In Response to Gorman

A recent post in the LA Times seems to have the blogosphere in an uproar.  The article’s main focus was on how libraries are preparing for the future.  However, the article quoted Michael Gorman on video games.  Mr. Michael Gorman stated that

“If you want to have game rooms and pingpong tables and God knows what — poker parties — fine, do it, but don’t pretend it has anything to do with libraries,” said Michael Gorman, a former president of the American Library Assn. “The argument that all these young people would turn up to play video games and think, ‘Oh by the way, I must borrow that book by Dostoyevsky’ — it seems ludicrous to me.”

Posts by many of my friends, peers, colleagues and others I admire slam Mr. Gorman.  However, they miss the point that Michael states that libraries should just “do it” in reference to game rooms.  Gorman elaborates that librarians should not pretend that teens will read complex literary works, but few dispute Gorman’s claim, and no one offers any evidence that game rentals lead to Dostoyevsky rentals.  Many of us don’t care.  Yes people in the library (for whatever reason) is better than not.  However, I haven’t seen anyone purchase XXX materials.  We do draw a line somewhere, it really is just a matter of degree.

The true comedy for Chicago Deskset librarians, was that last week Michael Gorman met a bunch of us at Dave and Buster’s (a Chicago adult arcade).  Being a close and personal friend of Michael Gorman, I emailed him to get his true thoughts on games in the library, I will post his response soon.  Needless to say, I see absolutely no point in slamming any librarian.  We have been divisive too long.

I see this is a great opportunity.  First, I admire and respect those who check my innovative and envelope-pushing tendencies.  People like Gorman, who knows that I was proud to start a game collection at my library, help me stay focused.  Secondly, let’s face it, many people think games don’t belong in the library at all!  If we can’t educate people like Gorman, then we only have ourselves to blame, and we are likely not going to be able to justify games, or libraries in general, to the public.

Thirdly, and most importantly for me, we can no longer remain a divide profession.  This infighting distracts us from our common goals and purposes (espoused, may I remind everyone, by Michael Gorman himself).  I understand the desire to disagree with those in our profession, but are we no better than the politicians who default to name-calling, mud slinging, slander, and other underhanded tricks?

I hope that we think long and hard about what we say and how we treat each other.  I have deep respect for those in our profession, all of us!  Yes, I disagree with what is often said, and what other libraries an librarians do, but I respect them.  A diversity of opinion is vital to democracy, and to our profession.  It should be remembered that the our own Code of Ethics states “We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect…”


Gorman at the Deskset


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Filed under leadership, libraries

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