Posting to NGC4LIB
On 24/05/2011 22:56, Laval Hunsucker wrote:
David H. Rothman wrote :
Maybe we can say that the role of librarians is for them to encourage patrons to be their own truth-seekers, just so the users have the facts to be intelligent about it.
Maybe we can in fact better refrain from saying that. It still sounds pretty patronizing ( and condescending ) to me, though possibly I’m misreading just where you’re coming from. Anyway, for my money, James Rettig ( the well-known reference specialist and former ALA president ) was much more nearly on target when he wrote almost twenty years ago, as an admonition to all over-zealous colleagues : “every information seeker should be free of the librarian’s expectations”
If it is patronizing, I would agree, but I don’t see it as patronizing at all. It is offering a helping hand to those who want it. If people think they know it all–how information is organized in libraries and on the web, that they already know all the best websites and the best everything, then that is absolutely fine. If somebody believes they know how a catalog works even though they have never learned how–that’s OK. I thought I knew how libraries worked (I had a master’s degree by then) and in library school, I realized I didn’t understand much at all.
Librarians may offer their help, but they do not force themselves on anybody even when they see a person floundering around helplessly.
But the fact is, many people–including real, live scholars(wow!), approach matters from a far more humble attitude, realize that they don’t know it all, that they can get help from others and not only from others of their own kind. In many cases, a part of helping is providing encouragement. There is nothing strange about any of this and there is nothing to apologize for.