Much has been made of the recent library shenanigans, be it Penguin, Warner Home Video, Amazon or Harper Collins. Â Â And much has also been made of SOPA on the Internets, though I think it still can use more attention. Â The connection between them is content and the control of distributing said content.
Corporations only have one goal, profitability. Â Not the protection of civil liberties, not jobs, not a fair wage, not even loyalty to the country the corporation was founded in…their only god is the almighty dollar followed by competitive advantages. Â Regardless of their intentions and disclaimers.
Understanding that is key to dealing with the greed beasts, understanding that they will sell you out, use you, and try to squeeze every cent from you at any and every angle is imperative. Â Understand that is also an internal position, a way of dealing with there own. Â It is not personal.
Think of cut throat drug dealers in suits and ties when Â you square off with them instead of a partnerÂ and you may have a shot of getting some respect from them.
The US of A has a struggling economy, a broken political system, public protests, soaring debt, a population highly divided along ideological lines all amidst wars (ours and others), and a larger faltering global economy. Â Yet the American Government is willing to screw with the Internet in a way huge Internet corporations and nations find bad…just to do what? Â Just to stop someone from seeing a movie or listening to an album or reading a book without paying for it…
This might seem absurd to you because you are not a soulless fink, you probably have some decency and empathy, or as the corporate world sees you, a mark.
Savagery dresses nice these days.
Publishers mess with libraries because there are no consequences for doing so, we are weak, they are strong and we are virtually defenseless. Â We have our own page on HuffPo http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/libraries-in-crisis.
There are many causesÂ for this sad state of affairs, and we may never know all of them.
A few reasons come to mind aside from the whole of the economy swirling down the drain. One reason that jumps out at me is that getting librarians on board with something is like herding cats. Â The profession collects a rather eclectic group, you have grandmas, punkers, hipsters, dweebs, sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads…well you get the picture. Â On all different levels of technological abilities and understanding, and different stages in their career, different level of energy/enthusiasm in different kinds of libraries doing very different kinds of jobs all round the country. Â So getting librarians organized to defend the noble kingdom will not be as easy as ringing a bell.
Another reason is that while we have a professional organization, ALA on their best day are very limited (me too FYI). Â Their purpose seems to have been the creation of various committees, sub-committees, offices, publications, conferences and other cat toys for which participation, time and money you can add a few seemingly impressive lines to your CV, order now and you too can be an emerging leader become fast tracked to Awesomeville…you get the picture and the picture is not of hardcore advocates willing to throw down with The Man in the name of justice. Â Maybe they can squeak out a not so stern letter or two. Â I know, what I said isnâ€™t close to the whole picture but it isnâ€™t wrong either. Â There are serious questions as to what our future hold, you can find an interesting article on the matter here.
Fine then, what can librarians who see the larger issues do if we canâ€™t count on our professional organizations?
Fight back. Â We fight like the mighty Honey Badger. Â Rip and tear into these greed beast like the mighty Honey Badger would eat a poisonous snake.
The greed beasts fear loss of income, the trashing of a brand and a world without Viagra and Propecia. Â But they do not hate libraries. Â To the hardened heart of greed beasts, libraries are seen as just another whiny sniveling customer to hustle. Â Lost is the sense of community to those who are ruthless and compartmentalized, there is free love in the streets but in the ally it ainâ€™t that cheap.
For a bright shining moment, when Harper Collins pulled that 26 loans bullshit, librarians flared..but just for a moment. Â And like other beautiful things it faded too soon. Â Why? I think too many librarians got nervous like a virgin before the sultan and started to question their rebellious ways…I mean you are trying to have a nice sanitized online presence after all. Â And so many then flopped their bellies on the barrel mumbling it could be worse.
The notion that there is dignity in a boycott did not cross their minds, you need dignity to start with. Â The goal is to be serious enough to be taken serious and fun enough to be a happy warrior. Â Standing up for what is right with substance and style, humor and stamina is possible, you have to want it. Â But if you don’t see yourself as something worth fighting for you are not going to fight.
The Libraries of the Occupy Movements have a real dignity and substance and Iâ€™m a little sickened that some librarians turned their noses up. Â Iâ€™m willing to bet who loves the profession more, I know who Iâ€™d like to work with.
The truth is we donâ€™t need ALA to tell us what to do. Â They are just people trying to get by like everyone else. Â Join the organizations, network, get in line, firm handshake, you know the drill. Â We donâ€™t need their blessing or damnation. Â We need to act up.
Christmas is coming, what a great time not to buy anything from jerks that screw the library. Â So many books to write about, so many books for our displays, so many book to have discussions on, so many books indeed.
It is a mood. Â A mind set. Â Now show them whatâ€™s up.