It's not just those New York librarians that are hip and sexy. No, they're hip and sexy in Connecticut as well. If you don't believe me, just read this article: A Dowdy Profession Turns Hip. And if the title's not bad enough, check out the subtitle: "Technology turns library science from spinster to suddenly sexy." Wow! If that's not HOT, I don't know what is! I bet some of my colleagues would love to turn from spinster to suddenly sexy.
The title and subtitle are promising, and the article definitely doesn't disappoint. "When someone mentions a trendy or sexy career, does librarian come to mind? Maybe fashion designer, race car driver or even software engineer, but definitely not librarian - that is, until now." I can't believe there's not an exclamation point at the end of the sentence. And librarians are being compared to such careers as "race car driver," widely considered a trendy or sexy career by 10-year-old boys everywhere.
And why are librarians suddenly so HOT? It's certainly not those musty old books, and, despite the librarian fetish so many people have, it's not the glasses and hairbuns. It's the technology! "The next generation of librarians will serve a technology-dependent world with a user-centered focus." That's so catchy and stupid, I bet it came from the ALA.
But are we really sure about this? Perhaps we're being duped with one of those urban legends. Fortunately, "no less an authority than the New York Times has noticed that library science has become a hot career." They don't call the NYT the paper of record for nothing.
It turns out that librarianship is a social bellweather as well, at least according to the latest person forced to come up with quotes for stupid articles about librarianship. "Evolution of the field and technology go hand-in-hand," says Loreine [sic] Roy, a professor at the University of Texas/Austin's School of Information and president of the American Library Association. "Librarianship is a social field that reflects what's going on in society - and what's popular." What's going on, AND what's popular. That's the library!
And not only are libraries more techno, they've sold out and gone commercial. "Nancy Moscoso-Guzman, Hispanic services coordinator at the New Haven Free Public Library, agrees. 'Due to the dramatic change of technology, we are now seen as 'brokers' of information, the patrons are considered customers - and the library is looked at as more of a business.'" Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I don't consider myself a "broker" of information, I don't consider my patrons "customers," and I don't look at the library as "more of a business." I'm not sure many librarians or library "customers" think this way. So who is the "we" now seeing libraries this way?
Not only are we more techno and business-like, but we also just happen to fit in with the latest trendy buzzword. We're also "diverse." "The physical appearance of librarians has also evolved from the well-worn spinster stereotype of yore." One could probably have written that same sentence 50 or more years ago, but stereotypes are so comforting because they don't require us to think or actually know anything. That's why I employ at least five stereotypes on any given day.
And we're cool! "Cool librarians look cool to other people," adds Roy. "A former student of mine, who happens to be a member of a punk rock band, visited a bunch of third- and fourth-graders during his internship. The young boys [he visited] thought it was cool that this young man was a librarian who also played in a band. He gave the profession a 'cool' factor and the students another way to look at how this profession could be cool." Wow!!
It wouldn't be an article partially stoked by the ALA if we didn't have some blather about the "librarian shortage," always just around the corner. "The aging U.S. population is another reason librarianship is becoming popular to a younger generation. There will be an increased need for librarians due to the rapidly approaching wave of retirements." Sure there will be. I thought we'd driven a stake through the heart of that particular vampire, but no, Dracula lives.
"We [library professionals] are projecting a baby-boomer retirement wave between 2010 and 2015," explains Roy. "Therefore, within the next decade more job openings will become available in the field of librarianship." Oh, that's it. "Within the next decade." I've been hearing that for at least a decade.
We also get a great quote from the chair of the library school at Souther Connecticut State University: "Some people become librarians to preserve a organization's library selection, others enter the field for the users," she explains. "This is a profession for those who have already enjoyed life and want to devote their efforts to society." That's right, we've already enjoyed life. Now we can suffer as librarians for the common good. We are the world.
But just wait for those retirements. "There will be a need for more librarians but they have to be passionate, dedicated and committed people to become librarians," says one librarian. That's right, not the slackers we have now. However, if there's really going to be such a need, are libraries going to be able to choose just among the "passionate, dedicated, and committed?" If you're all that, wouldn't you want to be something besides a librarian?
A kind reader sent this on to me, and at first I thought it might be a hoax. It's so foolish, it's like it was written for the AL. But no, it's no hoax, just the normal foolishness.