Ten Things Every Librarian Should Know

Sure, when you get your MLIS degree, you learn some skills that are supposedly important – how to catalogue, how to answer a reference question, that Meville Dewey preferred to spell his name “Dui”.

But there are some other skills and abilities that you don’t necessarily learn in library school that are possibly even more important if you want to be a successful librarian.

Here are a few I’ve thought of:

(Two points – some of these I’ve been harping about since I started this blog four years ago.  And I also need to be clear that I’m not saying I’m an expert in any of these – many are skills I’m constantly working on myself or gaps that I know I should be working on.)

1. Technology skills
– this means different things for different people but I’m thinking of stuff like everything from having a decent ability to find things online, knowing how to post to a blog and use a wiki, hook-up a laptop and projector, troubleshoot basic computer problems (hint: turning the computer off and on will solve 90% of them!).

2. Typing
Librarians tend to do a lot of typing.  Having a high typing speed is one of the easiest ways to improve your productivity and free up time for more important tasks (think about someone taking half an hour to type up a report versus taking half a day using the hunt & peck method.)

3. Public Speaking
Even the most introverted, socially reluctant librarian will likely be called upon to do some public speaking at some point in their career – even if it’s just doing reports to their colleagues at a committee or staff meeting.

4. Deal With Media and Feel Comfortable on Camera
Sort of similar to the last one, librarians also need to be skilled at answering questions from the media and/or being on camera.  (Definitely one I’m still working on!)

5. Chair A Meeting
What makes a successful meeting?  Focused.  Productive.  Short. Engaged.  Does that describe most of the library meetings you attend?  Didn’t think so! 😉

6. What’s Happening in Libraryland
I know there are some librarians who are happy to put in their eight hours and call it a day.  But I do think librarians have a responsibility to be a bit more engaged in the profession than that – whether it’s as “big” as attending conferences and being involved with organizations to a bit simpler like reading library literature, blogs and other related materials.

7.  Popular Culture
So much of what we do for our patrons revolves around popular culture – from the books that are the most popular to the DVD’s that make up so much of our circulation to the hottest web sites patrons spend hours on at our terminals.  A great idea, ripe for stealing, comes from a workshop leader we recently brought in who observed that one of the best things she ever did was buy a subscription to People for every one of her library branches’ staff rooms so that staff could acquaint themselves with what’s happening in pop culture.  “Not only was I able to help a patron find the latest Eminem CD, I didn’t have to embarrass myself asking ‘how do you spell that’?”

8. What’s Happening In Your Community
At all levels – from what’s happening at City Council to what the folks at the local senior’s club are interested in.

9. The Ins and Outs of One Library-Related Issue that They Are Extremely Passionate About
Intellectual freedom.  Copyright.  E-books.  Privacy.  Social Responsibility.  Community Development.  Civic Politics.  International development.  There’s definitely no shortage of possibilities.

10. How to Unjam A Photocopier

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