That’s essentially the question I have this Sunday, to which I feel that I don’t have enough data to provide an answer. If I was formulating a hypothesis on the basis of what I’ve observed in terms of both national and state conference programming, continuing education classes within my own state, and what I’ve managed to pick up over the years, I would say that the library profession is extraordinarily keen on training people on tools like databases, websites, and other information retrieval or organization tools.
While to some of you this might seem like a no brainer (“It’s what we do, Andy.”), I find what isn’t offered speaks louder. There are very few marketing and advertising opportunities (including demographic and population analysis, something that got classroom time at my MLS program). Any customer service practices program tends to be about policy rather than people, and considering that body tone and expression rank higher than words spoken I would think some basic body language or facial expression reading classes might be in order. A couple of years ago I would include advocacy oriented sessions, but that seems to be a cyclical offering for the bad budget years.
While talking about the “Best YA Books of 2011” is certainly a good conference session, there is less talk about how to advertise, display, or otherwise even provide an ice breaker for approaching the YA audience about these books. These presentations are very nice, but without something to draw in the patron to them, they are going to collect dust on the shelf.
There is a big push to proclaim that libraries are a people oriented endeavor, but our training seems to belie that priority. (I would say that our policies in general do as well, but that’s another argument.)
So, what exactly are we training for?
In taking a look at your library or library system, state association and conferences, what do you think we train for? What do you see offered versus what do you think should be offered?
(Follow up question: Are terms like marketing, advertising, branding, and their kin bad words in the librarian profession? What’s the aversion?)