Marian the Cybrarian – In Praise of Academic Librarians

An article in the in the May 20, 2010 Chronicle of Higher Education Advice column by Thomas H. Benton entitled “Marian the Cybrarian” gives out a little love to academic librarians ( )

You’ll want to read the whole article, but here are some snippets…

“It’s not that many of today’s librarians routinely dress in sunglasses and black leather (though some do). It’s that, more than any other class of professionals in higher education, librarians possess a comprehensive understanding of the scholarly ecosystem. They know what’s going on across the disciplines, among professors and administrators as well as students. No less important, they are often the most informed people when it comes to technological change—its limits as well as its advantages”.

“… They understand the chain of events between the butterfly and the hurricane, so to speak, because they have experience with the cultivation of knowledge and with the practical consequences of institutional overreaching. They see the potential of new tools, but they are also the guardians of tradition. From that permanent dialectical struggle, they appear to acquire a mixture of whimsy and wisdom—in addition to a notable taste for eccentric eyewear”.

“In my experience, librarians almost always pass the beer test: They are among the most likeable people you’ll find at any college. They have the intellectual curiosity of academics without the aloofness and attitude often displayed by professors. If you are a stranger on a strange campus, the one person who will always save you is a librarian. They may still shush you in some places, but librarians will also go to the most extraordinary lengths to help you achieve your scholarly goals without asking for any of the credit”.

“If I send them a student with a problem, not only is it solved, but the student returns with information about resources that I didn’t even know existed”.

But wait, there’s more …