Tag Archives: stereotypes

There’s critique and there’s critical

10 Jun

Fascinated by the thoughts that #blogeverydayinjune is getting raised and discussed amongst the lovely group of librarians that are involved.

Today @malbooth wrote a wonderful post on Putting yourself out there, in support of those librarians who have a bit of fun with library terms and stereotypes. There’s been some critics recently of trying too hard to integrate with new media or new trends. Such as real embarrassment that all librarians will be seen as more dorky or awkward by doing dance videos that aren’t professional. [can we be seen as any more dorky?]

I have to say up front that I’m a big fan of anything that introduces less control or inhibition into librarianship. I believe learning is easier when I’m having fun, so let’s try and incorporate that wherever we can. So I supported Mal’s post in the comments section straight away. As a verbal extravert in the library world, it’s not a surprise that I look for this – although honestly, you’ll never get me up on stage or singing unless you’ve drugged me. Partly therefore I think my support is about admiration for bravery, and those that have a healthy disregard for other’s views.

However then I started to think about where is the line? A range of librarians (@malbooth and I are prime examples) at a recent VALA conference developed a Twitter #altcommentary stream to the presentations. Critique of many of the papers was included, alongside microblogs summarising issues raised. I commented on styles of presentation, boredom levels and was decidedly snide about reading powerpoint comments directly from the screen. I know that we Tweeters annoyed some colleagues sitting nearby with the tapping of our fingers, and giggling into our screens [handily mitigated by our tendency to cluster in seats around powerpoints]. Yet I think that’s fine. I don’t see that as dissing colleagues or being overly critical.

So I’m trying to think about the differences I perceive between offering critique and just plain being critical; or why I perceive there is a difference here?

To me, Critique is a form of evaluation that allows you to learn about someone else’s reaction to you; critical is a way of shutting down something we are embarrassed by. I’m not a saint. I do both. [Actually lots of critical I hear my friends say.] However I would like to do less critical, and I think librarianship especially needs more critique, in order to remain meaningful to a wide range of people. There’s plenty of librarians out there doing this brilliantly. Sophie and Sean had a good open discussion on her blog yesterday.

Such critiques keep the profession current, relevant, interesting to new graduates, open to all our potential customers (entire world) and keep our job varied and interesting. Can’t be anything wrong about that!