Are librarians actually experts? If so, what are we expert at? What is our expertise?
The Oxford English Dictionary (via Google) offers this definition of “expert”:
A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area. “experts in child development”
Having or involving authoritative knowledge.
“he had received expert academic advice”
We seem to meet the criteria: we have an accredited education, a valued credential, experiences and abilities in an occupation, and, indeed, a profession, a calling. Worryingly, there are emergent expert systems for which the definition above suggests that they might outperform human experts.
And, more importantly, how do we communicate our expertness? What is our expertise and what territory can we rightly or realistically claim? What do we want our clients to know about our expertise?