Thursday, July 10, 2008

Even Librarians Watch TV

Librarians watch television of course, we just feel guiltier about it than most people if that's possible. Tonight's must-see TV (imho) is the debut of Greatest American Dog at 8:00 PM and the third episode of medical reality series Hopkins at 10:00. How can I tie this in with a library blog? OK, here you go: the Dewey number for dogs and dog training is 636.7 and we often get young families asking where the puppy picking or puppy training (usually in that order) books are. Furthermore, the BHPL Reference Department has an excellent medical reference series called Johns Hopkins White Papers (Ref 616 JOH) which covers all topics in a highly accessible but thorough format. Also if you do a publisher search of Johns Hopkins Press, there will be 72 results. Phew, don't feel so guilty now about being off-topic... How did I get from dogs to medicine? It's easy, that's how the whole day at the Reference Desk goes: computer help, reference book instruction, fiction recommendation, etc. See last post.

This brings me to an article in the Atlantic Is Google Making Us Stoopid? by Nicholas Carr. The gist is that people who use the internet a lot may be rewiring their brains to have shorter attention spans. I could make a bad joke about how I only skimmed the article and/or didn't finish it, but I did finish it and I tried to pay attention just to disprove what the author is trying to say about our changing level of literacy. I don't know if google is making internet users more stupid, but its convenience may be making people more intellectually lazy. So the question might be, is intellectually lazy the same as stupid? The discussion of how internet searching tends to lend itself to cursory research, skimming, jumping from one topic to another, shallow understanding of topics sounds a lot like the observations/criticisms of Sesame Street's format and how its choppy, fast-paced programming might be enabling attention deficit in its young viewers. There used to be a lot of that kind of commentary going on. As noted, reference librarians tend to jump from one topic to another all day long never lingering long enough to go in depth, so maybe our brains have already been rewired a la google.

Conclusion: if google makes us stupid and tv makes us guilty and both the internet and tv shorten our attention span,, that puts librarians at the cutting edge of these phenomena and um, whatever...

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