I’ve been a librarian for about three decades now, but if you think I spend my days shushing people up and shrinking from public contact, you should think again. I see myself, and my fellow librarians and other information professionals, as vital elements of the educational process, whether or not we appear in front of a class. We have different backgrounds, interests, gifts, skills and areas of expertise, and our sum is greater than the whole of our parts. We help others–and ourselves–stay as healthy as possible by finding, sharing and using reliable, up-to-date information and teaching the skills needed to do this. We help people find answers to questions about the lives of their ancestors and the difficult and joyous times their countries have known. (Those are my major fields, at least. I have others, too, mainly music, languages and literature, especially French.) We help adults as well as children develop their reading and writing skills, their computer literacy and the small businesses they’ve dreamed of owning. We help prepare them to seek, find and keep jobs. If they’re researching a particular subject, we help them find the best sources. If they’re lawyers or corporate executives, we find the information that helps them win cases or keep their companies afloat. And on and on. So why is it that, in hard and even not-so-hard times, it’s the libraries and information centers, and the people who run and staff them, that are typically the first to be cut? I don’t know, though I have a few theories. One is that we tend, as a group, to be modest and self-effacing. Whatever the case, we need to make it very plain that without the right information, people won’t be as healthy as they can be with it; they won’t know how to make wise decisions in their personal, family and professional lives…and their ability to choose the best men and women for political and other leadership positions will be severely compromised. Ignorance is not bliss…except for those who know that their own power depends on their people’s ignorance!