Magazine article American Libraries

Two Models for Librarianship in the 1990s

Magazine article American Libraries

Two Models for Librarianship in the 1990s

Article excerpt

Two models for librarianship in the 1990s

Model II

Neither preachers nor communicants but mere ushers in the temples of knowledge, we foolishly preside over seating arrangements (bibliographic control) in the mistaken belief that taking inventory will win us election in the Information Age. Totally oblivious to the fact that such rituals are at the very core of Un-Power, we participate in a liturgy that permits us to number the hymns--but never to compose them, determine when they will be sung, or direct the choir. Taking up collections is our most magisterial function. This fits with our chief belief and pivotal precept: Joy Is Retrieval.

Some of us can not digest supper unless an author speaks. We canonize authors of young adult and children's books and compound this idolatry by honoring them with banquets and awards. But to the children and young adults themselves, we serve leavings, like the meek and stale liturgies of bibliographic instruction, disinheriting them--and us--in the process.

We build Byzantine professional associations and then launch not-so-holy crusades over procedural issues. On substantive matters concerning the unsaved and the use of information, we practice dynamic neutrality, complete with ritual (Challenge Policy documents!) but totally lacking in courage and risk-taking. We assume no responsibility for what happens to information or to users of information, for that would be heresy.

Model II

Impatient with the "we have met the enemy and it is us" observation, we try instead to make a more positive, ID, not of our enemies but of our allies, the information needy, whom we target and convince that "Information Literacy" is a skill they need. We interpret. Like assertive pizza entrepreneurs, we deliver. We identify friends, old and new, and construct the alliances necessary for catering to the value systems that create information needs and drive activities aimed at meeting them. …

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