Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are most librarians funny?

My friend over at Billy Ockham asked that question recently, and I replied with an off-the-cuff (amusing) answer. I said we had to have a sense of humor because otherwise we'd go insane when someone (I'm looking at YOU, Google Books) tried to catalog Jane Eyre in Architecture. But I've been thinking about it, and wanted to actually comment with a little more thought and seriousness.

I read a lot of blogs. And one blog I find side-achingly funny is the Midwest Conservative Journal. He's got a rapier wit and can skewer a news story with awesome commentary, or write a bit of fiction that is worthy of Douglas Adams. And he's a librarian! I'm also on several library listservs - one for the Association of Christian Librarians, and two through the Association of College and Research Librarians. Now, most of the content is typical library stuff, but often we - ahem - digress. Stories about wild animals loose in the building. Wonderfully brilliant satire. Off hand comments leading to a treasure trove of one-liners and witty repartee. And of those many comments, it's not just one or two comedians making everyone laugh... it's most of the regular contributors!

I am part of other groups, and read lots of other blogs. But there's a really high concentration of witty folk out there in library land. So why is that?

Yes, I have a hypothesis - it's a vast oversimplification, but a hypothesis nonetheless. We can be funny because we love books. And we love books, in part, because we love to read. And because we love books and love to read, we're quite literate. (I mean that in a very broad sense - not just in the sense that we can read at a certain grade level.) So when we get to telling stories, we can do it well. And because we're literate, we can do it well in writing. And in my case, and possibly others, I tell stories *better* online than I do in person because I'm the quintessential librarian introvert! We can easily dip into Tolkien's vast "Cauldron of Story" and pull out bits that seem good because we've been steeped in that literary tradition. We've read good literature, and good history, and good writing on an amazing spectrum of other subjects, from science and engineering to philosophy and criticism. And we've read bad writing too, but because we've read *good* writing too we can tell the difference!

So when we write, whether about rogue wildlife or Anglican investigators, we tell our stories well. Because we've learned how to do it by reading so much of others' writing.

Of course, there are lots of people out there who are not librarians but who also love books and love to read and are also very witty... like the Joneses, for example. So that leads me to believe that anyone who loves books and loves to read .... can write well! So read, darn it, read! Yay, BOOKS! ::librarian cheer::

1 comment:

the Joneses said...

Wouldn't a librarian cheer be executed in a whisper?

-- SJ