Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Not Much of a Future

A Kind Reader sent in this article by a very excited person who sees a lot to get excited about. Supposedly, “libraries are the future of manufacturing in the United States.” Not convinced? Yeah, well, I read the whole article and I’m not convinced either. Let’s think about the past of manufacturing in the United States for just a bit. Back in the day America was a manufacturing powerhouse. Entire cities that are shadows of their former glory, like Detroit or Buffalo, were bristling hubs of manufacturing, if bristling is what hubs do. Hundreds of thousands of Americans worked in manufacturing jobs that provided living wages for them and their families. As long as you don’t think about things like race relations, it was a boom time in the U.S. Slowly, and then more quickly, manufacturing jobs begin to disappear. First they moved from the Northeast to the South, then to whatever countries had the cheapest labor. For a lot of the poorest people in the world, this might have ...
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The One Ring Will not be Catalogued

Most large libraries have a few uncataloged books, maybe even a few hundred or thousand depending on how much they buy and how much they’ve outsourced their cataloging. But the problem might be bigger than I thought. This article from Scotland argues that we can’t write off libraries just because everything is online, because of course everything isn’t online. It’s just that if it’s not online it can’t be found. She makes a good case that there’s a lot of stuff not online, but what surprised me wasn’t that a lot of stuff wasn’t online, which every librarian knows. It was the sheer amount of stuff that people don’t even know exists. From a purely UK point of view the 2012 Hidden Collections report by Research Libraries UK (RLUK) found “Hidden collections remain an immense problem for UK libraries. Over 13 million volumes are uncatalogued in the libraries that responded, 18.5 per cent of the total number of volumes held by those libraries.” 13 million volumes uncataloged. That’s ...
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Librarians Greedy and Brave

It’s been a strange week for librarians in the news. From China comes the odd story of a former librarian  at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts who has admitted that in addition to digitizing the art collection he stole numerous paintings, replaced them with forgeries, and then sold the originals, making over $5 million in the process. I don’t know what things are like over in China, but in America that would likely be seen as a violation of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights. Okay, I guess I do know what it’s like because the government is prosecuting him. When I read stories like that one, or ones about librarians who steal and then sell rare books from their libraries, I always wonder how those people became librarians in the first place. Librarians are a reasonably intelligent lot, so if they were interested in making a fortune a lot of them would have the skills and talent to do something a lot more lucrative than being a librarian. Typically, librarians have some ...
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Gaining a Little Sympathy

Unlike the ALA, I’m not a fanatic about book challenges. Along with most sane people, I believe that some books are inappropriate for small children. I don’t think third graders should be required or allowed to read books about child pornography for example, or even adult pornography. Other topics I think should be avoided are murder, rape, child assault, and torture. Thus, if a book where a child is assaulted or tortured made it into the children’s collection and a parent complained, I’d move the book. I know some of you diehards disagree with me, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I can think moving the book is appropriate, you can think it’s “censorship.” Whatever. Often the cases for book challenges in libraries and classrooms is considerably more iffy. Gay penguins, for example. There’s no murder, torture, or exploitation in gay penguin books for children, or at least none that I’m aware of. There’s not even any sex. It’s when raising challenges against gay ...
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Better Ways to Resist Change

Librarians should learn that they should never weed books...at least in any way that people can find out about it, including the staff. Since books are incredibly rare and scarce commodities, with even book loving Americans having on their shelves at most a copy of Shakespeare and the Bible because of their rarity, hoarding books forever is the most logical thing to do, and people don’t like it when librarians are illogical. Sorry. I just read one of those “founding father” biographies and was still in an eighteenth century mindset. Of course books are plentiful and cheap, so weed away. The latest weeding brouhaha comes to us from Berkeley, California, where the relatively new director of the central library has implemented a weeding project because “it had been done irregularly prior to his arrival in late 2014.” After the weeding makes room for new books, he plans to bring in more, with the total supposedly rising “from 452,000 to 470,000.” It’s being done according to ...
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Dreaming about School Libraries

It should come as no surprise to librarians, at least the ones that read this blog, that school libraries are in trouble and have been for many years. However, now that the New Republic has found out, their problems might finally be solved. If you want to find out how badly school libraries are doing in some places, the article is useful. The number of school libraries in New York City has dropped over 50% in the last decade. In Houston, 43% of librarian positions have been cut. 700 positions cut in Ohio. California has cut a large percentage of school librarians. And in Philadelphia, “206 out of 218 classroom buildings in the school district of Philadelphia have no librarian” and “two hundred Philadelphia schools do not have a functional library book collection.” And it seems there are studies that show how useful school libraries and librarians are for student reading scores, so you can find out about some of those. If you want to get a good idea of what Congress thinks ...
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