Meredith Farkas says such nice things about me that I’ve had to spend the better part of the last few days keeping myself from repeating them, ad nauseum, to everyone I know. (I feel rather like the other lion at the end of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: “‘Us lions,’ he said, ‘us lions.’ That means him and MEEEEEE!”).
Dorothea Salo says things that are so true they hurt — though I mean that as a compliment. You get more points in this world for being pretty than for being truthful, and we ought to acknowledge that, unpleasant as it is. But it is true that if not for Dorothea and the goth cats, my knowledge of open access would be close to nonexistent. It’s also true that if Meredith (among other people) hadn’t responded so kindly to my first half a dozen or so idiotic questions about editing wikis, I might well be one of the people who goes around saying they can’t do wikis (or blogs, or cataloging, or whatever.
I do not generally get questions about how to become a rock star (in fact, I’m fairly sure I’ve never gotten one). Since I’m not particularly a rock star, this doesn’t bother me, although I will add, for the benefit of anyone hoping to glean such information from this little ditty, that moving to a town of 351 people is not really the best way to go about rockstardom. (Had I only thought to move to a town of 300 people, and acquire a coyote, and live in a cabin, and take beautiful photographs! Ah well.)
In the course of thinking about all these things, though, it has occurred to me that perhaps the way I go about things is a little peculiar. I am the branch manager of a tiny public/school library. Most of my day at work is spent reading book reviews, ordering books, helping patrons find stuff (mostly books), doing various interlibrary loan tasks, walking down to the post office to get the mail, organizing programs, submitting people’s timesheets, and trying to remember to schedule people to work on Wednesday nights. Now that I’m also (by self-declaration) the virtual branch manager, I do a little website maintenance and a little statistics gathering from databases and such, too. But there’s really very little call for me to know much about open access, or link resolvers, or college-level bibliographic instruction, or any of the other things that I spend time reading about almost every day.
There’s no call for me to know all of that as the Meeteetse librarian, it’s true, but I feel there’s plenty of call for me to know it simply as a librarian. I can’t advocate for net neutrality or open access as a member of my profession if I don’t know what they are or how they affect it. And, quite frankly, like Dorothea, I can’t imagine going through day by day without at least trying to learn something.
I’ve been lucky to have found myself a place where I can do some of that learning and a community of people who provide friendly encouragement and answer even the stupidest questions. This morning I started my new project, which is learning PHP. PHP is actually directly related to my job, in that I’m learning it in part in order to build a little application for the library. All I’ve managed to do so far is build a little form that captures a word you type in and redeploys it as part of a sentence. Not much, but it’s a start. And, thanks to the many people I know out there doing cool things, I felt that it was a start that I could make. My mantra in such projects is always, “Hey, if John Blyberg / Jessamyn West / other librarian rock star can do it well, then surely it’s worth it for me to do it poorly.” Or, as the godawful poem I learned in third grade put it,
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn’t, but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.