Monday, April 18, 2005

The dust is all in your head, Michael

I have heard of Michael McGrorty for awhile now, mostly from other librarians and readers of his blog. According to his blog, he has given up on his dream to become a librarian, and in a series of statements from his latest blog entries, his passing from my profession is hardly to be mourned. (I tried to comment on his blog directly, but the server that hosts his blog seems to not want me to!) McGrorty says he loves libraries and librarians, but I have my doubts that he ever really wanted to become one, given that he doesn't seem to have been willing to risk much to obtain the degree necessary. In a long-deleted entry, he explained that one of his final papers was rejected by his school for not being properly written, and that this was going to potentially threaten his attainment of the MLIS.
As someone who has toiled for years in the academic world, both to get my Ph.D. (and it will happen, honest!) in US History, and the MLIS, I know how frustrating it is to have to conform one's mindset and writing style to someone else's possibly limited agenda. I can guarantee anyone out there, though, that McGrorty faced nothing too severe that he shouldn't have succeeded. He simply didn't want it bad enough. McGrorty's program is one of only 2 available in this area; I went to the other one, and lemme tellya, Mikey, you wouldn't have lasted a quarter there without making an accommodation to the academic style. You had to submit 2 final papers? We had to write 2-3 papers every quarter, all to that same standard, almost all of them 25 pages or so in length, in addition to class participation and all the stuff you probably excelled at, just to make it to the final evaluation process.
McGrorty seems to have decided that maintaining his comfort and illusions about what constitutes librarianship was more important than actually doing what was necessary to join the profession; what kind of librarian would he have made, given that level of commitment? In his 3/25/2005 entry, he says that his "library" is separate from "library school" or "library jobs": "That library is mine; it has always been mine. It is that library that I write about, the one I have wished to work in; it is the one I went to library school looking for." What on earth is he really saying here? That he went to school not to learn about the profession as it exists outside his mind? He has the air of someone who's been rejected by a lover, as he talks about how he has to move on, but in the same entry he boasts about how much money he might make at his first non-library job: "The position I’ll be interviewed for next week pays about what you would get to be director of an average-sized public library system. It has a good deal of responsibility attached, which is not unusual for that sort of work." As opposed to what a librarian is charged with, Michael? What did you think you would do as a librarian, anyway?
His 4/6/2005 entry leads off by stating that he didn't enjoy library school, as if that is a relevant observation. I hate school just as much as you do, Michael, I can assure you, but I bit the bullet and finished what needed to be done, just as I will write that darn dissertation and get my next history degree. What I won't do, however, is compare the content and style of my graduate study to child's play: "Now that I think about it, it has mostly all seemed like kindergarten, but with larger chairs as the years passed." This is not some cute turn of a phrase. It is offensive to any of us who engaged in junior high, high school, college, or grad school with any level of seriousness at all, let alone those who are employed as teachers/professors.
McGrorty's arrogance apparently isn't confined to slighting other people's chosen professions, either. In his 4/8/2005 entry, he purportedly upbraided some seemingly well-meaning child who had the audacity to compliment him on the quantity of his reading with this condescending line: “Son, if you don’t let yourself get flabby you can do the same at my age. Put down that GameBoy once in a while and check out the new books section.” Michael, this poor unsuspecting "kid" was at the library already! Think about that for a minute, ok? If all our patrons were as "supportive" as you think you are, we would have to work twice as hard as we do already just to undo the damage some crank like you is causing out there!
His latest entry, though, from 4/17/2005, takes the cake. In it, he decides the most appropriate metaphor for loving to read is heroin addiction. "I have always felt that books were to me like the addict’s needle: full of a substance which reached deep into a part of the mind, a place that nothing else could touch or influence.It is not so much an effect different in degree but in kind altogether." Ick. Thanks, Mike, but I'd prefer not to have anyone think of books as being akin to junk, and librarians, by extension, as pushers.
Yes, McGrorty shows affection for public libraries, but only to the extent that they fulfill his desires as a patron, which is ok as far as it goes. But his lack of understanding about the profession of the people who maintain his beloved library seems to have gone unchallenged by his two years in school: "I must confess that the reason I went to library school was more in the way of understanding the system and its operators than anything else.I thought they must possess some secret, something essential that I might discover and come away with.In the end, I found that it was nothing more than a set of skills set atop the same understanding of the library that I kept; half of me was a librarian all along." Excuse me? If a "set of skills" is all you learned from your MLIS program, you must not have been paying very close attention. Granted, I know the program you attended does not focus as severely as the one I did on, for example, larger policy issues, or on academic concerns such as information theory, but for someone who was as supposedly plugged in to the profession as you tried to be, I would have thought you would have sought that out in your readings and writing.
I'm not convinced by your blog that you understand anything at all about libraries, and especially librarianship. It's nice that you have great experiences at libraries, but it sounds to me like the only reason that's the case is that the library is a place where you can get free stuff to feed your habit.
If you must, you can find McGrorty's blog here.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are awesome for writing this. I bow down to you. If you weren't already engaged, I would marry you!

