I’ve been talking to a lot of new people lately – students and librarians alike – and in those talks, something has become very clear to me – no one is teaching people the simple techniques to keep up with our profession. I’m not talking about the power user style of keeping up (subscribing to hundreds of feeds), I’m talking about the basics of library journals. In my program I have only had one professor encourage us to read American Libraries (she even emailed us the online version every time it came out). I had one professor point us to digital library journals (in my digital libraries class) and others have pointed us to the databases where we can find library specific articles. What about the journals most libraries subscribe to?
At my last library there was an internal routing list that anyone could sign up for. There were over 100 journals routing around the library and only 3 or 4 people were subscribed to Library Journal – only 5 or 6 to Computers in Libraries and similarly small numbers on the other journals that crossed my desk. Here at my new library I’m not sure who’s reading what. Most journals are stored in our staff lounge for us to read as we please (and I don’t know people well enough yet to share their reading habits with you all).
People are always in awe at how some bloggers keep up with everything – and yet they don’t practice the simplest of tricks – read the journals that your library subscribes to. Take them to lunch with you if you don’t have time during the work day – or if you have down time on the circ or reference desk, read them there.
But back to my original point – why aren’t our professors telling us about these small pockets of information? Why isn’t it required in some of my classes to keep up with library news – why is it that there are students who haven’t even heard of Library Journal (or other similar titles)? The best place to learn about these tools is in library school – where (almost certainly) you’ll have access to many (if not all) of the library journals that are available.
Seems silly to me that we spend our days learning about theory that will only relate to our jobs in the remotest way – but not about the tools that will help us keep up with our profession once we graduate.