Quite a few years ago my husband and I went out to one of the fanciest restaurants in Vancouver – at the time - and dropped way more money than we expected. The meal consisted of small quantities of beautifully arranged morsels of exquisitely flavoured food, served over several hours on many small white plates. Each course, which was introduced and described in great detail had its own series of dishes, including cutlery. And when we had finished consuming these small flavoured treasures, everything was completely cleared away, right down to the white linen each time. Then a whole new set of dishes, cutlery and food was brought back for the next course.
Although the food was delicious, it was certainly not filling and my husband always joked when he tells friends about this experience that he had to go out for a hamburger after it was all over. All I could think of was how glad I was that I did not have to wash all those dishes and what a great story this will be – embellished with each retelling, of course – to make up for the cost.
But just think about the detail that went into that meal. It must have taken hours to shop for the food, not to mention those little white dishes, prepare the reduction sauces, the dessert chocolates with the gold lettering, etc. Clearly what was needed to coordinate the whole extravaganza was a “food concept architect.”
Ok, I did not just make up that title. I was recently reading a weekly Vancouver newspaper which featured many articles on food, including mention of the very chef who orchestrated or rather architected the aforementioned meal. It all made sense when I read that. Of course, you can’t just be a “chef” anymore – especially one who “just” cooks and serves. No, apparently some chefs have moved far beyond that. This “food concept architect” is apparently not the only one using this title, although I must say it has not exactly caught on if you can trust a quick Google Search.
Is this job title “food concept architect” presumptuous or does it take a certain amount of professional cachet to call oneself that? Is it just about PR? I’m not an expert on that, but this got me thinking about librarians, a profession to which I proudly belong. There are plenty of qualified librarians who would prefer to be called information manager, knowledge worker or a new one I just saw advertised: Informationist, but I don’t believe I have ever heard of "information concept architect.” I ask why not?
Just think about all the wonderful, creative, intellectual tasks that librarians do. These range from managing a budget, designing databases, searching databases, answering reference questions, supervising/managing staff, attending meetings, defending the cost of expensive resources, deciding what services to outsource, delivering the right information to the right people at the right time, etc. I could go on and on and on.
Do librarians not prepare and serve up information to individuals/clients/patrons just like chefs in restaurants serve up courses? Do they not deserve the same high-falutin’ name? Perhaps there are only a few elite chefs who can call themselves a “food concept architect” and perhaps there are also just a few librarians who could possibly qualify to call themselves “information concept architects.” But maybe we should keep trying. Read Alexander Feng’s essay Corporate Librarian 2.0: New Core Competencies, Bruce Rosenstein’s essay The Core Competence of Innovation or ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship for further inspiration and participate in Align SLAto help define our profession!