Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Guardienne Arrives

Okay, I'll admit it up front. I am old-fashioned. I like my libraries quiet. I like my monographs to have pages instead of scroll bars, but I do love the ease of electronic databases adn e-journals. I believe that patrons should all be treated equally...except for the ones acting like asses. I believe that it is the librarian's duty, calling, job to help anyone and everyone get access however possible. I believe that porninators do not belong in the library, and that if caught should be asked to move to another machine and cease and desist...and upon another offense be asked politely to leave. I believe that food and coffee belong in Starbucks and not in my stacks, that children should be encouraged to read as often as possible, and that folks seeking to ban books need new hobbies.

I believe that it is the job of librarians to salvage the record of human history. I also believe that we can be myopic to the point of stupidity. Upon the discovery of digitization preservation, we e-preserve at whim, because digitization rakes in the grant money...while our paper stacks deteriorate to the point of no salvation.

I believe that someone, somewhere (all of us, everywhere?) need to shake ALA out of its socialist stupor and remind it focus on libraries and librarians before making resolutions on genocide. According to Shush, The resolution boils down to the following (quoted, of course):
"Therefore be it resolved that the Social Responsibility Round Table of the American Library Association Council urges all relevant ALA units and the profession-at-large to highlight and explain the Darfur Genocide through collections, programs, displays, resource guides, and other suitable means."

Now, I'm sad I couldn't be at that meeting; this year I missed ALA due to recuperating from surgery. It's just as well, I suppose; I probably shouldn't rock many boats until I have my MLS in hand and tenure somewhere. But did no one else see that this ridiculosity opens a non-library-related can of worms? We'll focus on the Darfur genocide because it's sexy, and celebrities have been jetting in and out of Africa. But we'll ignore China. And Gaza. Iraq, Iran, Somalia (where folks are killed for watching the World Cup, no less). And the half-hundred other atrocities ocurring around the world. Not to mention that collections, programs, displays, resource guides, and other suitable means all require moola. That's cash money that isn't going into regular collection development during a time of library budget crisis. The SRRT seems to have a penchant for tangents, and eyes too big for its belly.

How about the social responsiblity to pay the stewards of knowledge a living wage? Or the social responsibility to make sure the MLS isn't a laughingstock of a graduate degree, characterized by busywork? The social responsiblity to ensure that libraries are indeed safe havens for all, but making sure that those same libraries do not become havens for predators? The SSRT may want to go back and remember that its own responsiblity comes back to libraries (it being the American Library Association, and all), and that "freedom for all" does not "equal rules for none."

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