Many librarians have already heard of Marilyn Johnson’s This Book is Overdue: how librarians and cybrarians can save us all and despite my end of semester crunch I decided that this title was well worth reading amidst working on my final assignments. This book particularly interested me because of the non-librarian identity of the author. Since starting library school at McGill, all of the reading I have done on librarians and about libraries has been written by librarians or academics in the field of information studies. Marilyn Johnson’s journalistic observations allow a unique perspective on what an “outsider” considers the most interesting aspects of the world of librarianship. Recently I read that librarians should be more concerned about how libraries fit into the lives of their users rather than how users fit into the make-up of the library and I felt that reading Marilyn Johnson’s book would help me to adopt this approach. I read through This Book is Overdue very quickly and my interest and enjoyment varied greatly depending on the content of the chapter. Marilyn Johnson is without a doubt a great storyteller. In her book, she paints a picture of modern librarianship by sharing the individual stories of “modern librarians”. This personal touch is endearing and the reader feels compelled to care about the concerns of the librarians and their attempts to help users to the best of their ability. Probably the coolest part of reading this book was realizing that I already knew a lot of what she was sharing. Although, there were some very interesting stories about librarians who I had never heard of and who are working hard to provide great service to their patrons, I was extremely excited to realize that I knew many of the people that Marilyn was referring to as example librarians. Seeing people who are close to me like Graham Lavender (The Blog People, pp.52-53) and Amy Buckland (Wizards of Odd, p.149) appear in this book on “Librarians who can save us all” totally blew me away! I was enthused at the prospect that not even out of library school and I am obviously already running in circles with the right people (I already knew how cool they were but now their coolness is out there for the world to read about)! Hopefully their awesomeness is rubbing off on me so that I will also be able to “save the world”! Regardless, of whether you are associated with anyone in this book, the fact that it presents librarians in such an optimistic and positive light is such a breath of fresh air. Knowing that library users can see past stereotypes and appreciate the work of librarians is extremely encouraging and I hope that this book will demonstrate to the general public how cool librarians are and, to the librarians who read this book, I hope it will provide motivation that people are paying attention to our dedication and that with the right attitude we can really save people!
This evening I will be attending the CLA Montreal Chapter’s kick-off of their series “Salon des bibliothécaires”. This title is a play on the traditional “Salons littéraires” that thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. At the time, the aristocrats, being rich and not having to work, could spend their time developing themselves intellectually, socially, politically, and culturally. The “salons” provided an opportunity for these elitists to discuss and amuse each other with their knowledge of various subjects. The people attending these salons, as one can imagine, were usually very pretentious and so I am reassured that tonight’s discussion on Virtual Reference will be led in part by Amy Buckland, one of the least pretentious people that I know.
I do not necessarily have any expectations for this evening. Although I’m curious as to whether any diversity of thought will present itself in a group of like-minded, highly educated professionals discussing a topic of which they are all passionate. I will probably simply sit back and enjoy the discussion knowing that my practical knowledge of virtual reference is minimal and that this is an excellent opportunity for me to learn from practicing librarians.
The universe of Web 2.0 is powerful and librarians can either remain confused and intimated by all the ho0pla surrounding these technologies or they can experiment with them in order to discover a world of possibilities that may or may not work for them…but then at least they’ll know.
Since I started my masters in the School of Information Studies at McGill University, talk of the influence of Web 2.0 in the library world has been . I even co-organized a day conference entitled Web 2.You with the likes of Michael Stephens, Stephen Abram, Amy Buckland and my favourite Inspired Library School Student: Graham Lavender.
However, it wasn’t until hearing a discussion at the 2009 WILU conference that everything clicked. Interactive discussion on any topic leads to critical thinking and critical thinking leads to true learning and understanding. I realized that if I want to understand the many topics that interest me that I’m hearing about through readings, presentations, and conferences then I need to have a platform where I can voice my opinions about these issues and have constructive feedback from others.
Please take part in what will hopefully become a forum for librarians of all disciplines and hopefully we will all better understand why interaction makes learning and critical thinking so much more enjoyable and effective!