Tonight I'm speaking briefly (5 minutes!) to a group of people who are graduating with an MS in Library Science. I thought I'd do a David Letterman-type Top Ten List for the occasion. Here's what I'm going to say.
10. Librarians are the guardians of civilization. In his book How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill contends those Irish monks dwelling on the margins of the western world were able to save the written word from roaming, ravaging hordes of barbarians. Librarians have picked up where the Irish left off.
9. Librarians stand up for that most American of values--the freedom for people to say (and write) what they want to, even if those librarians don't agree with the sentiments.
8. Librarians are willing to stand up to their communities when they feel like freedom of speech is being trampled upon. This means librarians are very brave.
7. On the other hand, librarians help create tighter-knit communities with the outreach programs they create. Book groups. City read programs. Lectures. Films. Free seminars on things like tax preparation. Librarians offer so many services that benefit the community at large.
6. Speaking of programs, librarians give me something to do when I babysit my granddaughter. The story hours at our local libraries are the best. Especially when bubble machines are involved.
5. Librarians are willing to help a Luddite like me negotiate the strange and changing landscape of library technology.
4. Librarians are happy to shelve for me. As both a housewife and a bookseller, I shelve for other people. It's nice when someone does it for me.
3. Librarians know how to party. I have witnessed this for myself firsthand at ALA conventions.
2. Librarians are good at promoting our local authors. As one of those local authors, I am very grateful.
1. Librarians help create a sanctuary for those of us who need one. Sometimes that sanctuary is literal. Go visit the downtown library on a cold day. Sometimes that sanctuary is psychological. Doesn't matter which--just that it's there.