Responses to new professional -movements

Hello everybody. I would like to share experiences on what kind of responses “new professionals” and especially expressive, organized “new professional movements” are getting within the wider library profession.

Here in Finland a loose network of relatively fresh librarians are known as “Nuorkirjastolaiset” (engl. Young librarians), a self-chosen name. A small handful of people are more outspoken, and criticise libraries for their human resource management, leadership, innovation strategies, oppressive work-culture, hidden power-structures and so forth.

In the new issue of Kirjastolehti (“Library magazine”, ISSN 0023-1843) there is an interview by Ira Koivu of four people who identify themselves as members of this “Nuorkirjastolaiset” -movement. Here is my brief translation of the article’s ingress:

Kirjastolehti 6/2010: "We demand change"

We demand change!–Young professionals building a new library

Pessimism, cynicism and frustration persist among young professionals, so it’s been told. That’s why we asked four young library professionals what’s wrong with the library now and what would be the library of their dreams. And most importantly: how it’s done?

Now, in response to the article, we are having quite a heated discussion on Kirjasto-kaapeli, the most important public discussion forum of finnish librarians. The discussion there is titled KYSYMYKSIÄ NUORKIRJASTOLAISILLE (Viite: Kirjastolehti 6/2010 (engl. “QUESTIONS TO YOUNG LIBRARY PROFESSIONALS (Reference: Library magezine 6/2010“). It started out as a list of questions to Nuorkirjastolaiset, but the discussion soon lost focus (i’m expect Godwin’s law to fulfill very soon; you know how these online discussions sometimes are LOL).

Anyway, it seems all sorts of fears and frustration within the profession is partly reflected on young professionals, especially if they are united. It’s not just this article and it’s response on Kirjasto-kaapeli, but i think i’ve noticed it elsewhere too. All sorts of reservations and suspicion towards a network of organized, proud, largely unknown people come to my ears. Some librarians are worried about age-racism because the name has the word “young” in it, and some colleagues think that young professionals are all about wasting library resources on Facebook and Twitter and not doing proper work. Some claim that new professionals are too blind to see behind cold statistics and that economic efficiency is something that is categorically wrong and dangerous for libraries. Some ridicule and say that all voices of change will be hushed as soon as the new professionals get a steady job.

All of these fears and accusations has been heard many, many times already. Previously the blame has been on a) politicians b) evil capitalists c) library directors d) consultants or e) the mass media. Now, at least part of the blame is on young professionals… in other words: on close colleagues.

Do you recognize this, or something similar from your environment? I would love to hear what sort of response “new professional movements” are having elsewhere? The NPSIG group seems to be very well received within the IFLA organization, or that’s my impression. Is your library profession openheartedly welcoming it’s young, self-aware, confident and united members with their ideas, energy and innovation, or do some colleague see them (=us) as a threat?

Season’s greetings folks 🙂

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