Believe it or not, I generally like being a librarian. I enjoy my job and most of my colleagues. I like having access to a good library. I like that I work at a university with a reasonably attractive campus and not in a strip mall or an office park somewhere.
So what annoys me? It’s all the vapidity in the profession as a whole. It’s the low standards that allow the dimmest of wits to become “librarians.” And it’s all the times I look at a conference presentation or a library speaker and think to myself, my god, how could anyone take this stuff seriously?
The latest is the Handheld Librarian Online Conference, which seems appropriately named because it looks like a bunch of sub-normal masturbatory low-jinks.
Get a load of some of the “keynotes.”
KEYNOTE: “Creating the Future of Mobile Library Services”
Description: This audience-driven session will use input from you to highlight current trends, best practices, and emerging futures of mobile services. Together we will push the boundaries and pull the horizons to invent the future of mobile libraries and establish best practices for continuing success.
I mean, really, how are we supposed to take this seriously? I have to admit that the speakers are clever enough to have a “keynote” where they don’t need any ideas. If I ever deliver a keynote address, I’ll have to remember that little trick. “Audience-driven,” indeed.
And the second sentence offends the intellect even more, from the cliched “push the boundaries” to the nonsensical “pull the horizons.” And we’re led to believe that the hapless librarians silly enough to participate in this are going to invent the future of anything, and in only an hour!
But wait, there’s more! Librarians aren’t just going to pull horizons and invent futures, they’re going to take risks! Maybe.
KEYNOTE: “Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution”
Description: Mobile technologies are taking the world by storm. New products, services, and features and hit the market (and the news) each day – all with much related fanfare and debate. How do we separate what’s hip from what’s hype? How do we determine what’s worthy of attention and exploration in our libraries? Librarians are well-positioned to take the lead in this rapidly changing environment.
I know presentation descriptions are often exaggerated in order to excite the easily excitable, but this is just too much. The only thing that seems to be “taking the world by storm” here is the desire to use more cliches. Oooh, new things hit the market every day! How exciting! Intelligent people already know that you can’t separate the hip from the hype, because hip is hype. It’s all hype. For example, Apple makes some useless modifications to a product and sheeple line up to give them money. That’s how it works.
The final sentence is a holwer, too. Are there really people gullible enough to believe that librarians, despite all evidence to the contrary, are leading in any “rapidly changing environment”? Especially in a technological environment? This demonstrates the mentality common among many “techie” librarians that using tools other people create somehow makes one a technological leader. It’s very clear who are the leaders in the so-called “mobile revolution,” and unless there are librarians designing and coding for Apple, Google, Motorola, etc., it’s definitely not librarians.
This description isn’t quite as absurd, but from the tone it’s not clear if the intended audience is teenagers or librarians.
KEYNOTE: “Meta Social: Online Interactions (& How to Make them Rock)”
Description: Online is social and mobile these days – do you know what’s out there, and how to make it work for your library? This presentation will introduce you to the different types of social interactions available on today’s web. More importantly, you’ll leave knowing how to improve each type of social interaction, and how to make it ROCK for your library.
Unless this is supposed to be social about social, I have no idea what the title means. Actually, I don’t even know what “social about social” would mean either, come to think of it. The conference is supposed to be about mobile, not social, but apparently no one bothered to inform this keynote speaker. I’m still trying to figure out the relationship between “handheld” and “the different types of social interactions available on today’s web.” I mean, without getting dirty minded.
And good grief, how hard is it to “know what’s out there,” especially, as we’re told in the last description, this stuff makes the daily news. It’s also just as obvious to most of us that most of this stuff doesn’t do much for libraries except keep the “techie” librarians occupied so they don’t bother everyone else. I can’t channel my inner juvenile boy enough to care if something ROCKS or not. And when it comes to “social,” I bet he won’t even talk about the latest fad, Friendface.
I would go on, but I couldn’t take any more and stopped reading after those. I’m in a profession surrounded by people obsessed with style over substance, glitter over gold, and who would spend time and money attending stuff like this. That’s enough to annoy any librarian.