Last evening when I got home, I tweeted
I had just heard the NPR coverage of the four museums that are getting shuttles in the next year. The shuttle program is part of my world; I was in grade school when Challenger was lost, and when I think of “astronauts” I see in my mind’s eye the gold-screened helmets of astronauts floating outside the shuttle, Earth behind them. I don’t think Sputnik, or the moon landing, or Apollo. I think shuttles. And I always wanted to be an astronaut. So what do you mean we’re going back to rockets? That can’t be right. Don’t we have a better plan than that? Where’s my rocket car and personal jetpack? I was promised a personal jetpack!
And I had a moment in which I realized that this is very much how I feel about libraries right now.
What do you mean we’re fixating on whether or not librarians are valued members of the academic enterprise? That can’t be right. Don’t we have a better plan than that? Where is my digital library and collaborative academic environment? I was promised a collaborative academic environment!
Really, my dismay in both cases is not that the future brings change. Change is inevitable, and I think it’s exciting and challenging and vital. It’s that we seem to be, as a profession, struggling to respond with both agility and integrity to the change (see Ithaka, see Trzeciak, see the sad state of LIS education) no matter how many predictions, projections, and studies we’re given. Can’t we do better than this?
I don’t want rockets. And I don’t want devalued librarians. I was promised better, and if getting it means I have to make it myself, so be it. I’ll do what I can. (Not sure what I can do about the rockets, though.)