Saturday, March 22, 2008

Was I Too Harsh?

I was reading through comments on the LISNews blog last night. There was one post about public libraries being turned into video arcades. Essentially public libraries have been introducing gaming into their libraries to attract a younger crowd, and there has been much criticism from some people about the direction this is taking libraries. And of course, you have those on the other side defending themselves. So typically it is a confrontational situation and emotions can run high for those working in the public libraries. I have been following the discussions but largely been neutral about it since these are not really my choices to make.

That being said, one comment in the string really stood out to me. I read it and went away for a couple hours. It started to get under my skin, so I went back to it and felt compelled to reply.

I can understand the person's negative feelings about the way things are going in his/her library. But these particular lines right at the end were, to me, really telling: "we have books here. we just have adult and children too stupid to read them now." (emphasis added).

I can understand this young adult librarian's frustration that the books are not being read. And illiteracy is becoming an increasing problem, granted. But it is not stupidity that is the issue. It is one thing to take out the anger on the system or the administrators, or even fellow librarians who see things differently, but to hold such contempt for the people he or she is supposed to be serving! How can this person effectively do the job if there is no respect for his or her patrons?

Anyway, I was unusually outspoken in my response. Was I too harsh?

Please--how do you see things? Tell me what you think, or head over to the discussion and weigh in with your opinion. If you think I was out of line, please do go over there and tell me so. Do me a favour, will you, and put your name on it? It is easy to take pot shots anonymously. Let's get some balance in the discussion--the more voices and opinions, the better.

Thank you,


Jim Milles said...

I don't think your response was too harsh at all--particularly considering that the commenter you replied to was anonymous. I'm a strong supporter of pseudonymous blogging and commenting, because with a consistent pseudonym the author has to have the integrity and conviction to stand behind his or her statements. Anonymity, on the other hand, invites irresponsible commenting.

Somebody wrote a while back (was it you, Connie?) about the stultifying niceness of the library blogosphere. The blogosphere is a place for vigorous--and reasoned--debate.

Stephen said...

You were fine. I would not call that harsh at all. The infamous Litwin thread from a couple years ago was a case where things were harsh. Somewhere between you and Matt is where I would have fallen.

The key thing is that this is a big issue with no concrete answer. It is a good day on LISNews when we have discussion going. That was an exceptionally well-discussed post and am happy that it was so lively.

I remember the debate about whether to shackle Anonymous Patron or not. While I still think we should, the consensus is to keep things open. This is why I advocate on the podcast for people to get accounts and use them! :-)

Cyrus said...

Connie, you said what you believe in a manner that was tasteful and truthful.
That alone is reason not to worry about this anymore.

Now just think about the great things that you can do with you family and friends this beautiful weekend!

Michelle McLean said...

You weren't harsh at all. In fact, you inspired me to leave a comment, particularly as one whose library does offer gaming.

Thanks for pointing it out to us.

The Eagle Dawg said...

Weighing in way late, but wanted to voice my support for you as well. I see 'omg games/Web 2.0/no reference desks/change in the library!' discussions as a resurrection of the "taste-elevation theory" in Victorian-era libraries. For those who romanticize librarianship's past, they would be well-served to have a refresher from library school about our history! :)

Connie said...

Never too late. In fact, I am way late responding to everyone's encouraging notes here. Have to say, when I went back the next day and read my comment on that post, I had softened it down a lot with editing.

I just think people have a hard time with change. And when it is maybe not change for the better, they feel like they have no control in improving the situation.

Thank you, everyone!