MLIS Graduate Portfolio

Justin Barnett

Vision Statement

As a librarian, it is my—will be my—responsibility to serve as a guide to and advocate for information. As a guide, concerns such as equitable access and education are critical: everyone has a right to the information we, as a society, deem to be worth preserving. And in the absence of an understanding of how to exercise that right, a library professional has the ability and the privilege to assist. But as much as our role involves guiding, the advocacy part is, I believe, the greater. While they go hand-in-hand, being a guide is meaningless if there is nothing of value to uncover. Thus it is that preservation is the core, though it comes in many forms: open access, digitization, resource selection, intellectual freedom, and others.

Open access is a form of both guiding and advocacy; to paraphrase an IT concept, security through obscurity is not security, and information preservation through copy-restricted means is not preservation. A free internet fosters the spread and continuance of knowledge. Digitizing records allows them to be saved for those who may use them at a later date, even if we are unsure, now, how that may be. The ALA presents a code of ethics for librarians; Martin Garnar (2014Garnar, M. L. (2015). Information ethics. In Sandra Hirsh (Ed.), Information Services Today (pp. 289-299). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.) compared it to that of other professional organizations in the field. All recognize preservation as a core value in and of itself—but so many of the other values spring from that fundamental desire, or inform it in turn. When the ALA asserts that libraries are “an essential public good,” they do so under a belief that information is worth preserving and sharing.

As a librarian, it is my mission to ensure that information is kept for the public, to see to it that the public can access it freely, and to provide that they understand how to do so. It is a tri-part responsibility, and if I end up in a specialty—reference, for instance—that shifts the weight to one side, it nonetheless remains a linked set of goals. Participating in professional organizations and sharing processes is an integral part of this, however, because that interconnectiveness keeps us from turning into information hoarders, clutching "our precious" tomes and collections to our chests in dark corners of old, dusty buildings.