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Surfing one of my favourite websites for library sayings, i came upon the following rant to be pasted onto a t-shirt or mug:

Ok, sure. We’ve all got our little preconceived notions about who librarians are and what they do. Many people think of Librarians as diminutive civil servants, scuttling about “sssh-ing” people and stamping things.

Well, think again buster. Librarians have degrees. They go to graduate school for Information Science and become masters of data systems and Human-Computer Interaction. Librarians can catalogue anything from an onion to a dog’s ear.

They could catalogue you. Librarians wield unfathomable power. With a flip of the wrist they can hide your dissertation behind piles of old Field & Stream magazines. They can find data for your term paper that you never knew existed. They may even point you toward new and appropriate subject headings.

People become Librarians because they know too much. Their knowledge extends beyond mere categories. They cannot be confined to disciplines. Librarians are all-knowing and all-seeing.

They bring order to chaos. They bring wisdom and culture to the masses. They preserve every aspect of human knowledge. Librarians rule.

So here i am reading this, nodding my head in complete acknowledgment of these acclamations.

Until the last 2 paragraphs. What was it that struck me about those? How about their sheer ego-centric-patronizingly-upper-class sounding tone?

There’s just something about the off handed way it remarks that librarians “…preserve every aspect of human knowledge.”

We do what now? Dude, that’s a big responsibility. And we’re not the only ones doing it. I very much believe it is more of a shared societal duty rather than a single profession’s job to preserve every aspect.

And how about that “all-seeing, all-knowing” bit?  A bit presumptuous?

So this is where humour moves quickly into those broad generalizations that librarians have been fighting since the beginning.  Where does the humour and quick wit stop and the sweeping generalizations and ‘i’m better than you’ attitude begin?

Though i am ALL for promoting librarians and the information we provide, i am a bit hesitant in creating an elitist sounding profession that unwittingly puts itself on a pedestal and proclaims loud and clearly “we are awesome, here us roar”.

I am much more of a stealth-ish type myself: one where we go about our business with maybe a cute little hint here or there and let people decide for themselves rather than shoving it in their face.

As i step down from my soap box, anyone else care to share how they feel?  What is the difference between bold proclamation and obnoxious banter?


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