Wait --Spring Semester is hardly done! In the Library, we're already planning for Fall Semester-- thinking through important summer projects and improvements for the next academic year. This issue of the Library Newsletter for Faculty is meant to help you find resources and services for your research and teaching in the months ahead --both the Summer and the Fall!
The Lede: Librarians Are "Having a Moment"
Speaking about post-truth and fake news, “Librarians are having a moment” –said by Carla Hayden, the new Librarian of Congress, to a national academic librarians’ conference in April. Librarians’ moment, she went on to say, is because of the trust the public (and the academy) place in librarians: “as information professionals, we’re always looking at what’s the most authoritative source for the information and teaching information literacy.” (NY Times, Jan. 19, 2017)
ILLUSTRATION BY BEN KIRCHNER; PHOTOGRAPH BY LEXEY SWALL / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX
When asked “if you might need to teach information literacy to members of Congress,” she replied “If they start as children, I think there’s hope.”
Sarah Larson, writing in The New Yorker (Feb. 19) noted the “greatness and humility” in play and tension with each other at the Library of Congress: “we want our leaders to inspire us but to express personal humility.” Hayden notes that when she was formally asked to serve, “It was the word, ‘serve’ that helped me.” In her previous work at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, “you were really almost touching the people who were benefiting from the work of the library. And I had to think about, “How can I make this library that relevant, and that immediate?”
That question speaks to and for every library, including this our own. How can we make the Library that relevant, that immediate –how can we serve? The greatness of working as a librarian is in the service, in the pull of our ideals in play with the push of our members’ needs and hopes. If ever there were a time when it is particularly relevant and important to be a librarian, and to serve a library, that time is now. In a long note on Facebook, Timothy Snyder, a professor of European history at Yale, wrote “Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so.” In his book On Tyranny, Snyder writes, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.”
Librarians are indeed having a moment: a moment of truth, in every sense of that phrase. May your summer focus your hopes to teach our students to take responsibility for the real world. Take the time to affirm the truths you know.