I went to ACRL 2013 last week, and I'm still thinking thinks about the conference in general. I plan to write a general review/overview of my experience, but I want to take my time with it and get it right. In the meanwhile, there is something from the conference that keeps coming to mind, and that I want to address right away: the Rock Star Librarian / Cults of Librarian Personalities phenomenon.
In addition to nabbing many free pens... I mean, talking to lots of vendors on the exhibit floor... I attended sessions, as one does at conferences. These ranged from very small, such as the roundtable I co-lead, to very VERY big, such as the keynote given by Henry Rollins (I have a huge intellectual crush on him now). At least one of the sessions was something lead/given by someone I consider a Big Name in Libraries, a Rock Star Librarian, an inspiration for a Cult of Librarian Personality. Normally I avoid these people, preferring to spend my time listening to and talking with people who are doers instead of thinkers (thanks, Andrew Whitis, for giving me the perfect phrasing for this).
So why did I go? How did I end up experiencing a Cult of Librarian Personality first hand? Because, despite thinking that particular Big Name is an utter tool (judging from a few brief personal interactions we've had), I also think that Big Name is utterly brilliant. I have read articles and books and blog posts written by Big Name. Heck, I bought a copy of a book by Big Name for myself because I liked it so much I wanted to be able to write in it, guilt-free. The thing is, even though Big Name might be a Big Tool, Big Name also makes me think. I know I can take the ideas I get from Big Name, smoosh them around until they fit my circumstances, and make them my own.
So, no, I'm not a fan of the Rock Star Librarian mentality, but I know those individuals can serve a purpose in this field - at least in my life, they do. They all influence my professional practice, whether it is to avoid making what I see as their mistakes or to moosh their ideas to fit my context. I say, let the Rock Star Librarians rock on. I'll be over here, continuing on in my indie pop star sensation/minor success way, and be happy doing so.
But what about you? What do you all think of this phenomenon? Do you avoid Big Name Librarians at all cost? Seek them out because you love to hate them? Have a true fondness for one or more of them?