Professional Ties: Editing and Librarianship

Movable type revolutionized publishing. Content management systems revolutionized electronic publishing.

At the Iowa Library Association conference a few weeks ago, I ran into a colleague I went to journalism school with. She and I took a class on international media systems and traveled to Canada with our professor to study Canadian broadcasting networks. She, like me, is in a Library and Information Science program and was attending the conference for the same professional development reason I was. ILA is a networking opportunity in addition to being a PD experience, and moments after I started chatting with my former classmate, a small group of people she knew came up to join our two-point circle. Among them was another journalist.

I have a professor who regularly contributes to a magazine and has written two books, as well as a supervisor who was a journalist and editor in the newspaper industry for over 10 years and two fellow students who also came to the graduate program from journalism. And then there’s me.

That was a long introduction to the brief point I wanted to make with this post: Editors act as collection developers but on a more refined scope. Beyond sharing the ideals of honoring multiple perspectives and protecting against censorship–which I’ve discussed in previous posts–both editors and librarians share the specific tasks of producing content for an audience. That’s editor-speak. Librarian-speak would be “developing collections for patrons.”

It’s another parallel I wanted to note because of the number of colleagues I’m discovering with some kind of journalism background. It’s not just the economy or a dying industry coercing us journalists into a new or revised role of information professional, it’s all these parallels. We don’t have to do a 180 to adapt to new ideas and responsibilities. It just makes sense.

Edit: I had a request to add a little more context about the parallels I’m seeing, which I had elaborated on in a paper that I wrote. Here are those three arguments in bullet form:

  • Critical skills required for both professions include communication, coordination, and content management.
  • The First Amendment is a foundation for the professional ideals for both journalists and librarians.
  • Both roles must attend to a demanding audience and evolve in a capricious mediascape.

I started calling librarianship and journalism sister industries and believe they can and should learn from each other when dealing with conflicts involving First Amendment and rapidly changing media.

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