invisible librarian

Sheesh. It feels like ages since I’ve written in this space. Last week our students returned to campus and that was rather overwhelming. You can be underwhelmed and overwhelmed, but can you be whelmed?

Earlier this week I learned that you can be gruntled.  It means:

cause to be more favorably inclined; gain the good will of.

We know what disgruntled means, but I’m making it a point to use the word gruntle more often.

Part of the reason for no post last week was that I drafted one called “underpaid librarian.” Decided to let it percolate a smidge more before sharing it with the world. We’re all unhappy about state budget woes in higher education. Best not flame the fires too much.

Ironic that I was invisible in the blogosphere last week and then read about being invisible this week at the personal branding blog about that state of being. It seems like one of those synchronistic nudges from the universe, especially given my low levels of enthusiasm for blogging this week.

Basically Nance Rosen thinks you should join the conversation, too. I mentioned that endeavor a while ago as an antidote to boredom, but her reasoning is that you need to be less fuzzy, more definable, and by blogging or tweeting, you create a presence, ultimately, your brand. And, become more Visible!

Something I read and posted to fb earlier this morning suggests that fb is the smarter choice of the two. Tweeting and Youtubing isn’t healthy for working memory development.

Absence is counterproductive if you hope to have any sort of influence. Create a little value here and there by sharing your brilliance with the world.

Stop hiding your light under a bushel. Let it shine, shine, shine. Let it shine.


There are plusses and minuses to being invisible, to being unmemorable, unremarkable. I know them. I live them. As librarians we’re often forsaken, ignored, discounted. It’s an age-old conundrum related to the status of our feminized profession. Wonder Woman jetted around in her invisible plane because her superpowers didn’t include the ability to fly. That was the old version. Now she can fly, doesn’t need the invisible plane/jet, and so the story changed.

To be invisible or not to be invisible. That’s the question, eh? Make a decision, but make it work for you, not against you.

There are times when being invisible is valuable. There are librarians with massive networks. There are  ones with none. I’m talking about resourceful librarians, not the ones who don’t make their invisibility work for them. Librarians can work within their invisibility to foster relationships, communicate information, and subtly influence  events.

But how?

We, as librarians, process scads of information. Using those bits of data more wisely is key.


  • Connect your student interested in creative artist cultures with the area arts council. Yeah, it’s obvious, to you, maybe. But what about to the student? The more time I spend with students, the more I learn how much ordinary knowledge they simply do not know. They cannot make the same connections that wisdom and experience bring. They don’t know yet, to know it. And they don’t know either, that they don’t know it. Stop taking your wisdom for granted. Stop assuming that the simplest questions asked of you are common knowledge. You have the answers. They don’t.
  • Share arcane “insider” knowledge of the library/university/business/community with students. Don your “most genuine librarian” hat so they don’t think you’re blowing smoke into their ear buds. Give them a tip for navigating the sludgy red-tape of some process, any process to help them manage better in your shared environment.
  • Influence library/university/business/community policy by working behind the scenes on a committee. Making small changes to your culture will have an affect. Not an impact. This morning whilst listening to NPR I heard reporters and correspondents in three separate stories use IMPACT rather than affect or effect. Can’t they have consistent control over their grammar and usage? I admit, that whether to use effect or affect plagues me on a daily basis. But I never use impact unless I’m talking about side impact airbags and carseat safety. Or maybe if it’s a medical condition, like an impacted wisdom tooth.

Sorry how this devolved into a grammar and usage snit fit. It wasn’t too ugly. It was random, and I’m known for my randomness. Seeing how those random bits erupt day by day is something I look forward to.

Anyway, those are my suggestions for making your invisibility as a librarian work for you, not against you.

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