In the spirit of my last post, I’ve decided to tell all of you a bit more about myself. I’ll let you decide how well I integrate into the tribe-
Let’s start with cats-
I have two cats of my own (and a dog), and I love them. But I don’t necessarily enjoy cute photos of cats wearing sombreros or amazing cat videos or status updates about cats. You know, just like the way you don’t necessarily enjoy status updates about my kids. And speaking of which, cats are just not the same as kids. Nope. They are not. I know people think of them as their children, and they deserve as much love, care, respect, and attention; however, it’s just not the same. No way, no how. To each their own, I say. But I admire your dedication to the breed, just as I hope you admire my dedication to my brood. (And maybe you are dedicated to both, in which case I admire you all the more.)
I also don’t enjoy science fiction or fantasy or graphic novels or superheroes. If you talk to me about Neil Gaiman my eyes will glaze over the same way yours (maybe) will if I talk to you about the latest issue of InStyle. Or my kids. (That’s nothing against Neil Gaiman, of course, whose talent I recognize.) That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy movies like The Avengers or Iron Man or Prometheus, or even The Lord of the Rings—I do, very much. But sadly, I do not enjoy reading those kinds of genres. Ever. Well, I take that back. The Stand by Stephen King is one of my all-time favorite novels. In fact, while I was once a voracious reader, I would now rather spend my time watching movies, reading magazines, or writing. But I still love books and understand their transformative value.
I don’t like swag or canvas tote bags, either. I don’t know why, really, they just have no appeal for me. I do, however, like to fill bags with make-up, and I have make-up bags full of so many different kinds of make-up that I can tell without even adding up the cost that I spend way too much money on make-up! So yes, swag is free and make-up is not. But still.
I don’t like sensible shoes, and I know many of you do not, either. I don’t even own a pair of sensible shoes, unless sneakers and flip-flops count. I often wear heels–sometimes stilettos, which may be why I often limp and hobble around after taking them off. Doesn’t help my bad hip, either. But then again, I am not always sensible with regard to things–shoes or otherwise.
I don’t always want to be sensible. I like the irrational. I like the unstructured. I like not being scheduled. I like talking about things that aren’t serious and don’t make sense. I find humor in the ironies of life and in the inadequacies of myself. I don’t really care if anyone thinks I’m smart or astute or scholarly or well-read. I care more whether people think I’m kind and compassionate and open-minded and sensitive.
While I am highly organized when it comes to my thoughts (sometimes), my calendar, and my priorities at work and at home, I have no ability to organize things. Oh, I’d like them to be organized–just don’t expect me to be the one to do it. Something falls out of my refrigerator almost every time I open it.
I’m a cataloger, but if you talk to me about punctuation or linked data or whether the addition of a reader’s guide to a book requires a new record in the catalog, my eyes will glaze over again. You might as well talk to me about Neil Gaiman. I am a good cataloger–I know the rules; I use the rules (sometimes); I understand MARC (but think it’s time for it to go); I follow the latest developments (RDA and the like). But, really, all I care about is that users can find our stuff. I don’t much care about all the details.
If you make reference to some obscure 19th century scholar as part of a joke, chances are I’ll probably have to Google the name to find out who it is and why that person makes your joke funny. That doesn’t mean I won’t understand the reference and find it to be funny after a bit of research, which I would probably do quickly on Wikipedia.
Speaking of Wikipedia, if I worked in an academic library and was required to conduct library instruction classes, I would tell students that Wikipedia is exactly like McDonald’s, because it is. McDonald’s is a perfectly respectable restaurant. There’s a lot of junk on the menu, but there are some legitimately good, nutritional items, too. It’s quick, easy, and convenient–good to turn to in a pinch. However, if your favorite aunt was coming in from out of town, and you were going to take her to dinner or recommend a restaurant, you would lose a lot of credibility with your favorite aunt if you recommended McDonald’s. You would probably want to take her to a restaurant with a stellar reputation and with food of a bit more substance on the menu. So, therefore, students should never take their professors to Wikipedia (or McDonald’s) as in you can like Wikipedia, you can use Wikipedia (use the references posted at the end of articles as a starting point!) just don’t cite it. Case closed. And who doesn’t love a McFlurry?
I’ve never seen Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey, but I can tell you the name of every winner from every season off America Idol, and I still miss LOST. I love Broadway musicals, though, and recently saw Once, which was lovely. I draw the line at The Bachelor or The Bachelorette–no interest there.
I am somewhat reserved and quiet and enjoy time by myself to think, but I’m not antisocial, and I enjoy time spent with others, too. I especially enjoy one-on-one conversations over a nice glass (or two) of wine.
I have been happily married for almost 28 years to my high school sweetheart, and we have 3 wonderful kids who are not kids anymore. These four people represent the core of my universe. And we all like each other and enjoy spending time together. Meals–either home cooked (by me) or eaten out–are especially satisfying family rituals.
Even though this post is all about me, I don’t much like to talk about myself in conversation, because I don’t find myself to be particularly interesting. I would rather hear about you.
I don’t use libraries much, personally, but I strongly believe there should be one in every community. In fact, I can’t imagine living in a community without one. A public library represents a commitment to knowledge and information and free (relatively speaking) access to both. A public library should be a safe, welcoming place where the playing field is level.
My question is this: Does any of this matter or make me a better (or worse) librarian? If I am committed to cementing the value of libraries–academic, school, public, and special–into the minds of the uncertain and to furthering the cause of equal access to information and knowledge, does it matter whether I follow tribal norms? And what, exactly, are tribal norms?
There is room in this profession for all kinds, for all manners of thinking, for all means of advocating. The more varied the opinions, the better. Our libraries are supposed to hold something for everyone–“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone”– a quote that has been attributed to more than just one person. Stands to reason that truly great librarians believe in something that will offend someone, including other librarians.
Get over it. There is a time and a place for all perspectives.
And that is exactly what will move us forward. And make us better, and stronger, and more accessible.
I’d like to think that I belong to a tribe that is as undefined as the ideas and the people we serve.