Thursday, December 10, 2015

Repentance & Organizations

Zippy reminds me of something I've been thinking:

So the only path to peace available to liberals, even just as something rationally conceivable, is repentance. The only even conceptually coherent path to peace from under liberalism is to come out from under it: to reject it utterly and unequivocally.

Repentance has been coming to mind, in my case, with institutions. I see businesses and various non-profit institutions sliding down an erroneous path, and they don't seem to have an understanding about how to change, in no small part because we have lost the language with which to change. One need not be particularly religious to get this- repentance is more than just a feeling, it is changing one's agenda. In many cases it means trying to achieve a completely different goal.

One of the clearest cases must be the ALA inspired statement among librarians that the library must be relevant. If you have any understand of what a library is, you know that the most unequivocally relevant thing in a library is a good book on the shelf. Especially in public libraries, and still to this day- a book on the shelf is accessible to all. No technology is needed. A lot of poor people are still not on the internet, and those who do get on-line nowadays are more likely to be doing so with cell phones- often these pathetic services vendors sell to libraries can't be accessed with cell phones.

Anyway, this is usually not what is meant by relevance- instead, there are a number of statistics: door count, circulation, etc...- that are touted as ways of proving people actually use their library. This has resulted in libraries everywhere tending to buy more low-brow stuff, do weird PR things, and do stuff like buy video game systems in a lame attempt to get more people in the doors. I always like to point out they could serve free beer and start cataloging pornography- in other words, the focus on stats are hindering them from their mission.

Meanwhile, the the ALA is part of the progressive machine, so they mostly get rid of older, more meaningful content, while the above mentioned perverse incentive for low brow entertainment for the sake of circulation stats continues to exist. Anyone who cares about a particular subject will sit down at a computer and do searches on that subject. They will come across various blogs and opinions- and people will recommend books. Either the book is at the searcher's local library, or it is not. A searcher may try their local library a few times, but eventually they give up, because the library is no longer actually serving it's function in the community.

You can see what I mean here- the only real solution is repentance. Go from trying to bump up stats to putting together a quality catalog. I was recently listening to a Permaculture Voices podcast with Christian Shearer, in which he describes what his consulting business does for companies. He described his colleague spending months going out and learning what was the cutting edge in 'sustainability' and 'beyond organic' in almond farming for some customers.
I think repentance in a library would look something like that- less song and dance in the local media, and a dedication to go through the dewey decimal system and put something resembling a decent breadth of knowledge back into it. You can look, for instance, at the 200s in many libraries, and you are likely to note anything decent has probably been left there by accident, while a lot of junk that should be in the self-help section is there merely because people like Joel Osteen associate themselves with Christianity. It should be with the motivational speakers, like Tony Robbins.

I don't know that very much research at all is put into improving the catalog, and I am sure forays in this direction would lead to upset politically correct people getting angry that you are stocking alternative stuff.

Anyway, organizations are in a rather dire need of repentance. In many cases they would no longer exist if it weren't for the coddling.

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