WILL UNWOUND #361: “The War between the Library Generations Has Started”February 13, 2011
Andy Woodworth has become a rock star among the young librarian set.
His fame is deserved. He spearheaded the national movement to have Ben and Jerrys give a library oriented name to one of their ice cream flavors. He induced the Old Spice Guy to do a commercial extolling the virtues of libraries. His advocacy of big tent librarianship (we are all one profession) has been published by Library Journal. He has an award winning blog and an award winning twitter account. He has waged war against the Annoyed Librarian. He is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker. In fact you can click on Mover and Shaker to find out more about Andy and what this library rock star looks like.
I’m proud to call Andy a friend. We have dined together and enjoy a fun exchange of emails. He’s a guy that makes me feel good about the future of our profession. He’s even guest posted on our blog.
This Sunday, Andy achieved an accomplishment that might put him right into our library hall of fame as soon as we get around to building the appropriate wing on our tavern. What Andy did is write the single most controversial article that I have ever read about librarians. Here are some of the money quotes from his incendiary post which he titles “The Case for Retirement.”
- “…the librarians who have reached the age of retirement (for the purposes of this argument I will say that this age is 65) are well established in the field. They have accumulated institutional knowledge, the benefit of experience, and a vision that only comes to those who have stayed with a profession for a long period of time. And yet, they have not positioned the profession or the institution to handle the societal, technological, or community trends and changes that currently face libraries. In other cases, they have not built the necessary relationships with those who support the library whether it is the taxpayer or town council. But here we are, deep into a rapidly changing communication and computer age that has revolutionized information sharing around the globe, and rather than be positioned to capitalize on it, libraries around the country are simply fighting to retain funding or even stay open. It represents a failure to lead, a failure to recognize emerging trends, and a failure to act accordingly. That is negligence.”
- “Shouldn’t there be some accountability from library leadership in general on this neglect? Why would the profession continue under people who have failed in such a spectacular manner? During an era of the largest information paradigm shift in the recorded history of mankind, libraries are not at the forefront of these issues. It’s a shame, really.”
While I don’t always agree with Andy, I admire his courage in stating what many people think but are afraid to say. I have felt that to some degree there has been a growing rift between younger librarians (those who grew up with the net) and the older librarians (those whose formative years predated the internet). The young emerging library stars are chomping at the bit to take over key leadership positions within the profession. Kudos to Andy for being the first of his generation to have the courage to put his argument front and center into the library consciousness. You can get the full text of Andy’s first shot in the war between the library generations by clicking on The Case For Retirement.
Your thoughts, Unwinders? Do you agree or disagree with Andy Woodworth?