ON CRITERIA. AND FLOCKS

Critical notes #02

Flock of sheep.

Reading some LIS-related blogs and columns last week, I started to suspect that many librarians have the bad habit of getting certain things (fashions, trends, novelties, theories, ideas…) in closed “packages”. They rarely look at what those packages bring inside. And if they dare to open them and look, they seldom dare to question, evaluate or consider if those contents are really useful — if they actually need them.

It could be said that they lack some criteria. Or a bit of courage?

Another bad habit? To imitate, to follow the “referents.” The library X doing such and such, or the guru Y recommending it, does not mean that the rest has the obligation to imitate them, no matter how big that library X is, no matter how successful that guru Y may be. They may lack criteria and good sense. Or their results (which are rarely described with contexts, objectives, and other details) may be all wrong… or be “sold” as successes: after all, “cooking” statistics is not strange to our profession — “selling” successes that do not exist to achieve certain objectives (and obtain certain budgets?) is not uncommon.

In short: after my (many and diverse) readings, I got the feeling that many librarians suffer the “flock syndrome”: they follow the guide sheep, the one that carries the bell to the neck, blindly.

The problem is: the sheep with the bell sometimes leads the flock to the pastures. And others, to the slaughterhouse.

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