September 11, 2008

Dressing for success...

I've pondered writing this post for awhile now and have decided it's worth mentioning. For as long as I've been a librarian (about 5 years now), I've seen concern about the trend to do away with librarian positions in favor of more paraprofessionals and the lack of respect in general for the degree and the profession.

I just started working in my third academic library. My first two academic libraries were state schools. The dress code at the first was generally business casual with blue jean Fridays for the librarians. For the staff, well, it was whatever they threw on. At my last library, there was no dress code for anyone as far as I could tell. The Director and Asst Director generally dressed nicely, but the rest of the staff pretty much as they pleased. This was librarians and staff. Some dressed business casual, others not so much. In fact, on one day, someone was at work in shorts, a polo top, and flip flops. One person in my department used to take off their flip flops and walk around the office barefoot. Who wants to be in an office with someone running around barefoot? Generally, they were also wearing jeans and a shirt.

What image does this set for the public? Whether we like it or not, how we dress affects how we are perceived. My current place of work has a dress code. Men generally wear slacks, shirt and tie, especially if on the reference desk. Women dress accordingly. I've generally been a slacks and sweater type of girl and yes, I will be adding some new items to my wardrobe (for a couple of reasons). It's actually nice to be back in a place where everyone dresses for the job. It doesn't have to be a suit, but for heavens sake, if you dress at least business causal, it indicates that you are a professional and take your job seriously. In the end, if you take your job seriously, so will others.