In class we were asked to comment on various quotes from Clay Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, and how it relates to librarianship. Although the suggestions were all interesting, to me what stuck out was one where he was discussing the issues of the mass amateurization of journalism. The old definitions of journalism are breaking down, he suggests, and journalism “…is now less a professino than an activity”(Shirkey, 210). This ties in with one of his earlier quotes, “A professional often becomes a gatekeeper, by providing a necessary or desirable social function but also by controlling that function … Professional self-conception and self-defense, so valuable in ordinary times, become a disadvantage in revolutionary ones, because professionals are always concerned with threats to the profession” (p. 69).
Sharky is mainly speaking of journalists and scribes, but much of society seems to feel the same of librarians. I have spent much of my days at St. Kates explaining , defending, and evangalizing the importance of librarians. Although I am outside the profession looking in, that defensive position seems consistent. A recent debate on In the Library with the Leadpipe questioned whether schools are training too few or too many librarians; no one seems to know (http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2011/is-the-united-states-training-too-many-librarians-or-too-few-part-1/). There is little doubt than that “professionals are always conerned with threats to the profession” but it’s less clear I think that we have become a “disadvantage in revolutionary” times. There are too many examples of professional librarians heeding the call of the revolution (insert any of Michael Stephens examples).
What we do agree on is that we are in revolutionary times. Society has adopted new sets of behaviors and it’s up to all of who care deeply about libraries that they are at the forefront of that revolution, wherever it may lead.