Monday, November 12, 2007

The AL as Therapeutic and Diagnostic Library Blog

Now that it's settled who I'm not, I can get on to the exciting business of telling you who I am. I can get on to that exciting business, but of course I won't. Instead, I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects, me, or at least my blog.

This is nothing earth-shattering. I've just been ruminating as I sometimes do on why I bother writing this darned blog. After a couple of martinis of a Saturday evening, I sometimes think I should just give it up and do something good for my career. So I've been trying to justify the time spent writing this thing to myself.

Personally, about the best thing I can come up with is that the AL is therapeutic. Writing this is a good way to let off steam and have a little fun. When I began that's pretty much all it was, letting off steam and having a little fun, mostly for the entertainment of myself and the handful of cranky readers I gathered early on. I still write the blog mostly for those reasons, even though I now know more people read, and certainly a lot more people respond to the posts. The readers and comments certainly help keep me going, but the therapeutic value is also worthwhile. Better write a blog than take pills, though my critics might disagree.

It may be the case that others read the AL for therapy as well. I get comments and emails along the lines of, "I thought I was the only one until I found the AL" or "Reading the AL got me through the morning." It's nice to hear, and I only wish my little team of assistants and I could crank this stuff out more quickly, just in case some poor librarian goes crazy one morning waiting for an AL fix that never comes. Thus, the AL is possibly therapeutic for more librarians than just me, especially some of the more, er, disturbed readers of the AL. I think it's obvious based on the comments that I've got a handful of readers who are very unhappy or angry. Some librarians are dismayed by some of the comments, but the comments offer people a way to vent without going crazy at work. They provide a service not available or allowed elsewhere. Fortunately for us all, the existence of the AL means that we'll never have to hear people use phrases like "go librarian" the way we now have "go postal." All part of my public service.

But it also seems to serve a diagnostic function for the readers as well. I'm sure you'd love to diagnose me sometime (the AL: narcissistic personality disorder and megalomania, combined with a large portion of irony and apathy, sung to the tune of "Ebony and Ivory"). But it's clear that how you respond to the AL says as much about you as it does about the blog.

Early on there were the regressive librarians, who used to fume like crazy that there was someone reasonably articulate who made fun of their silly attempts to politicize the ALA with their totalitarian stylings. Lots of librarians of many different political persuasions don't want to politicize the ALA, and say so in comments and emails. The regressives sputtered, as one prominent regressive once said of himself, and just came off looking ridiculous. Since their ass-kicking at ALA last midwinter, I haven't heard much from the regressives. You've been diagnosed as a regressive librarian if you get angry that someone makes fun of attempts to politicize the ALA.

Then there are the twopointopians. You've been diagnosed as a twopointopian if you get irritated by the term rather than think it's amusing. If it makes you mad that someone is criticizing something called the cult of twopointopia, then you're probably part of that cult. If it doesn't bother you, then you're not part of the cult, no matter how "2.0" you might be professionally. The AL's just a Rorschach Test. You see what you want to see in it.

Oh, and of course there's the handful of pseudonym-haters, the ones who get so upset both that the AL is pseudonymous and that I allow anonymous comments and rarely delete any (though I do delete the ones that are nothing but ad hominem attacks or that use language inappropriate for this family blog). Some people just get so bothered. But since most people don't seem to be bothered, I think that says a lot about the people being bothered. Is it a lack of control that they'd like to have but don't? They don't have to read, of course, but they don't want anyone else to read either. They just get so frustrated. I'm sure there's something in the DSM-IV-TR that would cover their condition, but their attitude says as much about them as about the AL.

