So there’s this scene at the end of the 1997 movie In & Out …
For those few of you who haven’t seen the movie, it plays out like this: [spoilers ahead] Kevin Kline plays a small-town high school English teacher. He is an inspiration to his students and a beacon of the community. At the beginning of the movie, the small town is brimming with excitement because one of their native sons has gone on to fame and fortune as a Hollywood Actor (Matt Dillon) and is now up for an Academy Award. Matt Dillon wins the Oscar for playing a gay soldier, and during his acceptance speech he thanks his old English teacher Kevin Kline for inspiring him to pursue his dreams. After an eloquent speech, Matt Dillon decides to add: “… and he’s GAY!” to the end.
I swear I am going to link this to Library Science.
This causes an uproar in the small town, as Kevin Kline, despite being the most effeminate guy in town, denies being gay. He’s getting MARRIED in a week for cripes’ sake. Turns out, that it was just an honest mistake on the part of Matt Dillon, and that he didn’t mean to out Kevin Kline’s character at all. He just assumed that the guy was gay. Apparently this becomes a correct assumption as Kevin Kline, after a lifetime of denial, finally realizes that he is, in fact, fruitier than a Hawaiian salad. He drops this bomb on his lovely fiancee as they’re standing at the altar. (probably not the best time) This hurts his family and friends, and causes him to get suspended from his job as a high school teacher.
Library comparison, coming up, really, I promise …
So it’s at the graduation, and Kevin Kline is there, despite having lost his teaching job, and there is a “Teacher of the Year Award” being given to this annoying doofus of a colleague. The colleague prepares to give his Teacher of the Year acceptance speech, (something about “Hoosiers”) when Matt Dillon shows up and rallies the community in honoring the teacher who gave so much to their community and is an inspiration to their students.
Okay, here it comes …
“Ahhh … but he didn’t get the Teacher of the Year Award!” Kline’s idiotic colleague says smugly, “I‘ve got the Teacher of the Year Award!!”
Watch the scene here:
I’ve always loved that scene, but I’ll admit that the “Bad Guy” teacher always seems to come off as a little bit of a schmuck. Intentionally, I’m sure. I mean, yeah, he’s got every right to be happy about his “Teacher of the Year Award”, and he’s probably a great instructor if he came in second after: “The teacher who inspired his student to give an Oscar-winning performance in a major motion picture”. But for the purposes of the narrative, he’s just a little bit douchey.
That’s what scares me about the future of Library Science.
(What?! Library Science!? What the Holy Blue @#$% does that have to do with Library Science?!)
It’s just … sometimes when the clueless public brings up the obsolescence of librarians, and they start talking about the efficiency of Google and the growing reliability of Wikipedia and the immediate gratification of the Internet in general; I feel like librarians are saying: “Ahhh … but that doesn’t help patrons get peer-reviewed resources! We’ve got peer-reviewed resources!!”. Well yeah, Google Scholar has peer-reviewed resources; and it’s getting more every day. “Ahhh but the patrons can’t effectively assess reliable resources from biased and dubious claims! We can evaluate the resources based on our experience and knowledge!”. Well patrons can pretty much do that already. Oh sure, you’ve got dumb patrons who are still using the 1979 World Book for their country study on Russia, but a lot of patrons know how to at least get to the CIA World Factbook online. [pause] There, I just checked, it’s the #2 hit on Google when you type in “Russia”. I’m willing to believe that there are patrons who are clever enough to check the second Google hit when doing a research paper. Doing a book report on “Coraline”? No problem, I’ve got Neil Gaiman friended on Facebook, and now Google+.
Patrons are smarter, more critical, and better at finding information than we give them credit for. Many librarians know this, and aren’t trying to be wizened sages of the stacks, dispensing information from on high like some kind of outdated oracle. We GET it.
But I don’t think we should necessarily dismiss the threat of a smarter caliber of patrons joining forces with the enhanced capabilities of the Internet attempting to push us into obsolescence.
Not even with our Teacher of the Year Awards. 😦