Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Insulted Them All

On this past Sunday afternoon, I flew to Toronto (on a Dash 8 turboprop that was completely full...although that doesn't take much.) to be the after dinner speaker for a meeting of OCUL directors (the Ontario Council of University Libraries). The setting was bucolic--Eaton Hall, the summer home of Sir John and Lady Flora Eaton in the late 30s and 40s. Eaton Hall is now part of Seneca College and Eaton's the department store is no more. That was a sad day in Canadian retailing when one of the two stalwart Canadian department stores closed (the other being the Hudson's Bay Company which has been operating for almost 400 years) and was bought by Sears.

So, how did I insult all these good people? The main focus of my talk was on generational differences and I began by saying, I am almost 49. Who is younger? No one was. But--as I went on to say--tender psyches or not--we have to figure out how we're going to engage people who inhabit a universe that lies very close to ours and who share many of our attributes, but who are sufficiently different from us that many of their pastimes are quite alien to us baby boomers.


Alice said...

Note to self: assume all audiences are older than they appear.

Thom said...

2d note: don't believe everything your audience tells you.


infinitejest8 said...

This may be a bit off-topic, but the fact that no one at the conference was much under 50 says a lot. I find the whole concept of librarianship as a greying profession very interesting. What will libraries be like in, say, 10 years, when the majority of the current librarians are retired? What were they like 30 years ago when all of these same librarians were my age?

It seems like there's a whole new world opening up for us younger librarian potentials and your coke/packaging ideas run right along with that.

Anyway, I just found this blog, like what I've read so far, and look forward to reading more. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The average age of librarians isn't holding libraries back. Libraries are like schools: they are social projects that cost money and are the first to be put on the chopping block when we have to buy some more bombers or give another tax cut. Fun and useful silicon-based technologies cost money, both to purchase and to implement.

The fact is that labor costs money, skilled labor rightfully costs more, and women, especially older women, aren't viewed as skilled, technologically or otherwise. Note to all: older librarians know how to use many more kinds of technologies than younger ones. Why? Because they have dealt with succeeding generations of new technologies and naturalized them. Give props where they are due and end this agist nonsense.