An excerpt from ‘My Completely Accurate Account of my Adventures in Ireland’
Came the time when Big Jim McCoullagh wrestled a bear.
At ‘The End’ (the bar where Ben Burgis and I had taken to drinking) a huge brown bear wandered in one night. Where it came from, I cannot say, but it was in a mightily poor mood, like it had lost a fight. It wandered in and one good roar later, even the former Yakuza had cleared the bar. We stood outside, marvelling at the situation when Big Jim McCoullagh appeared looking to get tight. Now big Jim was a mighty man, a good 6’8″ and 280 lbs. Ben had once shocked me by fighting Jim to a booze filled stand still. But now, he was looking to his favorite bar and wondering why we were all hanging about. After an explanation of why we had been turned out, Big Jim replied “Tis no bear, tis a fat man in a fur coat, and I’m goin’ t’throw him out!” Despite our protestations, Jim ventured into the bar and then came a raucous goin’s on. After a time, the police arrived to find Big Jim asleep atop a passed out bear that had too much to drink. To this day, we talk of what a determined man with his blood up can accomplish, even against a bear. The bear itself lived out back of the bar, peacefully, until the Boys from County Hell came looking for a match. But that’s another story,
– Les Rout from ‘My Completely Accurate Account of my Adventures in Ireland’
I have decided to add my final, comprehensive entry on Ralph Munn here. It was previously available only to the rest of my class.
Posted by Leslie Rout at Sunday, February 10, 2013 11:10:26 PM EST
I have spent most of my time researching Ralph Munn and making entrie in my online journal. Ralph Munn was born in Aurora, Illinois in 1894. After serving in World War 1 he worked in several libraries, including the public library of Flint, Michigan. In 1928, he became the director of the Carnegie Library.
While he worked there, he established himself as a man of contradictions and a man ahead of his time. Munn was a strong believer in literacy and that everyone should have access to information. He was a great supporter of the bookmobile program which brought books to people who had no regular access to the library. His belief that the library should be “educational, informational and cultural” led him to seek out the highest caliber material for the Carnegie Library to keep people as best informed as possible and therein lies his first point of controversey. He has become a lightning rod for the issue of librarians and neutrality because he shunned popular fiction and did not want it in the Carnegie Libraries collections. While, he sought high end works, he almost certainly violated some of the ethical rules of librarians by actively ignoring works he deemed unworthy.
Munn is often referred to as the Father of the Australian and New Zealand Library systems. What he really did was help bring the American system to them by advocating free, public libraries that were staffed by professionals with varied skill sets.
The last point is what makes Munn so relevant: He recognized that libraries were expanding things that needed to do more to keep people informed than supply books. He saw that information was available to people in more forms than books and that libraries needed to accomodate that and needed people who were multifaceted and could keep up. He wrote about all this in the 1950’s well before the internet and recognized that the library needed to keep records in several mediums besides books.
Despite all his accomplishments, he advised against recruiting men to the library. While library work is traditionally pink collar, he had gone very far in the field. Munn thought men would not serve the libraries interests and would only be there to receive paychecks. It is an odd position for a man who must have realized the lack of glamour and big money involved
Munn died in 1975 many years after retiring from the Carnegie Library. He is survived by the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest.
So what can be made of Ralph Munn? A man who didn’t believe that men should be hired into the library system? He is controversial for good reasons, but he is one of the great 100 for his legacy. His questionable neutrality is part of the ongoing argument about what a librarian should and should not allow, but more so relevant is his belief that the library is a multimedia center that needs multitalented individuals to keep the publics access to information as excellent as possible. He foresaw this feature that some do not recognize even today and deserves respect for that.
Amey, Larry (2001). “When Libraries Made History”. The Australian Library Journal: 229–234.
Carnovsky, Leon (1937). “Why Graduate Study in Librarianship?”. The Library Quarterly 7 (2): 246–261.
