So how was your holiday?

Readers of this blog (yes, both of you) could be forgiven for thinking I’ve been on an extended holiday. It’s been a long time between posts. Usually at this time of year, I’m settling into a new semester, wondering why the school summer holiday always goes so fast. But this year there was no holiday for The Infobrarian …

A few weeks after my last blog post, I started a new job, as branch librarian at a new public library. Yes, public library! After more years than I’m willing to admit, I decided to leave the relatively cloistered life of school teaching and school libraries to join a real-world library. And I’m loving it! OK, so having no summer holiday came as a bit of a shock, but it’s been so busy – and so thoroughly engaging – that I really didn’t mind working right through December and January. We did get days off for Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year and of course Australia Day, but for the rest of the time, the new library was open Monday to Saturday.

As well as a shiny new library, we have lots of shiny new books, shiny new CDs and DVDs, and even iPads and eReaders (a bit of a trial run for our organisation). Best of all, I have a wonderful team to work with – half are new like me, and the others make up for our inexperience by being tried-and-proven public librarians. We have a Children and Youth Librarian, a Youth Services Officer, and 3 library officers. And me. After two months on the job I am feeling a little less of a liability, but it’s good to know the others are covering my back!

So I thought I’d revisit this blog and try to explain what it’s like being a branch librarian in a brand new library: challenging, daunting, rewarding, fulfilling, and above all, a lot of fun. And I have a few stories to tell – but all in good time. Maybe when I get that holiday!



What’s an Infobrarian?

Hi, I’m Russell. I’m an Infobrarian. Are you? You’re probably a librarian if you are reading my blog, but I won’t hold that against you.

A long time ago, someone decided that it would be a good idea to keep a whole lot of books in one place. They checked “Book-keeping-place” on their favourite domain registry, and found it was free, but then had the compelling feeling that they should use something Latin in the title. They chose liber, and after some clumsy conjugating and declensioning, ended up with the name library for their book-keeping-place. They decided that the person in charge of the Library would of course be a BookGuard.

Unfortunately, that word was already taken (a nagging voice in my head tells me to write “was already covered”, but as there may be real librarians in the audience, I’ll avoid that) so for the next few thousand years, they had to be content with librarian. Now, I’m not sure about your library, but my library has a lot more than just books in it. Don’t get me wrong – I like books – but there are plenty of other ways of finding out stuff in most libraries. And when you really think about it, that’s what libraries have evolved into: places for finding out stuff.

After a lot of brain-wrenching thought, a long discussion with my curriculum-wrangling partner, and half a chocolate rabbit, I concluded that libraries are now about information as much as books, so we should probably change the name. Is that why so many schools now have things called Information Centres, or Knowledge Centres, and other fairly clumsy labels? I don’t want a job title that requires me to type more than a dozen characters, so I looked for something shorter that really describes what I do now. I’ve forgotten just about all the Latin I ever learned, so I’m stuck with Informarian … that didn’t have the right ring to it, so I’ve butchered the term to get Infobrarian. No, it doesn’t have a proper Latin root, and it isn’t etymologically correct. But I like it.

So that’s what we’ve all become – infobrarians. Instead of librarians who point people to the right books, we now point people to the right information. And that’s what I want to do in my professional life. I hope you all feel the same.

Russell – the Infobrarian

By the way, I wasn’t kidding about the rabbit. I think I’ve written enough to deserve the rest of it now.