican Library currently holds over 1.1 million books, 75,000 manuscripts, and over 8,500 incunabula. The library owns the oldest complete manuscript of the Bible and many other important medieval works.

4. Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, CT

The Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is the largest building in the world that has the express purpose of preserving rare books and manuscripts. The library’s holdings are incredible and include special collections of numerous important writers including Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, and Joseph Conrad. The central shelving area of Beinecke is a beautiful structure with glass walls and soft lighting that protect the works from direct light. The library is accessible to the public and it’s exhibition hall displays many of the library’s rare works, including an original Gutenberg Bible, one of only 48 copies.

3. Reading Room at the British Museum, London, England

The Reading Room at the British Museum is found in the center of the Great Court of the British Museum. The structure has a domed roof, and the ceiling is made of a kind of papier-mâché. For much of the Room’s history, access was only granted to registered researches, and during this period many notable figures studied at the Library, including Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Ghandi, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Lenin, and H.G. Wells. The Library’s collection was moved to the new British Library in 2000 and the Reading Room now houses an information center and a curated collection of books relating to history, art, travel and other subjects relevant to the collection’s of the British Museum. Right now, and since 2006, the Reading Room has been housing a temporary exhibition centered around China’s famous Terracotta Army

2. Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK

The Bodleian Library is the library of the University of Oxford. It was established in 1602, making it one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The Library has over 11 million items, and many, many items of historical import, including four copies of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and Shakespeare’s First Folio (from 1623.) The Library consists of multiple buildings, perhaps the most visually interesting of which is Radcliffe Camera, built in 1737-1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library. It’s the earliest circular library in England, and has appeared in multiple films, including “Young Sherlock Holmes”, “The Saint”, “The Red Violin”, and “The Golden Compass”.

1. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

The Library of Congress is essentially the national library of the United States and the oldest federal cultural institution in the US. The library consists of three different buildings and is the largest library in the world as measured by shelf space and number of volumes. The library is open to the public, but as the research institution of Congress only members of Congress (and Supreme Court justices and certain other government officials) may check out books. Interestingly, the library serves a function as the “library of last resort” in the US, making certain items available to other United States libraries if they are not available via other means. The holdings of the library are impressive and varied, and include over 32 million books, more than 61 million manuscripts, a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, a perfect vellum copy of the Gutenberg Bible (one of only four in the world), over 1 million newspapers from the last three centuries, over 5 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music, and more than 14 millions photos and prints.

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