(reposted from my LiveJournal)
Another class weekend is upon me (seems like that's all I talk about - school, Doctor Who, family stuff... well, it's summertime. That's what happens). I'm part of yet another presentation, but this one is on Medical Subject Headings (MeSH for short), of which I know absolutely nothing about, but that's okay because I'm only supposed to come up with the uses for it in cataloging and I only have to fill up about 5 minutes of presentation time (one of the benefits of group work). I found some good info on the MeSH website and sent it on to our group-leader-person, so yippie. Sadly, MeSH doesn't lend itself well to making another cool-yet-educational video based in fandom, which is a shame because I'm becoming quite proficient at it ^_^
In the course of my quest to become a well-rounded and informed librarian, I checked out a book called "This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All" by Marilyn Johnson. My instructor in my last class suggested that we all read it because it's got some good insight on new technologies for librarianship. I'm right in the middle of reading it... and I just must be an idiot or something because it's making my brain melt. Every chapter details how various librarians throughout the country are using blogs, iPhones and Second Life to meet the masses' information needs - and they all have tattoos and spiky purple hair, because, you know - that's cool! We have to grind that oppressive stereotype of dowdy spinster librarians into dust! Peace, love, dope - it's all about anarchy! Down with the establishment!! (yes, Sheldon, that was sarcasm).
Not that there's anything inherently wrong with tattoos and spiky purple hair - if that's the way you roll, then go for it. But it's like people have to go from one extreme to the next just to prove how relevant they are, which is kind of dumb. There are plenty of middle-of-the-roaders (like me) who aren't necessarily going to get on your case for being loud in the kids' section or playing "World of Warcraft" on your computer time, but I'm not going to go make up a bisexual persona on Second Life just to show how "hip" and "with it" I am (some people will and that's fine. I'm not disparaging that lifestyle - I'm just saying that's not me). Personally, I think we have sufficiently proven that geeks can be cool without having to make a big neon sign proclaiming it to be so. You're as relevant as you make yourself out to be - and it's not by playing some whiny victim act that everyone picks on you and your life is so unfair because that gets you nowhere.
Anyway (now that I've made my political statement), it blows my mind how many avenues there are to librarianship. I mean, I blog (obviously) . I have a Facebook and a YouTube account, but I don't have a Twitter or a Second Life account. Honestly, I think that I'm one of those people that if I had a Second Life account, I'd never get off and venture outside. I really have to be careful about things like that because I can be an extreme person. I probably would be okay with doing roving reference (where you have an iPhone and you go out into the stacks or even the streets to provide reference - you don't have to be tied down to a desk). There's just so much librarians can do and sometimes I feel like I have to do it all to be a good librarian. I have to keep reminding myself that it's okay to pick and choose what you do. Not everyone is going to respond to everything out there. There are some people that still run the ink-and-paper route and if you try to explain something like Second Life to them, they aren't going to go for it (happily, there is a chapter about people who still deal in bound books, but they get pretty whiny when there's talk of funding cuts and stuff like that. Heaven help me if I ever become so annoying).
That's what my Future of Reference presentation was all about - we get so enthralled by these shiny new toys and how things have changed, we forget what the changes were for. It's about serving people - not serving our egos or staying on trend with the latest and greatest. I'm just trying to keep a perspective on things for myself because I can get caught up in all these NEW! IMPROVED! AMAZING! gimmicks, much to my own detriment. I want to become a librarian so I can help people become better than they already are - especially middle and high school kids because they're just fun. I want to help the sophomore English student with a report on "Julius Caesar." I want to help an 8th grader work out a question about volcanoes for a science fair project. I want the 13-year-old whose parents are divorcing to be comfortable asking me for a book on how to cope with the situation. I want some kid who got a telescope for Christmas to ask me for the names of the constellations. Whatever they need - that's my purpose in life.
And, you know what? I'm okay with that.