30 May, 2006

Come Downunder

I've just come across a post I put up on LIS News almost exactly one year ago and just to make sure that it is in my archive as well as theirs I am posting it here.
It was a response to a query from A merkin about what they could expect their life to be like if they did a job exchange with an Aussie.

Well the first thing you should know is that Aussie is pronounced Ozzy (as in Ozzy Osbourne). From there we can move on to more serious difference (keeping in mind that I haven't been to your part of the world, but I probably get more American culture force fed to my society than you get Aussie culture). We have no patriot act, indeed to American eyes we have no patriotism. However, that is just culture shock. Most Australians are proud of the fact that we're not proud. Aussie libraries don't tend to have titles challenged. I'm not saying it never happens, but I've never worked in a library where we had a set procedure for what to do with a complaint of that sort. My usual method is tell them to put their complaint in writing after which point I'll never hear anything about it. On exchange you might notice your spell-check starts underlining words you thought were correct. You probably need to let us Aussies (remember the pronunciation, we won't be offended but we will laugh at you. Besides how can America expect to deal with the complexities of a vastly different culture like Iraq when you can't even make the effort to pronounce Melbourne correctly - Mell Bun) know if you are planning to sojourn to a specific type of library. No point me going on about the public system when you are a specialist in presidential libraries (oh, and we don't have presidential libraries due to a lack of presidents. This lack should not be taken as a sign we are not a democracy, we're quite happy without any and don't need liberating. We even got to vote a little while ago and we voted not to have one.). And while I'm on the topic, if the American president is the leader of The Free World, why don't I get to vote? I'm part of the free work damn it! Oh, and land of the free, HA, I refer you back to my point on the patriot act.
You will hear people talking about cricket like it is important. This is very prevalent with male librarians. If you begin to find this difficult, you could do worse than remember that some of your own countrymen think that baseball is a sport. Oh and don't get us started about American football. We have constant battles to keep up the level of funding, same as y'all (see, I can make the effort to use your language). Aussie libraries are currently trying to update their image, and the image of librarians. So bun wearing shushers need to be aware we will force them to be cataloguers and stick them in the basement where they will see nothing of Australia that isn't on the dust jacket of a book. So what is the new image for librarians? Well we realise that all that is successful about Australia involves khaki clothing and crocodiles, so we're spicing up the libraries with live reptiles and Linda Kozlowski look alikes (see we do welcome Americans). Despite years of work by American cola companies and fast food chains Aussies still get most of their calories from food. Despite years of work by American drug companies Aussies still get most of their vitamins from food. Combining these two facts, if you let your Aussie co-workers know that you consider pop tarts a food, you will discover that this voids any chance people will listen to you. Yes, if you dare suggest that a big bowl of frosted anything (let alone with cola on the side) is a breakfast for anyone other than a seven year old with no parental supervision (or someone with ADHD) you will find that no one cares about your wealth of experience with ephemera collections. You will be forever known as the American Pop Tart. As in "Does anyone know if the American Pop Tart finished the shelving?" Oh and, you won't understand our sense of humour. This entire reply has been funny and if you haven't noticed (or if you were offended) then a trip down under will probably be more fun for you than a visit to Australia would be. No, I could go on, but I won't.

I'm disappointed to say that I only had one offended American reply to this, so perhaps I should try harder. That said there are currently two Americans on staff in my library, so perhaps I'm going soft in my attempt to point out the rest of the world to Americans online.
Although, it probably has more to do with the fact that American Librarians (due to working in libraries) may have if fact come across the existence of the 900s and guessed that some of these places mentioned may still exist.
The response from the Defender of America was all together too funny because when he played with every stereotype of Australia, I was able to ignore it as I was in fact born in the UK.

While on the American teasing exercise, I did post an article on a 'gun totin' librarian to LIS news recently. One reply I got from that, was the wonderful "guns don't kill people, people kill people" line. Which I loved on so many levels.
Firstly- I hadn't said anything about disarming librarians.
Secondly- I quite enjoy playing with firearms. I hunt on occasion (I even spent some time in the Australian Army). Although I never saw the need for an AK47 to go rabbit hunting.
Thirdly- based on my time in the Army, I can say that they did seem to focus on the guns during our 'how to kill the enemy' training. In fact I notice that most nations prefer to send their soldiers out armed with guns. This suggests that while the guns may not kill people, they certainly help.
Fourthly- There is something retarded about this automatic 'knee jerk' right to arm bears. It has all the passion (and logic) of a UFO cult.

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