We all work in the library and we are all here to help. But we don’t all have the same roles. We are not all librarians.
Some of us are library specialists. We are support staff—we are paraprofessionals where librarians are bona fide professionals. We do the things you probably think of librarians doing. We check books in and out; we send out overdue notices. We make sure the books are on the shelves where they belong. We process textbooks for reserves and we work the system for interlibrary loan. We keep track of the myriad details of buying and processing new materials. We fix the copy machine. We go “Shhhhh.”
So if you come to the circulation desk and ask an Important Question we may send you to the reference librarian for your Important Answer. It is because we have different roles. Librarians have special training to help you identify your needs and find the best possible sources to solve your problems. They will teach you how to hunt and show you our specialized and very expensive databases and make beautiful research guides so you can be information literate. They will be encouraging and dauntless.
And we library specialists will be friendly and courteous. We will help you any way we can. If it happens that a librarian is not available we will even answer your Important Questions, or at least get you started in your search. We have skills too. Because this is the real world our roles may cross over from time to time and you will find a librarian checking out books or a library specialist being encouraging and dauntless.
But we are not all librarians.