Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Final Thoughts as I Retire and Leave the Profession of Reference Librarianship

I am writing this on Wednesday, December 20th, two days before my last day.  I am retiring from my position at NJIT and am also leaving the profession of reference librarianship.  I started this blog in August 2008 to reflect on my experience as a reference librarian.  As the years went by, the number of postings I have made has declined.  The reason for this is that number of reference questions has declined dramatically.  I remember years ago we used to get a steady flow of questions at the reference desk.  Now, at best there is a trickle of transactions with most of them being very simple questions about the availability of a specific book.  The dramatic decline of students who come in and ask for me has bothered me more.  Years ago a student would come in and say Professor X suggested that I come to see you to discuss my research.  This rarely happens these days.

The concept of information literacy has frustrated me greatly.  When I teach classes, I sense a disinterest or indifference by the students.  Perhaps they don’t take it seriously since their regular professor is not teaching this class.  At the end of each lecture, I show a slide which gives me name and contact information for students to reach me.  They rarely do.  I am being cynical by thinking that information literacy is a concept created by librarians in response to the declining reference transactions.  They must substantiate their existence.  I also feel that assessment of information literacy is an overkill.  It is a skill that is obtained over time and if it is to be evaluated, it should be done at the senior level by a standardized exam.

Students at a tech school are obviously “information savvy” and can search the database with minimal assistance.  It seems very often they just “Google away”.

I must admit that I am sorry that I stayed in this profession as long as I did.  I guess as people age, they become complacent and fear change.  I found out the hard way that it is difficult to make a career move at an older age.  For a 4 year period, I sent out resumes and interviewed at a few places.  It probably was just as well, that I didn’t change jobs since I really valued the job security that my university offered.  I was bored and frustrated, but at least wasn’t let go as I traveled on the dreaded career plateau.  I made the best of it by collaborating with a colleague at another university on research projects.  I am proud of my contributions to the American Chemical Society and the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

I have looked into some organizations that offer volunteer opportunities,  I will definitely not be a reference librarian again.

This will be my last post on this blog.  I will leave it up so I can share my thoughts with others.  I doubt if there are any regular readers to this blog since I have posted very sporadically over the past years.  If anyone wants to keep up with me they can do so on my personal blog

Thanks for reading.

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