I once had an argument with another staff member about what made a person a librarian. Her figuring came that you simply had to be employed at the library. My own interpretation at the time was that librarian holds a degree vetted by others in the profession. I now think neither is correct.
This began with an article I read today about an Avalon senior who took it upon her self to organize her school's library. The Avalon school is a cooperative, do it yourself-type institution that, according to the article, "favors hands-on projects over lectures" and is run by teachers, employing "no principals or librarians." Because the students have limited control over their curriculum, lunch menus, even the color of the walls in the new building, senior Grace Oehrlein was able to turn their library from a room full of books into an organized, well, library.
Reading about Grace made me reassess what makes a librarian. I still disagree with my former coworker, just working at a library does not make you a librarian, even if you are the only manager of a small school library, you don't get the title just because somebody thought you should organize the books. That's someone else's decision for you rather than you knowing what you are doing.
But my own former definition does not count, either. A master's in library and information science does denote a certain passion and zeal for the profession, but it does not a librarian make. I know plenty (and may be one) librarians that have the degree, go to the luncheons, convention away, but are more administrative project managers rather than librarians. To clarify, we have the education and the theory, but this could be a factory rather than a library and our jobs would be somewhat the same. Managing staff and inventory does not make you a librarian.
What Grace, that senior student from the progressive school, has, that's what makes a librarian. See, she saw a need for information and an unorganized pile of books and decided to make that right. To fix a problem giving books to people, to organizing the knowledge in a consumable way. That's a librarian. That's the spirit and the drive that will keep the profession fresh and interesting.
There's a whole other rant here about how the profession is stagnating and dying, that the public library is more of a community center with internet access, that librarians gave away control of information long ago to private enterprise... okay, there's a few rants. But for today, let's feel proud that people like Grace Oehrlein exist and will be leading our libraries onward.