Skip to content

Moving and Shaking and Shameless Hussies

This started as a you-post-for-me comment at Meredith’s blog… but why not post it here and get the link juice?

Back in 1992, I believe it was, Jean Armour Polly, one of the pioneers of the Internet in libraries (back when that was tantamount to suggesting beer in libraries), wrote (and I paraphrase, badly) that librarians do great things and then never tell anyone about them.

This behavior is endemic to the profession. Thinking about OpenURL, online databases we lease that no one uses, books that never get displayed, reference hidden behind ponderous fat clients, libraries so badly hidden by poor signage that Magellan couldn’t find them… oh, it goes on and on.

I admit to a certain wistfulness that I have never been formally selected as a “Mover and Shaker.” But I don’t begrudge anyone that designation. I have also been targeted–really, since 1992–as a sometime shameless hussy who self-promotes. Sometimes that is meant to hurt. Someone hurled it at me at my last brick library, when I was doing things like dressing up in plaid pajamas and handing out flyers at the local mall to advertise our Go To The Library In Your Pajamas campaign for online services. (One little boy screamed and ran, but I think that was unrelated.)

At the risk of sounding too Californian, most of the b—hing about shameless self-promotion seems to come from an angry place. It also seems to be targeted at a few people. Does anyone think Roy Tennant is a shameless hussy? Even though he self-promotes all over the place, and you can even buy a thong with his face on it?

Here’s another insider tip. When you are self-promoting on some issue of higher urgency, it’s not always an easy place to be. When I was pushing the issue of filtering and libraries, I was screamed at in ALA meetings (for not toeing the ALA party line of age-neutrality). I was labeled online as someone who liked child porn by a librarian who then went on to work for a filtering company. I was implicitly labeled a liar by one major listserv moderator. I endured many bad flight arrangements, lonely weekends in motels, grillings at library meetings and presentations, and endless hours (pre-wifi) waiting for my next connection, as an outcome of this luxurious self-promotion which, by the way, was for an issue I cared about and put a very small amount of extra income on my table (and I should have charged some libraries far more; I know better now) when I was a grossly underpaid “part-time” rural library director.

The last message we need to deliver to librarians is that self-promotion is a bad thing. Or that, like one brand of hair color, it’s just for men. Shameless hussies of the world, unite!

Posted on this day, other years: