I have never been comfortable with ambiguity. I think it derives equally from my personality, from my upbringing, and from the way information was presented to me until I started college. I always felt that things were black or white, right or wrong, correct or incorrect. I thought that teachers knew all the answers, and that I just had to learn them. I thought that there was a right way to do everything, and I was very anxious about figuring out how to do things “correctly”.
I don’t like not knowing what to do or how to do it. The first time I bought lunch at school in 1st grade, I cried because I didn’t know the procedure. And as my classmates in 605 will attest, I missed lunch and dinner on Thursday due to my anxiety about figuring out where to buy food with a credit card on campus.
While my crippling social/food anxiety remains, I have succeeded in opening up my intellectual borders somewhat. I’ve gone from my first semester of college (where I was infuriated by a discussion-based philosophy class which never quite got to the point) to now, where I understand that knowledge is nuanced and subject to perspective and interpretation. I’m content to swim in a sea of information, drawing connections, making comparisons and creating my own views.
In my professional life though, I still find myself looking for a guide. I want someone to tell me what a librarian is and is not. I want to know what my duties will be, and how best to do them. I am coping with the understanding that this is not in the cards. I knew that coming in, and I’m excited to be in a field where I can literally be a part of redefining the profession, but it does present a real challenge to my personality. I’m trying to open myself up to what could be rather than what was or even what is.
It’s helpful to keep in mind how transient our idea of libraries is. They have changed significantly even in the past decade. Rather than working outward from something like books or quiet space or coffee, or whatever else we’re offering and trying to convince people to use, I’m trying to place myself at the intersection of the community (as the community of users is the greater context of any library) and the spheres we discussed in class – knowledge, access, memory, motivation, and physical space, among others. Maybe starting with these basic ideas, and myself, as I am, I can construct my own vision for my future as a librarian.
As Lankes pointed out, laws and rules are made by people, and so are professions. There are guidelines for what makes a good librarian, but adopting them wholesale may not be the best way to meet the needs of changing communities. Certain values remain vital, but I’ll do my best to keep an open-minded and fluid sense of myself as a library professional. Even though it’s scary as hell.