Seriously though, finally someone has written a long-overdue response to this type of drivel.

Michael, you can take back your "small gift to the library world." The library world doesn't need it!

10:35 AM  
Blogger bryduck said...

I wish only that his deleted post where he related his inability to write a graduate level paper could still be found, but he deleted it from his archive, leaving those of us who read it all the poorer.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous eta said...

I'm not even a librarian and I find his drivel especially problematic. His view of Library school, and indeed of graduate work in general is so off, it's no wonder he can't get through a program designed for ease of completion. My guess is that one of his professors finally thought that he shouldn't be part of your profession.

And then he gets off on writing about motorcycles, or (shudder) pretending to give Tom Joad a ride. Sigh.

As for your dissertation, remember the great Sojin Kim's advice to me when I was bogged down in mine...

"There are really only two kinds of dissertations."

"What are they?" I asked-- thinking, good and not good or publishable and not publishable.

"Finished and unfinished," she said.

8:24 AM  
Blogger bryduck said...

Yeah, I looooove his motorcycle rants. It has made them even more enjoyable to read since I heard (source?) that he used some of his scholarship money to buy the bike. Grrrreeeeeaaaat. Of course, since his wife makes "twice what a director of a small library system makes", he can afford to do something like that. What a clown.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Mike Massey said...

I know Michael Mcgrorty; and you sir are no Michael Mcgrorty! Your egomania is matched only by your transparent insecurity. Get a real job and a real life, yours is meaningless at present.What kind of a person would write this kind of vague, stupid and useless stuff? What are you an Anne Coulter wannabe? Is this supposed to breed unity among your fellow professionals?

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Louise Dalton said...

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

You certainly are a surly librarian, Bryduck. Glad to know of your site -- I won't mistake it for a blog that dispenses intelligent commentary on librarianship.

4:48 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

Absolutely right, Louise. I am not limiting myself to talking about librarianship, but if something comes to mind, I'll throw my $.02 in. And Mr. Massey? I'm glad I'm not Michael McGrorty, so that's not a problem for me. I am already gainfully employed, thank you, and if you think my entries are vague, perhaps you'd care to point that out by citing a reference or two? Your criticism is just as vague as you claim mine are. I have little interest in "unity among professionals", if that unity is created by uniformity of thought. In your haste to defend McGrorty, you fail to rise above an ad hominem assault on me? That's more like Coulter than I have been. Egomaniacal? Maybe. Insecure? Maybe. Of course, I'm not puffing myself up here like McGrorty does in Library Dust, so I don't know what evidence you have for that, either . . .

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy Surly, you sure don't like that McGrorty.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who leaves comments defending McGrorty and his blog is just misguided. I have met and worked around both Bryduck and McGrorty, and have many mutual acquaintances of both. I haven't had a conversation yet with anyone who had positive things to say about McGrorty. McGrorty's pompous, self-serving drivel is an ongoing source of irritation and disgust around my library.

Talk about egomaniacal? Ask McGrorty "what the candle feels" and why he didn't have the guts to leave that particular post where he'd put it in his blog. I guess his failure to pass his final library school paper (and that is an achievement--failing to complete library school!) didn't make him look good enough.

