Ninja Assassin… Librarian?

Prof. Lankes wants to be a veloceraptor and I want to become a ninja assassin librarian. I hadn’t even realized that was an option until Prof. Lankes mentioned it tonight in his impassioned speech about being or not being worker bees. Some classmates feel that they aren’t creative enough to be innovative but they are good at following directions, hence the worker bees. But I think, just because you lack creativity does not mean you can’t be innovative. Innovation doesn’t mean you always have to be the one with the AMAZING idea. It just means making changes. Big changes or small changes, it’s all innovation.

When I leave class on Wednesday nights after the legendary Dave “Braveheart” Lankes motivational speeches, I feel a combination of awe, inspiration, and fear. Awe because Professor Lankes has a way with words that I can only wish I could imitate and because he can show you how a librarian can be more than just a keeper of books. Inspiration to be a librarian, to NOT be boring, and to change the world. And fear that I will fail.

This evening, when he drew the two diagrams on the board of the “worker bee” librarian and the “part of a web” librarian, I decided I want to be part of the web. I don’t suffer from delusions of grandeur, I’m pretty certain I won’t be one of those librarians that everyone lauds for having done something grand. But I am no longer afraid that I will fail, because I can start by changing the things that I have control over and maybe, by doing that, change the world the tiniest bit and feel proud that I have made a difference. As a ninja assassin librarian I may not be the one in front of the pack leading the library innovation movement, but I will calmly and quietly leave my mark on the world to come.


First Sale Doctrine Versus EULAs

I was browsing through some library related blogs this evening and I found something slightly disturbing. One of the topics for our group project and poster in IST511 (coincidentally the one my group chose), is about the First Sale Doctrine and libraries. This news article is about a court case, Verner v. Autodesk. Verner was selling copies of Autocad he purchased at an architect’s office sale, including the serial numbers, on eBay. Autodesk, the makers of Autocad, tried to shut down his sales so he sued them claiming he had the right to resale.¬†Unfortunately, due to the original contract signed by the architectural firm he purchased the software from, courts found in favor of Autodesk. The contract “… made clear that AutoCAD was merely licensed, never sold, and that one’s license was non-transferable.

Now, if you think about it, what does this mean for the futures of used video game, movie, and music stores? Libraries may be safe (as far as books are concerned) for a while yet, but with this court case decision, could publishers seek to make similar agreements concerning their published works? If a library was only able to hold or lend books and media that are in the public domain, the value of the library as an information center will be greatly reduced if not snuffed out altogether. It is all well and good to say that a library is not dependent on books for value, but if a library no longer has the right to share information through any media due to license agreements imposed by publishers and software or digital media creators, it will have lost its most valuable asset: Information.

IFLA – International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

This semester I am taking a course on International Librarianship (IST600 M009). For class this week, each student had to choose an activity or group in IFLA and make a short presentation describing it to the class. I chose the audiovisual and multimedia section for my presentation because when browsing through the groups, they had a lot more information available than some of the others. One of the more interesting things I came across while learning about the AVMS was a project they are involved in called IconoTag. It is a project to study multilingual indexing for pictures. Anybody can help them with the project by going to the IconoTag website, choosing a language you are familiar with, and tagging some pictures for them.

I am also interested in reading the papers that were presented at this years IFLA Conference in Gothenburg because the theme for the AVMS was “Open access – on the horns of a dilemma between piracy and legality?” I will let you know when they publish the papers online, since you might find it interesting as well.


In all of my classes so far there has been some talk about the definition of a library and a librarian and everyone has a different answer. In IST511 class last night, Professor Dave Lankes made a comment that really struck me. He said that it is more important for the community you serve to define you as a librarian than for you to define yourself. I think that is true for both libraries and librarians. To be a specific type of librarian you must be able to embody the values of that type and be recognized by others. I can tell myself that I am the queen of the world but without others recognizing me as such, am I really the queen? Libraries are the same. If people define a library as a building full of books, then that is what a library is. But if we define a library as more than books and buildings; as a community, a conversation, a safe environment, freedom to access information, and a way to develop knowledge, then that is what a library is. As a future librarian I hope to change the definition of a library for the people in whatever community I serve.


When I decided to apply for graduate school, everyone wanted to know what I would be studying. I would sometimes feel embarrased by the reactions when I said library and information science. Most people define the library by the function. Even I have fallen to that fault. But after Dave Lankes’s motivating lecture about the history of librarianship and the importance of the librarian I am proud to say, “My name is Margaret Portier and I want to become a Librarian.”

Now I can explain why being a librarian is so awesome. It doesn’t just mean I like books, have cats, and wear ugly cardigans. It means I will improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in my community.