Monday, March 27, 2006

Booknote: Michael Gorman's Books on Meditations for Librarians

Title: Our Singular Strengths: Meditations for Librarians
Author: Michael Gorman
Publication Information: Chicago: ALA, 1998
ISBN: 0-8389-0724-5
Pages: 196
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Inspirational, librarianship

Title: Our Own Selves: More Meditations for Librarians
Author: Michael Gorman
Publication Information: Chicago: ALA, 2005
ISBN: 0-8389-0896-9
Pages: 224
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Inspirational, librarianship

I should say that I read the books in reverse order. I saw a review for the latest one. The review was written by Donald G. Davis, Jr., and it was featured in Libraries and Culture 40.4 (2005) on pages 581-582. I accessed that review on Project Muse. The review intrigued me enough to make me want to pick up the book. My campus did not have it, but I placed a request for it and got it from another campus in our system. I also managed to get a hold of the first book a bit later. I will say that while I do not agree with a lot of what Mr. Gorman says and represents, at least when it comes to bloggers and some other issues, the books are actually pretty nice. For librarians looking for a bit of inspiration about their profession, these little essays will make a nice "pick me up." The books follow the formula many other inspirational books follow in terms of having some quote, then the essay or reflection, and ends each piece with a little conclusion or prayer. In this case, the conclusions are resolutions. The essays give a good blend of amusement, of interesting, of curious, of trivia, and inspiration. Unfortunately, some of the biases that he has been criticized for come through in these books as well. In the second book, he has a small essay on blogs where he writes about how he dislikes the word, "it sounds like something you might find in a drain. . ." (207). Ok, I will admit I had a chuckle over that because "blog" does rhyme with "clog," and I had visions of the Liquid Plumber ads. However, it was as if he just could not resist taking yet another potshot at bloggers who he sees as narcissistic and with limited appeal. He connects blogs to the tradition of personal diaries. I have to grant him that the tradition is there for many bloggers, but it still rang as another shot. However, as I said, he does have some very warm pieces as well. One example is his reflection on children's books. Overall, there is more positive than negative in the books, and I think librarians will enjoy reading them.


Mark said...

Hi Angel! I've read the 1st, but not the 2nd.

I agree he probably connects blogging with personal diaries; but it only shows his very limited historical understanding of personal diaries. Maybe he should read O'Sullivan, Catherine. "Diaries, On-line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers Who Blog Them." Of course, the "B" word is in the title just a bit too much for him to do so. ;-)

I did enjoy much of the 1st one though. Very warm in parts, as you say.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Mark: I just figured since I got one, I may as well get the other. Overall, they are pretty light to read, especially on a commute.

Best, and keep on blogging.