In politics, religion, and yes, even libraries, there’s always a couple of extremists that make more moderate types cringe at their pronouncements.
- “[L]ibraries that don’t offer texting are basically invisible to me…not being available by SMS is akin to not having a webpage.” (source)
- “It’s really do-or-die when it comes to SMS and libraries.” (source)
- “Being familiar & fluent w/ Twitter is a core skill for all librarians” (source)
Wait, what? Was that…was that in that chapter in Leviticus that I’ve never gotten around to reading?
I guess this is why I call myself a Web 2.0 Enthusiast and not an Evangelist. I love tech. I think it has lots of great possibilities for improving library services. I also think there’s a lot of tech applications that our patrons are using anyway, so it’s probably a good idea for librarians to be aware of them so that we speak the same language. (And who knows…these fun applications may morph into something more usable in library services.) But if your library doesn’t maintain an SMS reference service or if you don’t have a twitter account, are you failing your patrons? No, of course not.
I mean, I get it. I know (or am hoping, anyway), that a lot of these pronouncements are made for their shock value in a political theater sort of way to get people’s attention and make them think. But it’s backfiring. There’s a new stereotype emerging of the know-it-all, tech at all costs person. ( This week’s episode of The Simpsons brilliantly portrayed a version of this with Bart’s temporary teacher Zachary Vaughn – Pictured above.) Unfortunately, people are starting to think that all tech users are as obnoxious as Mr. Vaughn here. These tech evangelists make my job harder in other ways… non-techies have built up a defensive posture since they’ve been told that they are inferior and are less open to trying something new.
So, here’s my modest proposal:
If you are a Tech Evangelist, chill out. You’re at 11 and the rest of us need you at about a 5. You’re scaring people and turning them off of the idea of using technology. Also, there is no magic tech bullet. Today’s iPhone app is tomorrow’s betamax tape. Think more about the process rather than specific tools. If you are a Tech Phobe, loosen up. You don’t have to use every service out there, but don’t dismiss them out of hand without trying them. Don’t fear change and be open to the possibility that there may be a better way.
Now lets all hold hands and sing Kum-bay-yah.