We shouldn't leave out the ones who just really don't want to know who writes the AL. I suppose for them the AL is more therapy than diagnosis, though. They think they'd be disappointed if they found out who the real author was. They very well might be. One of the things I found amusing about the speculations that Meredith Farkas writes the AL (which I like to think of as the Farkas Fracas) is the assumption that when/if the AL is unmasked, it will turn out to be someone you've heard of. Maybe, maybe not. I don't want to spoil it for you. But what if the AL turned out to be just some bored librarian or group of librarians sitting around having a lark? Would that lessen the impact? Or what if the AL turned out to be someone ensconced in ALA headquarters? Does it matter at all who writes the AL? Does the identity of the author(s) somehow change what's written? All questions I might consider when I write my memoirs, tentatively entitled, of course, Relaxin' with the AL. I might as well use the title now that the blog is defunct.

For me, all this just adds an extra and fun dimension to writing the AL. As you read the AL (or anything else, I'm not being egocentric), to a great extent you project onto the AL what you want or hope or fear. The fun part is that as you're reading the AL, I might just be reading you.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

The AL was my only therapeutic outlet... until I discovered:

http://community.livejournal.com/library_mofo

(Thank you Jessamyn West)

Dances With Books said...

Oh, I have been following the Lib Mofo and AL for a while now. Definitely therapeutic for me. Need to vent was definitely a big reason I started my own pseudonymous blog. For me, very often AL has been the "thank the powers that be I am not the only one who thinks (insert topic here)."

Whoever you are, and wherever you are, keep on writing and telling it like it is, AL. We need you now more than ever. Godspeed.

stacy said...

who cares who the AL is? the only reason i want to know is so i can buy her/him/them a drink to give thanks for all of the laughs and support.

AL said...

Buying me drinks! That's one thing I miss about pseudonymity. I want to have a big AL party at ALA and drink and dance 'til dawn.

waltc said...

Ah, good to see you're admitting the "or group of" possibility that I consistently use when mentioning AL: "she/they/he/it" or some permutation of that. Sometimes, pseudonymity serves a valuable purpose--and I can think of no better example among liblogs.

(Who knows? Maybe Meredith, Michael--one or more Michaels, that is, Leslie, Loriene, Jessamyn, Steven--any number of Ste[v]|ph]ens you choose, Iris, Mark and Walt are all AL. Then again, maybe not.)

Anonymous said...

what we've been waiting for... http://freerangelibrarian.com/2007/11/12/i-am-the-annoyed-librarian/

AL said...

Walt, I like to think there's a little annoyed librarian inside of all of us.

As for the FRL, very funny. I think there's a criticism of the AL buried in there somewhere, but I'm not sure. Still, it's nice to see her aggressive satire and criticism again, instead of more posts where she talks about how she packs to go on trips. FRL used to be an exciting blog to read.

AL said...

Oh, no, the "I am the AL" is popping up all over the place. Where did the cat image come from? That's hilarious. Maybe someone passed it on to me and I missed it.

Anonymous said...

Well, AL, whoever you may be, it is nice to let off steam. While I fume about ALA and various other initial laden library groups, I reserve my real fuming for the !@#$@# that I have the misfortune to report to. If I never have to sit through another of their insincere "latest-management-craze-to-get-us-to-work-harder" ever again I will be a happier person.

It happens I work very hard, very well, and to much praise from my users. I wouldn't mind the latest management craze (which happens to be the Fish thing about having fun at work) if it wasn't so insincere and forced. Seeing your boss who hates anyone to have anything but work on your desk (get rid of those family photos, beenie baby, live plant, vacation pix) show up in rubber boots serving fish shaped crackers in support of "lets make work fun so that you all want to stay here 12 hrs/day without extra pay" is sickening. Believe me ALA's latest thing is minor compared to that.

Dances With Books said...

So, is that the new meme now? To put one of those "I am the AL?" Not buying it. Because whether there is a little of AL in us (or a lot in cases like mine), I still think there is only one original; accept no imitations.

Anyhow. . .

Dances With Books said...

Now, if it's more like "Is there a little Captain in you?" thing, I might go for that. We can even make it work in terms of martinis if rum not your thing. :)

Anonymous said...

Writing cruel, vicious, sacred-cow-butchering sarcastic rants on the Internet?

Cool.

