Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Annoyed Librarian-- Right Back Atcha!

I recently discovered the Annoyed Librarian blog on Library Journal's website, through a link to her post regarding MLS/MLIS programs, and the lack of jobs due to ratio of graduates to available positions.  Not like the AL gives a hoot, but I found several posts very thought provoking, and wanted to respond to some points:

The AL positions herself as being critical of this particular trait in librarians.  Obviously-- she's the Annoyed Librarian.  While I value the position of someone within the field posting critical observations of the profession, like many Americans and the current political culture, don't talk smack if you aren't gonna act.  Of course, the anonymous nature of this blog makes it difficult to know if AL is doing just that.  In the librarians I have known, as an avid library user, and the librarians I am meeting through this program, this chirpiness comes from a genuine passion for the profession and the idea of libraries themselves, revealed in their acts locally and nationally, professionally and personally... of course, the AL also feels that--

I didn't realize once I became a librarian I would have to give up my right as a citizen to speak out on these things, such as the war in Iraq-- and now, the escalation in Afghanistan.  As a professional organization, the ALA should absolutely take a position on such things.  Thinking about my chosen track of children's librarianship, the above two current events and NCLB are three of the most relevant issues shaping the future of my profession.  With the money spent on two concurrent wars, education in all its manifestations (libraries) is again shortlisted, legislatively and financially, and this revelation of priorities devalues my profession and the quality of life for those living in the U.S.  I think the ALA would be negligent in not taking an issue on these things.

This is a reoccurring theme in the AL's posts.  My immediate response probably isn't appropriately chirpy, but wait for it-- I'll get there.  Of course these programs are a racket!  Aren't all forms of higher education?  I know right in the middle of that sick feeling behind my sternum and the stack of statements from Stafford and Sallie Mae how much of racket they are.  Now here's the chirpy part, succinctly expressed in a fluffy cliche-- a racket is what you make of it.  Most of the people I have met in my program are bright, articulate people, and could enter a racket of a program where the resulting income would be quite different from the path they have chosen.  Yet there we are, standing outside the Art Department on campus getting all excited about realia and non-conformity in library programs.  I could go through this program with the minimal effort, but I'm so damn excited about the whole thing I procrastinate writing about libraries by reading about libraries-- and then writing about it here.
Yesterday the department hosted a panel for those of us interested in following the thesis track, and the chair of our department mentioned something that really resonated with me.  The people admitted into this program aren't necessarily the brightest, but those that have a passion for libraries (I knew there had to be a reason there was no mention of my abysmally low GRE Math score).  Not a passion, like "I like to read," but a passion for an institution that provides access to information, takes steps towards an enlightened citizenry, and maintains social ownership of knowledge is more important than the commodification of it.  

Now let me keep this passion in mind while I write page after page for finals week. 

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