Lately, my husband and I have been out car shopping on the weekends. Just a couple of weekends ago, we went to a local used car lot and had a discussion with one of the salesmen. My story starts as we’re sitting in the salesman’s office:
Out of curiosity (and likely in an effort to judge how much we could spend on a car), the salesman asked my husband and me what we do for a living.
When my husband indicated he was a lawyer, the salesman nodded and smiled. When I told him I was a librarian, he laughed. Yes, laughed. As he leaned back in his chair, he went on to say derisively “ahh, I know Dewey is going the way of the dodo.”
At this point, I felt like saying “I heard the same about used car salesmen”. Or at least asking, “how do you think your sales pitch is going? Do you think you’re doing a good job?” However, I simply stated reasonably that yes, while some libraries are moving away from Dewey, at this time our library has no intention of doing so. He seemed mystified and said something along the lines of “hanging on to a dying tradition” or some such comment. I encouraged him to visit our library.
How is it that when stating our profession, individuals find it laughable? In this instance, I am hoping to chalk it up to ignorance and the salesman’s idea of coming off as clever. But I am assuming, however dangerous this might be, that there are plenty of other members of the public who also have little respect for our profession. Why this is and what can we do about is something we need to think about. Or do we?
In the end, my husband and I laughed it off (as a lawyer, he’s learned you need to have a sense of humour). And we decided NOT to buy a car at that lot. I think the lesson learned is that all professions are made fun of or laughed at by some people. We can’t take it too seriously as long as we continue to change, grow and learn, just as we have always done – trying our best and reaching out to as many people as possible.