Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fuzzy and Grey

Grey seems to be the theme of the past few weeks. Though at the very second I type this the sun has decided to shine its face, for the most part the weather has turned to autumn in the Pacific Northwest - rain, rain, and rain. The reappearance of the rain is always so surprising to me, which seems an odd statement. I mean, I do live in Portland. Rain is kinda our thing (only slightly less so than Seattle, where it really, really is their thing). Summer visits Portland rather late and, as if to make up for its tardiness, stays on into the end of September. So though school is underway, the weather is still gorgeous, the sun bright and the breeze cool. And then, one morning, I wake up because I'm far too cold and it's dark and there's a hard wind and leaves everywhere. I stumble out of bed, feeling more than a little like Rip Van Winkle to see so sudden a change after so short a sleep.

Grey is the color of a scarf I'm knitting up for a friend. The Right Coast has suddenly grown even colder than here (snow in October!) and he needs something to help keep him warm. It's the easiest pattern ever (k2p2 rib) in a lovely soft merino and I can knit it while standing up and talking to people or while listening to lectures on information ethics. I'm a little worried I'll run out of yarn -- I only have two skeins in grey and one in green, so I'm wondering if I should put the green skein in the middle or asymmetrically at the end. Either way, I'm glad to be making something with my hands again. I somehow feel more productive in life when I'm producing something tangible. Concepts and understanding make up the bulk of my days and that's often difficult to represent, to have something to show for all the time I put in. But a scarf (or, last quarter, a stack of dishcloths) let's me know that I've been sitting and absorbing, twitching and learning.

Grey and fuzzy lines are a continual topic of conversation in my Information in Social Context class. We're talking a lot about ethical considerations and the tools available to us as information professionals. Since I spend most of my days in technical services at an academic institution, I never have to worry about people trying to ban books, children asking for things that might be inappropriate, officials trying to track patron computer usage. There are ethical considerations for sure - I do have access to sensitive patron information, for example - but I'm rarely called on to make a judgement, to provide definition to these lines as I almost always have someone else to refer to, a chain of command. Public Librarianship seems so difficult when I consider the type of careful balancing that must go on everyday. I think the friends of mine who are focused on the public side of the coin are amazing, especially those who are running in headlong, anxious to make a difference.

And now that I've written this, I'm off to check in on our Division referee seminar, where they are undoubtedly discussing the fuzzy grey areas of the rule book and the fencing phrase.

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