Posting about how awesome you are and about how everyone wants to knock you down and what did little old me do to make everyone so mad and I just ...

Not cool.

AL said...

But I'm the Annoyed Librarian, not the Cool Librarian. The Cool Librarian has a blog of her own.

Anonymous said...

We need to have a "Spartacus"-type moment, where we all stand up one at a time and shout out "I am the Annoyed Librarian"!!

Kevin Musgrove said...

I am not the Annoyed Librarian (don't have the legs for it).

Like you, I started my blog as therapy. I went into counselling last year (work-related stress; my organisation keeps the psychiatric profession of England in hot dinners) and was told to carry on doing it as part of a cognitive behavioural therapy programme. The alternative involved police and coroners and various unpleasantnesses.

Keep on the good work.

herself said...

Nah, I just read to commiserate. And because you say it so much better than I. For the record, my fave three on my blogroll are AL, the effing librarian, and Mofo Librarians.

AL said...

I find those mofo librarians even more depressing than the worst of the AL.

Brent said...

I read AL for the cultural enlightenment.

contrarian said...

Your penetrating analyses of the Regressive librarians is what got me hooked. Those pathetic fools in SRRT and their supporters, including former ALA presidents and many on the ALA Governing Council, deserve a good kickin. The AL does that better than anyone else.

Robert M. Lindsey said...

The AL is literate sarcasm, the Mofo blog is just angry.

The only interest I have in who is the AL, is if she is really the "most desirable" then I want to see some photos.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Walt that it's amusing to imagine that AL is written by a bunch of twopointopians, but it's definitely one voice. I wasn't an English major, so I could be wrong about this, but on the other hand I have done an awful lot of reading.

Yeah, it's definitely a single voice writing.

So, at the next conference you attend, buy someone a drink. You never know...

waltc said...

"A bunch of twopointopians"?

On behalf of myself and easily half the others on my imaginry list, I would take offense--except that we (the half referred to) find "twopointopians" amusing.

One Michael on that list is about as nontwopointopian as it's possible to get...

I tried LM. One minute was more than enough for my genteel tastes.

Michelle McLean said...

Thanks AL, for the therapy, the sounding off - which often is the same as my own and the ability to laugh at myself and sometimes reconsider how serious I should be about myself. You make me smile, laugh and learn not to take myself so seriously - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Lib Mofo has gotten too big and is more or less boring, and I say this with all due respect. I used to post on it and for a time found it entertaining and therapeutic, but that joke isn't funny anymore.

It seems that sites like Mofo experience the bell curve phenomenon. The site begins and is not popular except for the few who have discovered it. Word spreads. Then, because the site has buzz it picks up momentum, becoming popular. Eventually it becomes really popular. As time goes by, however, it becomes too big, really, bloated, eventually becoming a parody of itself and then ultimately plummets into oblivion. Boredom has won out again.

Or, so it seems.

Soren

Anonymous said...

The "I am the Annoyed Librarian" meme has got to be the most annoying thing since the Friday Five, where bloggers answered five dumbass questions every single Friday.

Make them stop. Please!

AL said...

That wasn't my doing. Blame Emily Lloyd of Shelf Check fame for making the Spartacus suggestion.

I think it's silly, of course, because as everyone knows, "I" am the Annoyed Librarian!

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want to claim to be the annoyed librarian?
psssshhhh...

:D

MercKat

AL said...

Beats me. I don't even claim it myself, unless I'm one of the people who just claimed it. No, this is getting too complicated.

Anonymous said...

OMG. There is a self-proclaimed "cool librarian"? WTF

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the twopointopians to pick up on the "I am the AL" meme. After all, don't they always pick up on Library blogging trends? I'd love to see the Humorless Unionator, say, or the Librarian in Black posting a "I am the AL" posting.

The.Effing.Librarian said...

"I think it's silly, of course, because as everyone knows, "I" am the Annoyed Librarian!"

--you should have said, "'We' am the Annoyed Librarian!'" you can't kill the "who is" speculation so soon...