Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the tireless media watchdog organization, celebrated its 20th birthday in the last issue of Extra!, their bimonthly magazine of media criticism, in an article by Robert McChesney that shows his great appreciation for their work.
FAIR and their magazine have given me some of my strongest inspirations as a librarian and helped shape my view of information ecology, which is a major part of my approach to the profession.
Thank you FAIR, and happy birthday.
Another person in focus, this time because I’m trying to get his telegenic mug out of my brain.
An hour or so ago I walked out of a TV presentation from the College of DuPage (in their “Soaring to Excellence” series) that our head of reference asked us to watch on the idea that it would be thought provoking. Certainly it is a thought-provoking presentation; I simply said that because of certain effects of the television medium I preferred to read something by him. (I wish that everyone would read Neil Postman. His observations about the effect of the television medium on the critical thought process are easy to test when you reflect on the experience of watching a TV-style broadcast of professional-development content like the stuff offered by DuPage.) The DuPage site provides the transcript of another Anderson videoconverence, titled, “The library is dead; long live the library: why everything is different now and what we can do about it.” I read it while my reference colleagues were watching him on TV. I found it clear enough, and in reading it I didn’t feel like a passive consumer.
Anderson’s DuPage presentation is titled, “Always a River, Sometimes a Library.” The link there is to the handouts that go with his presentation, which neatly summarize his point of view and are truer to Anderson’s preferred televised, bullet-point format.
Now, there is nothing wrong with responding to new conditions in innovative ways, and if our reference staff is energized to do this in our own fashion and according to our own goals, we will have gotten our money’s worth from DuPage and I think Anderson would be satisfied that he had done his work. However, what Anderson himself is advocating is not only a transformation of the way we provide service but also a transformation of our mission along corporate lines, so that in practical terms we end up having no mission but to be invisible facilitators of the flow of information in a capitalist society. (He literally, specifically, precisely and frankly advocates that libraries give up their educational mission.)
I will have more comments later on one provocative recommendation of Anderson’s, which is, “Don’t Teach a Man to Fish,” because I find something in it that I agree with, albeit differently than he intends.
In short, though, I am presenting the links to his stuff by way of suggesting that it is Anderson and people like him (Steve Coffman, Thomas Frey), and not politically conservative librarian activists like Jack Stephens and Greg McClay, who make up our significant opposition as progressive librarians.