Thursday, March 5, 2009

Library Schools attempt to update image with Funk.

So two library-related news stories appeared this week that have me thinking. First, we have, "Library science funds available to minorities."
Attempting to address what researchers have called a chronic disparity between the demographics of library staff and the demographics of the U.S. population, the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services last year awarded $20.3 million among 31 institutions to fund the Librarians Leading In Diversity program.

Among [Indiana] librarians, 3 percent, or 125, are African American,... By comparison, African Americans represent 8.8 percent of the state population.
Not a big deal because some library schools say there aren't enough black librarians; but my question is, why now? Libraries have frozen positions, and either aren't hiring or laying off librarians. Why bring these students into a field that has no jobs for them?

And the "why now" question is answered by this story:
"Geeks may be chic, but negative nerd stereotype still exists, professor says."

Lori Kendall, a professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, says (not really, but humor me) that "whites are too nerdy."
Kendall does actually say, "In the 'White & Nerdy' video, it shows 'Weird Al' as this white nerd, and then it contrasts him with stereotypical images of black gangsters."

The implication of that stereotyping is "we have an expectation that people who understand computers are more likely to be white males," Kendall said, "and that has an effect on how women and minorities are viewed when they go into a computer-related profession."
[Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]

So I'm wondering if Indiana (and other states) are just trying take the traditional nerd image of the librarian and "denerdify." But not so much with "gangsters," just a little less "white and nerdy."

But the problem is, look at this crowd of library Diversity fellows from Indiana:

(image Courtesy of Indiana University, or something)

This is a group of nerds.

Here are some Famous Black Nerds:
Steve Urkel, Heathcliff Huxtable, Tuvok, and Toofer.
But contrary to many beliefs, President Obama is a geek, not a nerd. Until someone shows me a photo of him moistening the reed for his a clarinet; then he becomes a nerd.

So my guess is that the profession is just trying to get funky because all you librarians aren't getting the job done. Stop being nerds. Take the damn Cylon Centurion poster down off the wall. But keep up the Katee Sackhoff poster because I dig it. Stop waving your movie replica Lord of the Rings "Staff of Gandalf" and ordering that "You shall not pass" when you want me to leave your cubicle. For that matter, take all that elf crap home. And your Star Wars junk, too.

Go out and get a James Brown CD or Cutis Mayfield, or even some Red Hot Chili Peppers, you gotta have Mother's Milk in your library. No? How about Fishbone? Madness? Any ska? You know 1980s ska is like funk for white people. Get down! Here's a little something to get you started: