COMMENTARY: All hail the Wizard in the Emerald City

Oh woe is us... what an appointment. Now the key is not to be frustrated and ticked off with the latest wizard. I mean really... WHAT could he do when the Clerk called? Say no? Of course not. Instead this wizard must be guided and handed some useful advice to make his stay in the Emerald City pleasant.

First of all - let's be VERY CLEAR on the title this particular new Wizard holds. He comes from the group of monkey petting, pretty suited boys rather than those who belong to what some consider a coven but is really the tribe of librarianship. He is neither a librarian nor an archivist and should not hold either title. The very clear and unmistakable bureaucratic title of DM will have to do for this wizard. Let's all start using it rather than granting him the title he has no business wearing.

Now secondly, before he makes any further missteps - yes, I am being diplomatic in these things, because missteps they are. Let's allow him a paltry few of these. Missteps are occuring because our Wizardly DM is taking bad advice from those who see security threats from music researchers and more appallingly, making atrocious decisions like putting a moratorium on acquisitions of all things. This is what comes from putting those who know nothing about why the City exists in charge. What is a national heritage collections organization like the NATIONAL Libary of Canada if not an organizaion that is intended to acquire and collect Canadian content? Are they to beg for everything? Legal deposit cannot work for every acquisition. How about we try this with the National Gallery and Museum of Civilization too.

Here's what this DM/Wizard needs to do to be successful in the Emerald City, or, if not successful, at least not screw it up any worse that he already has in under 50 days never mind 100. It happens all the time as we all know with many at the DM/Wizard level - they usually have short tenures, make a mess (sometimes known as "leaving a mark") until they're yanked out and sent elsewhere to do it all over again. It's the way in the Land of Oz.

Now given that his pretty boys in suits are not qualified at their levels either, the wizard needs an assistant - an "executive assistant." He needs someone who knows the lay of the land, knows all the players and at least a few of the issues. And I mean issues of the profession and its organizations, not the bureaucratic bafflegab that passes for issues by so many in the land of Oz. This person does't need to sit at the table with the other pretty boys in suits, and in fact that would be detrimental to her role. She should not be someone who is interested in feeding the flying monkeys the way the rest of them do or wearing pretty suits to impress each other and be part of the Management Board of the City. She should be outside of this little cabal. She would have the knowledge that the rest of them do not have. An MLIS degree, knowledge and a rich work experience outside OZ, with a solid network the Wizard could call upon if he was nice to those who run the Coven/Tribe.

The Assistant would not be afraid to speak truth to the DM/Wizard in power, because a confident DM/Wizard is never afraid of the truth and would be comfortable enough in his appointment to want to learn and understand the community he has inherited. (Go check - that's right out of the Canada School of Public Service Executive Training Programme) This is not something we've seen from any of the pretty boys, or even those who do the bidding of the pretty boys.

The newly appointed DM/Wizard does not realize that his Emerald City is not typical of the rest of OZ. The City was the diamond in the crown of OZ. Unfortunately with the change in wizards over the years to process and preoccupation with RM as IM, the City has become mere cubic zirconia. And there aren't many IM professionals of the libary, records or archival muchkin population who are thrilled with directions of the Emerald City. If the DM/Wizard cares about credibility he will need this "assistant" to help him keep track of his wands and tell him who can approach the curtain he hides behind and give him the words he needs to continue to appear powerful.

The DM/Wizard needs to understand and learn that the Emerald City isn't his little lab to tinker and do things as academic exercises. In the days of Glinda and even before, the Emerald City was a leader on real issues - preservation, collections, service and sharing wrapped around Canada's cultural heritage, made accessible to all beyond Oz. It was the leader that all the other cities looked to. Those days appear to be done. A mere shell of an institution remains. The ones who care about the profession and its goals have pretty much left this sinking ship. Even the little mice search through publiservice jobs on an hourly basis.

The sad part is, unless the DM/Wizard gets serious and settles in to think about programmes rather than process the rest of the land beyond Oz won't even realize what they had until after it's lost. And won't that be a legacy to leave behind by the monkey loving pretty suit turned DM/Wizard who took the appointment because he could.

Find the assistant.

(The comments above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CASLIS Ottawa or the Canadian Library Association.)

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