On Imposter Syndrome in Libraries

Skills inoculate us from imposter syndrome. Consider basketball. Guards aren’t intimidated by forwards because we understand how our role complements theirs and why our unique skills are needed. It’s only when you’re the towel guy or some made up role where you’re intimidated.

Librarians are only intimidated by researchers if they lack real skills and have to pretend being something they aren’t. Those who have tangible skills such as vendor relations, data analysis, copyright, digitization (eg services researchers need) are not intimidated.

The solution isn’t to invent roles not core to running a library to accommodate people without skills. That may work in peace time, but frivolous expenses get cut during war. If we care about people long-term, the solution is to create budget and policy for skill development.

Founder & CEO at Skilltype. Inaugural EIR at Boston University Libraries. Board emeritus at Rooted School. Native New Orleanian.

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