On the Role of Digital Librarians

The other day, I told someone that I’m a digital librarian. Of course, they asked the standard follow-up question:

What does a digital librarian do?

Such exchanges have become common for me and they highlight the continuing issues of misperception that plague digital librarianship. People assume that it must be different from traditional librarianship.

I’ve addressed this issue before but I want to take another stab at it:

Digital librarianship is librarianship. There’s no significant qualitative difference between a digital librarian and any other kind. Digital librarians require the same basic training and fundamental skills that all librarians need.

Digital libraries are libraries. Sure, different sorts of libraries are different (how’s that for tautology?)—public vs. academic vs. private, etc.—but digital libraries aren’t any more so.
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A Lesson in Customer Service

I recently had an eye-opening customer service experience. Given how much customer service experience I have—in a few different industries—I’m somewhat surprised that I can still have my eyes opened.

I was contacted by a library patron who was looking for musical scores. He wanted a list of what the Library has in our collection. I’m not sure how he got my contact info for this inquiry—I’m not on the Reference staff, I don’t work the front line, my contact info isn’t on the website. Regardless, I tried to be as helpful as I could and sent him a link to our catalog listing all our holdings categorized with the “Musical Scores” format. I provided him with instructions on how to search for scores by particular composers and encouraged him to come visit our Central branch where we hold the bulk of our sheet music collection, to browse the shelves.
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