My LISTSERV Inferiority Complex

This is a small post. Nothing very exciting but a little insight into the strange world of LibraryLand. (Incidentally, LibraryLand Headquarters is in ChicagoLand.)

Anyway, librarians LOVE listservs. There are ALA listservs for everything: YA literature, Children’s literature, Programming, reference books, genre books, computer things, cataloging, censorship, cats, etc. Maybe not cats, but there probably should be. They can be really useful tools but it also takes a lot of time to read the 50 posts you get every day from the YA group or whoever. Sometimes authors post in there about their upcoming books which seems a little weird. Sometimes people are stumped on the name of a title and ask the “Great Brain.” People really write this but I know a better entity to ask than the “Great Brain.” If I ever write in with a question I’m going to say, “Oh, Deep Thought….”

But the weirdest thing about listservs to me are the library quotes that invariably end up after the signatures of people’s emails. Everyone has one! They are usually about how amazing libraries are or how life changing books can be or they are both and also incorporate nerdy librarians two other loves: Neil Gaiman and Doctor Who. It’s a well known fact that just as all librarians have buns, cats, and cardigans, they all love Neil Gaiman and Doctor Who.

So here’s a few gleaned from the listserv. Look for the fun ones!

  • “The Internet may be the world’s greatest library, but let’s face it – all the books are scattered on the floor.” D.C. Denison, Boston Globe
  • “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.” Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman and Neverwhere
  • “In the non-stop tsunami of global information, librarians provide us the floaties and teach us how to swim.” Linton Weeks, Washington Post
  • “Does the internet replace the library? Does a calculator replace math class?  Learning how to use the tool is more important than having the tool.” Dave Peters
  • “The Internet is marvelous, but to claim, as some now do, that it’s making libraries obsolete is as silly as saying shoes have made feet unnecessary.” Mark Herring, American Libraries, 2001
  • “You see, I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that’s been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.” Monty Python
  • “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!” Doctor Who

Because of this, the main reason I’ve never posted on a listserv. I don’t have a fancy book slogan! How could I?

If I did have a fancy book slogan it would be my dearest roommate Angela’s response to the challenge that we create a librarian sex joke along the lines of, “Archivists make it last longer.” This was on the office door of one of my professors in library school. Ang’s response? “Librarians do it by the book.” Awesome.

Oh and look: a library cat. We love them.

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