“The Bullshit State of Politics in Canadian Libraryland”

Now, this is a good rant.

And what makes a good rant?  Truth is a big part of it.

This person hits the nail on the head that the situation at both Library & Archives Canada and CLA are disgraceful – LAC is being absolutely decimated by Stephen Harper’s War on Information while bending over and saying “Yes sir, may I have another?”  CLA, which said it was going to shift to more of a focus on advocacy during recent financial struggles and soul-searching, has done anything but.

(A great quote from a former colleague – “Well, CLA is irrelevant anyhow.  They’re what, the fourth, maybe the fifth best library association in Canada?  OLA is miles better, BC’s library association is better, Alberta’s in better, the Maritime Library Association is better.”)

I’m on record that I really like CLA and the role it can and should play as the national voice for librarians.  I really like CLA…in theory.  In fact, I have defended CLA against colleague who say that OLA and ALA are much better organizations – simply because they have splashier conferences or nicer member magazines.

Having come out of the world of cultural industry associations  – I know how important it is to have umbrella organizations that serve ALL their members.  The Sask Publishers Group did this when we, against lots of pushback from our traditional publisher member – not only accepted but actively sought-out self-publisher members.  The Writers Guild of Alberta showed this same type of leadership and forward thinking when their board decided that if they closed their Calgary office during a time of financial hardship, they might as well shut down the entire organization.

I’m not convinced that CLA has shown the same type of leadership, forward-thinking and outreach to counter the arguments against them and get people to see the value in membership – not just in a “What’s in it for me?” but in an “I need to join to be part of something larger than myself” sense.

Here’s such a small example but if you look at the CLA listserv and Facebook page, the majority of posts are done by a handful of people.  I’m not saying anything negative against those people and some, like Cabot Yu, are librarians I admire and consider friends.  (Cabot generously sponsored a prize for Spirit of Librarianship Award winners at FIMS when I went there – a fact he kept quiet even after I’d won the award!)

Those forums should be an active, engaged place for librarians from across the country to debate the issues.  Instead, I still remember how, after they set-up a Students-Only version of the CLA listserv and I sent an e-mail encouraging the members to post with a bit about themselves and their interests, I got chastised by a CLA employee who thought I had somehow violated a sacred trust by asking people to post a bit about themselves.

Librarians are the ultimate control freaks – in our workplaces, in our associations, on our listservs and Facebook and Twitter accounts.  I acknowledge that.  But sometimes I think we’re going to control freak ourselves into extinction.

And that’s my own rant on the subject. 😉

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