I recently mentioned in a blog post that I thought it would be useful for the library profession as a whole if there was greater cross-sector working. In a time where money is tight and staff numbers are being reduced, it makes sense to pool and share information.
It seems as if many members of the library profession see their area of interest/work as unique to their organisation – public libraries deal more with fiction, a wide range and level of readers (0 to 100+) and informal learning; academic libraries concentrate on research, development and formal learning; specialist libraries deal with group of users based on a specific profession/subject area. I also think that this attitude of ‘We are unique!’ can come across in library services in the same sector providing the same services to a different local area.
The focus appears to concentrate on the differences in services we provide and not the similarities, which is strange, as the similarities outweigh the differences. Maybe some information professionals just want to actively keep their services unique… it helps to justify their role??
I also feel as if some people will immediately dismiss the ideas/practices of library services in another sector as irrelevant, because they are again emphasising the differences in the services and not the similarities.
Library services appear to be constantly re-inventing the wheel on a project where someone else has already thought through the same project/problems and has solutions that may be relevant.
We should be taking advantage of these ideas/solutions from outside our own sectors and use them to develop our own library services. We need to ask if there are similarities between what we are doing and what other library services (public, academic or specialist) are providing, no matter how vague the connection may appear. If we don’t, I feel we will be missing out on some great opportunities to develop the library profession as a whole… and if we don’t develop we will get left behind.