Another Reason I’m Glad To Be An Academic Librarian

Compared to public librarians, I think that academic librarians have it easy in some ways. We tend to complain about students and faculty not using the library, but let’s face it, to a large extent we have a fairly captive audience. Many students need to use their academic library at some point, be it for a reserve item, to use a computer or to find a study room. The academic library is also conveniently located somewhere on campus that makes it easy for students to drop in during the course of the day. Few have to get in their car or take public transportation for a library visit.

Having attended a few public library-oriented sessions at ALA, I see that those folks have no audience except for the one they create. No one has to go to the public library; they have to want to go. So public libraries are getting savvy about marketing and designing programs to attract their community members of all ages. Compared to some of the outreach efforts I heard about it seems that academic librarians are not doing nearly as much to engage their patrons outside the library. And that may be because our survival is not entirely dependent upon it.

Oh, and academic librarians rarely have to deal with this sort of thing, but for our public library colleagues it must be the bane of their existence.

5 thoughts on “Another Reason I’m Glad To Be An Academic Librarian”

  1. Nice thoughts.
    I am a reference librarian of a university library in Russia. And I am sure as long as students and faculty need any information for their research or studies, academic libraries will be thriving.
    But what do you think about students, that have never been to their HEI library while studing? What is the main reason for that? Interinet, good book shops, anything else?

    And as for me, I sometimes envy public librarians – they do a lot of interesting thing to attract people to their libraries, that we don’t need to and don’t have time to…

  2. I would not automatically assume that academic librarians have it easier than our brethren in the public setting. Much of it may depend on the academic institution. I work in an inner city, open admissions commuter campus, and in many ways, we get many of the banes of a public library (the porn included unfortunately), and then issues unique to us. And, in my case at least, I do have to put in quite an effort in terms of outreach. The audience is not necessarily as captive as one thinks. The point is, not all academic librarians “have it easy.”

  3. sex/masterbation in the stacks is actually a big problem in college libraries too. and that is something NOBODY wants to have to deal with, for sure!

  4. I am going to have to agree with Angel here, I would not say that academics have it any easier. For a large number of us(myself included), we have to contend with tenure and promotion, publishing, etc. To the best of my knowledge, the “tenure” system doesn’t exist in public libraries. Also, if one is not faculty, then they have no voice in what goes on on campus. I am on my university’s faculty senate representing the library, so I make sure our voice gets heard. I am certainly up for any debate anyone would like to have.

  5. Publishing and presenting – that’s a fun and rewarding challenge. I’d much rather write a scholarly article or present a paper than explain to parents why their children are getting exposed to pornography in the library. . College kids and sexual activity in the library – that’s part of the college experience. Dealing with the possibility of sexual predators in your library when you have children on the premises – that’s scary. Nope. I think the public librarians have it tougher in this respect. And the post doesn’t say academic librarians have it easy. All librarians have their unique challenges. I said that academics have it easier than public librarians – in certain areas. Is that still true if you compare an urban, open to the public academic library to a well-heeled suburban public library? Perhaps not. But I would say those situations are more the exception than the rule.

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