Archive for December, 2010

Can Introverts Succeed as Embedded Librarians?

December 9, 2010

This question came up twice at the LIANZA conference last week: once in my workshop and once in the Q&A following my keynote. The interest may have been triggered in part by a comment Stephen Abram made in his earlier address to the conference: that 70% of librarians are introverts while 70% of the general population are extroverts. Stephen made it clear that he wasn’t saying librarians couldn’t relate — just that it was an issue many of us have to deal with. Nonetheless, the idea was planted.

So, what’s my answer? My answer is Yes! — introverts absolutely can succeed as embedded librarians. Here are a few reasons why:

1. There are examples. A very successful embedded librarian I interviewed volunteered that she was an introvert, and added that “introverts can do this!” I also came up as an “I” in the Myers-Briggs system (though see below), and I like to think I had some success in my days as an embedded librarian. There are others I’ve met who are probably “I”s as well who are successful. So there are examples.

2. Introverts can form relationships. We often talk about the importance of establishing strong, trusting working relationships in embedded librarianship. The popular concept of an introvert seems to be a shy, asocial person who can’t form relationships. But as an HR professional and trained M-B facilitator explained it to me, the I/E dichotomy in Myers-Briggs typology is about where you draw energy from: I’s from within; E’s from others. I’s may operate differently, but they can have social and relationship building skills all the same.

3. There are I’s and then there are I’s. As I mentioned above, the first time I did the Myers-Briggs test, I came up as an I. However, a few years later I took it again and had a more thorough analysis of the results. The second time I came up as balanced between I and E. People are different mixes of I and E attributes on the Myers-Briggs, and the I label covers a broad range of variations.

So the bottom line is, if you’re an Introvert librarian, don’t let that label define, deter, or discourage you. You too can be successful as an embedded librarian.

P.S. Extroverts can be successful embedded librarians too!

LIANZA Conference

December 7, 2010

I’ve just returned from the centennial conference of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), in Dunedin, New Zealand. It was a wonderful and stimulating experience, and I’ve been reflecting on all that I learned from my Kiwi colleagues.

I plan to post my keynote speech after some editing of the text. Meanwhile, I’ll also generate several blog entries in response to questions I received. These were good, tough questions – which are really helpful. They show that people are taking the idea of embedded librarianship seriously, and they help me think through gaps and flaws in the case for it and the methodology for initiating and sustaining it. The questions I’ll address include:

  • Can introverts be embedded librarians?
  • How do we know embedded librarianship has a positive ROI, and how do we place it in relation to other priorities for library services?
  • When initiating embedded services pilots, how can a manager validate judgments about selection of customer groups and librarians to start with?

There may be more. Stay tuned… and if you’ve got more good, tough questions, add them too.


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