Sitting at the reference desk yesterday, I started talking to the student worker next to me about this and that, and she mentioned that a librarian had come to talk to her class last term. Then she got a concerned expression on her face and asked, “Is it okay to call you a ‘librarian?’ Is that the right word?”
“Of course,” I said.
“Oh. Good. Well… see, I was confused because in high school we weren’t allowed to call one of the women who worked in the library a librarian. She’d get mad and say, ‘Don’t call me a librarian. I’m not a librarian. She is. I’m a media specialist.’ She made a really big deal about it.”
I explained that it might have been a big deal to those two library employees because probably one of them had a masters degree in library science and one of them didn’t. I tried to reassure her that she didn’t need to worry about offending people here unless she called them “block head” or something.
She seemed relieved and very interested, but the amount of relief that showed on her face worried me. In light of the recent blog drama having to do with who is and who isn’t a librarian, who deserves respect, and who deserves recognition, I’d like to ask that we keep our patrons in mind. I’m certainly not against helping people understand the difference when it’s appropriate, but making them worry about addressing us because they’re afraid of getting our titles wrong won’t accomplish anything.