Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Redefining Theme Parks

Kind Reader sent this article about a library in Florida that’s being designed by a theme park company, and it sounds just as bad as you might think. It’s going to be called a Cybrary, so the town is finally catching up on jokes librarians were making 20 years ago. Very cutting edge. It doesn’t help that almost everyone involved sounds like they’ve been taken over by a corporate robot. The city manager claims that they’re “redefining what the library is,” which of course they’re not. They’re just building a mini-theme park and putting a few books in it. That’s not redefining anything, unless it’s theme parks. He also says that, “When you think about bettering this thing called a library, which has been around since before 300 B.C, do you turn to the library scientists — the librarians — to create a fresh and new thing, or do you turn to people who have expertise in the areas of entertainment and attraction?” Well, that’s certainly a good question, even though public ...
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Librarians’ Easy Resistance

The big library story of the week would have to be this one about librarians protesting President Trump’s executive orders and everything else Trump-related. It’s one of the few news articles about libraries that demonstrates knowledge of libraries at all. Maybe the author’s a librarian or knows one. Historically, it goes back to the 1950s as well, so there’s definitely some context. The most interesting, and perhaps even the most effective protest, are the “Libraries Are For Everyone” signs created by a public librarian in Nebraska. It reminded me a bit of the librarian in Ferguson, MO during the unrest there, but on what could be a much bigger scale. Regarding that situation, I wrote at the time: “Stuff like that is what makes libraries special in a way that maker spaces or whatever the next new thing never will be. All people can come and sit, read, work, play, and study. Nobody’s harassed. Nobody’s turned away. Maybe libraries are a little boring, but sometimes ...
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Dilettantes @ Your Library

Things are tough all over, especially for British public libraries. They’re so tough anonymous librarians are writing articles about it in major news publications. That’s just crazy. This librarian is trying to let people know that librarians don’t just read books all day, which is apparently the public perception of librarians. Supposedly, “It must be great to have a job where you get to read books all day” is “a statement any public librarian will have heard many times.” Is that really true? Regardless, the article does a good job of explaining that librarians don’t just read books all day. It also does a good job of explaining the incoherent mission creep of public libraries over the years. Because of budget cuts and austerity, this librarian asks, “Who will want to become a librarian now? It’s sad because in what other profession can you be a teacher, a care worker, an artist, a children’s entertainer, an IT expert, an HGV driver and a coder all in one day?” A ...
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Potentially Partisan Weeding

A comment on a post a couple of weeks ago caught my eye. I’m pulling it slightly out of context: If your collection becomes politically or racially biased, perhaps that's an accurate reflection of your community- or at least how your community uses the library.  IF it was an unpopular collection, then wouldn't they just be weeded- leaving the shelves completely empty?  Would you rather full shelves of stuff people don't want to read, or empty shelves because everything is checking out?  Likewise, do you want pristine books in mint condition precisely because they've not been opened, or a collection of well used materials that look... well used? I hadn’t really thought much before about the obvious conflict between a rigorous weeding policy based on circulation and the policy from the Library Bill of Rights that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.” However, there’s definitely potential for a conflict ...
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More Ways Not to Argue for Libraries

I’ve written a number of times about the closing of British libraries. Usually I’m sympathetic to the arguments. Everyone likes libraries, after all, and if they don’t then they’re just mean people who should be ignored. But the logic of the public library campaigners profiled in this article is a little bizarre. For example: because visits to public libraries have declined 30% over ten years, the government should spend more money on libraries. Ummm, okay. In the world we’ve entered through the library looking glass, there are no arguments for doing anything other than spending more money on libraries. If people are visiting libraries, spend more money. If they aren’t visiting libraries, spend more money. If people aren’t reading books, buy more books. For these campaigners, is there any possible argument for not spending more money on libraries? If nobody ever visited libraries, would that mean that all the money should go to them? That’s the general bizarre argument, ...
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Libraries Aren’t About Books Anymore. Sad.

Kind Reader sent me this article about the launching of a “makerspace” at a Niagara College Library in Canada. Part of the pitch for the importance of the makerspace will probably sound familiar to librarians these days: “Libraries have changed so much over the years and are no longer about books anymore.” Notice it’s not “no longer just about books,” but no longer about books at all. Even more exciting is that the library is now a “space that encourages innovation and creation. We want to inspire.” Because nobody’s ever been innovative or creative in a regular old library with books before. A lot of librarians don’t know that for some people, like their faculty members, the library is a place for books and articles they need for their research. That’s pretty much it. In most college and university libraries, if you’re not supplying the books and articles your faculty wants, you’re not doing part of what should be your job. But that’s most academic or research libraries. If ...
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