Thursday, May 24, 2007

Brought to You By the McLibrarian

According to the NYT blog The Lede, "McDonald’s has opened a campaign in Britain to pressure the Oxford English Dictionary to redefine 'McJobs' in a more positive light." The article notes that McDonald's has it backwards, that the OED is descriptive, not prescriptive (though those terms aren't used).

This is of natural interest to librarians, and not just because it concerns a corporate giant trying to strongarm a respected reference source. No, it's also relevant because a lot of librarians feel like McDonald's, especially around lunchtime! But seriously, it's the same thing all those librarians who protest librarian stereotypes do. McDonald's objects that their name has been associated with mediocrity, tedium, and low job expectations. So do librarians!

McDonald's isn't having much luck with the OED, and according to the article they already failed with Merriam-Webster's. But I think librarians have more hope, because they control access to so much media. So from now on, librarians should refuse to provide access to anything in any medium that portrays librarians in a negative light, and should block all websites that perpetuate librarian stereotypes. According to the ALA and a lot of librarians, no one has any access to information unless librarians provide it. So let's just not provide all that bad stuff that stereotypes librarians. And then when no one has access to all that bad stuff, the reputation of librarianship will soar.


Anonymous said...

Ah your post's make me "roll-back" laughing so much that I nearly swollowed my yellow smile button. But its always fun and smiles in the WALbrary with all our censored up books and CDs. Ah well if I'm good maybe I can move into the big leagues and work the coffie counter at Barns and Noble super store

!pleH said...

I noticed the McDonald's effect when I started working reference in Purgatory--I mean the public library--eight years ago. (Happily, I'm now in an academic library and don't work reference.) It didn't take long for me to realize that,at the reference desk I worked at least, the educational food chain runs something like this:

Ph.D.: Why does it work?

M.A.: How does it work?

B.A.: Yes ma'am, see that big sign on the wall with the gigantic letters in flashing neon what spell out "Restrooms"? That's where the restrooms are. On your right. No ma'am, the other right. Yes ma'am, I'm sure. Because I earned an English degree reading Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer for the last five years, that's how I know. Because the restroom sign is written in English, and as luck would have it, I've been reading English since the age of five. No ma'am, if you want to sue for harrassment, you'll have to contact the city attorney. Yes ma'am, I can have that number for you when you get back from the restroom. No ma'am, I don't think Alan Dershowitz has a toll-free number, but I can check.

Oh wait, I almost forgot--ya want fries with that?

GED: Hey! You didn't ask that lady if she wanted super-sized fries with her double triple extra deluxe super slop-burger and her directions to the restroom. As Head of Reference, I have an image of ethics and professionalism to uphold. You're fired.

Or to put it another way, what's the difference between McDonald's and the public library? The library doesn't have a drive-thru window (yet).

(Sorry for the long post, but it's something I've been wanting to say for a long time.)

Brent said...

AL is the Jared Fogel of librarians. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

or perhaps more like Birdie the Early Bird?

Anonymous said...

Some libraries do have drive thrus.

Dances With Books said...

Actually, I lived in a town moons ago where the public library had both a window AND a car pick up (yes, you pulled up, someone could come out and pick up your returns. I think you could actually honk the horn for that service. True story). So, hang in there pleh, it may be coming to your town as well.