IL2008 – Day 2 – A Neverending Story

At the Law Library 2.0 session yesterday, Camille Reynolds, Liana Juliano, Connie Crosby, and Jaye Lapachet collectively told a story heard many times at IL over the past couple of years, a version of the “I’m-a-maverick” tale that has been in the news the past few months.  The speakers’ presupposition is that the audience, for the most part, has also blazed the maverick’s trail, sometimes unsuccessfully.  In the maverick’s narrative, the maverick fights virtuously, but does not always win, and those losses up the ante on the maverick’s virtue.

Mary as Librarian

Mary as Librarian

The generic version of this neverending story opens by painting a picture of the evil opposition.  For IL audiences, the world of Mordor consists of the servants of the Eye of Microsoft, or those opposed to open-source-anything, or anyone who does not “get it” (translation: a person indifferent toward the world of 1.0, 2.0, or any of the zeroes to follow) or those who are traditional (picture Mary as the librarian in the Potterville segment of It’s a Wonderful Life).  The maverick tells the Overlords of Mordor that the library must move with the times, reject the Eye of Microsoft, and embrace wikis, screencasting, blogs, and the like.  Resistance results.  (Picture Golem from Lord of the Rings holding the installation CDs of Microsoft Office 2007, and murmuring “precious” over them.) The mavericks see it as their duty to shove a magical pointed stick into the Eye of Microsoft, and bring freedom to their co-workers, whom the mavericks know have secret desires to blog, to use all kinds of open source products, to do cartwheels with their avatars on a beach in Second Life.

Usually, the audience loves these stories of struggle, the mavericks as saviors of some previously mundane world, a.k.a., the workplace.  You can hear the same story from people at libraries who have introduced a new open source CMS, from librarians who have brought screencasting to the reference department of their workplace, from mavericks who have convinced their retrograde administrators to spend money on digital cameras and podcasting equipment.  It’s the Us vs. Them story that wants no truck with nuance, grey areas, or compromise. The narrators want the members of the audience to shake their fists in unison at Mordor. The room fills with the spirit of maverickicity, and one presenter rises and shouts:

A day may come, when the courage of librarians fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day! An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of 2.0 comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, stand, librarians of the West!

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