Towards a New Literary Culture, with a Note on Secret Identities

Inspired by this blog post, I started to think about my secret identities. I, too, tend to sing a lot – but only when no one is around to hear it. Since sometime around third grade, I began to see myself as a physicist at heart – or, more accurately, a cosmologist – and I still do. On the other hand, I also see myself as a philosopher. And an anthropologist.

I do realize that I’m none of those things. While I’ve read extensively in popular science titles, I’ve had no formal education in any hard sciences beyond high school. I did study quite a bit of philosophy in college and took a few classes in anthropology. But I’ve never done any of the real work that’s essential to actually being a cosmologist or philosopher or anthropologist. To claim that I am is an insult to those people who really are.

But this is about my secret identities. The ways in my heart-of-hearts that I’m the hero of the movie of my own life.
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Context Matters!

In library school, we spent a lot of time discussing the nature of data and information, debating the differences and relationships between them. This may seem frivolous to some, but remember that the essence of librarianship is to curate and provide access to quality information in a community. While there are many competing definitions of information, most people are willing to accept some version of this:

Information is data put into context.

It’s the “put into context” part that’s important here – raw data doesn’t really tell us anything in-and-of itself; it must be placed into meaningful context in order to be useful.

Context is everything.
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Education & the Importance of Open Discussion

I want to share this article. Given the irreducible importance of the role that libraries play in education and the promotion of open discussion in our society, I think the points elucidated here apply to us, as well.

Charles Negy, Professor, Says Students Showed ‘Religious Arrogance And Bigotry’ In A Letter Later Posted On Reddit (The Huffington Post, posted online on August 16, 2012)

While I may not be entirely comfortable with the professor’s focus on Christians and intolerance (I know many, many Christians who despise intolerance and close-mindedness; likewise, I know many close-minded and intolerant people from other religions) I deeply appreciate what he has to say about the absolute importance of open debate and critical thought.
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Public Libraries as Place – or, Who Inherits the Legacy of Borders?

The Carnegie Corporation recently published the following article:

Today’s Public Libraries: Public Places of Excellence, Education and Innovation

Personally, I think this is the best summation of the value of public libraries I’ve read. I especially appreciate that the author talks about the importance of place in our culture.

Of course, whenever anyone talks about place in conjunction with books & media, it makes me miss Borders. For almost two decades, they managed to be the place for people to hang out and read in most urban areas in this country.

When Borders closed its doors last year, I wrote the following:
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Welcome to my blog!

After a little over a year working in a public library, I find that I have stuff to say. So I’m going to use this space to say it!

Not all my posts will be strictly library-related. I believe that libraries are so deeply embedded in our lives and our communities that a strict separation of my library ideas and my personal thoughts & beliefs presents a false separation. Being a librarian isn’t just what I do for a living – being a librarian is who I am.

So, here goes! My personal experiment in blogging commences! Stay tuned, and let me know what you think!