Three recent incidents in my life as a librarian have given me a certain insight into the need for direct, personal action on the part of librarians if we are interested in making changes in our way of life. I wanted to share them with you and urge you to get involved, and see what happens. Even the smallest action can make a difference.There has been considerable press in the online library media over the last few weeks about a campaign commercial run by New Jersey Senate candidate Douglas Forrester. In the commercial, he refers to the jobs he had while in school, saying he \"flipped burgers\" was a \"librarian\" and \"painted house numbers on curbs\". Like many others, I was upset by this, and I sent an e-mail to his campaign registering my concerns. I don\'t have any direct evidence of my impact, but many other librarians responded, both individually and as organizations, and I have heard that the ads have been pulled.
A couple of weeks ago, Library Stuff alerted me to a story from the San Francisco Chronicle featuring columnist Verne Kopytoff\'s review of several fee-based online search services. I read the article and sent a nicely worded e-mail to Mr. Kopytoff reminding him that the free search services at his library were at least as convenient, and more reliable. He responded, letting me know that he had heard from more than one librarian, and saying, \"[I]\'ll try to make up for my lapse by printing a few of the suggestions among our letters to the editor.\"
Finally, one of my personal non-librarian heroes is John C. Dvorak, an irascible columnist and industry gadfly from PC Magazine. He recently included a nod to librarians in one of his columns. I posted a comment on the PC Magazine online forum, but I also took a few minutes extra to find John\'s e-mail address and send him a personal note. He replied with a single word, \"thanks\".
Will these actions make significant changes in the way that librarians are valued and treated in this country? Probably not. What they may do is make a few people a little more aware of what librarians are, what we do, and how we make their lives better. If enough people respond to what they see and make their feelings known; calmly, respectfully, and directly; the lives of librarians as a whole will get better.
One more thing. In the great scheme of things, the treatment and perception of librarians in America probably doesn\'t mean much, but I\'m looking on all this as a chance to practice before speaking out on the big issues, like the coming war. Please, if you care about something, talk about it. Every little bit helps.