A kind reader sent me a blog post by a cheerful librarian who didn’t like it that the AL is so "negative" and that the blog and many of its commenters would make fun of a ridiculous library movement because the persons behind it were "passionate" and "enthusiastic." Supposedly, we need more passion and enthusiasm in librarianship. I was under the impression that we had lots of "passion" and "enthusiasm" but almost no culture of criticism.
Passion and enthusiasm don’t matter. What matters is the result. Librarians are prone to think that being bubbly and chirpy is somehow important. For a lot of us, being bubbly and chirpy makes you look like an idiot. Dance around enthusiastically grinning like a fool all you like, but your enthusiasm moves me not a whit. You can put on a happy face or direct your feet to the sunny side of the street or load up on antidepressants or whatever else you need to get through the day, but I don’t care how you feel. I care what you do and how it makes the profession I’m in look. You don’t like it that I’m "negative"? I don’t like it that you’re chirpy.
Let’s consider that Library 101 video once again. Is anyone willing to defend that? Anyone willing to say it was successful in anything it attempted to do? Anyone at all? Please step up if so. The consensus among many of us is that the video was tedious, overlong, painful to watch, and an insult to the profession of librarianship. The only positive things I’ve read about it (apart from the people who created it) are that it shows a lot of enthusiasm. Um, so what? Is that how professional librarians should judge the worth of something to the profession? That it’s enthusiastic? Is that really our criterion of value? How many librarians actually watched that video all the way through and thought, "Oh, wow! I’m so enthusiastic now!"
We can also go back over the list of 101 things that are supposedly basic to librarianship. The very simple response is, no, they’re not. If theoneohonions presented this as "some things that some public services librarians in public libraries might want to know about," that would be one thing. But that’s not the case. It’s more like "these are absolutely critical ‘skills’ for all librarians because we say so!" Many of these things aren’t relevant for most librarians. In their "enthusiasm," the oneohonions , much like the twopointopians, make hyperbolic claims that can’t possibly be supported. To say they’re "passionate" is irrelevant. The question is, are they right? No, they’re not.
People like to attack the AL for being "negative" or "anonymous," but they do that because they can’t address the issues I raise. That’s another sign of the bias of librarians. "Oh, let’s play nice now. If we can’t say something nice, let’s not say anything at all." Hence, the judgment that theoneohonion video is "enthusiastic." Well, it certainly is that. How many people really want something like that associated with librarianship, though? I find things like that as offensive as the Pollyannas find the AL.
Few people are willing to step up and say the things I make fun of are actually worthwhile. Instead, they try to sidetrack the discussion. That’s always been the way the anti-AL crowd has worked. It’s because they don’t actually have any arguments to make. If they did, they’d make them and wouldn’t have to try to divert our attention to other issues.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m not here to play nice. I’m here to mock and satirize the stupid things that go on in librarianship. Like a lot of librarians, I get tired of enthusiasm over trivialities. I’m trying to end the culture of nice and introduce a culture of criticism. You don’t like what I have to say? Disagree with it. Refute it. Don’t read it. Dismiss it if you like. But even if the AL weren’t here, there would be plenty of librarians who find stuff like this ridiculous. They just wouldn’t have a blog to comment on.
The twopointopians and oneohonions think they define librarianship. They praise each other and link to each other and chatter with each other on Twitter and Friendfeed, and they all show up at the same conferences and say the same things to each other and pat each other on the back that they’re so enthusiastic. It’s a very cozy cabal, but they’re really just a vocal minority within librarianship. They certainly don’t define the profession as a whole, despite having the nerve to tell the world that they know what the basics of librarianship are and those of us who disagree should just shut up and stop being so negative.
It should be clear to you by now I’m not playing by your rules. I’m not part of your little clique. I’m not going to check my brain and my "negativity" at the door so I can join your party. So you can continue participating in your "enthusiastic" group techno-hug all you like, but don’t expect the rest of us to be impressed.