Reflections on class #6

What a class we had last week!

I really like when you can have a class full of people start discussing something and then have it morph into another discussion entirely. While our talk started with Jane McGonigal, by the end, we were talking about privileges in libraries and what we thought of SI’s T-shirts that state “I will change the world.” (Who knew T-shirts could engender such a discussion?) It was interesting how we all saw the shirt differently: for example, I don’t like to wear mine because I think it makes a statement I can’t back-up and I’m tired of people asking, “And how will YOU change the world?” But some took a much different approach and thought that it was more about changing one person’s world. Additionally, one of my classmates mentioned the idea of privileges in libraries and privileges in a place like SI. The library profession is full of privilege for a few reasons, but mostly because a lot of people can’t afford to go to school for a job that may not ever pay for itself. Ubiquitous unpaid internships in libraries don’t help either; most people need money to live off of, and it’s hard to take on a full-time internship that doesn’t pay. I think that’s largely why that T-shirt strikes a nerve for me because it seems to say, “Hey, I’m privileged enough to be at this great school and I’m going to change the entire world because of that.” Maybe that’s not fair. Maybe I’m biased because I went to a state school in Michigan where UM had what is (after going here) an undeserved reputation of arrogance. But I think we all need to, quite simply, check our privileges and realize that by going here, we have them. (Even if most of us our paying in our life’s blood to be here.)

Our discussion was great largely because it stuck with me after class ended. In 638 the next day, Mollie and I talked about the discussion in class, and I thought about it over the weekend. I think I’m not as against the shirt as I used to be. I think perhaps I take it too strongly as a point and need to be proud that I’m a part of something bigger than myself that will hopefully change the world someday. I think I need to realize that I’m at an institution that does change the world and that’s also something to be proud of. Maybe I’m not going to singlehandedly change the world. But maybe, like one of my classmates said, I will help to change someone’s world and maybe they’ll go out and change the world for the better. Yes, I’m absolutely privileged to be here at SI, and I need to be sure that I use that privilege to its full advantage.

Thanks for the great discussion, SI-ers!

(We also discussed the professional bloggers we’ve been following, and the discussion was really interesting; I’m especially interested in the idea of librarian “branding” and it’s something I’m looking forward to getting to know more about!)

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