Greetings from lovely Kansas City, MO! I’m here right now for the AASHTO RAC annual meeting. It’s hot, but not as stick as New Orleans was for SLA. I suppose that’s not saying much, but it’s appreciated.
I’m at this meeting to present about my vision for Open Transportation Research. I’m also here to preach the good word about Transportation Knowledge Networks. Preach is not the right word, more like explain and field questions, but it’s all part of moving forward. It’s all good, right? Well… sort of.
In one of these meetings, one of the transportation researchers basically threw their local librarian under the bus. How? When we were talking about all the fantastic things TKNs (and librarians) can do for the transportation research community. This researcher mentioned a wonderful demonstration of research tools and techniques that was provided by some academic librarian (their emphasis, not mine) and how their agencies librarian could “never provide that level of service.” I had to fight a bewildered look of, “Really? Did you just say that?” It was interesting to hear their impressions of one of my colleagues, but at the same time, it was weird to hear somebody slag their librarian off in front of me and 20 other people. I wanted to stand up and proclaim, “Your attitude stinks, just like your institutional support for the library, which is why your librarian probably doesn’t have the time and energy to give awesome instructional sessions that I’m sure they’d rather do than the billion tasks you expect them to do with no money, time, or staff,” but I let it go. I guess I chickened out.
This made me think though, is there ever a way to throw somebody under the bus and still remain professional? How do you convey your felling of, “Wow. This person/place/thing/idea/goose chase really is a waste of matter,” without seeming irrational/immature. Damning with faint praise, or that telling silence always seem effective and acceptable, but is there anything so bold as to really just call people out? I guess there’s something to be said for being frank, but really, if you’re going to do that, have some tact. (Is that possible?) Or at least remember your audience. People talk.