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Jun 19

Objective and subjective

Was reading a newspaper article about how some pharmacists are refusing to dispense the pill, because it goes against their personal beliefs.  An interesting dilemma.

Although our similar dilemma is not  life threatening, librarians have to deal with this every day.  We lend out titles that go against our beliefs, we give access to information that we would never want to hand over willingly. We try to be objective as possible in our collections.

Yet when it comes to our library users, we can get extremely subjective. We can’t think the worst of our nice library users – until proven otherwise, and tend to think the worst of those who have caused us trouble before, until proven otherwise. Of course, even then, we have to try and be as objective as possible and take everything on board without judgement.

We too are only human, so our subjectivity is going to run through the objectivity of our profession. But that is also what makes us such a valued community service. Our users not only love the service, but even more the people providing it. Who take the time to hear a need, to work harder to fulfill a request, who take an extra step, or bend a rule to help a library user – all subjective responses.

We can be and are both, ranging from one extreme to another every day. And we can’t even break it down into areas – although we aim to be objective about collections and policies and procedures, it doesn’t always work.

And that’s OK, because I think that as long as the pendulum doesn’t swing too far one way or the other – or stop too far in its swing, then I think we’ll be fine and so will our libraries.