Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Power of Presense

Class 511 - Introduction to Library and Information Professions

Technology is wonderful.  Last week I woke up with terrible heartburn, and posted in a Facebook group consisting of my classmates if anyone in the building had some tums.  Immediately someone responded.  We met out in the hall, and life was fantastic.  All of it was due to technology.

 Yet, as I sit on Skype and I talk to my friends who cannot seem to find jobs in their profession or are in debate what to do with their lives, I find myself unable to connect.  Today an old college friend came to visit me.  She was trying to get into grad school for writing, only to find that the academic world does not share her views on genre fiction and none of the programs seemed to fit her needs.  We talked and I told her about my experience this past week in grad school.  I told her what my expectations were while going into the program, how they have changed (for the better), and I told her it's not about what I wanted to do with my degree, there are infinite possibilities to that question.  It was what I wanted to do with my life, and whether this program was going to teach me the skills to get there (thank you, Dave!).

Academic bias be damned.  I told her, if she wanted genre fiction to be taught at a higher level, she'd have to be one of the ones to start that.  And she would need a degree to do it.  She said she wanted to be a professor, so I told her to look up the history of Jazz Music being taught in colleges, which went through a similar stigma.  If that was what she wanted to do, then she needed to be willing to fight for it.  When she left, she seemed thoughtful and happy.  Funny thing is, I said the relatively same thing to her six months ago on Facebook, but it took me saying it to her face for it to sink in.

(ok going in to 4 paragraphs here, please forgive me!)

Connecting this to librarianship: all the technology in the world might help us gather more of an audience, it might make us feel more connected to our communities, and it most definitely will add to our tool kit of ways to reach out to more people.  However, none of our messages will sink in unless we have face to face conversations.  It's not just words words words, it's body language, tone of voice, smell, touch.  The other senses of our body help us to understand the world around us, and the internet limits that.  We always need to remember that there is a power to presence. 


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