The Transparent Librarian vs. The Invisible Librarian

Cloak of InvisibilityCommunication

When discussing the idea of transparency in libraries, it seems to boil down to communication. Good communication is the fundamental element to transparency. Lack of communication, well, it can render a librarian invisible. While this might seem pretty cool, in the information business, being invisible could lead to being deemed inessential.

Internally, transparency can only be reached in an environment that welcomes honesty, exploration, and appreciation. Casey & Stephens (2007) provide an outline of what this might look like. These ideas include providing staff blogs, implementing multiple platforms for training and development, and encouraging staff to participate not only in the local communities but within the global library community as well. Appreciation for staff can come in any number of formats; however, I find public recognition, even if merely defining a person’s role, to be most effective. In the talk between @Michael and @kyle, the idea of people who don’t want to have their pictures or information posted was brought up. What sometimes happens is that people want to have this information shared, yet administrators, managers, etc. do not allow this recognition. In this Library Organizational Chart from the Santa Maria Public Library, we can see the titles of who is serving us, yet there is no identification of the professionals occupying each of these roles. This can be a problem in smaller communities where the library operates under strict guidance from the cities in which they operate. Libraries that are allowed a certain amount of autonomy to design and manage their own web presence can overcome this roadblock and have higher visibility in their communities and beyond.


That brings us to the idea of web presence. Again, we have to want to be visible. A library without web presence–whether it be a website, blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed–is not being transparent to their communities. Failing to communicate to those who rely on social media is only inviting alienation of this (growing) demographic. And simply having a Facebook page or Twitter feed is not enough. Content of posts and tweets must be meaningful. They must include more than just events that have already been planned. They should inform the community what the library is thinking about planning, and should be include open invitations to the community to help in the planning process.

Casey, M., &  Stephens, M. (2007, December). A road map to transparency. Library Journal, 132(20), 37. Retrieved from

Santa Maria, City of (2013). Library organizational chart. Retrieved from


One thought on “The Transparent Librarian vs. The Invisible Librarian

  1. I like that last bit about tweeting future plans to gather feedback and measure interest. Nice. One of the keynoters at LIANZA mentioned librarian photos on the Web and noted that dentist Web sites are FULL of photos of the poeple who will be working on your teeth… why not librarians too?

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