Loredana Stanciu is a librarian and Trainer at “Nicolae Iorga” Prahova County Library Engaged in many national and international projects in the field of libraries, she has participated as a speaker at numerous conferences and is the author of some articles in the field of librarianship.
Loredana, to start, can you tell us briefly what prompted you to become a librarian?
What beautiful memories this question opens for me! This was not my plan after graduating from college. I enrolled in a technical college to become an engineer. I was part of the first group of graduates specialized in automation of the University of Ploiești. It was a novelty at that time, because the University had started the process of adapting the specializations to the needs of the market, introducing in the curriculum numerous IT courses. With a developing technology and an internet that made its potential felt, I remember how enthusiastically we learned to use different computer software, given that no student had a computer at home. After 5 years spent among computers, the direction I had started changed radically when I received the proposal to work not in the IT Service of a company, but in a library. It was a challenge for me because I did not have knowledge in the library field. Now, after 26 years, I realize that the director of the library at that time was a visionary, the plan being to develop new services based on computer facilities. With each passing day, I realized I was in the right place. Over time, I began to deepen this field, following various improvements and a Master at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Letters, which opened new horizons in the field. Entering the community of librarians in Romania showed me that this job, if you get involved, can bring you great satisfaction. Today, I consider the challenges of every day as steps in my continuous professional development.
Is the profession of librarian legally recognized in Romania? What path should you follow to become a librarian?
Romania has laws that regulate the operation of libraries, the most important being the Library Law no. 334/2002. There are also two professional associations, one that brings together librarians from public libraries (ANBPR) and one from school and university libraries (ABR). The Romanian state offers free access to training in the field, in three universities in the country: Bucharest, Cluj and Sibiu. A student can opt for undergraduate studies in “Information and Documentation Sciences”, for a master’s degree, postgraduate studies or for in-depth studies following doctoral school. For librarians there are other specialization options, by accessing offers from professional associations or through projects. Some courses are paid, but there are also free trainings.
In addition to being a librarian, you are also a trainer. Continuous training is important for our profession and the Covid experience has prompted us to adapt to new forms and new working methods. What do you think about this?
The subject of lifelong learning has been and is approached at all decision-making levels, but, each time, it is seen as a secondary objective in Romania, decision-makers bringing to the fore current global issues. During this period, we tend to consider the pandemic and the war in Ukraine the biggest challenges we face, but if we look more closely, we will see that humanity faces many more problems. Lifelong learning is a necessary and worthwhile component more than ever. It is a reality that must be included in all areas. The skills that young graduates have when they finish school are no longer enough, and the potential of libraries to provide additional knowledge tailored to their needs is very high. In Romania, there are libraries that constantly offer courses, workshops, webinars, but cover only a very small percentage of the needs of communities. The pandemic lockdown has shown us that we librarians need to learn continuously. The year 2020 has been difficult for public libraries. If the number of physical loans decreased, the number of loans in electronic format increased and the digitization process accelerated. So we can say that there were not only negative aspects but also good things: it forced the adaptation of libraries and the change of development directions through greater investments in technology. Online communication networks have been created and many librarians have joined in a constant exchange of data and knowledge, which has helped to assimilate new information. The pandemic was the most intense stimulus ever. It was a great desire of all to build something better. Numerous courses and workshops offered by librarians are available free of charge for community building, but the market is constantly changing. The flexibility and adaptability of librarians to the challenges requires constant support, and not enough funds are allocated in Romania. An opportunity for the professional development of librarians in Romania is represented by projects. Personally, because I applied to many projects I had the chance to participate in various courses and workshops after which I learned a lot. Also through the projects I was able to visit many libraries in Europe (Helsinki, Oslo, Milan, Berlin, Barcelona, etc.) and later collaborate in other projects with their librarians. This exchange of experience brings a rich baggage of assimilated knowledge. Participation in the IFLA WLIC Congress is another great provider of data and information. I can say that I recommend all librarians to have the courage and apply for grants offered by the European Union or national ones, because every experience gained by implementing a project develops you a lot professionally. The world is interconnected, online communication now seems a great power, an unlimited provider of information, but in reality it is much more fragile.
The war is unfortunately marking another sad chapter in our recent history. But as with the pandemic, it can represent another opportunity for values such as solidarity and resilience. How are libraries in Romania reacting to this situation?
As always, librarians have adapted very quickly to situations. I can say that one of the abilities of the Romanian librarian is empathy. In each region there are librarians who have shown their creativity and organized various services for this new target group: refugees from Ukraine. It is read a lot through programs such as “reading without borders”, and Ukrainian children are attracted to beautiful activities to bring them well-being.
How do you see the future of libraries? What can librarians do for their libraries in the near future to better serve their communities of reference?
I am a very optimistic person and I see a beautiful future for libraries, but I consider myself realistic enough to understand that it takes time. We will have to learn to live with uncertainty and take risks. For librarians, the change from the pandemic meant reaching new goals, building new directions of development, and this involved vision and responsibility. My fellow librarians recognize this need for lifelong learning to grow or survive. What librarians can do: stay creative and who doesn’t understand that the public library doesn’t just mean managing books, it’s time to do it. Due to the fact that people have learned to use the new devices – from computer to mobile phone – to do their own research, the library is no longer the main information resource, for those who have minimal internet access. The survival of libraries is conditioned, in this context, by the desire and motivation of librarians to transform these spaces into some adapted to today’s society. A library must be flexible, innovative, able to adapt, a friendly place for learning, accessible to anyone, where debates are constructive. What is certain is that the 2022 librarian has multiple skills and abilities, works with passion and is professional in information management.
What would you recommend to a young student who would one day want to become a librarian?
To step into this field with confidence. Get informed in advance, because it can be the most monotonous place or, on the contrary, the most challenging. He needs to know that it can bring him a lot of satisfaction if he is ready to learn continuously, get involved in projects, collaborate and help others. The library is not an isolated place. Know that he / she can be a voice in the community and an important node in a network. The path he will take depends on him.
Mario Coffa archivista e bibliotecario, laureato in Conservazione dei Beni Culturali presso l’Università degli Studi di Perugia (2005) e diplomato in Archivistica e Paleografia presso la Scuola di Archivistica dell’Archivio Segreto Vaticano (2010). Dal 2010 Lavora per CAeB (Cooperativa Archivistica e Bibliotecaria) presso le biblioteche dell’Università di Perugia come bibliotecario e come archivista presso l'Archivio Storico del Comune di Gubbio. Si occupa di Biblioteche Digitali e formazione in ambito di biblioteconomia digitale. Nel 2014 membro del Comitato Esecutivo Regionale dell’Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB) sezione Umbria, membro del gruppo AIB sul portfolio professionale e nel triennio 2017-2020 Presidente eletto di AIB Umbria. Dal 2020 membro dell'Osservatorio Formazione dell'Associazione Italiana Biblioteche. Autore di diversi articoli e interviste per Insula Europea sul tema degli archivi, delle biblioteche e del digital lending.
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