Monday, November 05, 2007

We Know What Library Five-0 Is and Is Not

Before we begin, I'd like to apologize for the technical problems last week. That Annie Linney is sneaky, and I was totally unprepared for the powerful computer skills she'd honed playing videogames with pimply teenagers. I had to give my security team a good tongue-lashing. Then I sent them out to find Annie and euthanize her, which I figured would be best for all of us. However, she was so bubbly and apologetic once she realized that my security team meant what they said about the maple syrup and the Valium that I relented, and even agreed that I might let her guest post again some time in the distant future. We satisfied ourselves by driving over her laptop with the East Skeeter Public Library bookmobile and making her write a thousand times on the ESPL white board: "I will not hack the AL."

So down to business. We here at the Annoyed Librarian Flea Libary know things about Libraries 1.0 and 2.0, as well as 3.0 and 4.0 (which we've long past). As my long time readers know, the ALFL is a Library Five-0 library, and we're darn proud of it. Considering we've been Library Five-0 for a year and a half, we might have to upgrade to Library Six-0, but we change so constantly we no longer know where everyone is supposed to show up for work, either in person or virtually. While some twopointopians have lately been going on about Library 2.0 as if anyone cared anymore, and some others have been commenting upon their goings on, I thought it would behoove us all to see where the real trends are leading. Library 2.0 and the twopointopians (which might make a good name for a bad band) are sooo last year. Library Five-0 is the future, baby, and, I might add, is the only library trend with its own cool theme song. Since you may be confused about Library Five-0, I'll share some incontrovertible and indisputable facts with you, since I know what Library Five-0 is and is not, and you, obviously, don't.

Library Five-0 is librarian-centric. Actually, we could go further than that. Library Five-0 is techie librarian-centric. Library Five-0 is for all of you librarians feeling useless and unappreciated, who want to show library users how cool and techie you are. This proves that the librarians actually know about something. Unfortunately, it's not anything the users care about, but that's not the point. The point is to show that instead of being shushing spinsters who know about yucky old books and stuff like that, librarians are now computer geeks who go to conferences to get out of their little computer techie shells, get together with a large group of real people, and then spend the entire time blogging about their surroundings. Yep, that's bound to impress normal people as the kind of thing they want from their librarians.

What matters is us, and what we like to do is post pictures and videos of ourselves on the Internet, then Twitter everyone about our latest movements ("Hey, just finished lunch and then had my latest movement"), then IM a bunch of fellow techies and congratulate ourselves about how we "get it," then go to a conference where we either speak in an excited proselytizing tone about how cool everything we do is, or sit staring at our computer screens blogging and IMing while completely ignoring the real people around us.

Library Five-0 is about constant change. From the website of the world's first Library Five-0 library: "We change constantly. We are revolutionary. Do not try to find us in meatspace, as our address changes daily to keep up our reputation for constant change. Do not try to call us, because our phone number changes hourly to keep up our reputation for constant change. Do not try to email us, because our email address changes every half-hour to keep up our reputation for constant change. You can try to reach us through IM, but we change our IM username and client every 15 minutes--to keep up our reputation for constant change. We also change the location of our blog every 10 minutes to keep up our reputation for constant change. Quite frankly, you are lucky to have found this page at all, as we change the URL of our homepage every 5 minutes to keep up our reputation for constant change. We do not even have an RSS feed because we change so fast the director's aggregator exploded. The only thing that never changes is the rhetoric."

We know how everyone loves constant change, and we want to fulfill that need. Not the library users, of course. They don't want constant change, but then again we're not here to make them happy; we're here to make us happy, and it's about time librarians got to be happy about something. Is that so wrong? Oh, wait, most of the other librarians don't want constant change, either. Some of them go so far as to say that the whole idea of "constant change" is just gibberish. Well, fooey on them.

Library Five-0 is just about the technology. Let's be honest for a moment. Some of the twopointopians claim that Library 2.0 isn't just about technology, that it's just the stuff librarians have always been doing, or would have been doing if they weren't such evil librarians and we weren't such good librarians. We know that's malarkey, because if that was the case there would be no need to coin such a stupid phrase to describe something that is already going on. Unless of course the point is to coin a stupid phrase to make it seem like we're doing something new when we really aren't, which will allow a few of us to congratulate ourselves in a heated circle-blog and get ourselves invited to conferences so we can talk about all this stuff that's old but that we've somehow made to seem new. No, wait, that's getting too complicated.

Let's just say that we Library Five-0 librarians prefer not to be so duplicitous. Library Five-0 is about the technology. We like to play around with techie gadgets; what can we say? We're just a bunch of techie geeks who want to start a bunch of new techie initiatives that no one but us wants so that we can pretend our libraries are just big techie toylands for our benefit. Library Five-0 is all about the technology, baby. You know, it felt good to get that off my chest. I'm glad we Library Five-0 librarians don't have to dissemble so much as those poor twopointopians. Those poor devils have to go around hopelessly trying to convince other librarians that Library 2.0 isn't just about the technology when everyone knows it is. I'm not sure who they think they're fooling, but we Library Five-0ers prefer the truth, consequences be damned!

