I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade

In the final Thread of R. David Lankes’ The Atlas of New Librarianship (2011), we finally get to the librarian. In amongst the descriptions of skill sets, teamwork, processes, and curriculum, there is a statement which stops me in my tracks. Lankes proposes that in the case of deadlocked debate between new librarians and bibliofundamentalists, “we will have to do something painful. We will have to leave them behind” (p. 172). To me, this is not something painful, but something inconceivable. My language, and therefore my blog entries, heavily reflect military culture. I suppose that is not surprising, considering that regardless of what other roles I have played in the last eighteen years, the one constant is that of Army Spouse. This culture in which I’ve lived my entire adult life does not allow for leaving a comrade behind.

Soldiers’ who undertake a mission together subscribe to a common ethos that defines their guiding beliefs, binds them to each other, and emphasizes duty to their community. The core of the Warrior Ethos is in the following quote from the Soldier’s Creed, which can be found at

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am not proposing we continue to engage in unproductive conversation, or that we apply hard core conversion tactics to bring artifact-centric librarians around to our way of thinking. I am proposing that we show them the value of our mission by example–by continuing to carry the mission out effectively and gracefully. I suppose you could say that bibliofundamentalists didn’t sign up to improve society as facilitators of knowledge creation anyway; that they weren’t really ever part of the mission to start with, so what does it matter if they are left behind? It matters because they are great resources; it matters because they are our potential allies; and it matters because if we can eventually inspire them to come along with us, our mission is guaranteed to succeed.

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