Doms, Keith (1993). “Munn, Ralph”. In Wedgeworth, Robert. World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services (Third ed.). ALA Editions. pp. 595–6. ISBN 978-0-8389-0609-5.
Munn, Ralph (1936). Conditions and Trends in Education for Librarianship.
Munn, Ralph (1954). The Librarian: 6–12.
So the semester is almost over and this is meant to be my blog wrap up. I’m going to get this done on the target date no less. I think that shows improvement because over the semester, I have used the target dates as guidelines more than anything else. I get sidetracked with other work and I’ve had writers block which means that to me everything I write looks like trash. I’m over that and I think a good deal of that came from stress. I look back at my old blog posts and see that I was fearful in the beginning. I had a right to be anxious: student loans, financial aid, using technologies I was unfamiliar with and taking an online course which is something I have never done before. The pitfalls of that, I was made aware of but there are always other pitfalls. I didn’t expect that I could feel so in touch with my classmates and so out of touch at the same time. I communicate with them in forums and rate their work, but I am unaware if they feel the same way I do. In LIS 6080, my other course, I was relieved to find that I was not the only one banging my head against a wall for the majority of the semester.
I can look back, as I assemble my portfolio, with a sense of accomplishment. I have finished a lot of different works. What I’m most proud of are the things I have mastered that I had never done before entering graduate school. I had never used Powerpoint, Excel, made a video, programmed a database, set up a website or even uploaded to http://www.youtube.com. I am now so at ease with it that I am using Quicktime and Imovie to make my own videos.
I learned things about libraries and librarians of course. It’s good to see so many men are getting into the profession. I hadn’t considered being a librarian pink-collar work in the way that being a secretary is often thought of. Not that that matters to me. Pink-collar work is usually considered derogatory which is unfortunate since the traditional pink-collar jobs are necessary. Typical, the important jobs are those that people dump on but couldn’t get along without. I look back and wonder why Ralph Munn, whom I covered as a leader in LIS would want to discourage men from becoming librarians? He thought they wouldn’t take the role seriously and would be looking for easy paychecks. He himself was an outstanding man in the field and should have well known that being a librarian is more a labor of love and bourne of a love of learning than of money. Perhaps it was self-loathing, or a low opinion of other men. Perhaps he just didn’t want any more roosters in the hen house.
The things I learned this semester that were most relevant had to do with the future of the game. Ebooks are not the greatest threat, but the need for funding and even justifying the libraries existence are. There are too many people who just don’t understand why libraries matter, and I have been arguing this point throughout the semester. Libraries are not book depositories. They are learning centers the “community classrooms” as East Lansing Public Library Director Kristin Shelley told me. All the people who believe that all you need to know can be found online are suckers. They are the new “Don’t believe everything you read.”
So I don’t feel that stressed anymore. I am building a plan of attack for the future. I am still planning on going into public libraries because I think they can reach the greatest number of people. Being an academic librarian does have some appeal, and it appears to have the most job openings. If the research I did earlier in the semester holds true and those trends continue, I may have to go the academic route. That isn’t so bad for me, the Special Collections wing of the Michigan State University Library was one of my favorite hangouts in high school.
I think I will keep blogging. If possible, I will keep using this blog, I’ve grown fond of it. I’m still unsure about what the next semester will hold, but after this semester, I have a better idea of what to expect. The future is spread out before me and it’s lookin’ good.
Here’s a link to another blogger who had the same assignment as I do from a prior semester, just for kicks:
Good bye for now.
It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up
I have been working really hard on LIS. In the past week, I have had to visit libraries, interview librarians make a report and a powerpoint on that and complete a group project on mobile lending. Here is my part of the mobile lending project.
I revisited my original post from January 20th of this year. I found that I was a little afraid at the time of what lay ahead. I thought the workload might escape me and that I would be overwhelmed and have to quit. Of course, I practice defensive pessimism. That is a process by which you envision the worst possible outcomes. After you have an idea of the worst that could happen, you can rebuild and think about the best things that might happen.
