According to the American Library Association there are 11 Core Values of librarianship and they are the pillars in which library school education and the profession as a whole rest on. Most of the time.
I was introduced to the values during a reading assignment in an Introduction to Reference class. I’ve read these values over and over, repeating them to myself when I question why the hell I’m even in library school or why I put up with so much frustration at work. Why? Because I believe in these values. And I believe in libraries. So much that I left a comfy job making decent money to spend more time and money on education and training so that I too could one day wear the cape of librarianship and serve the public good. Like Batgirl. Or my high school librarians. So when we had to pick a final topic to design an infographic for that very Introduction to Reference Service class where I first learned the Core Values of Librarianship, I knew exactly what wanted to make. I just had no idea how.
That’s why I love the Internet. And Pinterest. The image search algorithm Pinterest developed is tops. You can find almost anything, especially free resources, design inspirations, and in my case, layouts of different types of infographics. That’s where I found the inspiration for my infographic. Many hours and a few angry Photoshop issues later, I came up with what I thought was an easy A on my project:
I was so proud of this design. It’s the best thing I’ve made (digitally). Which is why I decided to share it on a Facebook group I joined about marketing in academic libraries. Within minutes the design was received with a lot of praise and admiration. Many folks asked for the image file they could share with colleagues and friends. Others wanted to post it to their library pages. Needless to say I was shocked and gladly made it available through Google Drive.
Then several people asked if I would sell a print copy of the design so they could hang it in their offices. It never occurred to sell it. The file was already available for free. They could print it and hang it if they liked. But the encouragement was strong and several days later I created an account on Zazzle and uploaded a large poster version of the graphic to sell.
Zazzle, if you didn’t know, is pretty affordable. You can get prints of posters fairly cheap (less than $20 for large prints). I posted the link to the poster on the Facebook group and had three people request a copy in less than 10 minutes.
Then I got Trolled.
If you don’t know what trolling is, you obviously don’t spend much time reading the comments section of blogs, websites, and YouTube videos. Trolling is a malicious attack by commenters, feeling safe and warm behind the screen of their computers. Trolls exist in every profession and in every corner of the web. But I had no idea Trolls were so vicious in LibraryLand.
The comment started out nicely enough. A simple “Hey, have you made sure you’re not violating any copyright issues with the content you got from ALA?” I hadn’t considered it, since I didn’t think the content I was using was stolen. And I give credit to ALA. I wasn’t really even making a profit on the poster. Just making it available for print. So, being the snarky gal I am, I responded that I had cited my sources, and thought nothing more of it. Until an hour later when the troll began heavy hitting on “my lack of regard” toward the values of access and free content and how I “should have just offered the image for free to everyone” and that somehow this gesture would have made me known throughout LibraryLand, et cetera, ad infinitum. And we went from a simple message of consideration to ripping my character a new whole because suddenly I was only out there to make money.
Yes, my friends, even libraries have trolls.
My reaction to this episode was simple. I contacted ALA and made sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong. They told me the design was great but that I had to talk to their graphics folks about selling it because the information was copyrighted and I didn’t have the rights to sell it. I thanked them and took down the poster and apologized to those who tried to buy it.Then I made the big girl decision to confront my troll with a simple message that I, in fact, was not an idiot about fair use, copyright, or access, and felt his behavior was both inappropriate and uncalled for. This was a great learning experience for me and, quite simply he was being a jerk.
I got an apology.
Apologies are unusual when it comes to the internet and I felt vindicated in a lot of ways because the kinds of remarks that were made and their viciousness were uncalled for. But that’s what happens when you put yourself out there. You run the risk of pissing people off, even when what you’re doing is as innocuous as selling a poster about values and librarianship. The temperament of the internet is difficult to gauge and sometimes you’ll find yourself on the radar of people who simply thinking their opinions are more valid than yours. Don’t ever let that stop you from sharing your work, your words, your thoughts, your opinions. Just be prepared to defend yourself against the onslaught. And remember… for the one person who tried to rip me down and make an “example” out of me, there were dozens of others whose words were kind, encouraging, and made me feel on top of the world.