Actually, we’ve got multiple classes, most of us. But this week we had our first experience with IST 511, technically known as “Introduction to the Library and Information Profession”, though I affectionately (for now) refer to it as “Intro to Libraries”. Rolls off the tongue a bit better.
What did we talk about this week? A little bit of everything. It was like a delicious pasta salad – not too much dressing (gag), not too much pepperoni (also gag), a good handful of green pepper and cheese, with a solid base of slightly-al-dente pasta. If by pasta you mean “general talk about libraries”, with everything else serving as a relevant tangential topic. That said, I’m going to expound upon something that, while not overly discussed, is going to be crucial from here on out, forever and ever.
To paraphrase Prof. Lankes – because I didn’t write it down verbatim, and misquoting is horrific – You can not be unbiased.
What does this mean? It means stop parading around that little sign around your neck that says “I know how to be objective, I really really do, I swear! It’s called presenting you with all sorts of sources so I can’t seem biased in any one direction, while secretly hoping you only read the source I support most fully!” (Sidenote: I have a tendency to the overdramatic. Don’t take it personally, fellow students.) When a patronusermember asks for information, they seek information. They don’t seek it with a side-dish of bias, but they certainly don’t seek it with a side-dish of bias-disguised-under-a-cloak-of-objectivism.
I think it’s especially hard for those of us who -desire- to be objective to realize that it’s impossible. I know I spent the last four years of undergrad doing my damnedest to write “objective” papers, knowing full well I was spinning those sources around my personal wheel of beliefs. But therein lies another issue – how to balance the art of acknowledging a bias, while not letting that justify being lazy and completely nonobjective? I think that’s what I’m going to keep tossing around in my mind over the next couple
days weeks months years.
I recognize my bias, I know it, and I know it’s not the common – that’s something I’m learning in all my classes so far. Yet I want to work past it without denying my own self-knowledge. Thus begins a quest that I’m sure will continue long past this semester, or this school. Well, I do love a good quest…