Michael Gorman, Uncensored

Michael Gorman, ironically enough, was the featured speaker at the lunch today for the LITA National Forum. I have decided not to post my thoughts on the speech on the official blog because I do not feel what I have to say is entirely appropriate for that venue. I had hoped that Michael Gorman might address some of the backlash he has gotten in the press and in the library world, but I was delusional in my hope.

Most of Gorman’s speech centered around authority control, MARC, and metadata. It is his belief that authority control is the only way to properly categorize things in our world. (Real users do not understand authority controlled vocabulary and LC Subject Headings) He gave us his usual song and dance about how search engines never find anything useful (to which I was wondering if he even knew how to use them properly). He actually used the word “control” when referring to librarians and cataloging the web. We have to get it under our “control.” I am sorry Mr. Gorman, but the reason that the web is so great is that it is distinctly not under anyone’s control.

But my real problem with Gorman’s speech came about halfway through when he used a biblical example in the wrong context and with the wrong meaning. He referred to the tower of Babel and said that God destroyed it for no reason. Then he said that he was no Old Testament scholar, but God did not have a reason for destroying Babel and then quoted part of the verse (I think as he never said where the quote came from but it was implied it was about Babel). This leads me to believe two things: He did not read the entire passage and merely pulled a quote out piecemeal and he is foolish enough to misquote something that at least half of his audience would know he was misquoting.

God destroyed the tower of Babel because the people of Babel built the tower to show their greatness. They exhibited the sin of pride; they thought they were, themselves, greater than God.

(4)Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

(5)The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. (6)And the LORD said,”‘Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. (7)Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”Â’ (8)So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. (9)Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

In verse 4 it says, “let us make a name for ourselves” instead of let us worship God who has blessed us. That is why God destroyed the city.

Since I did not have my Bible with me, I did a simple Google search in which my second result was both relevant and what I needed. Maybe Mr. Gorman should have done the same.

–Jane, is currently reading Genesis in Bible study