I was worried about taking an online course, but I have taken two now, and I feel much more confidant. I have learned that I am not so different from my classmates and that they have shared my anxieties.
They also share my positive attitude towards the importance of libraries and the future of libraries. I am very heartened to see so many people have like attitudes on the subject. I would happily take another course with any of them.
When I entered LIS, I thought the greatest threat to libraries might be the electronic age. Instead, electronics are going to be the future of libraries and not the death. What I have learned will be the greatest challenge, is funding. Librarians are not upfront enough about it even though it is desperately needed, especially because it gets harder and harder to justify libraries existence to the ignorant. Too many people think that the internet means that there is no need for libraries. But libraries work with the internet to expand their services. We are not in a dead field, just a changing one.
While I was worried, and still have a few things to complete, I feel optimistic about the outcomes of the courses I have taken this semester. I even like blogging now and I will keep at it.
I can’t wait for next semester.
I still have $3.50 in library fines. It’s a good thing there are no late fees for ebooks.
I got my mojo running because my basement flooded last night and I had to wait until 6am for the plumber. I guess anger got me running.
The first of the two blogs I have been following is the delightfully snarky woman whom I hope will someday be my waifu, the Annoyed Librarian. (Don’t know what “My Waifu” means? Here you go: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/waifu
What I really enjoy about the annoyed librarian is her deadpan snarker style and overall cynicism. She writes in a style I find similar to my own: sarcastic, informal and wry. She also covers issues that I find important to LIS and issues that come up in classes. Some of my classmates covered issues like homelessness any the library for our ethics cases and she blogged about it too.
It is indeed an ironic complaint. I like the fact that she uses irony correctly. She is truly blogging after my own heart on almost every issue she picks. I could go on all day with her take on arbitrary awards: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/blogs/annoyedlibrarian/2013/04/10/a-dubious-badge-of-distinction/
to libraries being more than libraries: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/blogs/annoyedlibrarian/2013/03/25/a-library-isnt-just-a-building-called-a-library/
to this extremely creepy post: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/blogs/annoyedlibrarian/2013/03/20/creeping-canadian-totalitarianism/
That entry brings up a point about Canada that I had not realized: “Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in ‘high risk’ activities, according to the new code of conduct at Library and Archives Canada.”
So the librarians duty to the Canadian Government is so strong that they must not speak against it? Yes, I realize her slant is to the left, but so is mine and it’s a sensible view as well.
I wish I had read her work earlier in this semester. I wish I could write about her all night, but I had to cover two bloggers in one post. I WILL be following her in the future though (Not in a creepy stalker way, just her blog really)
The Traveling Librarian caught my eye because of his sense of humor which is blended (although not always: http://www.librarianblogs.org/blog-crawler?bci=1844965&url=http://travelinlibrarian.info/2013/04/american-psycho-with-huey-lewis-and-weird-al/) with topics in LIS. He himself is a specialist for the Nebraska Library Commission in Lincoln, Nebraska. He enjoys Huey Lewis and Weird Al Yankovic, which makes him cool, and his particular focus is on new technologies in LIS.
Aside from tech, he is interested in issues about copyright and file-sharing. This can of course cover the ridiculous: http://www.librarianblogs.org/blog-crawler?bci=1844965&url=http://travelinlibrarian.info/2013/04/american-psycho-with-huey-lewis-and-weird-al/ as well as conference survival tips: http://www.librarianblogs.org/blog-crawler?bci=1844965&url=http://travelinlibrarian.info/2013/04/american-psycho-with-huey-lewis-and-weird-al/
That last post about the TSA confiscating your things and putting you on “The List” is pretty scary.
I have only covered his recent work, but the posts go back to 2003, so congrats to him on longevity.
