Rumble in the Stacks: The Technical and User Services Divide & its Future in Libraries

07/04/2011 § 16 Comments

Lauren Bradley

Lauren Bradley is in her final semester at the Pratt School of Information & Library Science in Manhattan. She works part-time at the Leo Baeck Institute and part-time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She enjoys costume librarianship, database searching, and government documents. Although her experience is exclusively in technical services, she dreams of crossing the divide to reference and instruction. Follow her on Twitter @BibliosaurusRex

Nearly all library school programs require students to take some form of these two classes: reference and cataloging. If you are like me and my peers, you immediately embraced one, declaring it your life passion, while disdaining the other, wondering why anyone would want to dedicate a life-long career to it. Library school seems to reinforce these notions…jokes about the poor social skills of catalogers and sneers about the customer service element of reference librarians comes to mind. A professor early in my own library education declared the divide between user and technical services dead; he said that we should gain skills in each to have a successful career. Although my own personal work experience and vision of future libraries affirm his declaration, I see library school propagating the notion of the technical-user services divide.

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