I love the way Stan Lee addressed his readers with such an intimate and glorifying phrase. True believers! Sure, you were just reading a Spiderman comic book, but he implied that this act joined you with a like-minded group, and certified your character as loyal and faithful.
I poked around looking for an appropriate “Face front” image, and found this poster in the Soviet Museum‘s digital collections. If you have a bit of time, check out the collection of pro-Lenin fairy tales. I also found an associated grumpy thread on Metafilter, comparing the ubiquity of this style of propaganda art in Soviet Russia to something like garish ads for fast food and grocery store mailers.
Face front, true believers! Today is beautiful, and we will face it with the resolution to do good.
I have an information science degree. I’ve been working for fourteen years, my entire adult life. Most of my jobs have been in libraries.
I am a librarian. I am not a librarian.
As a student at Michigan State University, I learned Library of Congress serials cataloging.
I walked through secluded aisles surrounded by rare books, incunabulum, alternative newspapers, and gay pornography.
I cataloged comic books in the world’s largest archive of comic art, radicalism, and popular culture.
In the course of my work, I learned that Spiderman serials change their volume as often as many Spiderman readers change their underwear. By graduation, I could walk into any comic shop in the country and pick a fight about whether X-Men film adaptations should be considered canon.
When I went to graduate school (Michigan ’03), my program had recently transitioned from “Library Science” to “Information Science.” In the process, they picked up a bunch of renegade computer science professors and expanded to include information architecture, information economics, archival theory, and a bunch of crazyass dot com bubble refugees like myself.
We discovered that the term Digital Library can be used to describe an entire array of cool shit, including the Internet itself.
One of my professors, Sue Davidson, tells the story of how Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang called to ask about the subject guide to the web she had created for the Michigan Electronic Library. Sue answered: “that’s what librarians do, we organize information.”
Librarianship, defined as the act of organizing information, is a broad and inclusive field. Librarianship as a profession, is not. There are strict professional guidelines determining who is and is not technically a “Librarian,” but there is also a strong case to be made for the authenticity of self-identification.
There are librarians who work in libraries, and there are librarians who just Are.
It’s the difference between being a Jew by Religion, and being a Jew by Ethnicity. Both groups contribute to the cultural whole.
While a Librarian by Profession is inherently a Librarian by Ethnicity, the opposite may not be true. A trained librarian can sport a different job title, but her clarity and understanding will still contribute to her work.
I’m a librarian by ethnicity.
Right now, I work as a user experience designer on a software team. I wrestle with ship dates, dependencies, conflicting user requirements, and engineering constraints. I design interfaces and help identify how the software should behave.
But somewhere, deep in my soul, I am doing the work of the Library.
I’m a librarian by ethnicity, regardless of the job I take. I don’t make my living as an ALA going, patron-helping organizer of resources, but I’ll be damned if I don’t use Librarian skills to battle confusing groupings of information.
Librarians bring order to chaos, and so, with a little luck, do I.
Penny Arcade realizes that the word “librarian” doesn’t imply gender, except in issues of pay equity.
Webcomics’ newfound appreciation for the finest of underpaid professions is thanks to an encounter with the authors of Unshelved after the San Diego comic con.
This is the same comic con, coincidentally where my friend and coworker Jon, author of the excellent DogBlog, ran into Joss Whedon while both gentlemen were drunk and thanked him thanked him thanked him for making such excellent movies.
Jon has a photo to prove it, which he will show you at the slightest provocation. Walk quietly around him and don’t make any sudden moves.
Oh? And as they point out, there’s already a word for a male librarian. It’s Librarian. Or Guybrarian, if you buy into my pathetic merchandising attempts.
Amid the body pain, sore throat, fever, and seal coughs, I’ve managed to keep myself entertained. Here’s how to beat a week-long flu using only a laptop, broadband, and some good over-the-counter drugs.
South Park character maker Version Two. Yes, I said version two. With even more hairstyles, weird hats, and weapons. Waste your holiday break the new-fashioned way!
Download obscure mp3s from emusic.com, a DRM-free site that gives away 50 free downloads to get you hooked. Quite successfully, I might add. They have the entire Alternative Tentacles catalog, so you no longer have to fill out the little form in the back of your Dead Kennedys cassette tape.