Both of these blogs cover some of the same things but in a different way. I like them both as well as their points of view which seem to be in line with my own 99% of the time. I wish I could go on, but this is a blog entry and not a term paper (which I will have to write). I heartily recommend both of these blogs to friends, classmates and random people on the streets. I hope they both keep blogging for years to come.
I know, I know, I said I would get my blog reviews up today, but I am really suffering from a writers block. No matter what I write, it just seems like trash to me. I can’t get anything with any lift. Later this evening, I will get something done because at both of those blogs are pretty cool. Seriously, I have to get to work because I have more writing to do in this and other classes. I just need more inspiration and less stress. Does anyone know where to get that?
Hello all. By Tuesday the 9th, I expect to have my entry or entries about professional blogs up. I have a lot of work to do and I am struggling with writers block so nothing I write looks good to me.
I am to write about the two blogs I have been reading. I was provided a link to look up blogs I might cover. You can see it here:
Hmmm. I wonder how long this has been down. The link is from 2009. Hmmm…
Anywho, I looked for blogs by librarians and I grabbed the first result because the blog is right after my own cynical heart:
The second blog I found tapped my more humorous side:
Huey Lewis and Weird Al? Sounds good to me.
I encountered that blog through this site if you are interested:
Look those over and appreciate my (hopefully inspired) posts on the 9th.
Also, I am taking suggestions for more black-inspired puns.
I’ve been sick lately and that has affected my blogging. I do need to get on with this. Examining my old friend the Progressive Librarians Guild is an easy task but a little different this time around. This is meant as a place for the activist librarian who does not believe that neutrality is a realistic position. The guild, according to its mission statement, was formed in 1990 with a mission to protect libraries from what they felt was the growing influence of business interests. That is a noble cause and close to my own heart. Libraries should be free from private interests that might dictate what sort of books can be included.
Like CoOL, the PLG is committed to helping groups with similar interests maintain contact. The articles they publish are openly radical as is the guild itself. They regularly publish issues of their own journal and if you feel so inclined (and pay membership dues) they are always calling for submissions. This is not, as far as I know peer reviewed. In fact, the ALA sees the group as radical. They can hardly argue, as that is part of their banner.
Someday, I think I would like to join the PLG because I do believe there should be a wall between libraries and private interests who might try to decide what is fit for a library that they supplied money to. If they like, they can open their own libraries, but I oppose the sneaky practice of de-facto buying through influence.
Comparing the two is an intriguing task. They are both committed to linking groups with similar interests which is laudable. CoOL is not radical and not trying to be. They are informative and lack any political bent whereas the PLG is all about its in-your-face political statement. In their own way, they are both about preservation, one of documents and one of free and independent libraries. Both are needed by libraries. CoOL is more of a how-to manual while the PLG is kind of a gather and be angry site. Their tone is not at all neutral, not that they want to be.
the LIS Field obviously has people with strong feelings about neutrality and about preservation. The difference is in intensity, but both are needed, intelligence and passion, to protect LIS. The very fact that such strong feelings, either free flowing or reserved and logical, is a great reason to be in LIS. It is a thriving, thrilling field. I doubt anyone involved will get bored.
Under a loooooot of pressure lately, so this may come out as more than one post.
First up, CoOL, a site dedicated to the preservation of collections. Obviously, this is meant to appeal to archivists and provides links to several similar resources like
It has a newsletter and publishes a long list of conservation topics for the trendy and informed conservationist who cares about preserving documents, photos, databases, films and audio files. You can also take a survey, donate $ to the site and contact the webmaster. It has many links and you can check out its history which they admit, is being compiled slowly.
They date all the way back to 1987, an age of non-electronics (sort of).
This is not peer reviewed because it is not so much opinion or fact, but a resource site collecting links and topics for those interested in preservation which of course, is of paramount interest to the librarian or archivist. That kind of mission is relevant to any librarian. It’s like a how to manual for what to archive and how to do it
I am exhausted.