Friday, June 15, 2012

30th Year Reflections/2: Mapping the Way

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” William Wordsworth
Before I launch too far into these reflections I thought it best to give you some sense of how these future postings might come into being. I have already mentioned that this seems a good time in my career to engage in such an exercise. It also seems to me a good way to energize a flagging blog and breathe new life into a technology that has not yet passed us by. In some ways this will be a project involving memory, faulty though it may be, and will come to me in somewhat chronological order. But I will not let chronology solely dictate these reflections. If something erupts on the professional landscape that seems worth my time, I’ll direct my gaze and commentary in that direction. I may also use certain professional tenets, for example the “Library Bill of Rights” or Ranganathan’s “Five Laws” as a scaffold on which to build my thoughts. Everything, in short, that comes across my radar that relates to the profession—my profession—of librarianship will be considered.
The posts will also have certain limits, all related to some aspect of length or time. Each post will appear weekly (unless something extraordinary happens along the way), and scheduled to appear on Thursday. The individual posts will be confined to the equivalent of one page (Times New Roman, 12 point), somewhere around 600-700 words. For the past year I’ve been writing a similar weekly missive for family and close friends, more personal in nature, restricted (for the most part) to two pages. I have found this a good discipline both in terms of focusing my thoughts and writing on a small number of topics, and for the contemplative nature such centered writing provides in the course of a week. I intend to write these reflections for about a year, as a way to celebrate my three decades as a librarian. October 2011 marked the beginning of my 30th year; I aim to keep writing these reflections until the end of my 31st year, in October 2013.
These, then, are my goals; this is the task I have set. And I want to emphasize the celebratory nature of these posts, even before they are written. I am glad to be a librarian; I have no regrets. It is, to borrow from the religious world of my father (and also my second son) my “calling.” This is the profession I was meant for, that I was created for. At the same time, celebratory though they may be, I hope that my analytical eye is not dimmed. As a contemplative exercise I desire to think deeply and critically about the work that has claimed me all these years. And while this is not an exercise in news gathering or reporting I find the guidelines offered by Jim Lehrer (what he referred to as "MacNeil/Lehrer journalism") helpful:
  • Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  • Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
  • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
  • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.
  • No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • And finally, I am not in the entertainment business.

1 comment:

Michael San Filippo said...

Thanks, Tim. As an incoming GSLIS student, I'm really looking forward to what you have to say.