Philosophy of Librarianship

There’s a meme that’s been going around lately about people’s philosophy of librarianship.  Since I had to write a statement to precisely that effect1 just last month for my pre-tenure review portfolio, it seemed an easy thing to toss mine off here.

Part of my statement of philosophy had to do with continually asking students “how do you know that,” which I’ve already written about here. The other part is essentially this: If I can get students to consistently ask, and vigorously pursue answers to, the question “why?” then I’ve done my job:

  • Why is this author making this claim?
  • Why can’t I find out who published this website?
  • Why are academic journals so expensive?
  • Why did I get a bunch of unrelated articles in my search results (and how can I change the search to eliminate them)?
  • Why do nurses use APA style but historians use Chicago style?

…and so forth.

It’s a very limited philosophy, to be sure, and there are many many many aspects of libraries and librarianship that it leaves out. But it’s what keeps me coming back to my office each morning.


  1. Actually, the form I was responding to said “Philosophy of libarianship,” which made me tempted to use that spelling consistently throughout the document, but somehow I didn’t think the Rank & Tenure Committee would appreciate the joke.

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  1. By librarianship is about showing up | lis.dom on September 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    […] always love reading philosophies and manifestos and that sort of thing, so I’ve been enjoying the philosophies of librarianship that people have been posting […]