Library Five-0 isn't political. Politics is such a messy sport, especially in libraries, where the politics are so nasty because so little is at stake. The twopointopians are always running into political problems as they try to shove their half-baked techie ideas down everyone's throats while pretending that the users are clamoring for these ideas. Of course one is going to run into political problems when one's idea of politics is all about the Good Us and the Evil Them. The Good Us just wants to have free reign over the entire library to implement whatever silly uncalled-for service we think we might like to waste time playing around with for a while, and the Evil Them just wants to thwart our plans by asking about silly things like empirical research, data-driven change, library budgets, impact on other librarians, actual user expectations, and other big, mean grown up things.

Library Five-0 doesn't have to worry about that, because we're not interested in thrusting ourselves upon everyone else. We don't really care about the library users or our colleagues, and unlike the twopointopians we don't have to pretend we do. We're happy if our administrations give us some computers and cubicles and let us play around all day. They know we won't bother the rest of the librarians if we're busy IMing and Twittering and Flickring and stuff like that, and they like to keep us quiet. That way, everyone benefits.

There, I hope this has set the record straight about what Library Five-0 is and is not. The twopointopians already know this feeling, because they revel in it, but I can say it really does feel great to be superior to the rest of you poor schlubs and tell you like it is. Remember, I'm right and you're wrong, and if you disagree with me it's just because you don't get it and don't love the library users as much as I do. At the Annoyed Librarian Flea Libary, "we love you more than your mama does."®

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I used to have a wonderful sense of humor until I went to graduate school, and now after shredding my diploma and renouncing libraries I might get a little of it back.

So here goes:

Web 1.0: The old skool static web wherein you just saw what was on the web and that was it. Functional, yet aesthetically unappealing.

Web 2.0: The "new" interactive web when any idiot can post their opinion and comments on blogs or message boards. It's all political, all garbage, all day. Savvy web admins realize it's good for increasing traffic, but they're all arguing.

Web 3.0: The new, unheralded semantic web wherein the Web becomes smarter than you and can find whatever you're searching for. Eventually flooped because it was unconfrontational and.....too nice.

Web 4.0: The naga opposite of 3.0, where the Web told you what to do with yourself. Nasty and argumentative, smart people started worrying about a Hal 9000 take over of the world, while the 99% of the idiots just kept on arguing, which took up an enormous amount of processor power.

Web 5.0: The web of constant change and eternal newness, which stalled because no one could find anything.

Web 6.0: The web of Me. No, not people being self centered, ME! My opinions, my ideas, my beliefs, 24-7. From the moment You turn your computer on, I'm there, telling you like it is. That's right, no arguing because it's all...hey wait!....don't touch that dial!

And really, AL, maple syrup and valium? The best you could get is a sleep diabetic shock. My preferred weapons of assassination are a Nerf bat, flyswatter, or my own home made cooking. One is actually a lot of fun, the second psychologically smacks them with it, and the third is a slow and painfully miserable demise.

AL said...

I think you might be surprised what one can accomplish with a bottle of Valium and 50 gallons of maple syrup.

Anonymous said...

Shorter AL:

"I don't really understand the difference between professional talking among themselves and talking to patrons at work.

Can I have a ride home? Horseless carriages confuse me."

AL said...

Wow, you got me. Your analysis is quite interesting, and I'm grateful to you for explaining myself to myself with such pith. If only what you said made any sense whatsoever, it would be even better. Thanks for reading!

Steven Chabot said...

Ah, AL, I'd present a paper about flashy shirts in the library at your L5-0 conference any day.

Anonymous said...

I think you might be surprised what one can accomplish with a bottle of Valium and 50 gallons of maple syrup.\

Ahhh, I see, you must mean covering them in the syrup.....eeevvil in a saccharine sweet way.

Can I have a ride home? Horseless carriages confuse me.

You must be one of those sad fools who believe libraries are still dynamic and relevant. Here, let me take the blinders off....

RIP!

Yes, I know it hurts and I enjoyed that a bit, but blink a little and look around. What is new that libraries are making? No, not the web chat reference thingie, I mean made by a library.

You see, it's all reactionary, all the real development is done by someone else. Even the fabulous porridge called professional literature is just one user survey after another, or all the great ways to use the "new" technology.

Oh, you disagree? Yes, that would explain why places like Google, MySpace, or even News outlets are bending over backwards to hire librarians to show them how to find and organize their information. Why yes indeedy, I'll just apply today, 213 applications out and this has got to be the one.

And meanwhile, keep telling yourself that going Web 2.0 and making sure we all Blog or Die will save the day. While librarians dicker trying to figure it out and reassume a place of even moderate relevance, Rome is burning down. Oh hell, where the vodka, I need a stiff one.....

The.Effing.Librarian said...

I am the pinkie toe of the web; the web couldn't walk without me... but we really don't need the pinkie toe...hmmm. I am the corn on the pinkie toe of the web; the web gets off its feet, plops on its ass and has a drink because of me. That's the web version I'm waiting for...

Anonymous said...

