We're well into the second week of the Hollywood writer's strike. I haven't noticed much difference, since I don't watch a lot of TV. I just don't seem to have the time to sit down in front of the television, even if I did have cable. Besides, if I want to watch a TV show, I can catch a lot of them online, which for some reason seems to bother the writers. They want to get paid when people watch their TV show episodes online. Apparently they haven't accepted the obvious point the studios make that this online content is just "promotional." That's why I watch the shows online, so they can promote themselves to me. Somehow I never seem to get past the promotional materials, though. Actually, I usually don't even get to the "promotional" materials. Thus, the writer's strike has almost no effect on my life.
As many of you know, there was also a librarian strike recently--no, a library worker strike, since the libraries shut down completely. The Vancouver libraries shut down for about three months because everyone was striking. The library workers were determined, too, since they stayed out longer than the rest of the city workers. Apparently they still didn't get their demands met, though, which brings me to the subject of this post.
People seem to care that the Hollywood writers are on strike. If there were a national librarian strike--and I mean just the glorified "professional" librarians, not those mere support staff who do most of the dirty work--would anyone care? How long would it take for anyone to notice?
Some of the regressive librarians want everyone in the world to unionize, presumably so they can strike and make everyone else's lives miserable until they get their way. Consider the current transport workers strike in France. The transport workers have cushier early retirement benefits than many other French workers, Sarkozy wants to trim them back, save taxpayer's money, and bring the benefits in line with most French workers. The transport workers want none of this, of course, since they naturally like the special privileges they get. So to keep their special tax-subsidized privileges they shut down most of the public transportation in France, making life more difficult for everyone else, not in the interest of the common good, but merely for their own special interest. People in cities notice it when trains and buses stop running.
But what about the librarians? If libraries shut down completely, sure some people would notice. They wouldn't have the easy access to their Internet arcade cum rec center that they do now. But if just the librarians struck, this wouldn't be the case, as long as someone else had the key to the library and the computers were running. I think it might be a long time before anyone would notice if the librarians struck.
The excitable amongst you are probably saying, no, don't listen, that's just the AL being mean again! She just doesn't like libraries! Well, that might be true, but I doubt it. It's more the case that the rhetoric coming from a lot of librarians doesn't match the reality. Some excited and desperate librarians want the library to be all things to all people, but if the library is all things to all people, then it is a library for only a few people. Instead of showing that librarians are necessary, some librarians want to show that they can also be social workers and party planners and such.
Consider, though, this assertion from a recent LJ article: "We have a lot of work to do to help our users become more critically aware of the difference between a vague information want, superficially met, and a more focused information need that is deeply satisfied. So far, we seem to have focused more on marketing our image than actually providing indispensable service." I would add that many librarians are also promoting an incoherent universality for libraries rather than providing indispensable library service. Either way, when the librarians strike, it might be that no one will notice.