Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Faking Cultural Literacy

This past weekend, the cover story in the NYT opinion section caught my eye. It was titled "Faking Cultural Literacy". Turns out - we don't read so much anymore than we skim. We are a skimming society - trolling through news feeds, tweets, blog posts, and facebook status updates. We might read the book review but not the actual book, or we skip both all together.

Moving further into the murky land of what's real or fake - another issue that has come up fairly often lately in my professional news feeds and groups is the concept of "does one need to be a reader in order to be an effective librarian with readers advisory services?" By acknowledging that one isn't a true "reader" are we then faking our way through book talks and shelf side suggestions when we pretend that we have read and loved a title, even though we might have only skimmed through it quickly, or saw a review posted online somewhere?

So - here is my confessional of sorts. As an 11th grader, I had to read Madame Bovary in my English class. It went completely over my head at the time, so I decided that I hated it. To complete the assignment, I read the first few chapters and the last few chapters, and then sat in the school library with Masterplots to fill in the missing pieces. I was able to cobble together an essay that received a fairly good grade. But - I couldn't have a conversation about the book, nor participate in one with my peers because I knew just enough about the book to fake that I knew a lot about the book, when I really knew very little at all, as it turns out.

Years later, I had to re-read Madame Bovary in college - and this time I  took the time to read and comprehend the text. And to my surprise, I loved it.

Which leads back to the concept today of more and more grown ups pressed for time or desire or want to take the time to dedicate themselves to much of anything fully and completely. We continue to race out the door, to skim and troll various news feeds. But is having too many bite sized pieces of information better or worse than having a substantial chunk of knowledge about something, anything?

And if today's post is an "anything goes" day - then what do you think about the librarian as "non-reader?" Is it possible? Share your thoughts about that, or the link to the NYT article above below. I promise to really read them, and not skim.

No comments:

Post a Comment