Saturday, November 17, 2007


I watched every library video on Utube. Although most of them were favorable toward libraries and information staff, the ones that impressed me the most were those that portrayed the library as a foreboding place. Unfortunately, we are all familiar with the images of libraries as an ivy tower where knowledge is confined to a holy few who bestow it only to those who return books on time and in better condition than when they checked them out. So often libraries perpetuate this image by taking the gathering of information out of the hands of the individuals and making it the responsibility of the professionals. (Whose names protocol does not permit us to know.) To the average person, information collection must appear in the least frightening enough to require an MLS to manage it. Then many libraries lock away the more valuable resources and those seeking them must go through the proper channels first. This is intimidating and many people won't bother.

One music video featured a pair of spooky librarians that lured a disrespectful patron into the pit of library hell and trapped him there. (I suppose this is an area just beyond the reference book section. Once captured, they probably release the copy of Lady Chatterly's Lover normally hidden under the reference desk and it lays in wait to take a bite out of the guy. All right, I made it up. Was it funny to only my tiny mind?)

Nonetheless, the image instilled in the minds of the general public of a library as a useful place with easy access is uncommon. Libraries as places filled with tight rows of shelves towering well over the head and stuffed full of old, dusty(if not mysterious) books is too easily equated with the haunted house. Information staff are the specters watching their victims from a superior reference roost. They are viewed as evasive, judgmental, in possession of dangerous mystical information which they are not frightened to use against the innocent!!!!!! Ahhhhh!

One help is for Web 2.0 to make fun of these fears. True these are exaggeration, but it still illuminates the true idea that lies beneath. Web 2.0 is making information sharing easier and more humane. It's bringing information to the masses. (If they start calling it the new religion then I think I'll puke! - or at least light a candle.) Nevertheless, Let's hope we've gone a long way to dispelling the image of the library mystical place the other worldly forces are at work. Otherwise, all my future sabbath meetings are certain to be ruined.

1 comment:

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