"Library 5-0" ahhhh, this brings new meaning to the old catch phrase "Book 'em, Dan-o".

---Kurt

Anonymous said...

Why do you hide like you do? It's very hard to take you seriously when you seem so untrustworthy.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Why do you hide like you do? It's very hard to take you seriously when you seem so untrustworthy.


Pot

Kettle

You know.....

Anonymous said...

Ah, go 5-0! Yes!

Constant change. That's the ticket. Who needs to adopt outmoded ideas like "getting it right" or "trying to be fiscally responsible"? It's much more fun to randomly change things around just to mess with people. And seriously, with all this great new technology, who wouldn't make any new project all about it?

Why do you hide like you do? It's very hard to take you seriously when you seem so untrustworthy.
Why would anyone go by a real name on the web? Fretting about anonymity on a blog is like fretting about it in a chat room. It's the rule, not the exception.

AL said...

"Why do you hide like you do? It's very hard to take you seriously when you seem so untrustworthy."

Considering this comment is anonymous, I can only assume you're kidding me. If not, then I might say, same to you, buddy. What would it mean to take me seriously? The AL is what it is, and no more. If you don't take it at all seriously, then you might still take it more seriously than I do. Or maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Hi AL

Am I way off base or have you used parts of this in other posts. I had a strange sense of deja vu when I read this. Irregardless it is still on point as usual.

AL said...

I don't know. I quoted the paragraph from the ALFL website that's quite old, but otherwise I just wrote it. Everyone knows by now that I'm only an 8-trick pony anyway, and that this is one of my tricks.

Brent said...

AL, I blacked out reading your post. My apologies.

AL said...

I hope you didn't hit your head.

Leo Klein said...

"Of course one is going to run into political problems when one's idea of politics is all about the Good Us and the Evil Them."

Actually I thought it was about the Kool Kidz and the Luddites. Same difference, I guess.

Also, to the ones complaining about anonymity, all I can say is it's a time-honored practice in blogging. Those who have a problem with it either haven't been on the Web all that long or are looking to distract us.

See ya Dan'O!

Dances With Books said...

Librarian-centric indeed. These days any blogger that goes around simply reposting their Twit-ering on their blogs goes in my ignore pile. Bad enough I don't have an Twitter so I don't have to hear about the latest movement. I don't need to have it reposted because of your ego. And while we are on ego, the whole blogging while you are there, what's up with that? Considering that half of what gets posted is rushed (since they can barely take notes on presentations half the time), and the other half is about the hipster restaurant they had lunch at (featuring the wifi they are using to blog while eating), well, you get the idea. It seems more like a status symbol than anything else.

And I did go over and read the Lib Crunch piece and the responder. A lot of the 2.0 is always the "we get it, and if you don't, then something is wrong with you." It's to the point I mostly tune it out by now. Because for all the hype, I have not seen any substantial evidence or research showing that this is what the patrons really want, let alone use. And even if they use it, it does not follow they want the librarians in their stuff. In the end, a lot of it does seem to be about the technology. They find something cool. The fanboy or fangirl factor kicks in. They want everybody else to do it. What was that thing Heinlein said about religions and cults wanting to legislate their religion or cult into law upon coming to power? A lot of this 2.0 stuff sounds eerily similar.

Anonymous said...

Sure, maple syrup and Valium are effective, but for *real* fun, you need a case of NyQuil and a roll of duct tape.

--Taupey, quietly singing "Valium would ahve helped that fast / he said 'Hey Babe, tale a walk on the wild side' / and the (redacted) girls go: 'doop dee doo shoop de doop dee doop doooooo'..."

Anonymous said...

Hee Hee. We've got some exploding aggregators around here. Too many flavors of the month to push. But seriously, why use valium when you can use clonazepam? Like, when I was called on the carpet because we weren't running around with headphones on all day, and then that is so 5 minutes ago once we find out it isn't working at Seattle (very hush hush, that). But then, why pay attention to infrastructure when you can push the "sexy" stuff? Most of those people are flops at face to face, anyway.

She thinks she's Carrie Nation! said...

Will it be like Hawaii 5-0??? (Book 'em Danno)

Anonymous said...

Once again, AL, you've made my day.

Question: Can I be a 5.0 librarian and vote for a Republican? I don't think it's allowed as a twopointopian.

AL said...

Five-0ers don't care who you vote for. I don't even like to vote.

AL said...

And it is like Hawaii 50. No one's clicking on the "cool theme song link."

Gilbert Bland said...

Let's see...

Voltaire, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Stendhal, Boz, Poor Richard, Katherine Mansfield, O'Henry, Josef Conrad, Maxim Gorky, Isak Dinesen, George Orwell, Rebecca West, and the guy who wrote the poem "here is sit, broken hearted..."
All of these cowards wrote anonymously.
"Fools names like fool's faces are often seen in public places"- anonymous

Kevin Musgrove said...

If we all get cool white linen suits and hand-painted shirts I'm all bought in for Library Five-O.

Anyone who's agin it (especially those pesky backward-looking twotopians) should have their paws buttered with Marmite.