"If you don’t oppose change then you cannot be one of the Annoyed Librarian Acolytes."
That’s my nomination for oddest comment of the week. (Perhaps I’ll make this a new weekly feature instead of my planned serialization of a mystery novel entitled Death of the Annoyed Librarian, in which a librarian is murdered during ALA in Chicago, and because of her noted sharp wit and lack of sensible shoes she is immediately recognized as the Annoyed Librarian. Investigation of twopointopians and regressive librarians follows!)
But back to the odd comment. What would it mean to "oppose change"? Or are we speaking loosely here, as in those people who claim they want to "stop climate change"? (Um, yeah, good luck with that. If you do stop it, could you stop it around 70 degrees, with low humidity and a light breeze? Thanks!) Criticizing someone for "opposing change" is a steady tactic of the frustrated trendsetters. "The AL is against change!" thefrustys shriek.
Instead, what if we recast this response. Let’s say for the sake of argument that I don’t "oppose change." I just oppose stupidity. The proper response to someone who says, "you’re against this because you’re opposed to change," is merely to reply, "I’m not opposed to ‘change’ in general. I’m opposed to this change in particular, because it’s stupid and you haven’t given any reason for changing. Your pathetic attention being distracted by bangles and baubles and mantras isn’t a reason to change. It’s a reason for you to sedate yourself and put yourself out of our misery."
Okay, maybe that response isn’t the best one in a workplace situation, but you get the idea. Somewhere recently I saw a list of "ways to stifle change" which was pretty funny. (I think it was on the LLN wiki, but I’m too lazy to track down the specific page. The LLN, by the way, is a great source…for AL fodder. Thanks, Walt!) Set up a committee to work on it, lose documents, stuff like that. But there could be an equally irritating list of ways to try to enact change even if change wasn’t necessary.
One of those ways is to brand any opposition to any specific change as being against change in general. This one doesn’t always work, and like all these strategies is sensitive to the context. If your library is staffed entirely by reactionaries, then complaining that someone is "against change" will be considered a compliment rather than a criticism. "She’s against change, huh? I always knew there was something I liked about her!" Being against change in general is just as stupid as being for change in general. Both positions are divorced from reason and evidence, which is usually what we require to make decisions in the workplace. Speaking in generalities about "change" is what shallow management gurus do. Making decisions about actual changes in actual libraries is what librarians do.
There are other tactics of the frustys, some displaying active bigotry toward older librarians. "She doesn’t like this new tech thing because she’s old, and old people are slow and stupid." That’s a sharpened paraphrase of something I actually heard come out of a librarian’s mouth at a conference once. Some like to smear all older librarians with the same brush based on very little evidence. In my experience older librarians do adapt more slowly, but they do adapt if given any reasons to, instead of just being mocked for being behind the times. To the younguns, you being terribly excited about some new thing doesn’t impress librarians who’ve been around a while. Those librarians have seen too many trends come and go to be impressed anymore. Are there some stupid older librarians? Sure. But there are plenty of stupid younger ones, too. I know. I’ve read their blog posts and tweets.
Then there’s the "everyone’s doing it" argument. When that one comes into play the disagreement can also split uncomfortably among generational lines into traditional parent and children roles. "All the other librarians are trying this cool new approach!" squeal the frustys. "Well, if all the other librarians jumped off a bridge, would you?" "Sure! And I’d liveblog it!"
Being popular in itself isn’t a reason to change anything, and yet it keeps being trotted out in arguments, even if the frustys don’t realize they sound like children whining to their parents that all the cool kids are doing X so why can’t they.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, let me humbly repeat that I’m not "against change." Instead, I’m against having useless changes foisted upon me by the shallow and the stupid, and I believe that skepticism is a healthy intellectual virtue, and not something to be dismissed in favor of so-called inspirational messages. Do I get inspired? Sure I do. I just don’t get inspired by shallow prats and "motivational" speakers.
And do I have acolytes anymore? I thought they all left when I moved to LJ. Oh, and the phrase back then was "dimwitted minion."