Courtesy of Morguefile

I find myself dealing with various life issues and library issues at the moment that can all be directly linked to the question of accountability. I’ll skip the life issues and go straight to libraries, because as I say often, with variations on the theme, life in libraries is a reflection of life outside of libraries. And there’s more to life than libraries, although some librarians would be hard pressed to agree.

And in the case of accountability, I’m talking about librarians, not libraries, unless someone knows how to hold a brick and mortar building accountable. Some great examples of a lack of accountability can be found in the library blogosphere. Not that I’m going to call anybody out–that’s not my style.

I firmly believe that if you’re going to say something, then you should own it. If you can’t own it, then don’t say it. While I understand the potential danger inherent in making your thoughts known and putting a name to them, I’d argue that’s it’s more dangerous–and a waste of time–not to.

It’s easy to make reckless, callous, and sarcastic remarks in an effort to be witty or entertaining or just plain mean. But do those kinds of remarks serve any real purpose? Or do they just further promulgate the perception (truth?) that some (many?) librarians tend be passive-aggressive in the face of conflict?

Of course there are circumstances in which anonymous statements are essential–reporting crimes or suspects in crimes…I’m sure there are more, but it’s not necessary to come up with a list–you get the point.

But when we’re talking about library issues, we’re not talking about life or death. We’re talking about our profession. And if we can’t talk about it honestly and openly without fear of repercussion, then what does that say about us? And if we can’t be open and honest and have open and honest discussions, then how can we ever hope to solve many of the issues that face libraries today? Anonymous blather just fuels the fire.

I know this isn’t just a library thing. But that’s where I live at the moment, professionally, so that’s my perspective. And then there’s this: perhaps many librarians don’t believe that their voices–identified as such–matter. But they do matter. Every voice matters. Every voice should be heard. But every voice should have a name. And when you put your name to something, then you are holding yourself accountable. And that’s the best kind of accountability.