Thursday, May 04, 2006

Name Calling

The May issue of American Libraries arrived yesterday. After reading through it this morning, I'm expecting some fallout from the latest "President's Message." I get that Michael Gorman has a strong point of view and while I disagree with him on some issues, I do respect his opinions. What I don't respect is the way he disrespects those he disagrees with. Why does he think this is necessary?

If you believe, as I do, that there is a crisis in library education that threatens the very existance of libraries and librarianship, you are likely to draw a negative reaction from a variety of people. First, there are the millenniarist librarians and pseudo-librarians who, intoxicated with self-indulgence and technology, will dismiss you as a "Luddite" or worse. They and their yips and yawps can safely be reduced to their acronymic backwaters and the dubious delights of clicking and surfing. (Gorman, 2006)
Does Gorman not see how hypocritical he's acting? He's the one using dismissive language and name-calling. I don't understand how he can honestly think this kind of rhetoric will advance his position. I understand and agree--to an extent--with Gorman's concerns about a core library education. What I will never understand is how he decided that technology is a threat to librarianship.

I went to school to become an academic librarian. While my program wasn't perfect, it gave me the theoretical, and yes, technological foundations I need to practice librarianship. I believe that my MLIS program prepared me to keep learning and improving as I grow as a librarian. I also know that technologies are tools I can use to practice the craft of librarianship. If my students are reading blogs and using instant messenger, I'm going to use those technologies to reach them and promote the services and resources that can help them be successful in college and beyond.

Maybe it makes Gorman feel better about himself to put down others in his profession. Who knows? I don't find that satisfying at all. In fact, I'm in awe of the many "clicking and surfing" librarians who are actively promoting and bettering the profession through their blogs, wikis, webcasts, online conferences, and most importantly, the services they provide to their patrons.
Gorman, M. (2006, May). President's message. American Libraries, 37, 3.


Tweed said...

This was a good post, and not just because I agree. I don't like the name-calling. I don't like the attempt to beat his critics to the punch. I don't like the way he's led ALA. I hope he hasn't done as much damage as I think he has.

Kaijsa said...

Thanks, Tweed.

I hope the wider community can look beyond Gorman at other librarians before deciding that we're all like him. Unfortunately, he gets press, especially in the bloggosphere and I'm afraid he's soured some people on libraries.

SJ said...

Gorman. Hot, yet a tool. Oh I am conflicted.

Okay, I wrote that to make you laugh, so I hope it worked. I did like that piece that Holy Fucking Fusco made us read by him in school. Liked it...but the details are gone! Me lame.

Kaijsa said...

You are too funny!

The thing that makes me sad about Gorman and his attitude on this subject is that it turns people off the great ideas he does have. I agree with him on many topics and I think he makes some good points about the LIS curriculum that are worth considering. If only he wouldn't alienate people right off the bat, plenty of newer librarians would probably agree with him.

Anonymous said...

The ALA has the power to say who is a librarian or not. Gormans comments are in step with the ALA's elitist attitudes.