Libraries, Networking, Freedom to Read

February 3, 2009

I don’t often use this blog to more than hint at the profession I’m entering (and now, officially, with my first job offer! yay!), but I was at the Ontario Library Association’s annual conference this past weekend and it got me thinking about issues that might be of interest to people who aren’t library folk (then again, who isn’t?).

This was my second year attending the conference, and, as before, it was a great experience. Librarianship is a field dedicated to excellence, service, mentorship…no wonder so many of us feel so suited to it. There are always great sessions; last year I attended some on community informatics, the joys of discontinued children’s books, and a plenary address by Carl Honore “in praise of Slow”.

This year I was a conference volunteer, but I still got to attend a session on geodemography, hear the Lt.-Gov. of Ontario on accessibility, and, as a first at this conference, a mini-conference on professional development, with sessions on networking, resumes, interviewing, and a meet-the-employers session.

Which brings me to…networking. I’m quite an outgoing individual, if I do say so myself, on a regular basis. And this had made me wonder, because at networking-type events (you know, dinners with name-tags, etc), I felt myself much less at ease. This conference finally showed me why those two things could be true.

Very luckily, I came into the profession with the beginnings of a professional network in place: my mother works at a public library and her former and current colleagues have been very generous with their time, insight, and contacts.  I’m comfortable to a fault being in touch with them, and with others I’ve met through them – I communicate well, and regularly, when there’s something to discuss or work on, even with people I haven’t met.

This weekend showed me that the important factor to me and my comfort in the interaction is the organic nature of the contact: that it has a purpose, that it’s a natural progression of how we’re all working together. That it’s not, “I saw you at a cocktail party and we exchanged business cards”, but that “I worked with a colleague of yours on this,” or, “I read your article on this”…something with a basis in ongoing communication and contributions. It might begin at a networking event…but probably not.

At least, that’s as far as I can figure.

Because my mother works in a library, I’m pleased to help when I can with events, displays, and so on. And this time around, she and her colleagues are preparing a display for Freedom to Read Week, which is the end of February. I’m contributing a poster I received in the last issue of the OLA magazine, Access. And then she added a note: “And any banned books we could put on display.”

When I started to think about the request, I was more and more daunted and more and more saddened. My brother, when he picks these things up tonight, will be taking 2 full cloth bags of books, and those were just the ones I immediately knew and could find*:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Fight Club
  • God of Small Things
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Ulysses
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Beloved
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • The Color Purple
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and James and the Giant Peach)
  • Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
  • Don Quixote
  • Fahrenheit 451 (of course!)
  • The Martian Chronicles
  • Tom Jones
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Harry Potter
  • 1984
  • Shakespeare’s works, including King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night
  • Oscar Wilde’s works, including The Happy Prince
  • La Morte d’Arthur
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books
  • The Odyssey
  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

Another library colleague (see, I do network!) has as her email signature the quotation from Clare Booth Luce: “Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but, unlike charity, it should end there.” Something to remember this week in February, and all year round.

* and, for some reason, Where’s Waldo, although I don’t have a personal copy.

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2 Responses to “Libraries, Networking, Freedom to Read”

  1. daughterofben said

    Congratulations on the library job: this can only provide you with more blogging fodder!

  2. I am not sure if I’ve said congrats via the crackbook. Just in case though, CONGRATS! Oh and I like the new header, very nice. Cheers.

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