Facebook – Stalky stalky!
Shoe sale at Amazon.com. Ann Klein boots are 65% off. I’m powerless against low-priced yet stylish footware.
E-tarot cards. It’s so much more meaningful when you shuffle them with your mouse.
My dad’s blog (caution: ham radio geekery)
New Universal – The latest comic by transmetropolitan genius Warren Ellis. The premise? In a slightly alternate world where Paul was killed instead of John and China owns the moon, individuals begin to spontaneously develop superpowers. Often with unhappy results.
White Oleander – I grabbed this from the library book sale because it was well-reviewed, and I enjoyed it despite my friend Kara’s warnings. She has a point, the characters can be less than sympathetic. Still, I enjoyed the book’s authentic voice, and the author’s willingness to describe a young woman’s reaction to desperation and loneliness.
Bitch Magazine – I’ve got a subscription. You should too. Give this to smart female patrons who haven’t yet tapped into the vibrant young feminist culture out there.
Battlestar Galactica – There is good acting and directing here, if you don’t mind the occasional robot army and Deus ex machina. Here’s a 44 minute recap to get caught up on the plot.
Thank you for Smoking – I haven’t watched this yet, but I’ve got the Netflix envelope sitting on the coffee table. I’ll letcha know.
Creature Comforts – Not sure if you know this or not but, the Wallace & Grommet folks have a show on the BBC called Creature Comforts. They interview people in Britain about random topics, and overlay their voices onto claymation animals. It’s rather wonderful.
Loose Change – an independently-produced video exploring many of the unanswered questions about the events of 9/11. An interesting topic, and less frothing than most. (warning: do not watch while taking cold medicine, as you will be especially vulnerable to sad footage and will probably need to stop the film several times to blow your nose and cry)
Cats – Preferably in a large pile, nesting around your head. Include one that doesn’t mind being used as a pillow.
French cold medicine. Seriously? This stuff is fun. I can see my house from here.
Tomorrow morning I’m getting on a luxury Cornell bus to New York City (the place I don’t live, despite everyone’s impression when I say I’m from New York State) for a week long vacation. Yes, I said vacation.
For possibly the first time in years, I’m traveling for non-work reasons. I’m meeting my librarian buddy Kara at the Newark airport and we’re going to spend four days hanging out with friends and being tourists, damned tourists.
We’re gonna shop, ice skate, lunch, and work on our French. Because midweek we’re jumping on a plane to Paris.
See, I found these $350 tickets on Air India, and my French friend and Cow-orker Gui knows this guy who runs a hotel, and he’s having a big birthday bash, and well, the stars just aligned.
So, moo ha ha, everyone. I’ll write some more on the bus tomorrow. I love everyone’s comic suggestions, by the way. That’s why you are the librarians and I am just the librarian-poseur who works on websites.
Mimi Smartypants is my favorite blogger. I want to say more about her writing and why I enjoy it, but everything I type comes out like: “blarg! cliche! gush! gush!”
So, I’ll just skip that and mention that she recently asked for comic book recommendations for her daughter. This woman needs a librarian! We are compelled to help! Here’s a thumbnail reference interview:
The little girl in question is Preschool age
Ideally, avoid mainstream comics. You know, ones with TV tie-ins or superheros.
I took a crack at it. Let me know what you think in the comments, and I’ll ship the whole list off to her Miminess at the end of the week as a tribute of librarianly esteem.
These are comics I have personally read and recommend. I take full responsibility if you think they suck. I avoided the Bone series, despite the cute drawings because those Stupid Rat Creatures can be pretty scary. Stupid, stupid rat creatures.
Librarian Powers: Activate! Clan Apis – A view of life as a honeybee but without looking like a Mark Trail comic strip. Hilariously written by an entomology grad student who is allergic to bees. Great for kids, fun for adults.
Pogo Possum – I learned to read with these cartoons. Which gave me a rather unusual grasp of the Queen’s English. Still, you don’t have to be old enough to read to appreciate the indelible Albert Alligator and Porkypine.
Castle Waiting – These are the sweetest stories ever. Great art, gentle tales with subtle feminist undertones. Sort of the anti-Optic Nerve.