What does a librarian do exactly? We are still asking ourselves that question as we face our second 100 years of service to the people of Calgary. The role of librarian (and of all library staff) is changing. We were once a “walking encyclopedia” as Margaret Kennedy, one of the first librarians in the Calgary Public Library system, put it. When Alexander Calhoun set about to hire his staff, they were required to complete a written test on literature, history and current affairs. Part of the examination included producing a critical analysis of a play by Shakespeare, outlining the history and growth of Canada since Confederation and the knowledge of who was running for office in both the UK and the US.
In her first report to Calhoun, Miss Kennedy included examples of what kinds of questions she was answering. On an average day she could be asked why men went bald and women did not. What colour was King George V’s horse? Which Scandinavian king was well known as a keen tennis player and as the tallest member of the European monarchy?
Well, all that was before the internet. Now the digging has become more important and the well-stored mind has to include information on the latest e-readers, how to stream live video, where to find online newspapers, and how to trace your family tree.