No such thing as a Libertarian Librarian?

This being the inaugural post of my blog, what better way to start then with a rant against the system? Ok. So, Man, the issue with library school is that it kind of functions as a massive group-think for librarians. Which, of course, is pretty damn awesome. When it comes to things such as finding creative ways to answer reference questions, adapting to new technology, identifying trends, and discussing different approaches to information management, you really can’t beat the atmosphere created within a Library school.

However, just try mentioning the word (god-forbid) “privatization” and watch us react by clutching on to our books furiously, as if Stephen Harper himself was trying to tear them from our clammy grasp. The thing is: there are no libertarian librarians.

Throughout my whole arts undergrad education it’s been consistently ingrained that there is a very clear good/evil binary that maps on the public/private divide. Private is always corrupt and profit driven, exploiting the many, the weak, and the discriminated for the means of the few. While the public brings about these utopian collective (Leninist…) peaceful ideas of citizens engaging in free and enlightening services while kids play happily in the green grass.

It makes me wonder if in business or economic programs, the binary is flipped around; the private world is the place of the free individual who works hard and gets what she/he deserves. The streets are just paved with opportunity and success. While the public world is as corrupt and inefficient as Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, where it is so full of ridiculously complex and maddening bureaucracy, that it takes a criminal repairman to fulfill the needs of the citizens.

Yah yah yah yah. I know nobody actually makes that simple, or black and white, of a distinction.

Still though, the immediate withdrawal toward any discussion of the private sphere in library school is like nothing I have seen (except among my really really leftist friends).

The problem here is that this kind of unconscious, immediate rejection of the private world puts blinders on librarians, keeping them from seeing the benefits it poses and making them unnecessarily ideological and competitive.

The flurry of librarians continuously tweeting and posting “we already have that, it’s a library. Idiots.” (Paraphrasing a bit there) toward the new “Netflix for books” business ventures (there has been a few of them now) was a pretty ludicrous display of snobbery and self -back-patting.

As if such a widely fundraised idea could be the result of a mere lapse of judgement that libraries exist. This is not to say that it isn’t a humorous or relevant point to make. However, the extent to which this point was repeated and repeated and repeated, and the fact that news articles keep reporting again and again and again about these companies using the article title “The Netflix for Books?” says so much about how the current population views the library and how they view such private services as Netflix.

I’ll talk more about what I think these changing perceptions are later


About Ryan Regier

Doing Library Stuff. Follow me on twitter at: @ryregier
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One Response to No such thing as a Libertarian Librarian?

  1. Pingback: The Library Showdown Smackdown: Abram versus Buschman | awayofhappening

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