What I mostly see in the library blogosphere is a mix of celebration of our professional values in a less-than-substantial way; celebration of our pop culture presence; demonstration of our interest in pop culture; a rather immature obsession with our image in the culture; and general personal blogging under the heading of “librarian.” Because the library blogosphere has nearly replaced the reading of journals for most younger librarians, this content has to be seen as the material that now constitutes the self-conception of librarianship for the librarians who read it, education and work responsibilities aside, for ourselves and before the public. As a result of the interests of library bloggers, in a postmodern transformation, the profession of librarianship is being replaced by the signifier of librarianship. The implication for the problem of deprofessionalization is that the library blogosphere is unwittingly abetting it. The claim to professional expertise is slipping through our fingers, replaced by a mere claim to a cultural identity. A claim to a cultural identity doesn’t constitute a claim to professional autonomy, and professional autonomy is what is needed in order to advance the goals of the profession that we all celebrate.
Deprofessionalization and the library blogosphere
Contentious advice from Rory Litwin of Library Juice Press? He also adds that “the ‘librarian identity’ is a matter of expertise rather than something to do with Catwoman”. Ouch.
I think the trouble is that we often see librarianship as more than a profession – we see it as a vocation, an ethos, a way of life. It becomes tempting to fly the librarian flag in every aspect of our lives but maybe we just shouldn’t. Maybe we should stop being knitting librarians, cycling librarians, gin-drinking librarians, rock-climbing librarians, cake-baking librarians, indie librarians, cyberpunk bounty hunter librarians and just be librarians.
Has “the reading of journals” really disappeared in younger librarians? Part of me feels like this argument is curmudgeonly, Franzen-esque—hating on the online (& primarily young) librarian community because it feel good rather than because it makes sense. I mean, if there really is a correlation between an increased participation in an online librarian communication and a decrease in on-the-job professionalism or preparedness, then this is a valid complaint. I just have no idea if that correlation exists, and I suspect it doesn’t. Long story short, if you feel like you aren’t reading enough professional journals, subscribe to LJ. You can still follow us on tumblr, too, I promise.