The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

In about two weeks, the 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker edition will be released and the winners will be revealed. From my own experience, I can tell you right now that there are about fifty new Movers & Shakers who can’t wait to share this news with the world. For the moment, they have held onto the secrecy of their chosen status for the most part; they may told some friends, family, and work colleagues but otherwise have kept a lid on it. These are the Oscars of the librarian world if only for a lack of other high profile awards within the field. While the ALA Youth Media awards are of higher visibility and prestige to the public with prizes such as the Caldecott and the Newbery, they are (for the most part) given to people outside of the librarian profession. Beyond that, I would imagine the average librarian would be hard pressed to name more than a handful of awards given within the profession at a national level.

The topic of professional recognition is a well trod territory in libraryland. From my perspective, discussion has always been skewed towards the negative end. For every social meeting posting sharing the good fortune of an award that is met with celebration from friends and peers, there are an equal (if not greater) number of posts that question the existence of awards, the worthiness of recipients, and value of recognition in the field. Awhile back, I had a theory as to where this kind of ‘worthiness’ judgment phenomena came from. Now, my feelings lay somewhere between ‘human nature’ and ‘really, who cares?’.

If people want to invest their personal energy into this cosmetic issue rather than other pressing issues floating around libraryland, then all the power to them. I find now that I don’t have the energy to re-argue old discussions that will recycle itself over time, especially given how nothing is truly resolved and how quickly it can devolve to the petty level. It’s still educational to follow this topic as it reveals a lot about the personal character of the people who bring it up and how they address it. Although, to be honest, I find myself more disappointed than intrigued when I do; there is nothing flattering about watching people engaged in petty axe grinding.

To this year’s Mover & Shaker recipients, I offer my congratulations. You have earned this noble distinction on the basis of your own deeds and accomplishments. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.  I’m proud to call myself one and you should be too. Enjoy your moment in the sun.

Shine on.

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