What Not to Act

Well, I’ve just returned from the SLA Leadership Summit and I only have this to say:

People–we have got to learn how to do the conversation thing.

I mean, really–are we that incapable of making small talk that doesn’t involve the L word? For the past three days, I don’t think I had a single conversation that didn’t center around what we do. I know it’s a librarian conference and all, but heaven help us, I’m sure even nuns get tired of talking about their work, no pun intended.

So I have some suggestions. With extensive practice, I’m sure even the most introverted of us would put Mike Douglas in his hey-day to shame.

Do Not:

  • Use any variation of “librarian”, even if you’re explaining why you don’t look like the stereotype. If I look like the stereotype, chances are you do too. So there.
  • Drop the names of any vendor, no matter how oblique the connection. (“Boy, those folks at New Balance sure are something, aren’t they?”)
  • Employ such hoary words or phrases such as “service-oriented”, “consortium”, “OPAC upgrade” or “homeless problem”. If you can’t resist the urge, try waiting until after dessert is served during the vendor-sponsored lunch.
  • On a related note, do not utter the phrase “are you going to finish that?” at any function involving food.
  • Stare at a fellow attendee’s name tag if it’s hanging from a lanyard at chest level. This goes for men and women alike.
  • Try to dance. Ever.

Try beginning conversations with the following icebreakers:

And don’t forget to thank me when you’re the life of a vendor-sponsored party at ALA this year. Just don’t try busting a move.

8 Responses

  1. Brian
    Brian January 26, 2004 at 5:21 pm | | Reply

    No, the Howard Dean one sounds too much like a reference question. Maybe start a conversation about which MP3 tune based on Dean “yeaghh!” samples is best, instead?

  2. Fiona
    Fiona January 27, 2004 at 5:33 pm | | Reply

    I was at a function recently chatting to my husband’s boss about Russia of all things, and one of his staff members comes up and asks, ‘so who do you think should win Australian Idol?’ I thought it was funny.

    Talking only about L stuff is so true, and it gets boring way fast.

  3. Ross
    Ross February 3, 2004 at 8:23 am | | Reply

    Personally, I am shocked at the insolationist tendencies exhibited by many of my co-workers. The general level of knowledge of other cultures and world history is much lower than I would have anticipated. I am aware of the need to concern oneself with problems of the here and now, but it still makes me wince when I have to explain, for example, WHERE Lithuania is, or what is the significance of the battle of Mons Grapus.

    Not enough DEPTH of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  4. donna
    donna April 1, 2004 at 2:33 pm | | Reply

    oh my god! i attended my first national conference this year and was shocked when the librarians started dancing. not a single one of them had rhythm. my friends and i at the under-35 cool table tried our best to ignore them, but a friend just had to get a picture of the teen librarian from her system that constantly boasts about what a cool teen librarian he is. he was the worst one up there!

  5. ashley
    ashley July 1, 2004 at 3:03 am | | Reply

    i love him but we need picters

  6. ganesan
    ganesan July 18, 2004 at 7:49 am | | Reply

    keep me posting the details

  7. daniel ceder
    daniel ceder August 31, 2004 at 3:07 am | | Reply

    The link “SLA Leadership Summit” seems to have been changed. Maybe this is the one you want to use:


  8. The Unicorn Lady
    The Unicorn Lady September 21, 2004 at 3:43 am | | Reply

    Trouble is, if you get together with other school librarians, we spend our time vying for ‘worst johnny put-downs’ trophies! Our best friends are the Year 11 girls and our worst enemies are Year 8. Its us against them! As one man bands, we can’t help it! Put us in a room with other adults and we don’t know what else to say other than ‘library work sucks/is great/certainly has its surprises!’. I mean we do all the gossip and intellectual stuff with the Year 11s!

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