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Self-absorbed sub-culture?

One man’s opinion: “To me it speaks volumes (if I dare use so print-centered a word) of the narcissistic sensibility of this self-absorbed blog sub-culture, so close to being a cult of sorts that it is something which to my mind is to librarianship much as Star Trek conventions and Trekkies are to space science.”

This comment was made by an ALA councillor on their listserv during the recent discussions on whether or not speakers at ALA and PLA should have to pay registration fees among other things. (If you haven’t actually read about it, you can find Jenny Levine’s post that started it all, as well as posts by Karen Schneider, Jessamyn West, Steven Cohen … et al. all over the biblioblogosphere.) I’ve been following it, since being a conference planner for OLA, it’s actually a pretty relevant discussion (I’d have to look over what our internal speakers get to see how we stack up, but I think it’s just free registration for the day).

While I am mildly appalled at the above comment that I picked out from that message (linked to by Jessamyn), it does bring up some concerns. Are we too self-absorbed? Do we consider that there are still plenty of folks out there who do not read blogs regularly, and who may have not even heard of RSS and aggregators and, might not even give a damn? “Ignorance is bliss”, or is it?

I certainly think as librarians, we all should understand that technology does play a vital role. I don’t mind that most of my LIS friends and coworkers don’t read blogs. I don’t take for granted that they know who I’m talking about, or how incredibly excited I am that both Jenny and Michael will be at OLA and since I’m a conference planner, not only will I get to hear them speak, I may actually *gasp* get to shake hands with Blog Royalty.

However, I think this can happen with anything. For instance at OLA superconference, Steven Abram is also currently on the schedule to speak and I’ve mentioned this to some coworkers and other library field friends, and several do not recognize his name. Should they? Should I be surprised? He is past president of CLA, so one might be tempted to think library workers all over Canada have heard of him, but as in all things in life, if we don’t go looking for something, we’re not going to find it. How many of the average library workers really take time to read literature in the profession, maintain memberships in CLA and/or provincial associations or get involved somehow?

While I disagree with the comment, I am trying to look at things from a different point-of-view and see how such a perception has evolved and what, if anything, we can/should do about it. Because, you know, we need more people to join our blogger cult. :p

(Just to let you know, I did actually have ALA membership this past year, though I think it’s expired now, and CLA is expiring soon too – gee, OLA too. [I stocked up before I finished school.] I think OLA is the only one I’ll be renewing, although if work pays for one I might renew CLA out of my own pocket.)


About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


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