Why and How to Be(come) an Amateur Librarian
2014-10-28 by librarian

Every discipline on its way of acceptance and establishment in a society structures its knowledge and articulates the importance of the discipline for the society. Librarianship is no different. Structure helps the discipline to make a curriculum, curriculum helps the discipline to get accepted by the academia, academia helps profession to get recognized and then to keep the pool exclusive for the ones who master the (structure and) knowledge (at the academia). When discipline articulates its (information) workflows software engineers come to help the professionals to make repetitive tasks and procedures a jobs for computers. And that's one of the moments when a lot of enthusiasts could come in and by mastering the software tools learn some of the workflows.

Software tools are tricky.

As Nathan Ensmenger writes, (see: Before and after Calibre):

machines, people, and processes in an inextricably interconnected and interdependent system” which never goes without “conflict, negotiation, disputes over professional authority, and the conflation of social, political, and technological agendas. Software is perhaps the ultimate heterogeneous technology. It exists simultaneously as an idea, language, technology, and practice.1

Software made cataloging and searching things in the world a multibillion dollar industry. Google makes catalog and search of all internet pages and by controlling the catalog Google controls (our discovery of) the Internet. Amazon makes catalog and search of all available books (and other products) and by controlling the catalog, they control the financial audit, distribution and consequently enforce their preferred prices along the line to producers (of books and other products). It is in public interest to control the catalogs.

Librarians know how to catalog the world. A public library is:

  • free access to books for every member of society
  • library catalog
  • librarian

With books ready to be shared, meticulously cataloged, everyone is a librarian. When everyone is librarian, library is everywhere.2

So, how to become a librarian of a public library? Take care of our public library. Take care of our books. Take care of our catalogs. Use..

..Library Genesis, Aaaaarg.org, Monoskop, UbuWeb and Memory of the world to make a collection of books you like. ..Calibre and [let's share books] to catalog the books, take care of metadata and share your library with the world.


..you notice that someone asks for a book use Library Genesis, Aaaaarg.org, Monoskop, UbuWeb and Memory of the world to find the book, use Calibre to catalog that book, use [let's share books] to share it. .. you notice that some particular book on Library Genesis, Aaaaarg.org, Monoskop, UbuWeb or Memory of the world needs an extra care to split the double pages, make OCR or needs cropping the photos: do that. .. you notice that someone asks for a book and you couldn't find it on Library Genesis, Aaaaarg.org, Monoskop, UbuWeb or Memory of the world scan the book.

Don't be afraid to be a curator. Our public library gets its scope and scale when we - (amateur and professional) librarians - gather together in the publicly distributed library infrastructure.

  1. Ensmenger, Nathan. The Computer Boys Take over : Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press, 2010.

  2. See tag:library.

tags: librarian