While Bob Dylan’s song isn’t necessarily about librarianship, this video is:
What I always find most startling about watching videos like this is the way that societal norms have changed (See: Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, specifically Live and Let Die. I was listening to the audiobook, and the narrator let loose with a constant torrent of N-words–words that I would never, ever say. Needless to say, the beginning of the book was more about getting used to that than actually understanding the plot set-up).
In the case of this video, it was interesting that when they were talking about librarians, the narrator used ‘she.’ When they were describing cataloguers, the image was of a room full of female librarians. As soon as they started talking about administrators, the language tellingly shifted to using ‘he,’ and the image was of a man. Indeed, in the opening they describe how librarians need to like and be liked by a variety of people, including “professional men looking for special scientific information.”
That aspect of librarianship hasn’t changed much—that is, that of liking people and having people like you. The video suggests that the vocation of librarianship would be suited to people … people (that is to say, people who like people? Some colloquialisms work better in speech, it seems) and people with a love of books. That second prerequisite is the source of one of the more hilarious moments in the video. In all of the instructional/educational videos I’ve seen from this period, the narrator seems to like asking the viewer questions, then responding to the presumed answer (I will admit that this perception may be influenced by the few instructional videos I’ve seen from this period, and the movie Dodgeball). This film asks the viewer, “How do you feel about [books]? Do they mean something to you? Are they your friends? Have you a real love of books, and learning? You do? That’s good.”
“Are they your friends?”
What is true about this assertion, and remains true, is that librarians need to approach their work with an eye to the two major aspects of the needs. We are here to facilitate the public’s access to information. To do that, we need to have a love for if not the information itself, then a love for the potential value of that information and a love for the people who will use it. I chose this profession—though my readings would have me believe that it should be spelt The Profession—because I share those values. I love working with people, and I do have that love of books (and internet resources, and videos, and…) information. And I know myself well enough to know that a bit of that is that I like to be the one with the answers.
I guess it’s like they say: “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, Les Guêpes, January 1849).