Ok friends, I’ve got a busy morning, and so today’s post is being changed to two things I’ve seen in the news recently that relate to librarians that amuse and confuse me.
First off is a piece about a terrific piece of news in the library world. The new Librarian of Congress has taken her place. And that’s the first time that sentence could be written that way – her place. Because not since it’s founding has there been a woman in charge, despite the fact that librarianship has been a “woman’s profession” for more than a century. It’s also the first time that the position will be held by a person of color, and so Ms. Carla Hayden is a double-ground-breaker. She’s also only the third professional librarian to take up the position, which seems shocking since it’s the “Librarian of Congress.” I know she’ll do a terrific job (she was amazing as the head of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore), and am excited to see what kind of changes and improvements the library will see under her tenure. Because, oh that’s right – they’ve also instituted a term limit of 10 years on the job, which is a great way to make sure it doesn’t become a comfortable resting place for someone who isn’t interested in keeping up with the times.
The second piece is less cheerful. It’s the story of Robert Morin, a cataloger (the person who organizes and catalogs the books in the library) at the University of New Hampshire who lived a frugal life and died with 5 million dollars to his name. And in his will he left the money to his alma mater and place of employment. His only “restriction” was a $100,000 bequest to the library. A large portion of the rest of the money (2.5 million) went to a career center, which is great. But then another million (20% of what he gave), went to a scoreboard for the football team. A scoreboard.
What the what? I can’t even see how that’s the right thing to do with that money. You’d think that someone on the dispensation committee would have thought, “Well, he was a librarian and loved his time here at UNH so much that he stayed forever – let’s do something to encourage other young scholars to achieve their dreams.” But no. They wanted a scoreboard. Ugh.
So. Thoughts on the new Librarian of Congress? Anyone want to try to defend UNH’s poor use of Morin’s money? Or think that really should have put more money back into the library? In any case – some interesting things to think about before the weekend gets into full swing.