Dump Gorman as a THREAT to old-fashioned culture
David H. Rothman writes "Many clueful librarians voted for Michael Gorman because they worried about the future of books and sustained thought in the era of McInformation--they laudably cared about the basics. But could ALA's president-elect himself be a threat to culture by not understanding the potential of electronic preservation? Is he really fit to lead ALA, given his vision deficit and the lack of professionalism that he showed in an anti-ebook article in the Los Angeles Times and his anti-blog rant in Library Journal?
Whether from the private side or the public one, digital libraries need more funding, not less. They can play an important role in dealing with such issues as acidic paper and the waning of interest in the old classics. With good e-book software, it is actually easier to navigate through long, complex literary works than by reading them on paper. For example, you can almost instantly return to a writer's first mention of a character--no small matter to consider when reading The Russians. Did Gorman take even a nanosecond to ponder the potential here? And what about the ability of e-books to enlarge type for the visually impaired, especially our growing population of elderly? On top of that, consider the irony of Gorman, of all people, going to Salinas to try to save the libraries there. Couldn't Salinas libraries benefit from the economies of e-books in spreading the classic around, along with more contemporary books? Oh, and then there is the issue of blogs, the other Gorman target. Mightn't they actually add valuable context to books of all kinds? The library profession hasn't even scratched the surface in terms of using library blogs to help present valuable old books to readers.
What's more, there is the pesky matter of Gorman's methodology. In the case of e-books he has violated Reference Desk Rule Number One by failing to consult the true experts. Just how much does Gorman know about e-book displays and the latest alternatives to staring at the usual desktop screen hour after hour? If he committed the library version of malpractice, shouldn't ALA dump him?
As an e-book advocate through TeleRead and OpenReader (warning: a techie Ph.D. friend wrote the OR site for fellow techies), I say: "It's okay for Gorman to hate digitized novels if he wants. But it is not acceptable to write articles for prominent publications without adequate research." How ironic that Gorman criticizes bloggers for sloppiness in informal postings--but himself has comes across as an ignorant fool in the Los Angeles Times and Library Journal. Forgive the language, gentle readers; I'm just trying to be accurate.
In view of Gorman's risible writings--the kind that makes informed people laugh at him, not with him--a Washington Monthly blogger was right in calling for ALA to dump Gorman. How many more fiascos will it take for ALA to rid itself of Gorman before he further damages the profession and then says he was just trying to be funny? Isn't it insulting to see this pompous old gray-beard use the humor excuse after writing such sentences as: "The Luddite label is because my mild remarks have been portrayed as those of someone worried about the job security of librarians (I am not) rather than one who has a different point of view on the usefulness of this latest expression of Google hubris and vast expenditure of money involved"?
Other questions arise. Perhaps LIS professors should try out the latest e-book displays and software themselves and see if Gorman-style "wisdom" will always be relevant in the 21st century. E-books in their current form have their flaws, granted; they cannot and should not replace all paper books, contrary to the impressions given by the more hucksterish of their boosters. But neither should LIS professors automatically swallow Gorman's bilge. If his past writing reflect his current prejudices against technology--the professors can determine that one themselves--perhaps he should lose his demigod status in the classroom, not just within ALA.
(The above may be reproduced in full without permission. In fact, I'd encourage copying in this case, as long as proper attribution is given.)"