Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

National Library Week Yet Again

National Library Week is here yet again. That’s the week librarians come together to celebrate the fact that we don’t have a true national library like other civilized countries. Or something like that. Still, I tried to get excited about it. That was helped by this lovely brochure that you can print out and distribute to all and sundry. So what can you do at a library? Visit your library for computer resources for teens and adults, help with your job search, access to subscription databases, library-recommended websites and homework help. You also can obtain information about how to become a U.S. citizen, bilingual resources and neutral financial information to help you make important decisions. That sounded pretty nifty. I visited a friend of mine, a lawyer, and she took me to their firm’s law library. I asked for some computer resources for teens and adults. She referred me to Westlaw. Something’s not right here. I can't imagine many adults or teens wanting to spend ...
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Library Problems for Progressives

ALA Annual is coming up soon, in Vegas of all places. No doubt the SRRT is busily trying to think up resolutions that have nothing to do with libraries so they can waste the ALA Council’s time debating them before they’re defeated. Instead of more of that nonsense, I recommend they address something actually having to do with libraries. You can do that and still be “progressive.” There are a lot of library problems out there. For example, check out this news story from Madison, WI. It’s about an Affirmative Action Committee recommending various changes in Madison, some of which are about libraries. “The commission also focused on the lack of libraries in the less affluent East Washington Avenue area, with Ald. Joseph Clausius, District 17, calling it a “disservice." This seems to be pretty standard around the country. Previously I’ve written about the lack of library locations and hours in north Philadelphia, which happens to be a relatively poor area of the ...
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How Not to Lobby for a Library

Somewhere in the Old Dominion State they’re wondering whether it’s time to build new libraries. Is it the right time, they ask. Are we ready? Is it time? Are we prepared? It could be that libraries are like children. A lot of people say if you wait until you’re ready to have a child, you’ll never have a child. Seems like sensible advice. Unfortunately, libraries can't just happen by accident. If you wait until it’s time to build a library, maybe you’ll never build a library. When can one ever be justified? Aren’t there always other things you could spend money on? Some seem to think so. “When we have student teacher ratios through the roof, why are we talking about building new libraries?” someone asks. That kind of argument could be used about anything, though. While we still have any crime, why spend money on schools when we could hire more cops? While we still have rich people who don't want to pay any taxes at all, why spend money on anything? Spending money ...
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Bigger Worries

Sometimes I just don’t what to say about the ALA, so I’ll probably contradict myself at some point along the way. I was just reading through the ALA press release about the latest budget proposal from Congressman Paul Ryan. The thing is, it’s a completely appropriate response from an organization concerned with American libraries. Also, it made me laugh and shake my head in disbelief. Here’s the first sentence of the ALA President’s response to the budget: “We were shocked to learn that Representative Paul Ryan recommended eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the agency that administers the primary source of federal funding to libraries.” First of all, either that shock is feigned, or the ALA really hasn’t been following politics at all for the past few years. That Paul Ryan would want to cut a service that was of no benefit to rich people shouldn’t be shocking. That’s the norm. It’s his schtick. He’s a one trick pony and that trick is ...
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Everybody’s a Victim

Today we try to answer the important question, when is a book ban not a book ban? This is a little different than the one I normally ask, which is when is a book ban not censorship? That question is ridiculously easy to answer if you’re thinking clearly and haven’t drunk the ALA Kool-Aid. If the book is still widely available online, in stores, and in other libraries, then it’s not censored. The ALA just likes to use that language to make themselves feel like they’re fighting against a mighty injustice when they’re usually just fighting against powerless reactionaries who don’t like gay penguins or teenage wizards. Sometimes libraries do actually ban books, and when they do we can call it a book ban with good reason. Most of the challenges are successfully fought off, thus insuring that everyone can have access to gay penguins and teenage wizards. If that kind of stuff was banned from libraries, our society, such as it is, might collapse. It’s understandable that ...
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Please, No Starbucks in Every Library

Before I begin, I just want to point out that if you can’t find a librarian job paying $142,000 a year that will then allow you go take classes at a library school to find out how libraries work, then you just don’t know the right people. Best entry-level librarian job ever. Okay, on to Starbucks. Since in my last post I recommended putting cafes in libraries to give people a space to do what they’re going to do anyway without annoying other people, it might seem odd that I find this argument kind of dumb. Some guy writing for Forbes wants a Starbucks in every library. There are plenty of reasons this is a bad idea. For one, lots of people hate Starbucks’ coffee. I’m not one of them, because I like my coffee to have a certain burnt viscosity about it, but some people object to that. For another, most public libraries probably don’t have the space to rent to a Starbucks. And yes, that’s part of the argument, that libraries can make money by renting space. Unless ...
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