Friday’s Improving Society Question

Toward the end of the thread, Dave talks about the “obligation of leadership” and how librarians need to have a leadership role in the institution and the community. While I agree with this, should librarians as leaders always have the final, authoritative say? Isn’t our job (among other things!) to provide knowledge so community members are informed and eventually become leaders themselves? Would this approach take away our role as authority figures in our fields of information?

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  • Anonymous

    This idea always makes me think of the idea that now, with the Internet and things like Wikipedia, almost anyone can become an expert or a so called subject of authority in any field. I think that sometimes people now think that when we advertise ourselves as librarians, or experts in the information field, people believe that there is no need for our profession because we are a much more web-savvy society and can easily educate ourselves. With that being said, I think that only strengthens our purpose as librarians and shows how we need to promote ourselves and what we really do: we are not experts or authority figures in a field, but we are experts in FINDING experts and authority figures in a field. We aren’t there to educate patrons, but to help them learn to educate themselves. I think if librarians feel intimidated by losing their lack of authority, then perhaps they have the wrong idea as to the reason for their authority.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, Kate. I think it’s essential that we market ourselves as such, as many people are unaware of what we do,  and how we can be of assistance to them. What does everyone think about the idea of leading vs. helping others to lead?

      • Anonymous

        I think you could say that getting others to a place where they can successfully lead is a type of leadership in itself. If librarians take on efforts in which they actively try to improve their ability to provide community members with valuable information, resources, and education, and then those community members use the information, resources, and education provided in their own efforts to better the community in other ways, aren’t both simultaneously acting as  leaders in their own way?

        • Mikal S.

          You read my mind, Sean. I certainly don’t think the two ideas are mutually exclusive. Having the capacity to facilitate or elicit the ability to lead in others, is a kind of leadership in itself, I would argue. People have a tendency to compartmentalize things (and I’ll be the first one to admit I’m guilty of it, so I’m not picking on you, Sarah, or anyone else), and thus we see things as either/or. Yet, and I touched upon this in a previous post, how do you even define leadership? Personally, I don’t think there is a strictly right or wrong answer to that question, but am interested to see some discussion generated (however, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was any, this being a Friday evening and all), anyway, as I feel that how we choose to characterize concepts can reveal a lot about who we are.

  • Marie

    Granted, leadership is one of those qualities we’d all *like* to have, but if everyone’s a leader, everyone’s screwed. Some have to be followers, and some are more suited to that position. So… I suppose it’s up to each individual what leadership role they want to take within their community and within the institution for which they work.

    I plan to be a school librarian – though that may change – and I know I’m going to have to take on a role within the school to promote the importance and effectiveness of libraries within the school community. I’m prepared to take on that role, but I don’t believe that doing so would take away my role as an authority figure. After all, I’m still going to *be* in that position. I might even say that those who take on leadership roles and do so *well* (that’s crucial) would thus be even more deserving of their role as an authority figure.

    If any of that made sense. And if not, well, it’s Friday…

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know about anybody else, but we definitely need better leaders in this world. We need people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in and be able to change things for the better. I think part of our mission to improve society, involves helping the people in our community be better leaders. If we model this ourselves as librarians, than we are half way there. There are too many examples of what a leader shouldn’t be and not enough about what a really good leader is. Let us take on this role as librarians and show people how to improve society.