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Professional Vacation

No, this title is not an oxymoron. I am, in fact, off on what i hope will be a fabulous vacation-come-learning-experience.

I am off to beautiful Ljubljana, Slovenia for a 2 week stint of all things library and Europe related. Check out the program here.

Fingers crossed no connection, baggage, security or other issues will arise and that it will be nothing but sun & fun.

Will report back as soon as i can…stay tuned.

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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?

Harper Follow Up

Perhaps in response to an earlier post, a friend emailed me this interesting article which defends our ol boy at the helm.

I think Linwood, as usual (insert boneheaded burlington wanna be cool guy insult here), is missing the point.

It’s not about Stephen Harper being able to relax and choose what he reads. It’s about educating the ol boy that the Arts matter and that Mr. Martel is using it as a public awareness tool about how little the gov’t contributes to the Arts either monetarily or in any other form of lack lustre support.

Can’t.Wait.

I hope this documentary is as good as all the hype. There’s even a facebook group for it.

I feel this is such a prominent topic amongst us librarians, it’s about time someone stopped whinging about it and started filming it:

hollywoodlibrarian.wordpress.com

The trailer shows a number of older (not that there’s anything wrong with that) librarians.  Here’s hoping they included us younger folk too, otherwise it will simply perpetuate precisely what this film is trying to break: librarian stereotypes.

Scene:

3 girls chatting, taking photos of each other, having fun.

Enter stage right: Creepy Lurking Male with beer in hand. Nevermind the fact he’s bald, nevermind the fact he’s short, nevermind the fact he’s old. The lurking and hovering cover the creep factor.

3 girls visibly stiffen when Creeping, Lurking Male inches forward into circle of femaledom.
3 girls continue to blatantly ignore Creepy, Lurking Male.

“Cheers” says Creepy Lurky Male.
3 girls stop and stare at one another, each determining which of us was gonna be the sucker stuck with him.
Exit stage left: one quick footed female.
and then there were 2…

Female: “So…what do you do?” feigning interest.
CLM: “I’m a land surveyor.”
Female: slightly puzzled, she asks for clarification, “You mean for tax purposes? Assessing properties?”
CLM: *laughs creepy laugh* “Actually, no, i’m the guy who takes pictures of roads and puts markings on the road for reconstruction, etc. blah blah blah boring boring boring….So, what do you do?”
Female: “I’m a librarian!” *note the enthusiasm*
CLM: turns to other female and strikes up conversation with her.

SWEET – if only i’d known it would have rid me of him earlier, i woulda screamed it at him.

Lesson Learned: obviously not the best pick up line, in fact, clearly the opposite. Duly noted.

Not Just A Book List

Yann Martel (author of Life of Pie (2001), Self (1996)) has recently started a project called:

What is Stephen Harper Reading

In one word: awesome.

Someone should be recommending books to our Prime Minister, if nothing else, that means maybe he can discuss something intellectual (insert gawf) about the Arts with some of his cronies, despite the fact he doesn’t fund them.

Fashion falls under the Arts too, right? That should also be considered:

Hope & Beyond

I listened to a CBC Radio 1 program called Ideas and their topic tonight was on the recently (as in, the last 30-40 years) coined phrase “Social Entrepreneurship“.

Briefly the show is described by CBC as:

THE KINGS OF PHILANTHROPY
Some have called it the natural fall-out of a hyper-capitalist society — billionaires who’ve made more money from media and technology enterprises than anyone in human history. There’s Bill Gates, the creator of Microsoft; Jeff Skoll, the founder of e-Bay; Larry Page, a partner in Google; and then, of course, Warren Buffet, who has been dubbed the “Oracle of Omaha.” Now, they’ve reinvented themselves as philanthropists, giving away billions to help the poor. Freelance broadcaster Richard Phinney asks: can they re-make the world?

This is something i really hope when my colleagues and myself make our millions* that we will actively pursue.

Though some argue it is contentious (tax breaks, who ‘really’ benefits, i will only support my “crusade” b/c it’s my money etc.) the ultimate goal is helping others far less fortunate than those of us in the Western world.

As cliche as this sounds, I have felt a huge desire to volunteer and contribute more to this meagre world since watching “Blood Diamond“.

Student debt, jump starting a career, learning more about others, and life in general (obviously none of which are excuses) have basically prevented me from beginning any sort of serious pursuit of helping the numerous organizations out there.

But with the rise of the P3 (Public Private Partnership), i wonder if this will extend much further into spreading the wealth and helping those less fortunate.

Perhaps too this means information professionals will be needed now more than ever to help facilitate this relationship and ensure success.

Here’s hoping we can help any way we can.


*millions: relatively speaking