Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A few miscellaneous things, or the Gypsy Librarian wanders in cyberspace

I have had some time to do some reading, and I spent some time exploring blogs by other librarians. I have bookmarked a few, and as soon as I figure out how to make better use of RSS and such, I may be in business, as they say. In the meantime, a few things I have been finding here and there. My thanks to the more experienced librarians blogging out there for giving me some things to read and learn and reflect upon.

  • had an interesting link to an 1935 Library School exam. And I thought I had it tough. It is interesting to see how some things have changed, and how some things stayed the same. Anyhow, for those out there who may be interested, the exam is at
  • I thought I could get away without commenting on any way about Michael Gorman's piece on bloggers, "Revenge of the Blog People." It was published in the February 15th, 2005 edition of Library Journal (in case the link I used does not work). In essence, he writes that bloggers are non-intellectual people who do not read anything other than blogs. To say I was offended is to put it mildly. A simple search on the web revealed that he clearly offended a lot of other librarians, bloggers and otherwise. I don't want to say much more because I think many out there have expressed my feelings of dismay and concern that the President-Elect of the ALA uses his position to slam on bloggers. The article displays a serious ignorance of what bloggers do and what they can accomplish. True, there are some bloggers out there with poor standards or quality of writing, but there are also some very brilliant writers and thinkers out there who use blogging. To lump them all in one category is simply a gross example of overgeneralization. Some of his defenders say it was satire, but in this case, he missed his mark.
  • There is also another string out in the blogosphere with the old debate of technology versus traditional library services, i.e. books. It is prompted in large part by the blog post Primitivist or Luddite and Librarian. While he makes some good points about not letting technology drive everything we do, he also seems to be a bit extreme in his back to basics argument. I am a believer that the truth must be somewhere in the middle, where we use technology to facilitate learning as well as pleasure in reading in literacy. And if you must ask, I am not all the way in the "give them what they want" approach. Buying 20 to 30 copies of the latest Harry Potter is not efficient use of library resources, no matter how it is justified. Then again, I am an academic librarian, so I worry over this less. But I do use my local public library regularly, and I would not want them to waste their resources that way. A couple of sample replies can be found in Meredith's blog and at LinuxLibrarian. I do remember having this debate in library school in various courses, including the courses on management. And at times I did get irked at those who worshipped at the temple of the Tech Goddess and her minions. But I know we can't just get rid of them. Libraries are about literacy and access to information in all its forms. By the reasoning of some advocating extreme "back to basics," we would not have access to government documents. The Federal and State governments now make hundreds of thousands of documents and resources available online, some exclusively online. Would we deprive patrons of this access to their democracy so we can just provide print materials and thus get "back to basics?" I would certainly hope not. I think what disturbs me about the luddite piece is that it was later claimed to be satire, in the line of Gorman, who was particularly inefficient in that regard (see above). So, do we need to have more books? Absolutely. We can never have enough books and other print media as well as computers and access to databases. It is a delicate balance we have to maintain in the midst of shrinking budgets and lack of community (or campus) support. Somehow in the great scheme of things, taking extreme sides on the techies vs traditionalists seems, well, small potatoes. Let them debate it. I am getting back to work at providing the best service for my academic community by any tools I have available.
  • also referred me to Michael McGrorty's piece about books and freedom. The passage where he writes about his time in library school is simply inspiring. I am glad I was not the only one who somehow knew he was a librarian. In my case, I suppose I did not realize it until I meandered around for a while. But in my case, there were things I needed to do as well, teaching for one, which in retrospect, helped prepare me for library school and to be a good instruction librarian(I am not saying great, there are others out there who are, more deservedly so) . I am taking the liberty to post his passage here not just to remind me of something inspirational, but for others who may be interested as well. Mr. McGrorty writes:
"I must confess that the reason I went to library school was more in the way of understanding the system and its operators than anything else. I thought they must possess some secret, something essential that I might discover and come away with. In the end, I found that it was nothing more than a set of skills set atop the same understanding of the library that I kept; half of me was a librarian all along. Sometimes I have seen it as love, other times as an obsession, but whatever it may be, the devotion to books and reading has saved me from worse fates, and the library, that temple of the book, has been my church, my rock and comfort since I was old enough to walk the stacks."
So, I thank all the wonderful writers out there who gave me some food for thought today. And I shall keep wandering.

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