Monday, November 20, 2006

Yet Another Library Blog

The world of librarianship can welcome yet another library blog. Of course we need another library blog like I need a third...oh, never mind. Anyway, someone called John Berry, who apparently has something to do with a library magazine of some sort but is now "mostly retired," has decided to spend his time out in the pasture dropping bits of wisdom for us all to sniff admiringly at, so he started a blog. Isn't that exciting!

And what have we gotten so far from this wizened editor? Clever commentary on the profession? Insightful arguments about libraries and librarianship? Something that raises the moral and intellectual level of library discourse? Nope. What we've gotten so far is a gratuitous insult of yours truly. Apparently he wasn't brought up not to be rude to a lady, but with the deplorable state both of manners and intellectual discourse these days unsubstantiated insults are hardly surprising. I would gladly welcome a little substantive criticism, but instead I just get irrational insults. The obtuse old editor has called the AL (et al.) a nut, specifically a far "right wingnut." "Right wingnut," what a clever and original metaphor. Never heard that one before. As you can see, you won't be reading this new blog because of its pithy wit. I mean, really, if you're just going to insult people, you should at least do it with some wit and style and exhibit some intellectual flair.

It's not specified exactly how the AL is a "right wingnut." Perhaps it's my assertion that the ALA should concern itself with American libraries and librarians and not make partisan political statements about issues that have nothing to do with libraries. Perhaps it's my claim that Marxists are ridiculous. We'll probably never know. And I certainly didn't expect any specifics, because that would have taken actual thought.

But so far this isn't a thinking blog. In my own library blog taxonomy, I'm not sure where I would place it. It's definitely not "Library Blog as Informative Library Analysis," at least not so far. It could be "Library Blog as Pathetic Cry for Attention," but it's probably more "Library Blog as Personal Diary," since so far there's no thought or analysis but merely the revelation of tidbits about the author's personality.

For example, we find out how emotional this Berry person is. When he reads something he disagrees with like SHUSH, he goes away "sputtering in anger." My, we certainly are emotional, aren't we? And I thought you boys were supposed to be so logical and analytical. At least, that's what I used to hear from a college boyfriend until I got those three 800s on the GRE and he couldn't even get into Michigan Law and I had to dump him for being such a loser. The AL's certainly not a personal diary, but I will note one difference between this highly emotional Berry person and me--I don't sputter in anger. Ever. When I read something I disagree with, my critical faculties leap into high gear. I start thinking--Why do I disagree with this person? What are the arguments here? Are they valid? But this Berry person prefers to sputter angrily and generate ad hominem insults. Oh well, I guess some of us sputter, and some of us think. Hard to do both. But it takes all kinds to make a world, as my old gran used to say. All part of librarianship's rich pageant.

We also get to find out about the childishly simplistic worldview of this Berry person. He divides the world of library bloggers, for example, into "good guys" and "bad guys." Guess which side the AL is on! This is another great way to avoid any actual thought, because if someone is a "bad guy," then you don't have to think, you can just gratuitously insult them and move on. Everything's very black and white for this Berry person. It must be very comforting to have such a trite worldview and be able to slacken your mind completely. Complexity and criticism are difficult things to contend with if you're not up to them mentally. Best to just say, "you're a bad guy so I don't like you!" And I certainly can't blame him. Thinking is hard. Well, not for me, but for lots of people. And why tax yourself with critical engagement when it's easier just to throw out a puerile insult?

This time he was writing about the "bad guys." Later he promises to tell us more about the "good guys." I'm sure that will be a fascinating post! Probably no thought involved there either, though, because no doubt the good guys will receive effusive, fawning praise rather than any critical engagement. He likes the "good guys" because he relies "on them for a steady supply of new arguments for the battles ahead in librarianship." I guess that's another difference between this Berry person and the AL, besides the fact that I never sputter angrily--I don't need someone else to do my thinking for me. I don't have to rely on others for arguments. If I want to make an argument, I just make it.

So let's give a hearty welcome to yet another uncritical and emotional voice entering the library blogosphere. And in the same spirit of generosity he's shown towards me, I would like to offer him some advice, one blogger to another. This blogging thing isn't easy, what with trying to come up with something worth reading week after week. You already admit you let other people do your thinking for you. Maybe if all you have to offer are insults and irrational sniping you should just let other people do your writing for you as well.


Anonymous said...

Wingnut being pejorative and the opposite of "moonbat" makes "right wingnut" redundant.

Wingnuttiness or not, does Berry's bottom compare to AL's?

Berry will likely have the dynamic readership growth of the NYT and newspapers in general.


tomeboy55 said...

From one "bad guy" to one "bad girl", welcome to the John Berry Mutual Admiration Society.

Along with dissent, John doesn't much care for pseudonyms either.

If interested.

Library Guy said...

I have also recently started a library blog. It's nothing on par with John Berry, of course. Actually, it's not really on par with just is. I have no good reason to start it...other than...well, no...really no good reason.

char said...

Awww, give the poor old guy a break! When you're old, some of your worst characteristics become more pronounced. It's obvious that the poor man has regressed and is not entirely there...

Anyway, I kind of like the idea of being one of your right wingnut minions. Do you prefer caramel apple or sour apple martinis, AL?

AL said...

I'm very much a martini purist. Gin and vermouth will do just fine. And I know a lot of retired people need something to keep them busy, but maybe he should take up a hobby or something.

