Saturday was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 115 Birthday (I made him a tribute video as a Birthday present: you are welcome to watch it here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayj-ppSLc1k ). He has always been one of my favorite writers, ever since I stumbled on Gatsby when I was thirteen. Like many of us, Scott had a love/hate relationship with the state and city of his birth: disavowing and fleeing it at every opportunity while continuing to mine and defend it fiercly in his fiction. I have always felt the same way about Minnesota, and (perhaps not surprisingly) also about librarianship. Equally proud and frustrated with the profession.
Which may be a strange way to begin a post about librarianship, but this week has been about the frustrated side. Part of it is perhaps reading too many blogs, all of which disagree on the future of the profession. This is never encouraging, expecially when one is trying to enter the profession. There is so much noise out there, in journals, in blogs, on the news; by the end of the week I was nearly deaf.
I think many librarians (and those connected to the profession) feel bombarded, stretched, and perhaps isolated. At least that what I have sensed from reading and talking to them. Which made me think of China. Clay Shirky’s talk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_iN_QubRs0) made me think how powerful “the rise of the amateur could be. After all, Chinese Government was forced to shut down Twitter because people were using it to protest the government’s role in substandard buildings (which collapsed during the tragic earthquake). It was not one single professional journalist who was covering the story, it was many many “amateurs, i.e. citizens.
That was my “aha” moment for the week. That libraries and librarians don’t have to go it alone, that their are perhaps ways of collaberating on a greater level than we have ever done before. Perhaps a fancy term for this would be crowdsourcing, and certainly their has been much written about the topic. Given the success of various “crowdsourcing” efforts (including this collaboration between scientists and gamers http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/09/16/7802623-gamers-solve-molecular-puzzle-that-baffled-scientists), perhaps others will be equally inspired.
I started this post about F. Scott Fitzgerald: he got frustrated with Minnesota and fled, but than spent his entire career looking back. Librarianship is also frustrating; but I am standing my ground, and with some of the new tools of Library 2.0, at the end of a long week I am finally optimistic again.