Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published a piece by Ellen Gamerman with the headline “The ‘Rock Star’ Librarians Who Choose What Your Kids Read” (subscription required).
The article highlighted how some librarians use social media, including Twitter and blogs, to recommend children’s reading selections—and end up with their own bit of low-level fame along the way.
As many commenters pointed out, this practice does raise some concerns, including adults choosing reading materials for kids, but to me, one message comes through loud and clear: new librarian stereotypes are emerging—and this is GOOD!
Those of you who follow me on Twitter or read a recent interview of me in The Washington Post know that stereotypes of librarians (and nurses) remain and are not always positive. Even when employed good-naturedly, these stereotypes can be unfair or untrue. I’d like to see them go away, but until they do, I suggest we undercut negative stereotypes by cultivating positive ones.
With that in mind, I’m all for the “rock star” librarian idea.
The National Library of Medicine relies on librarians here and in the field—in public libraries, hospital libraries, academic research centers, and K-12 schools. These librarians help people discover and use the quality health information NLM provides to stay healthy, manage illness, and learn about personal or public health issues.
The librarians in the 6,500 or so libraries linked through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine have a presence in almost every county in the United States! They reach out to health professionals and the public in their regions to assess information needs and provide resources. And they do it in ways that work for those audiences—whether via community meetings, webinars, training classes, or face-to-face consultations. These librarians are our rock stars.
What better term to use to describe the 21st century librarian!