recommended reading: The Loris in the Library
No, it’s not a new children’s book. Rather, it’s a wonderful essay by Sarah Glassmeyer that was recently published in VoxPopuLII. Here are a few tasty quotes that I quite enjoyed:
…if an overly cautious, slow moving, non-evolving primate that responds to threats by a poison tongue or hiding and pretending the threat isn’t there didn’t remind you of anything, well then I guess you haven’t spent much time around librarians.
…librarians don’t cling to print materials out of some romantic notion of the superiority of books, nor do they make repeated demands for stable, authenticated archives of electronic materials just to make you crazy. When one is tasked with the preservation of information – on behalf not just of those looking for it ten years from now, but also of those looking hundreds if not thousands of years from now – and no one else is really in the information distribution or storage business, it pays to take one’s time and be cautious when determining what container to put that information in, especially when what you’ve been doing for the past 1,000 or so years has been working for you.
…with librarians this risk aversion has grown like a cancer and now manifests itself as a fear of failure. This fear has become so ingrained in the culture that innovation and progress are inhibited.
As it stands now, librarian participation in a multidisciplinary project is often regarded as more of a hindrance than a help. If librarians don’t change, they will eventually stop being invited to the conversation.