As someone who managed to complete library school and earn the degree, and as someone who is working successfully as a librarian, I can say that McGrorty's patronizing attitude towards libraries and the patrons we serve is not desirable.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on you. What a mean-spirited child you seem.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't ever seen such an insecure, bad-taste piece of writing in my life. This fellow became a CLA Assembly member and an ALA Councilor while still a student, wrote a fine piece of library legislation to save the Salinas libraries from closing, and edited our California Libraries here, too. No other library student that I know of, and certainly not you, have ever done anything like that. For this he gets the scorn of a sad, small man like you? You don't even identify who you are or where you live-- not that I'd like to know. What a coward and fool you are, and how low.

4:00 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

Yes, I know. I feel terrible about it, too. On the other hand, you didn't identify yourself, either, so come down off that high horse, wouldja? McGrorty accomplished a lot, sure, but his importance is apparently only matched by his perceived self-importance, judging by his writings. I prefer to go by the word of the many people I know that have actually had to work with the man, and every single last one of them finds McGrorty nigh-insufferable. The Library community is not exactly known historically for having a lot of aggressive go-getters, so I'm not surprised that someone who was interested could do all the things McGrorty has done. All I know is that he has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way too, including me. If pointing that out in this manner--by questioning his observations and motivations as stated in his public arena--makes me a "small man" in your opinion, fine. I have found his writing to be just as insecure as mine apparently is to you; he wrote, I took offense so I wrote, you think I'm wrong, so you wrote.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Bryduck! Hang in there. I'm an information professional, and you can leave off the "nigh" when describing McGrorty as insufferable. Many of us have accomplished a variety of things in our professional lives. So what if McGrorty accomplished those things as a library school student? Did he actually accomplish the degree???

Check out his post about using diversity scholoarship funds TO BUY A MOTORCYCLE, which he proudly states is the only one in the library school parking lot. Using the money not for fees, books or resources even remotely related to library school, and then calling that his nod to diversity (i.e., there aren't many library school students who drive motorcycles?!?) just reeks of self-serving and pompous.

And, folks, please remember, a blog is a diary. It's all about opinions and soapbox stances. It's the forum for broadcasting whatever you think about whatever you want. If you come to a blog expecting NOT to read personal opinions--sometimes negative (and there's sure a lot to complain about these days IMHO)--you're not getting the point!

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize that 10 years after the most recent comment, this is all but ancient history; but I feel compelled to add my own reaction, since it might add a new dimension to most of what Mr. Surly and most of the comments express. I have known Michael most of my life. I mean no disrespect to him for writing this entry; neither do I condone nor condemn Mr. Surly for his feelings. My entry isn't about him. It's his blog, and I have no problem whatsoever with his saying whatever he wishes. It is only that I know Michael in a way others can't and have memories of the days referred to 10 years ago that others can't. No stranger to what I know comes off as his hubris, I vividly recall the days when he was in grad school, flunked that essay, and was then going on numerous interviews. Every time he told me about his latest interview, each of which sounded to me like a small train wreck, I begged him to stop, to simply do what was asked of him, to take more of a "hat in hand" attitude if he wanted the job. He didn't listen. I also recall that he was so humiliated by flunking that essay that I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him; but it had been his choice to write the essay in his own way rather than follow the professor's instructions. I am a college professor and normally find that students who have been in the military (Michael was in the Navy for 4 years) are superb at following instructions. But not my Michael. His life's motto is "I don't do anything I don't want to do." And he means it. However, he understands and accepts the consequences of this attitude. His life has been a series of tragedies, some of which are simply grotesque and far too personal for this forum. But he has overcome them all and made a good life for himself. For this, he is to be commended. He currently has a very good job at which he excels, but what a shame he did not allow himself to become a librarian. Think what you might, but he would have been a superb addition to the library world. I suspect the reasons for his self-sabotage are numerous and complex, understood perhaps not even by he himself. In the end, the truth is that he has a mind brilliant beyond the comprehension of most, knows it, and has worked many years at building that wall of conceit which none can penetrate. He is harmful to no one but himself. Hate him if you must, but, really, he is more to be pitied.

1:50 PM  

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