Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

No Uniformity Please

From Oldham, England comes a curious story about uniforms in libraries. It seems that despite budget problems, the town council would like to purchase uniforms and require all library employees to wear them. Presumably any uniform would be more tasteful than what a lot of librarians in the U.S. wear to work, but that’s a different issue. Someone afraid to speak on the record, which seems to be common to libraries these days, says that requested budget cuts “will involve cuts to services to residents and the loss of jobs. At this time the libraries intend to introduce a uniform for it’s staff — a totally unnecessary waste of money.” That’s a pretty compelling argument, unless the town council adds insult to injury by requiring the library staff to purchase their own uniforms out of their huge salaries. The arguments for uniforms put forward by one councilor are mostly irrelevant. For example, “Other public-sector bodies and partner organisations... have employee ...
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Librarians: the Latest Pawns in the Debate

If there’s a more contentious conflict in international affairs than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then I don’t want to know about it. It’s too depressing to think about. From an outside perspective, it’s easy enough to understand at least some of the issues and motivations of both sides, but most vocal people on the matter tend to divide one way or another, and one of the casualties is careful thought. For example, the dubious conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. That’s a convenient way to sway the debate away from the real problem, which is perhaps so complicated by this time that there’s no good solution possible, no matter how many American Presidents want to add such a solution to their legacies. The political statements of librarians have entered the conflict now, because several of them have signed a document calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions. The document is by Middle East Studies scholars and librarians, but mostly not ...
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It’s Good to be the King

Librarians by now should be used to no one in authority valuing their opinions, but the librarians at Barnard College haven’t reached that appropriate level of hopelessness and demoralization yet. They’re getting there. Barnard is building a new library bigger than their current one. Once it’s completed, the library will house 40,000 fewer books than it does now and the research librarians are leaving their office for cubicles. Soon enough, librarians who have never known the joys of prairie-dogging in cubicle land will be able to. The librarians are complaining that they had no say about any of it, which isn’t surprising. The last people to be asked about how libraries should be built, organized, and run are the people working in them. Nobody seems happy. The director resigned, possibly because she’d been thwarted. The faculty are unhappy about the books and the librarians about their disappearing offices and disappeared say in how anything works. So pretty much ...
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Libraries Do Business as Usual

Last week I suggested librarians tone it down a little. Some of the hyperbole is just ridiculous, but sometimes it’s more subtle, so subtle that it’s not offensive, it’s not even inaccurate, it’s just a little puzzling. Like this blog post: Libraries Reinvent themselves in the Digital Age. It makes a good argument for how libraries are positively adapting to changing technology. Except for mentioning that Bexar County library with no print materials, which has gotten way too much press coverage, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the claims of the post, except the title. Are libraries really “reinventing” themselves? The main evidence offered in the post is that most public libraries now offer ebooks, and lots of them have digital magazines and audiobooks. How is this anything other than a continuation of business as usual? Offering access to books and magazines is what public libraries have been doing since the beginning of public libraries. Offering them ...
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Tone it Down a Little

One of my strongest objections to most people who want to start a library “movement” is that they too often go to extremes. They’re so extreme it’s impossible to take them seriously, or at least impossible for me to take them seriously. If we want to revisit the not so distant past, we can think about the Library 2.0 movement, whatever the heck that was. People desperate to be a part of some kind of change but unwilling to think through exactly what might need changing latched onto “Library 2.0” like drowning people to a life preserver. That led to a lot of excited librarians, who mostly seemed to be excited about being excited, or maybe they were excited at being so inarticulate. It makes no difference. That excitement in turn led to some ridiculous presentations and blog posts, many of which said little more than “Library 2.0 is about change, so let’s have more Library 2.0.” I was thinking about this after running across a recent presentation with a very ...
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A Little Boring is Sometimes a Good Thing

What a tumultuous week it’s been, and I mean besides Thanksgiving dinner with the relatives. At least during Thanksgiving dinner I didn’t have to listen to a bunch of middle-class white people who associate only with other middle-class white people tell me about race in America. For that, I had to go to the Internet, which I mostly avoid during holidays. Yet it was almost impossible to avoid the subject of Ferguson last week. The week played out like tragic theater, from the prosecutor playing the part of a prosecutor who totally didn’t rig the outcome of an inquest to the President playing the part of someone who really believes the rule of law exists uniformly in the country. And then the protests and later the violence, and the predictable roles so many more played. In the midst of all the bad news from Ferguson, there was one slice of not terrible news, and oddly enough it involved the Ferguson Public Library. The opening of the story from NPR: The Ferguson Public ...
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