Why librarians?

Librarians make collections live.

Or we should.

A building full of books is not a library. A building full of books and people issuing them over the counter is not a library- no matter how nice the building, or the people, or the coffee. If all a library is is a collection of books and a means to hand them out, there is no need of any people.

A library is a collection managed, promoted and cared about by people. It is also the services that make that collection meaningful and useful to the people who come into the library.

Right now that collection is rightly dominated by books, but no service can assume that now is forever; so we need to explore other areas such as online materials and digital collections, and the services that go with them.

Too much of the current library debate seems to want either to move libraries back to cosy book-collection-from-home for the genteel ‘who wish to make use of it’ without having to worry about those who might want to make use of it but don’t know how; or into a book free gaming and technoheaven for a notional youth. Neither extreme is a library; one is a limited and limiting anachronism, the other preserving a name without the meaning to go with it.

A wise man once said ‘a library is a growing organism.’ And as it grows it needs people to care for it, guide its growth; to make it live. That is why librarians.


One Response to Why librarians?

  1. clarihunt says:


    That makes so much sense! I hope more people recognise it too.


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