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The Talking Cure How do we process change (and lead) during uncertain times?

by on November 15, 2012

Librarians know better than anyone else how to reason knowledge from pools of information. It’s just what we do – our process – compile and deduce. An inverted triangle that filters and points to absoluteness. Inconclusiveness does not rest easy with us; it’s a toxin, it affects us, spurs us, and maybe even taunts us. We’re restless and dogged until we purge the answer.  But for a profession (nearly biologically) predicated upon setting the truth free from artifice, we certainly get peddled a viscous wrath of mixed messages internally – a week in the life of a librarian’s inbox at times feels a conflictive and contradictive hyperbolic vacuum to be taken with equal parts grain of salt and baby aspirin. It’s both-sides-of-our-mouths – smooth-sailing, with a chance of embolism – and you feel your blood pressure swell. How are we supposed to process this?

“The Talking Cure” is a verbal therapy practitioners of pyschoanalysis use to help patients objectify issues and concerns they find overwhelming – in essence, literally airing inward conflicts so that they can be observed and processed in a new light externally. Attempting to approach these mixed messages one-by-one can feel fruitless and daunting, to the extent that they are unresolvable. Left un-dealt with, they stack and mount and produce all the anxiety of a teetering Jenga tower. But if we step back, and attempt to view things from a more at-large and objective vantage point we can see them more objectively as part of a larger process. And the entanglement of articles processed from a collective perspective, now seem part of a larger discursive mosaic.

Regardless of whether or not this seems an instance of much ado about nothing, or oversimplication dressed up as abstract, librarians are obviously quite emotionally affected by the confliction projected by our day to day media. And this is only natural. Our professional stability, not to mention our natural survival instinct, is rooted in our ability to forecast the near future. So how can we feel secure with an uncertain horizon? What does this mean for our passion, or our livelihood? We feel panicked and anxious and uncertain and defensive and reactionary and scared – barraged and exploited by our fears daily. Reminded of our changing landscape, told that we must adapt and change and grow and also lead or we will become obsolete. How do we make something out of nothing? Or are we just making something out of nothing? We receive too much conjecture, not (balanced by) enough perspective.

So from time to time we need to be reminded to keep it simple. By viewing each panic-inducing headline as simply part of the talking cure process, it is slowly revealed that the “act” or method of understanding and shaping the future, is actually in place right now – and that we are part of a larger discussion “warming” to the implications of a digital shift and learning what “it” means and how it will (and won’t) shape and change our world, it’s just not humanly possible to always keep this perspective. This venting – with our canvas or “couch” represented professionally, at conferences, in the media, classrooms, blogs,  discussion forums, etc. –  by voicing our concerns or praising the glories is a public and collective form of catharsis. We are freeing and eliminating repressed emotions and demonstrating a form of “the talking cure,” so to speak. We’re all acclimatizing – by celebrating, venting, lamenting, soothing, exciting, provoking and sensationalizing we begin to find some solace in the idea that sometimes not having an answer is okay and part of the process of finding one.


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