Sunday, May 2, 2010

I am "sixing" tired of your ignorance.

First of all, I want you to know that I'm pissed off about this. And in my mind I am using item #6 from the George Carlin menu of the original seven words you can never say on television to express my outrage a whole #6ing lot.

I just saw this news story, "Libraries must find new ways to stay relevant" by Bill Maxwell, Times correspondent.

The article cites some study that says that scholars no longer visit libraries for research:
"Traditional research practices relied heavily on the library itself and on locally implemented library-provided tools for discovery of books, journal articles, and other materials," authors of the report write,.."
Big #3ing deal.

First of all, the study has one fact completely wrong. Traditional research practices HAVE NOT relied heavily on the library itself.

What we like to think of as traditional research practices, meaning primarily during the last century, have relied on libraries for research. But if old movies have taught me anything, prior to universities and public libraries providing access to large print collections, most of the world's important information was stored in tombs or temples or creepy old haunted houses. All the best research was private and required a little social networking for access. Dr. Frankenstein didn't pop over to the college library to learn how to reanimate the dead. And Chris Lee knows all too well that the man posing as a librarian hired to organize the Count's library is really there to stake him. Traditionally, most libraries were private or secret.

What librarians have traditionally said over the years is, "Oh, we know lots of guys who are exhuming freshly buried corpses and attempting to reanimate the tissue. We should get a copy of that book." And then the librarians found a place to put all those books and that became the central storehouse for that knowledge. This saved every scientist from wandering the country trying to get a peek at these texts before the townsfolk burned them along with the monster when they torched the good doctor's castle.

So no, the library does not create the librarian. It's the reverse that is always true. And so the library isn't confined to a single location. I hate hearing that libraries are "old" and that librarians seem to work in some Eighteenth Century mindset where we carve our pen nibs from turkey feathers and produce candles from whale oil. I talked to a newspaper reporter one day last year who was surprised I knew what Twitter was: WT#3!

Floridians have the Florida Electronic Library, an online collection of databases accessible from anywhere with any Florida library card. But now (or soon), the collection can be used from any recognized IP within the state, sans card:
"... when a user anywhere in Florida visits the FEL site, our authentication module will recognize their IP address and their affiliated zip code. Users coming from a Florida location will be automatically authenticated to use the FEL resources without having to go through a log-in routine."
For those who think that a library is a building, that means the whole #6ing state is a #6ing library.

A librarian has the skills to archive and organize and classify any damn thing you can find. I don't have my notes, but I think my cataloging class in library school had me create a record for a used tea bag. (I remember it was some physical object.)

Wherever you find a librarian, you'll find a library. NOT the other way around. That's why it always sends me into a rage when I see these stories about libraries needing to remain relevant in the digital age. Don't worry, librarians will figure it out. Doctors don't need hospitals to do doctoring and lawyers don't need ambulances to do lawyering.

Whether it's information on the web or in your phone or piled up on the floor after the undead apocalypse. Librarians will sort it out, organize it and make it available for everyone.

Librarians do it. No, don't say "Librarians Dewey It." That might look cute on a bumper sticker, and I might grin when I see it, but I'm ticked off here. Librarians Do It. Because that's how you make a motherfucking library.