Posted by: Maria | August 21, 2008

the information literacy logo–does it really matter?

My career as a librarian is young in age, but in that short time, I’ve observed that there are certain issues that seem to come up over and over again.  Something that I learned pretty quickly is that librarians are deeply concerned with justifying their existence and importance.  And I can understand this impulse, especially in the academic setting.  People from outside the library think that just because they use a library that they know how to run one, or that they can advise librarians on how to do their job.  So I often find myself struggling for tactful way to insist that well, actually, I do know what I’m doing, and no, you don’t, and no, we won’t do a library scavenger hunt for your students.

So, I’m wondering if this impulse to self-justify and self-legitimize is the motivation behind IFLA’s creation of a  logo for information literacy.   Somehow having an official logo for information literacy is supposed to make us more official?  More important?  Putting that image on our website or on a LibGuide or a handout is supposed to accomplish…what?

Maybe I’m missing something, and I’m open to being persuaded otherwise, but this kind of stuff reminds me of the hand-wringing over the image of the librarian, and how it’s so terrible that the image of the librarian in popular culture is so inaccurate or misleading or offensive.  I really can’t work up the energy to worry too much that people think librarians are stodgy and boring and shushy or sexy or sassy or prone to wearing cardigans.  I’d rather just do my job really well and let that help people form an opinion of what a librarian is like.

Similarly, I’d rather just be a really good instruction librarian who cares about information literacy.  I’d rather show my commitment to information literacy through doing actual work and actual instruction and rigorous assessment and reflection.  To me, this says a lot more than a logo.



  1. The pro-logo stuff does seem to me to be a thinly-veiled exercise in navel-gazing. What would make faculty take us seriously? A logo? Then again, maybe: do we have to self-constitute in these ways before we can represent ourselves? I watched with curiosity as people go back and forth on some of the listservs about how the logo is no, no, no, all wrong, it should be a computer, no it should be a book, not it should be a computer and a book. It’s more than a little exhausting. I’m inclined to say, Hey! Cute logo! And then move on to lesson planning. Or something.

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