By Meredith Farkas | November 5, 2009
Let this be a lesson to you — never write a comment on a blog post while you have a baby on your lap who is simultaneously grabbing at your laptop and spitting up on your pants (yes, this really happened, I have the stained jeans to prove it). Trust me, what you write will never come out the way you wanted it to. I commented on a friend’s blog post about the Library 101 project and what I wrote came out really badly. So I hope to clear it up here, though while I may be more clear in my explanation, I may make an even bigger hash of things. Seriously, I should probably stop contributing to the web entirely until Reed is in kindergarten.
There was a big part of me that loved Library 101 (for those of you who don’t know, this is a video produced by Michael Porter and David Lee King — with a group of essays from others in the profession — designed to encourage people to keep up with new technologies). I love Michael and David’s enthusiasm and creativity — I think of them as the profession’s greatest cheerleaders. I was on a panel with them at ALA and I felt like a curmudgeon sitting there in the face of their true belief and optimism. The Library 101 video was really fun, though perhaps a bit long. I certainly appreciate the time and effort and passion that went into it and wish I had the video editing skills they have. I also love how many people in the profession love libraries and love Michael and David enough to photograph themselves for the project and how many really cool, smart people took the time to write essays for it. My contribution is less than stellar in my opinion because I dashed it off at a time when I was dealing with family illness and lack of sleep (pretty much the one constant in my life these days). I wish I could have written something better for the project. A lot of the other pieces are far better-written and more thought-provoking.
While I loved it as me, Meredith Farkas, friend and fan, I didn’t quite understand it when I tried to look at it through the lens of a library worker who is not that into technology. Or a library administrator. Would that inspire me to start learning about technology or to start a Learning 2.0-type program? Probably not. And when I commented that I didn’t understand the project, that’s what I meant. I don’t really understand who they’re doing it for. If it’s for people like me, they hit their mark. If it’s for a library administrator who doesn’t see the value of continuing technology education or a librarian who just doesn’t care about all this web 2.0 stuff, I don’t think this is going to reach those people. It just feels like preaching to the choir, because I think the people who are going to love the video are already drinking the kool-ade about the importance of continuous learning about technologies. I guess what I would have liked to see is something constructive coming from the Library 101 site — like a call to create a continuing education program like Learning 2.0 or Five Weeks to a Social Library, where the video could direct/inspire lots of people from all over the profession to share their knowledge of library technologies through creating educational content that anyone could benefit from. It just seems to be missing that “next step.”
While I’m all for criticism, and some people have leveled some very constructive criticisms of the project, I really hate how mean some people have been about Library 101. I know what it’s like to put your blood, sweat and tears into a project and then have people say mean things about it. Even when 90% of people are saying great stuff (or at least constructive stuff), it’s that 10% that you hear the most (at least I do). I’m not saying “don’t criticize people,” I’m just saying that when you do, you should think of how much effort that person put into their work and criticize in a constructive and humane way. Because the last thing we want to do is discourage creativity and risk-taking in this profession by beating people up for it.
My little guy just woke up from his nap, so I’d better run before I write something stupid again.