- No, you may not post to a listserv that since something was posted to the internet it’s now “public domain”.
- No, you may no longer think its ok that you’ve never looked at an ebook.
- That you don’t really get apps.
- Or understand why people use Facebook.
- Or why SOPA was a big deal.
- Or what all the fuss is about publishing and open access.
That’s cluelessness, and it’s not okay. I dunno why it was ever OK for librarians to behave like ostriches, but yeah. NO. It’s not okay now, and won’t be again, so get your head out of the sand. Now.
I got into an argument a few months ago with a cataloger in a special library who maintained furiously that he has no need to understand copyright in order to be a librarian. His argument, as best I can tell (we were arguing on Twitter, not the best place for nuanced discourse), is that as a cataloger in a special library, all he needs is the item, his systems, and a desk. He can do his job without understanding a bit of copyright, because all he has to do is catalog things.
And he might be right, on the face of it. I was a cataloger, and I know that yeah, to catalog a book, you just need the book, or a representation of the book, and you can create a MARC record. But I disagree that you can be a successful librarian if you don’t have more than that. You can surely do the task work of cataloging with a computer, some software, and a pile of books, but what about the bigger picture of the work you do? The whys, the wherefores, and the for whoms? I assert that if you don’t understand the issues of librarianship, and the information environment we operate in, you’re not acting as a librarian. You’re working as a copy clerk.
None of us who consider ourselves to be librarians has the luxury of just sitting in a corner and “doing our jobs” without a rich contextual awareness of the atmosphere and environment in which we operate. Or we shouldn’t. That’s cluelessness, and as I said, I don’t think that’s okay.
In my personal life, when friends ask for advice or are struggling through a personal choice, I often say “chase hope” or “chase joy” or something similarly cheerfully motivational and impossible. But those aren’t always reasonable things to suggest in our work lives, and I don’t mean to insist y’all should want them from your work life. But I do feel confident exhorting us all to chase inspiration. Surely inspiration isn’t too much to ask for?
There are some things that come to mind quickly when I think about what inspires me – I’ve elaborated on them here – and maybe some of them will have meaning for you, or inspire you in turn.
Stay inspired. Chase inspiration. Educate yourself.