It is only my second week of library school, and it appears Librarianship is having an identity crises! As a new librarian who is still learning and
developing, it is somewhat premature for me to have a crisis. While it does provide my generation of librarian students the advantage of an atmosphere ripe for questioning and changing entrenched values, I still believe it is important for us librarians,both current and future, to shape a solid identity if we are to survive. I became concerned with identity
after a recent lecture by “rock star” philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah. He argued identities are not tangible but ratherbecome real through social practice, meaning the way people and society assign,
interpret and act towards labels associated with identity. Therefore, based on what we determine our identity to be, will determine how society and thereby our communities respond to librarianship. But what stuck in my mind was Dr. Appiah’s statement that a solid identity was needed to mobilize social change and, in essence, it was a strategic requirement to have your voice heard in a modern democracy. What does this mean for the new generation of librarians who are shaping a new identity?
Well, it’s a given the way society consumes information is rapidly changing and libraries and librarians must adapt to this whirlwind. I enjoy the continuing conversation, the spirit of innovation and coming into a d ynamic time for the field where our identity and values are responding to thischange. My fellow cohorts and I really do have the opportunity to create change and perhaps revolution. But, I don’t my fellow library students at Syracuse and I to lose sight of the fact that while conversation is awesome, we must ultimately decide on the base facts and values for this new identity. Without pillars to build upon, it makes having a direction and purpose for the fight for our rights, institutions and existence very hard and having a voice in society when fragmented impossible.
Key Note Lecture by Kwame Anthony
Appiah on Identity, Syracuse Symposium, given on September 12, 2011 at the
Humanities Center at Syracuse University
Wikipedia.org, Kwame Anthony
Appiah, Accessed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwame_Anthony_Appiah