Feb 25, 2005

'Tiresome, elitist schtick': Why can't we all just get along?

So saith the Instapundit, regarding this article by American Library Association President-elect.

And who can argue when Mr. Gorman complains:

I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.

As an erstwhile ALA member and newly minted blog person suffering from severe Google dependency, let me just say: Why can't we all just get along?

It seems Mr. Gorman questioned the utility of Google's partnership with a number of universities to digitize their library collections. For his pains, Mr. Gorman was labeled an "idiot" by a "blog person." And so it goes.

Mr. Gorman may have a point, though it's early days yet for Google Print. We librarians fret constantly about information retrieval. And not necessarily because we think we should be the gatekeepers through which all information whould pass. Spend some time at a reference desk thronged by undergraduates at the end of term and you'll quickly come to the conclusion that Google is no panacea for the information deprived.

But that's a tale for another day.

And Mr. Gorman, just because the project involves a "vast expenditure of money" doesn't mean that that "the library-starved children of California" will go without. It's not a zero-sum game. You want to fatten up the library-starved children? Talk to Bill Gates. He may be able to help you.

Listen to the king of the blog people. He won't steer you wrong. After all, his mother's a librarian.

Update: I've been Instalinked! I have died and gone to blogger heaven!

Update: More Gorman animus here, here and here.

Also: Gorman responds, telling ALA colleagues that he was being "satirical."


John A said...

About Google, Mr. Gorman feels that it returns too many results, Well, having poor dearch-engine skills, I sort of agree - but mostly disagree. When I look up "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" on a library site, I get William Shirer's book as a result. Good, but is it really bad that Google will bring up articles about that book, references to other works about Third Reich, etc.? I think not. I think it is quite valuable for research, if not casual lookup.

As to blogs, yes, there are a lot of bad ones. But also a lot of good ones. Just as there are good and bad books. And a lot of differences of opinion about which is which. He seems to feel all are bad, which is silly elitism at an extreme.

Rachel said...


Absolutely! Furthermore, once the Google digital project gets underway, readers may be able to link to their local library catalog to check out the book in question.

Wm said...

My intellectual needs were very much met by the accumulation of random facts and paragraphs I encountered in law school. I'm glad I didn't run into too many complex texts. That may have over-stimulated my needs, and who knows where I'd have ended up?

Anonymous said...

Hear hear, wm.

Quoth Mr. Gorman (in his response):
Rest assure that my views on "blogs" have nothing to do with my activities as ALA president-elect or president.Oh, well that's all right then. Do any of his other statements in public fora have anything to do with such activities? Or are they purely spontaneous events bearing no relation to anything else in the space-time continuum?

Seriously, I can understand just wanting to sound off about something annoying, without having to bear responsibility for what I (a leading official of a semi-important organization, say) actually think.

But if I wanted to do that, would I publish it via Library Journal? No, I think he meant what he said, and later realized it was either stupid or widely despised. I morbidly await an apology.