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Location: New Castle, Indiana

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Am I just a little girl?

I went to a meeting today of librarians from around the state. My library systems supervisor who is in his early 20s went with me. We sat down and a lady sitting in front of us turned around and said "what are you young people doing here?" That comment really offended me. As if someone my age doesn't belong in a leadership position. She was completely clueless that she had said something inappropriate. So, I just nicely explained to her that I very much belonged in the meeting and that I do indeed have a leadership position in my library.

People usually say that I look much younger than my age. They are often surprised to find out how old I am. But, to automatically assume that because I'm younger than most people that I shouldn't have any responsibility is offensive to me. Age does not necessarily mean that a person is capable of doing their job or being a contributing member to the library profession.

We heard a good speaker from OCLC talk about their recent report on the perceptions of libraries. One interesting comment from his talk was that today often convenience trumps quality [information] and it is the job of libraries to make quality convenient. So, after lunch we were sitting waiting for the next speaker and the same woman turns around and asked me if I understood anything of what he had talked about. I paused and said "well, yes I understood everything he talked about." She made some comment about having taken lots of notes because she didn't know about a lot of the things he spoke about. So, I proceeded to explain quite a few things to her that she didn't understand from his speech. Hmm. Maybe the little girl who's too young to be in this meeting knows something after all.

I really don't like the term Generation X and all the connotations that go with it. That's not me and I don't like to classify people based solely on the year they were born. So, often when I read the NextGen articles in Library Journal, I cringe. I've never had the professional experience of being looked down upon because I'm young. I have always had incredible support from my supervisors who have been librarians much longer than I have. My director now has always been encouraging and supportive of my ideas. In a way, I've always thought the NextGen people just like to whine about their terrible jobs with terrible pay and no respect. But, I suppose there really are librarians out there who think that young librarians should be seen and not heard. Boy, I'm glad I don't run across that kind very often.

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