June 26th, 2011


Information Regimes and What We're Paying For

 This post talks about the importance of professional librarians, and links to another about the deskilling of National Parks.

Basically, you get what  you pay for, and you DON'T get what you DON'T pay for.  That means if you want professionals who actually know what they are doing, and can help you competently, you must pay for those salaries.  If you are cheap, you will get unskilled people who know jack about the topic.  In a library, this could mean you don't find what you need and you miss a crucial deadline.  In a park, it could mean you wind up DEAD if someone makes an innocent mistake about what terrain is traversable right now or not.

If I walk into Wal-Mart, I really don't expect staff to know anything about what's for sale.  It's Wal-Mart; I know what their priorities are, and if the employees are actually knowledgeable about the goods, that's a pleasant surprise.  If I walk into a library, I expect the person behind the desk to know more than I do about what the building contains and how to find information.  That pretty much means they have to be professionals, because if I can't find it, we're looking for a needle in a barn complex not merely a haystack.  If I go to a National Park, I expect serious and accurate information about its uses to be available, and I should like to be able to carry on a conversation on the level of "What are your observations now that wolves have been reintroduced to this ecosystem?" not merely "What's that red flower?"

And I think those kinds of things are better ways to spend money than, say, tax breaks for the rich or pouring wealth down the rathole of voluntary warfare.