Tag Archives: identity

Who gets to call themselves a librarian?

5 Feb

I was noticing the other day that I have this annoying habit of telling people I’m a librarian when they ask me what I do, even though I’m not currently working as one. And then I have to launch into a long-winded explanation (Well, I recently got my library degree, but I haven’t found a professional job yet…). This made me think: I have my MLIS, but am I a librarian? What determines librarian-hood? The degree, or the job?

With the job market how it is right now, there are many of us MLIS-holders who are still looking for employment, are employed in part-time and/or on-call or support staff positions in libraries, or employed outside of the library profession. Do we get to call ourselves librarians, or is that right reserved for those with the job title?

It may be self-serving, but I really feel that being a librarian is more than just a vocation. It is a way of looking at the world and information that does not turn off just because you may be doing something else for a living (or still looking for work). Maybe it’s because during my period of unemployment after graduation, I worked so hard to stay involved in the profession in whatever way I could, that it became part of my identity and I started really thinking of myself as A Librarian. I’m not ready to give up my dream just yet, even though I haven’t found that first professional position.

What do you think? Is a librarian something you are, or something you do? Those of you who aren’t currently working as professional librarians – do you call yourselves librarians?