THE CONSERVATIVE NATURE OF THE AVERAGE LIBRARIAN: NATURE OR NURTURE? By Lawrence Ogbeni,
The unwieldy long caption of this write up was as a result of lack of a better choice of word to express some observations among librarians over the years.
Different professions have some peculiar traits common with the practitioners. For example, it is usually assumed that medical doctors are very detail and good listeners, lawyers are known to be good listeners and logical, accountants are usually very prudent and good managers of resources, architects are usually creative and likes experimenting with designs. A careful look at the above mentioned professionals would reveal the fact that irrespective of who and what they were by nature before undergoing the various professional trainings that qualified them as professionals in the various fields, the highlighted traits are easily noticeable in them. Although, there are some instances where some of these professionals hardly exhibit any of the associated mentioned traits, these are usually the exception rather than the norm.
Over time, it has been observed that librarians irrespective of the type of libraries they work, are known to display certain traits. Contemporary librarians are usually conservative and sometime regimented in the way and manner they carry out their official duties. The average librarian would always strive to maintain the status quo, with little or no attempt to tinker with the existing system or structure on ground.
There are very few librarians who are willing to venture out of their comfort zones by embracing or exploring new ways and manner of carrying out library operations. Majority of them are contented with the traditional library activities of cataloguing, classification, indexing, collection development, circulation, reference etc operations of the library year after year. This attitude of "as it was in the beginning, so shall it be" has stifled the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of the few dynamic ones who are willing to venture into the innovative world of librarianship.
There are new opportunities out there that usually appear initially as challenges due to the constant changes taking place among library clients, their needs and how to meet these varied needs. These changes ought to challenge the average librarians to be more proactive in the manner they discharge their responsibilities.
Librarians are supposed to be very visible and influential than they are presently because of the pivotal role and unique functions of the library in their parent institutions and organizations. On the contrary, what we observed most times is that librarians prefer to stay at the background and discharge their primary responsibilities from the comfort of their libraries. They seldom influence key decisions nor command attention of the management of their parent institutions or organizations through innovative solutions. For example, apart from the usual acquisition of books, periodicals and sometimes repairs of faulty or damaged library materials, there is hardly new solution or project initiated from the library and for the library that is treated with dispatch. Where new solutions or projects are given the attention they deserved especially in academic libraries, it is usually as a result of the fear of sanctions by some regulatory bodies (National Universities Commission) and for the accreditation of courses. These prevalent situations in most libraries is making several persons to ask, what could be responsible for this conservative nature known in local parlance as "sit down and look" attitude of the average librarian, is it nature or nurture? One would have thought that the exalted position of the office of the librarian and the unique role they play in their parent institutions and organizations, they could do more than they are doing presently in terms of visibility and influence by the introduction of innovative and impactful solutions.
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