Anonymous said...

Dear AL:

When I read that you were on a list of conservative librarians, I was a little surprised. I have more than once shout "Right On" to one of your posts (especially about library school being a joke). Okay, maybe I didn't shout, but whispered to myself because I was at work.

Anyway, I think that 90% of the time you say what everyone else is too afraid to say about libraries and librarianship in general. For that your one of the "bad guys?"

John Berry sucks.

(And, oh my word, I'm commenting as "Anonymous." I should be shot and sent to hell in a handbasket!)

AL said...

According to American Libraries I'm a "dissident librarian." Whatever. I don't think my politics, whatever they may be, matter for my criticisms of the ALA and librarianship. Which is why, except for making fun of Marxists, which is hardly controversial to most people, I haven't actually talked much about my politics. I find it increasingly amusing that certain people want to confuse the issue. I think it's because they don't have any arguments, so they want to label people to avoid discussion. Maybe I'm a conservative, maybe I'm a liberal. The only thing I'm definitely not is a radical. The radical political ideologues would say that the very fact that I don't completely identify every issue with my politics makes me some sort of right extremist. I'll be happy to let the readers decide.

contrarian librarian said...

I agree with Anonymous at 2:37pm. John Berry is an idiot for calling AL (and others) a "right wingnut." He doesn't seem to read very well, considering he's an old editor. His mentality is similar to the radical Leftists in the Social Responsibility Round Table who view moderate liberals and moderate conservatives as reactionary right-wingers.

sassymoll said...

Is Berry's attitude any surprise since he's with LJ? I find it amusing that his blog's subtitle is "New views of the library landscape" -- new? really?

Anonymous said...

800s on the GREs? (I never took them, but I assume that's a perfect score, like it is on the SATs?) Gez, why are you wasting your talents in a low-paying library job?

stina said...

So you're a "dissident librarian"? How exciting.

Is there a small breakaway state in your future anytime soon? You could harry the (oversized) flanks of the ALA from your book-truck-barricaded office, releasing hourly communiques and perfecting alternate accreditation systems.

Or do they mean "dissident" in the sense of "one who gazes wanly through the barred windows of the gulag-thinly-camouflaged-as-a-rest-spa while ALA apparatchiks patrol ceaselessly and anxious relatives await the latest smuggled fragments of Library Metatheory"?

Because you're obviously a threat to someone out there.

AL said...

It is a sad comment on our society that excellent grades and exceptionally high standardized test scores do not automatically translate into high-paying jobs. On the other hand, I'm very lazy and I don't have to work very hard, so that's something.

And if it's a choice between the barricades and the prison cell, I'll take the barricades. But I think perhaps I've been misdescribed.

FreadomistaW said...

Praise the Lord, I'm a wingnut! When I was a little boy my Mama read to me this definition of a wingnut:

he wingnuts (Pterocarya) are a genus of plants in the walnut family Juglandaceae, native to Asia. They are deciduous trees, 10-40m tall, with pinnate leaves 20-45cm long, with 11-25 leaflets; the shoots have chambered pith, a character shared with the walnuts (Juglans) but not the hickories (Carya) in the same family. "

Ever since then I've wanted people to notice that I was a wingnut, and now, Praise God, Mr. Berry has gone further and praised me for being RIGHT!

I think, speaking on behalf of myself, and NOT FREADOM.ORG, that our delightful leftwing nut has finally cracked!

Anonymous said...

You do realize, of course, that you have given Mr. Berry far more column space than he gave you.

Bob H. said...

I find your reluctance to admit your political leanings to be frustrating AL; I suspect that you are actually a moderate, i.e. reasonable, liberal which makes all the hoopla about you being a right wing nutjob rather funny.

Either way, I don't think you're a wingnut (whatever that means).

AL said...

I save all of my political posts for my other blog, the Daily Kos. No, wait, maybe it's Little Green Footballs. I can't remember.

contrarian librarian said...

John Berry can't tell the difference between a library issue and a non-library issue. He and the radicals in ALA have blurred the distinction between the two. They have broadened the definition of "library issue" to include EVERYTHING political. Berry believes it would be undemocratic if ALA focused only on legitimate library issues. And he states, "it is a position on the right side of the political spectrum to suggest to members of a democratically governed organization that pursuing their views is wrong."

On May 26, 2005 "Berry, John wrote to SRRT:

I joined ALA many decades ago to amplify my voice as a member on a host of issues, many of which are clearly to the left, such as our opposition to certain parts of the Patriot Act, and our belief that children have rights of access to information equal to those of adults. Indeed, it is a position on the right side of the political spectrum to suggest to members of a democratically governed organization that pursuing their views is wrong. ALA, incidentally, came out against the Vietnam War, against Joseph McCarthy's attacks on free expression, and quite recently against the so-called Children's Internet Protection Act. I was at the meetings when SRRT was founded back in 1968 and approved by the ALA Council in 1969. The purposes were clearly stated then: "To provide a forum on the major issues of our times-war and peace, race, inequality of opportunity and justice, civil rights, violence-and the responsibilities of libraries in relation to these issues. To examine current library programs on these issues. To propose activities which will increase understanding of these issues. To promote action toward resolution of attendant, critical problems...." As a member of ALA I will continue to actively support that program and vote for ALA leaders who agree with that program. ..