Sunday, October 04, 2009

5 Points of Kerouac's Spontaneous Prose and Librarianship

Forgive my self-indulgence here, but I am going to discuss librarianship through the first 5 parameters Jack Kerouac established for his, "Spontaneous Prose," writing style.

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy

As a librarian, you have to possess a deep love of the job, or it will quickly devour your spirit and spit it up. Harsh, I know, but it's true, because librarianship can be unforgivably demanding. If you come into work without loving it, you will turn off patrons, and dismiss them before you should. If you hate this job, you will not be interested in spending superfluous amounts of time and energy meeting the patrons needs, especially if you feel they are not worth your time.

2. Submissive to everything, open, listening

You must always listen and be open to learning and taking the initiative. For Reference librarians, it is even more important for the client to direct. It is easy for us to start searching without any consideration for the user -- wasting our time and theirs.

3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house

Body language, image, etc. all matter in this profession. It's often hard for us as librarians, because many of us love to challenge the status quo, yet doing so often leads to turning off clients. It must be an equal balance of personal freedom, and professionalism. It's not about hiding your sexuality in a conservative town, and it's not about going against your ethics, it's about smart, professional conduct. It's about being articulate, confident, and energetic. The library is no place for apathy and bitterness. It's about treating others how you would want to be treated, and no one wants to be dismissed and insulted.

4. Be in love with yr life

This is similar to #1, but different too. As a librarian, you should love the benefits that you reap. You are forced to interact with unlimited amounts of information. You should love learning and self-improvement, and understand that doing public good, is good for the mind. Yes, it is a rigorous job, often times we go unappreciated, but at the end of the night we know that what we do is bettering the world.

5. Something that you feel will find its own form

Libraries are pressed for funds, and budgets are almost always being cut.

We need to compete to survive. My warning though, is that we must not fall into the trap of "Free Enterprise" or "Capitalistic" ways of competition. It would be against our mission as libraries to lose sight of the fact that our great good comes from helping those who have suffered by the hands of a system based on merciless competition.

We must do this for the good of society and make that our means of finding support. If churches and other religious institutions can survive based on society's view of their necessity, then we too can survive, because libraries are the sanctuary for education, self-betterment, and community living. Our prayers and meditations come from hours in front of books, discussion in book clubs. Our confession, our consultation comes from the Reference desk, where people beseech us to hear their heart's requests (and often times their problems). We offer many of the impoverished the ability to transcend their circumstance and improve their lives.

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