Nominate a librarian

March 29th, 2012 § 8 comments

gold star

I want to see more librarians on pedestals. I want to see them holding trophies, making speeches, and talking about their work on a global stage. I want the world to see the work we do and be glad we’re here.

There have been a number of grassroots initiatives to increase our visibility and highlight our skills. PC Sweeney created the Great Librarian Write-Out, which offers a cash incentive to librarians who write articles for non-librarian publications. Jenny Levine formed Library Boing-Boing, an effort to bring together librarians and the readers of the popular BB site to raise interest in libraries. Bill Pardue organized Slam the Boards, a monthly event (and habit) that organizes librarians to answer questions on sites like AskMetafilter and Yahoo Answers.

To add to this, I want to see individuals in the spotlight. I’ve written about this before in the context of academia. The goal is to change the way the world sees librarians through individual personalities: human platforms, if you like. To that end, I’m offering you a challenge:

Choose 1 colleague and nominate him/her for an award.

That means:

  1. Pick a colleague who you think ought to be recognized for their work.
  2. Find an appropriate award (see below).
  3. Start the application process.

You may need to get additional information from your nominee in order to fill out the application, but take it upon yourself to do the brunt of the work. This is your gift to them. It can be anonymous, if you like, but letting that person know how much you admire them and what they do rarely has ill effects.

As to choosing an award, here are some recommendations:

Local awards: Take a look at your community. What awards are handed out annually within your unit, your organization, or your city?

Regional awards: This includes state, national, and international awards. Look at your professional organizations, state agencies, federal agencies, consortia, etc.

Awards outside the profession: Don’t limit your search to organizations for librarians. In fact, the ultimate goal of my challenge is to raise awareness of the work librarians do so reaching beyond the profession is almost a requirement. Look at teaching organizations, technology groups, research foundations, non-profits, alumni associations, historical societies, private institutions, etc.

Bonus Level: Create your own award and recommend that a colleague be recognized for their work. This is actually much easier than it sounds as long as you contact the right administrator (i.e. one who has the time and attention to take your request with gravity). Or if you are an administrator: well, what’s stopping you?

So again, I challenge you to nominate 1 colleague for an award. Pledge yourself to do this before the end of the year. A simple goal, but one with benefits in spades for your colleague (recognition), for you (feel good), and for the profession (change the way the world sees us).

Go out into the world, dear reader, and spread the word.

photo credit: from fragglerawker_03 on flickr (used under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)

§ 8 Responses to Nominate a librarian"

  • Great idea John, and I hope it takes root. A counterpoint/question I’ve been mulling – do librarians/info pros need to DO non-librarian looking things in order to be recognized and thus adapt the public view of our profession and role in culture? I don’t have an answer, but I’d wonder if the first librarian to be on the cover of Rolling Stone will be the librarian who manages the fugazi live series project? Or the archivist for Levi’s jeans?

    I think maybe in order to be recognized as more than book peddlers well need to distance ourselves from books. Your thoughts?

  • John says:

    (x-posted from Facebook): I don’t think it would hurt and, to be honest, we may find our skills to be more valuable outside traditional library work as that work (collection dev, reference, e-resources, etc.) becomes automated and commandeered by the movers and shakers of the technology industry.

  • Julie K. WIlliams says:

    Nicely timed, John.
    I was just thinking of colleagues graduating from SJSU SLIS since last August who I would nominate for the “SLIS Awards for Excellence for Graduating Students” (Nominations due April 1).
    What would it take to get you to San Jose on May 19th?

  • John says:

    Not much at all! Which reminds me, I need to settle my travel plans for graduation. Thanks for passing along the link. I have a person in mind I will nominate as well.

  • Vassiliki says:

    I think this is a great idea. Certainly all librarians should engage with communities that are not directly using their libraries to get a broader understanding of non-user needs and culture at large and should be looking outside of their own industry for recognition in awards.

    I would also hazard a guess that every Nobel prize winner has at some time in their life read a book from a library and been accosted by a “book peddler” in their journey to such a high accolade. Reading, on whatever platform, is a core value for any information professional. However, I am saddened that there is a subset of information professionals who seem to think of books as a dirty word and they feel the need to distance themselves from them. Given a choice, I would nominate a librarian who has been able to inspire reading, discovery and knowledge over the one that catalogued levi jeans (as cool a job as that might be)

  • I would like to nominate Deb Czarnik of the Lee County Library System for outstanding work in library technology. She helped me write my thesis on the digitization of Florida’s public library system. I’m honored to know her. She is a rockstar!

  • [...] few weeks ago I wrote a post about nominating librarians for non-library awards. This has nothing to do with that, but I kinda feel it’s in the same [...]