An older post on self-promotion has been attracting some new comments, and I wanted to pull one out for more discussion here. Anonymous commenter writes:
“and one other thing: i am a professional librarian because i have the education, training, job description and the pay necessary to make me a professional librarian. it has nothing to do with how many conferences i’ve attended or how many articles or books i’ve gotten published. not everybody has the time or inclination for publishing or networking; therefore, it is not an accurate measure of who–or what–is or is not professional. ”
(The first thing that jumps out at me from the above comment is the line about pay — thinking back to my first post-MLS job and what they deigned to pay me, I don’t know that I’d choose to include monetary compensation in any definition of what makes someone a “professional librarian.”)
Aside from that minor quibble, though, it is worthwhile to think about what makes us professionals, and I do believe our profession is defined in part by its literature and in part by how we interact with one another and with the outside world.
No, not everyone is going to publish. No, not everyone has the funding to conference-hop. Yes, we all contribute in different ways. But I think that the key here is the very idea of contributing — of being part of something larger than ourselves, our day-to-day jobs, and our single institutions. Whether you choose to contribute by writing for the library literature, or maintaining a blog or web site or e-mail list, or joining committees, or mentoring new librarians, or posting to discussion lists, or commenting on other people’s blogs, you’re participating in a larger and ongoing conversation that continues to define us and what’s important to us as a profession.
I don’t define library professionals in terms of how many books they have published or by how many conferences they have attended — but I do think that we each have a professional responsibility to keep up, keep connected, and give back in one way or another. Our participation in the larger whole is what makes this a profession, rather than a field in which we happen to hold a job.