----- Original Message ----
From: Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]>
I think that EVERY researcher has come across all too many people like
this who are really misfits in this profession. They are only
interested in the art of cataloging and don't care or understand WHAT
they are cataloging -- it could be cat poo for all they care. The
recent discussion in this list about the concurrent ARSC conference
sessions brought this up, but in this case concerning the tech sessions
(which might include the technology of cataloging (?):
Over the decades I have seen many librarians and archivists come and go
in both ARSC and IASA. So many when they retire or change their job to
something that does not deal in sound recordings just disappear. It
becomes obvious that many of these had no REAl interest in the content
of the sound recordings they were cataloging.
I know that this opinion does not make me popular among some of the
institutional people -- except those who ARE interested in the content
and often came to their position from having been a collector. But
admit it -- you all know people in in the business who just as rather be
in some other area.
I agree completely. I believe much of has to do with the nature of the training
of librarians. In depth subject knowledge is not a focus in library school. I am
reminded of when we were in the process of hiring a new chemistry librarian.
There was a candidate who had a masters in chemistry, as well as an MLS. When I
asked why he was not considered, the head of the search committee said, "well if
he was a decent chemist, why would he want to be a librarian?" I came away from
that encounter with the thought that the individual who made that statement had
very little respect for her profession...rather than thinking he wasn't a good
chemist and would likely be a lousy librarian. It also seemed to me, at the
time, that librarians were suspicious of anyone who had graduate training in the
subjects they were to oversee.
I went into the profession for several reasons. One of which was that I had
worked in a library when I was in graduate school and had a most remarkable
boss. Many of you know him, so I won't embarrass him by mentioning his name. A a
librarian, I worked, for several years with a great music librarian...of course
she was great...she pushed to have me hired in spite of the fact that I had a
doctorate in music...and was likely to be a bit less conventional in how I went
about doing things. From my perspective, both individuals had a rare
appreciation for the process of research, public service and collecting. Yet,
most librarians I have known never did any research of their own, nor had much
appreciation for the process of research, or had much of a sense of
responsibility for the building of collections...and doing so with substantive
subject knowledge. Hence we have "approval plans" where collection building is
largely outsourced...and every major library has the same stuff.
Sorry, but even after being retired, it still bothers me...since I believe
libraries have a huge responsibility to society, and yet they still seem to
remain reactive instead of proactive.
I remember one of our heads of collections. Every time I brought in a new
collection she would say, "of course I don't want it, where are we going to put
it and who is going to take care of it?" She never seemed to think that it was
her responsibility to politic and gain the support to take care of our cultural
history. For her, it was probably just another thing to have to deal with.