In high school one of my boyfriends had a garage band. To be honest, he was kind of geeky, but thought the garage band made him seem cool. The band was abysmal, and to my classically trained ear sounded like a group of not especially coordinated baboons pounding kettle drums with baby rattles while screaming at each other. They were quite literally a garage band, since they rehearsed in his parent’s garage and never got a gig. I and some of our long-suffering friends would occasionally stand around watching this bizarre spectacle and laughing (at them, not with them). They never got a gig, of course, because they were awful, but it was clear that the band members didn’t realize how awful they sounded, and were clearly having fun even though no one else was.
Flashbacks from high school ran through my mind when I watched this self-indulgent work of "art": the Library 101 video, debuted at the Internet Librarian conference. So many library bloggers who are proponents of the dominant ideology have been linking to and praising this tripe, I just had to comment.
I think it’s supposed to inspire librarians to do something or think something or maybe just be, but I can’t figure out what. I guess "Library 101" is the new attempt by the usual suspects to pretend they have something original or interesting to say now that people have seen through the Library 2.0 nonsense. The Twopointopians have had a makeover, and now they are Oneohonions. It’s not as catchy, I know, but neither is the song in that video.
The video is a 6+ minute "song" with some incomprehensible lyrics about turning our libraries or librarians into Library 101, or something. Because the singing is incomprehensible, they have included subtitles. Not a good idea. The song definitely sounds better if you don’t know what they’re singing, and that’s saying something. As for the playing, well, if you like loud, uncoordinated music that goes nowhere and values repetition and distortion over complexity, development, and wit, then this is the song for you.
The video portion consists of a bunch of photographs of librarians holding up the numbers 1 or 0 and smiling goofily, interspersed with scenes of two old guys in bad tee shirts dancing haphazardly, or the same old guys in tacky sparking trousers banging away at guitars. They’re obviously enjoying themselves. The question is, why would anyone else?
I’m looking forward to this Library 101 thing, because anytime some librarians try to promote themselves by promoting vacuous ideas under the guise of innovation, it’s ripe material for the AL. But just based on this video, what are we supposed to tell about "101" librarians? That they’re loud, uncoordinated, mediocre musicians? That their idea of a good time is yelling inane lyrics at each other while annoying everyone else? This is the sort of thing teenage boys do, but for grown people with serious work to do it’s just a nuisance.
The video defenders would probably say I just don’t have a sense of humor or something, but I do have a sense of humor. The problem is, I also have a sense of melody, harmony, and aesthetic decorum.
Someone calling himself "Libraryman" has a Complete List of Library 101 Skills for those without the tolerance to sit through the excruciating video. Among the "skills" are: LinkedIn, Hulu, and iPhones. Apparently, "using clear and appropriate terminology" isn’t a Library 101 skill. I’m not sure when Hulu became a "skill," but if this is something essential to librarianship I think "Libraryman" and I are in different professions. Though having sat through the entire Library 101 video, I wish this supposedly crucial library "skill" was more common: "how to make a good, interesting, fun video."
From what I’ve been reading, the rest of Internet Librarian seems to be what most library conferences are: a bunch of librarians standing up stating the obvious or giving self-promoting and self-obsessed presentations that are all flash and no substance. What fun! I’m just glad that as a librarian I have more important things to do than worry about negligible "skills" like Hulu or Blip.tv . But if the rest of you want to pretend that being a librarian is about being an entertainment director, go right ahead. You probably won’t get a job either way.