I can hear the clattering of keys as bloggers and other Web/Library 2.0 fans gear up for Gormangate Round 2, but aside from this little note, I intend to refrain from joining. Frankly, after skimming through Gorman’s latest pronouncement (no link love from me, sorry), I have to wonder if he’s just itching for some attention now that he’s had about a year off from being in the public eye as ALA President? Someone send him a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, please.
There will be free wireless access in the conference center for ALA Midwinter attendees. Of course, being in Seattle, it would be simple to find a café with free wireless if one needed it.
I promise to get back to writing up my thoughts on the NASIG conference. It’s been a busy two weeks. As you can see, I ran out of what I had written while at the airport and I haven’t had the energy or time to get back to it.
Meanwhile, I read Karen’s thoughts on the latest Gormangate episode, and they became the final tipping point in a decision I’ve been trying to make. As a result, I bring you my open letter to ALA, which I also sent to them by email this afternoon:
Some years ago, I let my membership lapse because my income and expenses were such that I couldn’t afford to continue it. Since that time, I have found myself in a better paying job and I have been thinking about re-joining the association. However, I have been unimpressed by president-elect Michael Gorman and the anti-technology, anti-progress statements he has been making publicly in the past several months (re: bloggers, Google Print, etc.). Since he is the future leader of the association, I have to wonder if ALA is right for me.
I have concluded that if the majority of members would choose a leader who prefers the past to the present, much less the future of librarianship, then it’s not an organization that I need to be a part of. For now, I will participate professionally in other areas of librarianship, and perhaps reconsider membership in the ALA sometime after Gorman’s tenure.
I just read Michael Gorman’s scathing critique of the librarian blogosphere’s response to his op-ed piece on Google in the December 17th edition of the Los Angeles Times. If you have access to the February 15th issue of Library Journal, it might be worth your time to give it a read. Aside from snubbing his nose at the “Blog People,” Gorman writes the entire lot of us off as non-intellectuals in the following few sentences:
“Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex text. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.”
I vaguely remembered reading some thoughtful critiques of his op-ed, but in searching for them, I could find only this one. Granted, there are quite a few bloggers who may fit his description of the Blog People. However, if he thinks that all of the so-called Blog People are that intellectually dull, I
shutter shudder to think what will come of ALA with this egotistical snob as the president.
I just finished reading Debra Bacon-Ziegler’s AfterWord column entitled “How Soon is Now? Today’s Trends, Tomorrow’s Libraries” in the January/February 2005 issue of ForeWord.
I just finished reading Debra Bacon-Ziegler’s AfterWord column entitled “How Soon is Now? Today’s Trends, Tomorrow’s Libraries” in the January/February 2005 issue of ForeWord. In the essay, she discusses her thoughts after a recent Michigan Library Association Annual Conference where the keynote speaker (Marshall Keys) addressed some of the current tech trends and their relevance to libraries. In her reflection, Bacon-Ziegler brings up a few points that I wish to examine in this forum.
Bacon-Ziegler mentions blogs and blogging, but rather than jumping on the “every library/librarian should have a blog” bandwagon, she asks the question, “Should librarians be mining blogs for current popular interests as they develop their collections?” Such a refreshing viewpoint! Yes, librarians should be monitoring blogs to get a sense of current popular interests, but keep in mind that according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, only 7% of American Internet users have created a blog. Not just any old blog will do if the intent is to monitor current popular interests. Librarians would be better served by monitoring topical group blogs that have reputations for being knowledgeable in their specialties.
Another trend that Bacon-Ziegler touches on is information overload. She brings up an excellent point about the difference between your local public library and your local big box bookstore. The bookstore arranges cookbooks under a big sign that says “Cooking” or something of that nature, with shelf labels for the different types of cooking traditions. The library arranges cookbooks in the 600s, and they are grouped by content, but the only indicators of this are the call number stuck on the spines. Bacon-Ziegler asks, “Why then, I wonder, do we cling to this complex, arbitrary classification system?” I would not want to get rid of the system entirely, for it does have its uses, but perhaps public libraries should consider putting up bookstore-like signs over the sections. Call numbers are very handy for finding specific items, but signs are much more useful for general browsing.
The author addresses other trends in the essay, but these are the two that made me think radical thoughts and step outside of the traditional librarian box, if only for the few minutes I spent pondering over this blog entry.