you know you’re in LIS . . .

On my commute to work, I pass several different institutions that are (or used to be) convents or monasteries or seminaries, nestled in along the Hudson River. There’s also an episcopal church that has one of those lettered signs out front with interesting and often funny sayings to get your attention. But one of the seminaries seems to be under “new management,” shall we say, and has a flashy new sign with a computerized display and some fairly evangelical messages.

The one that caught my eye the other day was “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

I don’t think the train of thought that followed is what they had in mind.

a view of a building at Mount St. Alphonsus

Mount St. Alphonsus
CC image courtesy of joseph a on Flickr

The beginning of wisdom . . . this rings a bell. Yes, as a first year library and information science student, I’m thinking a lot about the whole data – information – knowledge – wisdom paradigm. Where would “Fear of the Lord” fall in this paradigm? Would “Fear of the Lord” be knowledge, and if so, what raw data would lead to making someone fearful, and how would that data be taken in as information, and then transformed into knowledge? If it’s only the beginning of wisdom, what other knowledge needs to join it, for it to truly become wisdom? What form would this eventual wisdom take? What if the same data is interpreted differently by someone else, and it does not lead them to be fearful, but rather to feel a different way? Is their interpretation a mis-interpretation and therefore will not lead to wisdom?

What about all the different aspects involved in facilitating knowledge creation, as described in the “Facilitating” thread of Dave Lankes’ The Atlas of New Librarianship (p. 66): access, knowledge, environment, motivation. What environment builds fear? What motivates fearfulness? Who has access to whatever might make you fearful? What existing knowledge do you need to build fear?

Don’t take me too seriously/theologically here, folks – this is just a tongue in cheek look at how I’m starting to see everything with librarian-vision!

Now, since driving past, I’ve looked this phrase up and found that it is from both Proverbs 9:10 and Psalm 111:10 of the Bible. I’ve also found an article in the local paper about how this site was formerly the Mount St. Alphonsus seminary of Redemptorist priests, and is now becoming a high school for the Bruderhof community, a protestant community with some similarities to the Amish and Mennonites.

So, how about you – have you ever had a moment when something you saw along the side of the road sent your brain into the land of theory? If so, please share it as a comment so I know I’m in good company!


Lankes, R. D. (2011). The atlas of new librarianship. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press .

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