Among the comments to the last post this one intrigued me:
In no other profession do you see such goofy foolishness as in the librarian profession. You don’t see doctors, lawyers, politicians, even hamburger flippers making pedestrian videos in an effort to make their profession look cool or hip or relevant. I work in a public library and everyday I know we’re relevant. I don’t need some churlish stuffed-shirt in hip clothing to tell me how to be a professional.
I don’t encounter many churlish stuffed-shirts in hip clothing, but it’s quite an image. I’m curious, though, whether the first statement is accurate: "In no other profession do you see such goofy foolishness as in the librarian profession."
My experience with most other professions is limited to friends and family. Outside of librarianship, the profession I’m most familiar with is the academic one. It is indeed hard to imagine the average professor of just about anything putting out some of the "goofy foolishness" as I’ve seen over the years from librarians. Not that professors can’t be goofy. They certainly can be. But I’ve never seen anything to rival the "Library 101" or "Digital Native" videos for sheer vapidity.
It could be because the average professor is smarter than the average librarian, or at least smarter in ways I appreciate. There are analogous concerns among professors, especially some of them in the humanities, that their profession isn’t appreciated or that it might go away. But when they worry about connecting to regular folk and making the case for their profession, they think about doing it with rational discourse rather than silly videos. Both are wastes of time, but the choice itself says something.
I know a few lawyers, too, and couldn’t imagine them doing some of the things librarians do to supposedly promote the profession. The same is probably true of doctors as well, though I wouldn’t put anything past politicians.
The difference between librarianship and more lucrative professions is that those professionals would never put out a document or video that would be forwarded around with the adjective, "cute," as someone mentioned the "Digital Native" video was. Serious professionals don’t want to be seen as "cute." Competent, intelligent, knowledgeable, yes. Cute, no.
Some librarians want the profession to be considered "hip" as well. Good grief. Who cares about hip when you have important work to do? The people most obsessed with their public image are the people with the least substance behind the image.
I don’t know what motivates this drive for cuteness or even hipness. Is it an inferiority complex of some kind? Were those librarians always picked last for things when they were children? The librarian leaving the comment obviously doesn’t feel inferior or unappreciated. Most of the librarians I know don’t feel the need to exhibit themselves as "cute" or "hip." They seem to feel okay plodding along doing things like…their jobs.
If the foolishness didn’t make professional librarians look like silly, desperate people, I wouldn’t mind so much, and the Annoyed Librarian would have little reason to exist. The cutesy and silly librarians don’t seem to get it, though. They just don’t understand how someone could find their antics ridiculous, or even professionally embarrassing. Any criticism is just too "negative."
Maybe one day librarians will be less desperate to show how cute and cool and hip they are. Or maybe there just won’t be any librarians. Either way, the problem would be solved. The question remains, though. Are librarians the only silly professionals?