I love higher education and librarianship. I’ve been involved at least one in some capacity for the past ten years. I love it because this is a field where I am able to grow personally and professionally, a place where I feel that I can be diverse in my interests, and a place where I am among like minds. Most importantly, I think it is a place where I can truly make a difference.
I feel the need to start out this post with a affirmation of my love for education and libraries because there are a lot of things that frustrate about both fields. In large part, it’s a litany of same-old same-old. A lot of people don’t understand our world or media in the context of information science (how can we expect them to?), libraries (and librarians) are underappreciated and underpaid. In higher education, tuition is too much, the students aren’t learning enough to become employable, institutions are becoming to much like businesses. I could go on for pages, but I won’t. Overarching it all are social issues that I wonder if are intractable from these issues. Issues like race, sex and gender, poverty, and class.
I want to talk about these things. But is it smart?
I was very fortunate in stumbling across two bloggers who, even after a year of curating library blogs for my Pinterest project, are relatively new to me. Andy Woodworth at Agnostic, Maybe and the Library Loon at Gavia Libraria both write about topics that are near and dear to my heart. Both have also addressed the topic of silencing, or self-censorship among librarians.
For the past week or so, I have been thinking about this blog and the types of topics I would like to write about. It’s clear to me that while I love what I do, and the world I’m in, there are also a LOT of things wrong with it, and ways it can be improved upon. Do I have all the answers? No. I have some theories about how things can be improved, and wouldn’t be afraid to try them.
As the Loon and Andy point out, there seems to be this expectation of librarians from both inside and outside the profession that we don’t rock the boat, at least not in any way that is perceived to be negative. You want to talk about how you single handedly put 3-D printers in every library in your state? Great! You want to talk how the public perception of librarians is (at least partially) inaccurate, and it should change? Bad.
I’m not undermining those who toot their own horn, because we need that. We need people to toot their horns, the horns of their library district, institutions, and even of others. We need library cheerleaders. But don’t we also need people inside the profession to tell us when we’re straying, when conventions we’ve held dear no longer fit the world we live in, and it’s time to evolve?
Isn’t there room for a different kind of library cheerleader?