May 9, 2008
NJLA Conference 2008
Within my work history, my previous experience with professional shows was horticulture. Just try to imagine the garden section at your local Home Depot or Lowe's picked up, reorganized into booths over the size of a football field, and then assigned a small group of knowledgeable but surreally excitable representatives. I cannot say that I got very excited over a new type of PVC pipe or a reformulated herbicides or the latest in tractor technology. To be fair, I cannot say that I got very excited over shelving systems or databases or book distributors, but I think it is only because I don't have access to the library system checkbook. Overall, it was an enjoyable introduction to the professional librarian convention scene.
My wife and I are librarians for different branches of the Burlington County Library System. The conference was a great way to spend the day with her while we both broadened our professional horizons. And with the various conference offerings, we were able to take in different presentations and compare notes on the car ride home. The only thing I missed was the chance to chat and do some social networking with some of the other librarians present; but this was more of a product of our conference schedule than actual opportunity. In any event, I found the programs that I attended to be interesting and relevant to what I do on a daily basis.
There was one observation that I found that will not shock or surprise anyone who was in attendance nor in the library profession and it will sound like such an obvious statement that some who read this might think I'm being a bit obvious. But it was something that stuck in my head, so I will try to put this as diplomatically as possible: the female to male ratio is somewhat askew. And by somewhat askew, I mean to say "noticeable to the point where I remarked to my wife about it and she looked me like I was a simpleton". It was something apparent in graduate school as well, but when you see it on such a large scale, it really drives the point home. It is in sharp relief to the very male dominated horticulture industry that I was a part of before library science (although I cannot think of one little girl that I have met who has said, "When I grow up, I want to apply pesticides!"). Personally, gender ratio doesn't matter to me, but the scientist within wonders as to the causes and whether it will maintain the status quo for the future.
I'm not sure of the exact causes, but studies indicate libraries tend to lose male patronage at puberty. We (the royal "we") seem to have a hard time regaining them so it is no surprise that they would be less inclined to make a career out of it. I will leave any discussion on how to reclaim these patrons to more experienced and better educated peers, but my inexperienced and non-educated belief is that, with the continuing digital revolution, we will see the gender balance tip closer to parity. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds along side the ongoing information revolution.
I look forward to next year's conference.
Burlington County Library System
Posted by conf08 at May 9, 2008 11:36 AM
Post a comment
Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)