Earlier this week, I attended a presentation by a vendor which was held in a nearby academic library. It was about a product which is not used too much in our business school library, but still, it was good to learn about this in case I do need it. It was interesting to see how this particular product is developing.
That's not what I wanted to write about tonight. The real eye-opener for me was the behaviour of some of the librarians at this meeting. They interrupted with the most unreasonable pendantic questions, finding fault just for the sake of finding fault. At the time I remember thinking, "What a bunch of crotchety curmudgeons!" I asked myself, do libraries have more than their fair share of neurotic and pedantic people?
I chatted about this over lunch with a coworker and she had an interesting insight. A lot of the work that's done in a library is about being critical and accurate. These skills are often needed to do the work, but some librarians and library techs/assistants are unable to turn them off and they become nitpicky and pedantic as people.
Is the pedantic and neurotic librarian a similar species to the stereotypical brusque but brilliant surgeon? I'm doubting it. There seem to be two different skill-sets to library work - which aren't always complementary. One set is concerned with accuracy and technical competency. The other set are people skills, understanding what our users really want and need, building necessary relationships with vendors, IT, administration.
One other thing. Has anyone else ever noticed that some librarians feel entitled to treat vendors like crap? I've heard it justified by the fact that librarians who work for vendors are usually paid much more, so they should accept this treatment as the downside to their larger salaries. I'm not sure that this is true, or even if it were, that I would agree. It seems wrong to feel entitled to treat anybody badly because of their salary - whether it's higher or lower. After all, I know that I would not want to be judged and evaluated according to what somebody else reckons to be my salary.