So, I’ve posted my reply to the Why Professional Librarian is an Oxymoron post called (More than) Ten Reasons Why “Professional librarian” Isn’t an Oxymoron on Library Journal. Now people are probably wondering, ‘was he just kidding?’, ‘did he cave into pressure? from the field?’, ‘is he being dishonest?’ and so on. It raises questions (for me) about the nature of blogging itself, how it is perceived by a broader audience, and more importantly, how it’s going to change over time.
The dominant paradigm for publishing — and this includes academic publishing — is the scientific or pseudo-scientific approach. The assumption here is that there needs to be an answer, that can be defended or rejected, and if defended, a ‘theory’ will be shaped around that answer to help us come to broader conclusions about the world we live in. This assumption is the reason why more than one person insisted that I ‘need to define “professionalism” or the whole exercise is pointless’. If I define professionalism in a certain way, then people can live in the comfort zone of ‘well, under those circumstances, I can accept that librarians are not a profession.’
And that’s why the professionalism post took on the shape it did. Some in support, some against, and afterwards, I need to come to some conclusion about whether librarianship truly *is* a profession. Tah-dah! Now we can all write journal articles about professionalism and develop a whole theory of professionalism to add to all our dismal literature.
There is another, different paradigm, that is emerging in society however. I’m going to call it the ‘co-creative’ paradigm. In this paradigm, my post was an exposition – a call for a community to define librarian professionalism for itself. The assumption is not that there is a right answer, but an emergent or evolving answer – something we can use to build our futures together, to create change, and improve lives. The goal in this paradigm is not the ever important ‘answer’ but the relationships and conflict that happen around that discussion. It is here that paradoxes like ‘librarians are and are not a profession’ are okay. Under this paradigm, strong emotions are a means to an end, a way of connecting people and building a dialogue (not necessarily a consensus) around our differences. I think blogs can lend themselves to this paradigm as well, IF the main post and the comments are seen as one voice.
Things that help me understand this new paradigm are new ideas in Restorative processes (including justice), The Hub (a co-creative workspace), grassroots movements and unconferences. I think there is a way to make social media play into these processes more, I just haven’t quite found the right way.
As I write this, MPOW is beginning the process of distributing it’s new strategic plan. The previous mission and vision spoke to the ever important goals of life-long learning, joy of reading and power of information. Our new mission and vision value the same things, but realize that our communities are changing. The new paradigm we are dealing with is about building our futures, and imagining possibilities – with, not for our communities. Our new paradigm sees education and reading as a means now – a way of connecting people, and inspiring discovery. I have to say that i am totally inspired by this new vision in librarianship. I think librarians – professional or not – have strong networking skills on their side and that this skill is the road to a great future for librarians, whereever they decide to work in future. Tally-ho!