In 1966, Brian Wilson was on a roll. Change was happening fast. Wilson was writing and recording the music for the album SMiLE, surrounding himself with a core groups of friends whom he relied on and trusted. He wrote the music, but it was more a product of his community.
What got in the way? A number of things: ego, confusion; lack of communication, lack of trust. These very same things could derail our library community as we work toward the goal of providing excellent service to our local communities.
Just hear me out.
Much like Brian Wilson and his group of friends, we’ve got our own little wonderful community of librarians. At ALA 2010, we ate, we drank, we danced, and we Battledecked like the tribe we are. We’re not a perfect group. We’ve still got little differences to work out, but we established a fundamental solidarity that could take our profession to the next level if only we do away with this concept of the “librarian rock star.”
Celebrating our peers for their accomplishments is important, but we’ve got to understand that there are limits. Worthy librarians who didn’t happen to be chosen as ALA Emerging Leaders or LJ Movers and Shakers felt left out, and jealousies sprang up where more communication should’ve been taking place. I was honored to be an Emerging Leader for 2009-10, but the misconceptions of my character it created made me incredibly uncomfortable. I blog at 8BitLibrary and organized the ALA Dance Party not to get attention but to bring attention to my field and create a dialog. Simple as that.
Brian Wilson never really* finished SMiLE. It’s a bit of a sad story. Instead, he retreated from the limelight and produced his music without showing it to the outside world. I’ve got to wonder what could’ve happened if he had finished SMiLE. What would the impact have been on popular culture? Would we be playing Beach Boys Rock Band instead of Beatles Rock Band?
My point is this: I don’t want to wonder what would’ve happened with the momentum we’ve built up. I want to look back and say, “This is where it all started, and this is where all of this wonderful change began.”
(Brian Wilson circa 1966 performing “Surf’s Up. This is the performance that many Brian Wilson fans use to show others what could’ve happened had SMiLE been completed)
*Wilson “finished” SMiLE in 2004. Fabulous as it is, I don’t think it quite captures the magic that happened in 1966.
Much love to Heather McCormack for editing this post for me.