Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

No, Everyone Really DOES Like to Search

I admit to, at one time, having had a slight problem with Roy Tennant’s statement from 2001 that “Only librarians like to search; everyone else likes to find”. Admittedly it is a cleverly stated and catchy phrase. It’s no surprise it caught on with any librarian giving a talk or writing a paper who wanted to make a sound-bite observation about students gravitating to Google rather than using a library search system. I pointed out that while it sounds good and is catchy, it may not make all that much sense. After all, can anyone find anything without doing some sort of search? You might say that librarians like the challenge of searching more than non-librarians. On the other hand, the reason I prefer to search native language DIALOG is precisely because I find what I need really fast and can report it out in exactly the way I want it. As a librarian I don’t want to spend any more time searching than I absolutely need. But I’d never try to convince the layperson to try using DIALOG.

So I found it really interesting to discover this article about how much people – not just librarians – really do like to search. In fact, according to this article “Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting” from Slate “when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about divining meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.” Apparently searching for information fulfills some primordial need to hunt and find – and that doing so may actually create a sense of arousal in humans. That may explain why you can’t stop yourself from constantly checking your social network accounts to see if there’s anything new and interesting there. Roy gave our profession a thought provoking phrase, and it definitely struck a chord with us. But given this new research it may be time to update it to “Everyone likes to search, but librarians like to do it better”.

Good Advice on Being a Good Colleague

This blog post over at Center of Gravitas is geared to faculty but I thought there were some insightful observations about what it means to be a good colleague – and what it means to be a jerk. Go read it. You may think you don’t need to be reminded about being a good colleague, but take my word for it – we all need to be reminded about this on a regular basis.

Some Librarians Still Don’t Get Blogging

I came across Thomas Leonhardt’s column in the June 2009 issue of Against the Grain (sorry – not available in full-text) in which he explains “Why I Don’t Blog”. While it’s not as anti-blogging as the infamous Michael Gorman Library Journal column, it too mistakenly uses generalizations that illustrate a lack of understanding about the benefits many blogs provide to the library community. Problematic generalization number one. Leonhardt gets things off to a bad start by implying that all bloggers have big egos. Sure, some librarian bloggers do like to brag about shamelessly promote their latest article or an offer to present at a conference, but that’s hardly a reason to write off librarian blogs. If anything, Leonhardt reveals that he doesn’t get that self-promotion is an accepted practice among the newer generation of librarians. He may find it unsettling (I did too at one time) but it’s not about big egos. Problematic generalization number two. Leonhardt uses the Annoyed Librarian as an example of the typical librarian blog, and he makes no secret of his dislike for what he finds there. But he uses this one blog to justify his “I won’t be back to this site or any other blog site” mentality. That doesn’t seem particularly open minded for a librarian. If I read one book I didn’t like, would it then make sense to conclude that I should never read a book again?

Leonhardt then veers off into conflating blogging with communicating with family and friends. Most librarian bloggers are dealing with issues, not personal communications with friends. This failed observation gets back to the lesson we should have learned from Gorman’s column. Don’t criticize blogging if you haven’t taken time to really get to know different librarian blogs. Base your opinions on experience (and not just a single blog) rather than what you’ve heard or read elsewhere. So if you are a regular reader of ATG – and I hope you are – just ignore Leonhardt’s advice when he cautions against blogging. If you have something to say, consider blogging about it. There are loads of librarian blogs, but I imagine there are still plenty of ideas out there just waiting for a good blogger to come along and share. Here’s what I find especially ironic. ATG promotes blogging by its regular columnists by offering them blogging space. Perhaps Leonhardt ought to begin a serious exploration of librarian blogging by reading the ones written by his fellow ATG columnists. Then again, maybe he’s already moved on to writing his column explaining why he doesn’t have a Twitter account.

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