Saturday, March 18, 2006

Generation Stereotyped

Recent issues of American Libraries and College and Research Library News have both had articles on how to cope with the new generation of librarians. It sounds as if the old guard needs a guidebook. How can we understand these uppity young people? They're so odd. It must be all that multitasking, or is that they love technology?

Or is it that some librarians can't resist classification? By age.

Angel, the Gypsy Librarian, has a long and thoughtful post about all this (which is no surprise; all of his posts are thoughtful). Personally, I think it's time to drop this peculiar form of stereotyping and get on with simply being professionals who respect one another and don't stoop to ageism, e.g. you're young, so likely to rebel; I'm old, so likely to cling to protocol. Ah, baloney!


Charlotte said...

Barbara, this made me laugh because 15 years ago this month I got my first letter published in "American Libraries" responding to an essay about hiring only older librarians. I made a good case for us newcomers at the time. At 25, I had been actively working in libraries half my life, so I felt just fine about my career choice and ability to contribute to the profession. It's clear these days that the world of technology is changing so much of what librarians do and there are many times when I feel so old and unprepared for this new world. For me, the answer isn't drawing generational lines in the sand, it's creating continuing education opportunities for librarians my age and older who just missed the boat on a lot of the new technology and are isolated in small libraries without technical support or training. This week, for instance, I am seeing the word Wiki all over the place and I have no clue how that is different from a blog, or why I would want to do one or why someone created one for ALA in New Orleans, even though I logged on to it. Looked like an interactive newsletter, I guess, just don't ask me to make one! These "Senior" moments are happening more and more frequently and it's easy to get frustrated and upset about feeling "left out" of the new world of librarianship. I gotta say, too, so much of what I see on blogs (present company excepted!)just seems like so much self involvement and tedium that I have been turned off of the whole medium. We just interviewed a young woman for a librarian position at our library and she couldn't stop talking about how much we needed a blog. My boss and I just rolled our eyes because we were thinking about all our real technology needs with aging equipment, old automated system and incompatible software, etc. etc. Cool tech features is way down our list of problems right now.
At that moment there seemed a real disconnect between the problems of the "older" librarian and the enthusiams of the newer librarian. It was very striking.

Alec said...

LOL! Thanks, Barbara. Your entry is a gem, both hilarious and true. Amen!