Are You a Library Scientist or a Library Artist?

“Are you a library scientist or a library artist?”

No, I’m not going to offer a definition of what each means. I’m leaving that up to you as part of posting an answer. But I’m going to guess that you know whether you approach your library work as a scientist or an artist. We have our own internal definitions as those terms; I’m just wondering how people see themselves when presented with this question.

Don’t think on it too much. Just go with the first answer that popped into your head. And if you are going to quibble and say both, then you really have to explain yourself.

Commence commenting, please!

24 thoughts on “Are You a Library Scientist or a Library Artist?

  1. Both, both, both! Though I feel a little bit funny talking about myself as a scientist since controlled experiments are hard as hell to enact on human subjects;) I did have fun setting up some different empirical magnetization-method testing on the strips for the alarm gates one day though.

    More seriously: I’m not a library scientist OR a library artist: I’m a librarian (or working on being one, at least), and I’m willing to take from any discipline I can in order to librarianate for my communities as thoroughly as possible. Sometimes that means mathematical analysis, sometimes it means termite art, and a lot of days it’s closer to interpretive dance.

  2. LOL, *love* the comment about interpretive dance. On my worst days, that’s how I feel! Seriously, though, I’m probably more scientist than artist, much as I wish that weren’t true. I believe I use a lot of metrics to develop my work more fully.

  3. Library Artist, because of the nonsystematic approach I have to take with each patron, and because I tell and listen to stories way more than I analyze the way things work.

  4. The tagline for my blog (before I changed changed themes and ran out of room) used to be Ideas About Information, Not Backed Up By Any Proper Research. So that makes me very much an artist, I think – I got no Science skills…

  5. Even though I work in cataloging, which theoretically is very systematic and more like “science”, so many times I feel like it’s a whole art just trying to interpret the rules.

  6. Artist. Artist who does understand why we need statistics, but artist none the less. (I guess the side of me that ended up choosing to be a music performance major in undergrad won out over the side that really just as much wanted to do biology…)

    I LOVE reading articles that are well written about how people have implemented great things at their libraries, when written where it allows you to see how you could do the same, but I absolutely HATE reading case studies, even though ideally they should be the same thing. But they’re not. And since I’m a Library Artist instead of a Library Scientist, that gets on my nerves.

  7. An artist, most definitely. Although there are “rules” to follow, each situation calls for finesse and creativity far more than an automates, systematic approach. Even when doing research and other things veer towards the science label, there is still a great deal of artistry that goes into my tasks as I look for new connections and methods.

  8. Have to go with artist.. I really tend to approach reference, program planning and implementation, in a more organic way. Meaning that my approach tends to be be less methodological and more reactive to ebbs and flows whether via the reference interview or deciding on what programs to plan and design for my patrons. I tend to be more active and effective when I am tapping into my creativity.

    I can certainly appreciate the more scientific approach, but that has never been me (despite my general technolust which one would think would translate into a more scientific approach to things)

  9. Some of the most creative people I know are scientists. Problem solving is an art and art is about creativity. As a research librarian, I aspire to be like my patrons, thus creative in my solutions to their information needs. I’ll say I’m an artistic library scientist.

  10. Scientist, because DATA RULES THE DAY. Data doesn’t lie- people do. I remove all emotion and sentimentality from my work (well, as much as possible) in order to better serve the public and the profession.

  11. Both. When I’m working in the library I’m a scientist, working with facts, figures, and a system. When I’m working my day job as an information officer I’m an artist, taking intuitive leaps to get at what I need.

  12. Artist. I see my work at the reference desk, on chat ref, etc. as being “on”. I don’t get to shut myself away from the public very often- I’m out there being put on the spot. It’s more like a circus act than a fine art, though, juggling different demands. 🙂

  13. Um, library philosopher? What side does that fit into? I think it’s somewhere between: I try to approach problems with rationality and logic, but from a big picture perspective that is more art than science. I’m not really into the evidence-based practice in a local place, but more looking at how we are collectively organizing and managing information and access to it.

  14. I admit to being a library (mad) scientist. It’s sort of the picture I like to keep in the back of my mind when people ask me to “find things.” I whip out all the tech, fiddle with knobs, take readings from my screens and end up with a report containing all sorts of lovely little facts. For a while, I had a “chart” as my computer’s wallpaper that showed the logical steps for finding certain common answers (I’ve since gotten rid of the file and am kicking myself that I cannot find it again!) — it depicted a rather scientific approach and, while funny, was also a practical visual summation of my reference triage.

  15. Library Artist! Searching and conducting research is a art form, teaching students is an art form. They even can be quite beautiful when things all come together.

  16. Artist for sure! I had story time in my info lit session today, complete with a prezi visual aid. I give a mock presentation and let students critique and live blog their response to it in another class.

  17. I’m with Megan – mad scientist! Science + art = creativity and responding to what comes careening down the pike every workday. You work with what you have and give it more than that to do good stuff for the community.

  18. An artist, for sure! The science part creates a helpful framework. Helping people find the perfect book/resource, coming up with cool programing for that teens will actually want to attend, making booklists about topics/areas of interest when I have no good answer when a teen asks for that type of book but SHOULD have an answer. That’s art.

  19. I like (and have to be) being analytical in my work; working with facts, figures, and systems as Ahava said. But I LOVE being creative even more so. Artist on the surface, and scientist when evidence is required.

  20. Neither; to think either way seems smug and out of touch to the general public, and in a public library, that should be all that matters. As if we believed people at Subway were really “Sandwich artists”…

  21. Artist, definitely. I’m happiest and at my best when I’m being creative and since I do the daily news show as well as all my other duties, I’m putting together the next day’s show in my head and then doing videos for book trailers, video “commercials” for school events, etc. all the time. I’m also not a “neat office” type of person, I have a method to the madness…but mostly it’s being creative and thinking up new and fun ways to get my message across to students.

  22. Library artist, I use my school community to shape/design/add to/take out/ create our school library. Sadly my position was cut due to budget cuts and I’m back in the classroom next year.

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