The statement about librarians, “they facilitate access to credible information, new technologies, and so much more” reminds me of something I just read. I was in the Johns Hopkins University Bookstore recently when I saw a copy of John Waters’ latest book. I had just been telling my son about this famous director and Baltimore native so I glanced through the book quickly, trying to find an entertaining excerpt to show him. I came across the story of how as a young boy, Mr. Waters used to go to his public library and page through the card catalog. Under Tennessee Williams, there was only a note: “see librarian” Apparently although he was a famous writer, his material was too provocative. That’s when Mr. Waters knew what he wanted, ‘the dirty books’. When the librarian left her station, he crept around the desk and found where the books were kept. He was hooked.
I think that anytime one group promulgates itself as the facilitator or gatekeeper, there is always a suspicion aroused among those on the outside of the gates. Hence the desire to be allowed to wallow through the flood plains of information by most internet googlers. I believe that most people bring a healthy cynicism to what they read, but they definitely want to be able to make up their own minds.
Like physicians who are now bombarded by self-diagnosed patients who believe they have some rare disease they read about, I’m wondering if librarians will need to become even more thorough arbitors of credibility in a world where instant media broadcasts “news” from dubious sources. Librarian watchdog cynics if you will. Not guarding information, but balancing it.