Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I have always believed that it goes without saying that we should know the infrastructures of our jobs.  I expect my staff to be comfortably familiar with the ins and outs of our library and any questions pertaining to it:  its policies, its hours, its floorplan.  I expect that I and my colleagues know these basics and more:  the ins and outs of Columbia's 20+ libraries, the ways in which we interact with other library systems (NYU, New York Public, the other Ivies, etc), the Library of Congress cataloging system.   I know that DS557s are books about Vietnam and that DS557.7s are about the Vietnam War and that the HV6400s have exploded since 9/11 (no pun intended) because this is the category for books on terrorism. I know that GNs are anthropology and HQs (rather humorously) encompass queer and gender studies and PSs are fiction and BSs are bibles and dictionaries tend to be in reference collections but you can almost always find older editions that circulate.

I do not know how Congresspeople get picked for all the various committees that (theoretically) help to run our country.  I have not memorized the Constitution and all of its amendments in chronological or any other order. And I definitely do not understand how it has come to pass that the Pentagon has leap-frogged ahead of the White House in regards to Don't Ask Don't Tell and is now instructing its recruiters to recruit openly homosexual men and women.

But I do expect our politicians, the people we elect to represent us and to govern this vast and sprawling country, to know and understand these things with the same familiarity that I have developed within my own job of choice.

I do not expect my fellow Americans to send to Congress people like this.  And I do not understand how this woman can even hope to be on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when she does not have a clue about the intricacies of our own government, let alone anyone else's.

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