That is a complicated question for which I have very little that I can or will say directly.
I did just upgrade WordPress to the newest version so if anyone is still reading this feel free to click through to the blog proper and see if you see anything amiss. Thanks.
Some reasons for being quiet
Recently someone gave me and this humble little blog some very high praise in a different venue. While I appreciate/d it greatly I do not feel that I have in any way merited such praise in a very long time.
I have so many things to write about but find that I cannot. I have tried to do so for a couple of these topics, and loving friends have provided suggestions on how to tackle some of them. Good advice even, which I attempted to take. But I am currently not up to the task.
I am on the market for a job and have said far too much in this space already about too much of my life. There are issues about our profession that are quickly destroying me and it seems that our profession finds discussion of such issues to be unprofessional.
Issues in cataloging and an analogy
I have a draft post on this topic in relation to issues in cataloging but am simply unable to say anything that many would find acceptable. In it I made an analogy to current issues in cataloging and the running of the Vietnam War by the Americans.
The juxtaposition of current discussions, mostly higher-level, about things like RDA and other major issues in the arena of cataloging and the complete lack of discussions of what I see as the important issues “on the ground” in cataloging departments and facing individual catalogers across the field are much like the discussions within the military services and government agencies running the war in Vietnam.
All frank, honest, and real discussion of the issues facing those on the ground were deemed “unprofessional.” Commanders and senior NCOs quickly discovered how to play the game of “reality-based” reporting and discussion.
Now my analogy quickly breaks down because it’s not like many of us are losing our lives due to this forced “professionalism” in our field. But I know for a fact that it is causing far more angst, fear, and burnout than should be happening. Highly capable and dedicated people are being affected in extremely damaging ways.
I recently read and wrote a review of:
Budd, John. 2008. Self-Examination: The Present and Future of Librarianship. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Budd presents dialectical methodology as a means to overcome the different epistemological positions within librarianship. He also clearly demonstrates that “service to clientele, [professional] judgment, and education [for the profession] are moral undertakings” (p. 251). We must consider what our moral principles will be, and what moral responsibilities they imply for us as reflective professionals. Discourse—open, honest, and frank—is the only means by which to do this.
But this is exactly what we do not have. It is what has been deemed unprofessional because someone’s feeling might be hurt, someone or some place might be made to look bad, because we only discuss success whether it is real, imagined or projected.
As to what I think about this situation … it is (long past) time for me to shut the heck up.
How I became a librarian
Christina tagged me for this a while ago and I did start working on a draft post to answer it. But I am unhappy with it and it has gotten too long anyway without actually answering the question. Perhaps that is because there really isn’t an answer. At best it explains how I got into the cataloging and metadata arena but not how I got into librarianship itself.
The other answer which I strove not to give in my more official response is that I am not a librarian; at least not as many (most?) who hold the professional credentials would accept. Although I have worked in academic libraries for 10 years now, and I earned my MS in May 2006, I have never held a professional position. Thus, in the minds of many I am not a librarian.
Of course, in the minds of even more (as in the general population) I have been a librarian for 10 years now. There is even a well-known dictionary definition to suport that statement. I shall not cite it as that would make me a scoundrel, though. Let’s just say that I have had several people get mad at me for my denying to be a librarian when they are full well aware of the more formal definition we apply to ourselves, and this was before I even came to library school.
I have had professional-level responsibilities of varying kinds in all of my jobs in academic libraries, whether it was as a student worker, student supervisor, staff member, or my assorted graduate assistantships and hourly positions while in library school.
There may be some news on the horizon soon but until then I do not want to offend any professionals in the field and thus can only claim that I cannot answer the question as I have never yet been a librarian.
Maybe I’ll get a chance to apply this label to myself before I decide I have no desire to do so. Not because I do not want to be a librarian—I do, but then I also apply a different definition than any I apparently espoused here—but because so much about the actual lived, non-reflective, practice of so many in the mainstream of our profession—those with the power to tell others of us what passes for “professionalism”—are, in my opinion, failing us badly.
Hopefully no one is still wondering why I am being so quiet here
I had several other things to comment on but I am losing focus and they, too, are things that are probably just better to let be.
I have been home all day [Friday] because I have been feeling crappy all week and have not been getting any better. Until things get really bad there is no sense in trying to go to the doctor. I am currently working as an academic hourly and thus have no benefits. I am not totally in the dark for health care as I am able to use the VA over in Danville. But I see no reason to try and figure out that system and make a 45-minute drive each way for a low-grade bug of some kind that probably cannot even be identified.
I wrote this yesterday during the day and have sat on it since. I re-read it several times trying to decide if I was going to post it. Perhaps I should just trash it and move on. But I feel as if I no longer have anywhere to move on to. I am prevented from discussing the things that are most professionally relevant to me and, as far as I am concerned, should be to many others.
Bottom line: I am immensely dedicated and care deeply about many of the issues facing our field. I want to contribute to moving us intelligently forward into the 21st century. But the truth is I am floundering badly and do not know what to do about it.
So I guess folks should not expect to hear much from me here for a while. I have no idea what to write since I am unable to write about that which I care most deeply about.