My Efforts at Cyberbullying

I try to avoid writing blog posts on anything that could potentially be work related. I do this for a number of reasons, few of which I will articulate here. However, the main reason is because I am generally content in my chosen profession. I like being a law librarian. I like what I do. However, the subjects that could be deemed work-related about which I would potentially blog would make it seem like I don’t like my profession. Namely, it would be to point out the annoying undercurrents that sometimes can run through this profession. Generally, these annoying undercurrents come with names attached, because frankly, there are a few people in this profession that drive me crazy for a whole host of reasons. The chief general reason that these people drive me crazy is that they are not really good legal researchers, so they mask their lack of marketable skills with a fixation on social media, Web 2.0 technology, etc.

This weekend, my family and I were playing a board game called, “Loaded Questions.” One of these questions that we had to answer was to name something that we had never done on the Internet. My response was “cyberbulling.”

However, depending on your definition of cyberbulling, that is about to change (as well as me breaking my rule about not writing work-related blog posts). Because seriously, J.P. (as I coin thee), Director of the Harvard Law Library? Come on. You are supposed to be a director of probably the most important law library in the country. Yet, not only is this not mentioned in your New York Times interview, but you spend a whole interview talking about the online social lives of high school students coming from the vantage point of a Harvard Law School Professor (which I realize is what made your famous because of your similarly useless book, Born Digital). I know that you have been touted in academic circles as someone who really understands kids these days, and all of that, but I still don’t get what this possibly has to do with running a law library.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for law library directors being legal scholars. I believe in that. I am just not so sure that your publishing makes you a legal scholar. Does research about youth and the Internet make one a legal scholar (even with your insert about the law Congress is considering about cyberbullying)? I realize, your scholarship is entitled to be separate from what you do in your work affiliated with the law library, but I can’t help but think that you are using an awful lot of your conclusions about youth and the Internet in determinations about what the future of the law library should look like. Furthermore, I can’t help help but wonder if your own research interests that have little to do with law serve as a conflict of interest when you are determining what materials will make up your “library of the future.” Maybe you have so little interest in traditional legal resources because your own research makes little use of them?

I shouldn’t therefore, at all be surprised that when you do deem it worth your while to actually publish on the subject of law libraries (when you aren’t testifying about cyberbulling before Congress, that is), you don’t bother to actually support your arguments with actual research and evidence. For example, your “Cornerstones of Law Librarianship for the Digital Plus Era” is about the most poorly researched piece of garbage I have ever read from any sitting law library director. I am not sure why you think you can make broad, general claims like, “Law firms of all sizes face competitive threats from information technology services, accounting firms, and other nonlawyers.” You offer that statement up, like it is some sort of self-evident truth that therefore doesn’t need to be footnoted. Can I call BS on that? First of all, the whole point of a professional monopoly is that you don’t face professional threats from other kinds of industries, that aren’t licensed to do what the professionally controlled monopoly is able to do. If that were the only statement in your paper that wasn’t properly footnoted and supported, then I would let it pass. However, that is only one of many examples I could cite throughout your article. Also, do you really have to use the word “flux” so much?

I get it, libraries aren’t your passion. Those crazy, technology addicted kids are. If that is what you love so much, then write all about them. Then, maybe your answer to a question about what makes an internet rumor stick (“The more salacious, the better. The more believable, and yet there is a little something edgy.”) will bother me a little bit less. But let’s be honest. This isn’t integral to the determinations being made about the future of law libraries. This doesn’t have much to do with ensuring that legal researchers of the future have access to well-ordered collections on jurisprudential thought. Sure, I might still be annoyed that you are trying to play the role of a trained behavioral scientist with the education of a law professor, but so many law professors think they know more than experts who are trained more thoroughly in other fields these days, that I just shrug my shoulders.

This isn’t a professional blog. This is a blog for when my parents want to look at pictures of my dog or my vacation to Spain. It is a blog that my friends can read when they find themselves in need of a good old fashioned-Leslie rant. There is nothing scholarly here, worthy of study or truthfully even of anyone else’s time. It is a waste of internet space, and therefore, is not worthy of anyone’s academic study. Heck, this blog post isn’t even a well-reasoned, well-researched, articulate critique. In that way, I am part of the problem with the Internet. I am writing a post solely based on a knee jerk reaction, rather than thinking through the issue and writing something thoughtful and insightful. I am sure that alot of people feel similarly regarding the crap that they put on the Internet. I hope they do, at least. I hope they don’t expect to be taken seriously. I know teenagers expect to be taken seriously at all times, so perhaps they are the exception to that. But are really living in the age where the work of law libraries has to concern themselves so seriously with angst ridden, clique driven kids?

**If you are reading this blog because you were referred here by the Cool Kids Friend feed on January 25, welcome. But keep in mind my disclaimer on this blog, this isn’t a professional blog, so all of my rants are my opinion of that day and do not merit any further analysis. Also, there are more pictures of my dog on this blog than there are my opinions about law librarianship, so bear that in mind as well when potentially making judgments based on this blog entry.

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