“you ask for crap and I help you to find or do it”

amy posted this May 17th, 2011 | filed under: ilovemyjob, inspire me!, ranting | 1 comment »

i have no idea who is responsible for the censored genius blog (other than @effinglib), but this post (retweeted by the always awesome jessamyn) resonated with me.

first some background, go read seth godin’s recent post on libraries. he’s not wrong – this is how the public sees libraries. as patrick says

We’re already doing a lot of the things he says we should be doing. We just haven’t told anyone yet, and that’s our fault.

i agree. the onus is on libraryland to make folks aware of our awesome. it’s okay to be awesome, and it’s okay to tell people about it. isn’t that what we do, really? inform our communities about things they need to know about?
so when seth starts talking about printed books as the main resource at libraries all i can think is that we need to do more to help folks like seth understand what librarians do. because (back to the censored genius)

[…] a good librarian would never exclude a data format from the search results. You ask me for information on turtles and you’re getting everything I can find, and that includes printed books.

YES! librarians are going to exhaust their available resources to answer your question – so please quit talking about how we:

  • love books
  • hate wikipedia
  • are shaking in our boots about how google will put us out of a job

(for the record: meh, wrong, and my brain totally wins in a streetfight against a google algorithm.) (i fight dirty.)

<tangent>and about these resources at our disposal, can we please start working with vendors that respect libraries, see our mission as making information available to everyone, and want to help us, instead of roping us into contracts that are unsustainable and end up forcing libraries to cut services to meet subscription rates increasing at an exponential rate? (for one possible solution, check out library renewal. ya ya, i know i’m friends with a bunch of the board members, don’t hold it against them.)</tangent>

back to being a librarian and finding crap for our communities… that’s what we do. we make available the best (and the worst) of the world’s content for our users. others (like Amazon and Netflix) have copied OUR model of service. sure they have bigger budgets, and lotsa infrastructure, but they don’t actually work for the community, they work for the bottom line. but not us. or, as the censored genius puts it:

I’m the fucking librarian, motherfucker. I am not any corporation’s bitch. And if I want books in the library, we’re having books. And DVDs. And econtent. And graphic novels. And pie.

being a librarian means finding the best resource to best answer the question. sometimes that means parsing data from an experiment to help evaluate methodology. sometimes that means determining which microfiche had the obit for a certain big city mucketymuck because your user swears her grandmother dated him before the war. sometimes that means watching the credits of a dvd to figure out who was the best boy on les invasions barbares. and sometimes, that even means consulting a printed book.

let’s all work on telling our communities about what we offer and how we can help them better than google – okay? knowledge requires collaboration.

and seth? thanks for the concern, but we got this.

and we have pie.

[update: there are nsfw tshirts available. <3]

One Comment on ““you ask for crap and I help you to find or do it””

  1. 1 Natalie said at 10:14 am on May 18th, 2011:

    Our raison d’être:
    We love to search.
    We love our users.

join the conversation!