I have been amused by all of the talk recently in various online venues–blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.–about the whole “rock star librarian” thing (is it really a thing?) and the whole “mover and shaker” thing (which is a real thing according to Library Journal). This is not a fray I want to jump into, so I have just one thing to add-
Pushing aside the whole mover and shaker designation, the problem with the rock star librarian concept (which I would argue is different than the mover and shaker designation) is that “rock star” implies youth. Because we all know how “old” rock stars are referenced–as “aging rock stars” and not in a good way. Does anybody become a rock star at the age of 50? Or even 40? No. People become rock stars when they are young, usually, and then they have (hopefully) long, glorious careers at the end of which they become known as aging rock stars that cling to their pasts with ferocious grips because they are reluctant to let go of their youth and what made them famous back in the day. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t let go. I’m just saying that at some point, they are no longer called rock stars without some sort of qualifying adjective (aging, legendary, veteran etc.). Even though their very best days may yet be ahead of them in many ways, they will cease being just rock stars along the way.
At 51, sadly, I have missed the boat for becoming a rock star librarian, so I can’t even become an aging rock star librarian. But if I could I would rather become a Bruce Springsteen than say a Mick Jagger only because Bruce seems to stay a bit more relevant by writing new songs instead of simply covering old ones. But I’m not a Mick Jagger fan, particularly, so maybe he does that, too. I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, which is neither here nor there, but I thought you should know.
If you are a rock star librarian (I don’t know who you are or where you are or what you’re doing), please plan your career accordingly. Or you’ll find yourself trying to live in your heyday when you were playing to sold-out stadiums and selling platinum albums and had your picture in every trade publication, making millions, name in the headlines every night, had all the women/men falling all over you…
Oh, wait….that does not happen to you does it?
Then you are probably not a rock star. But if you are doing great work and sharing it with the rest of us, then maybe what you are is just a really good librarian–engaged in the profession, forward-thinking, finding ways to improve your library. We just happen to know your name. Good for you.
And if we do not know your name, chances are you are a really good librarian, too–engaged in the profession, forward-thinking, finding ways to improve your library. You have just not been discovered yet and probably never will be, at least not in a way that will put you on the national stage. But I bet your own community has discovered you, which is what really counts. Good for you, too.
Either way, you are going to grow older. And when you do, you will have even more to offer. You will just have fewer takers. Your notoriety will fade, and you will be replaced by a new generation of rising stars. But hopefully the work you do will grow richer and even more valuable and will continue to garner respect. And respect is better than fame any day.
Please, one thing–just don’t plan a reunion tour or a comeback album. Unless you’re David Bowie, whose upcoming album has been called perhaps the greatest comeback in rock ‘n roll history. I’m not a Bowie fan; however it appears as if the 66-year-old has hit it out of the park, which just goes to show that rock stars don’t necessarily have to be on stage to reach an audience.