From the January/February 2010 issue of The Horn Book Magazine
Not long ago I was invited to a librarians’ event by a lady who cheerfully told me, “We like to think of ourselves as ‘information providers.’” I was appalled by this want of ambition; I made my excuses and didn’t go. After all, if you have a choice, why not call yourselves “Shining Acolytes of the Sacred Flame of Literacy in a Dark and Encroaching Universe”? I admit this is hard to put on a button, so why not abbreviate it to “librarians”?
As I am sure some of you know, I boast of the fact that for a couple of years I was a volunteer librarian, working weekends for no more reward than a cup of tea, a sweet biscuit, and a blind eye to the enormous number of books that I was taking home.
It seemed to me, even in those days, that librarians and their ilk were not mere “providers.” Information sleets down on us like confetti; we are knee deep in the stuff. I saw my fellow librarians as subtle guides and givers of context, a view that must have taken root when, one day, one of them pushed across the counter three books bound together with string. He said, “We think you might like this.” It was The Lord of the Rings. Now that’s what I call real librarianship.
Thanks to Stuart Yeates and the NZ email list for this