This week has been enlightening and fun – both looking at what others do and especially at what I do. I was struck by the amount of non-professional work I’ve been doing – is that what I got my degree for? I know it’s partly because I work in a large system where processes like materials selection and cataloging are handled centrally, removing those traditionally professional tasks from the duties of branch reference staff. So, given that centralization is likely to continue, what should now be defined as “professional” work? In a world where reference services in public libraries seems to be decreasing due to almost universal Internet access, reference services are also declining as a percent of my day. Oh, I stand at the desk and I work in Telephone Reference, but the questions I handle are rarely “reference” questions any more.
So, what now constitutes professional work? Branch management? Supervision? Programming? E-resources license negotiation? A little bit of readers advisory and reference? A lot of hand-holding in re: efficient use of the OPAC and databases? Tech support for downloadable materials? I don’t actually know, any more, what courses are required of new LIS students – it might be interesting to investigate that and see if I’ve even got the knowledge that is required of new graduates. (My degree was earned when OCLC was an experiment, and Dialog didn’t exsist.)
I will be taking some time in the next couple of weeks to analyze the tasks I am doing now, based on this week’s posts, and to make a list of more “professional” projects I could work on to add value to my library system – something to be remembered for after I leave.