Annoyed Librarian
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A Canadian Attack on Literacy

From Kind Reader comes a story of the most significant number of library closures I’ve read about. 54 of the 95 public libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador are going to close soon because of budget cuts. 56% of libraries is a big cut. Although not as big as the budget cut for the libraries. They suffered a $1 million loss from the provincial budget and now have $650,000 to run the remaining libraries with. That’s a 60% cut. And those are Canadian dollars, so it’s only about $520,000 in U.S. dollars. Doesn’t seem like a lot of money to run 41 libraries. The library board chair promises improvements because “where money was very scarce before, we now have a little money to do something with.” There’s probably some logic in their somewhere, but going from $17,368 per library to $15,853 doesn’t seem like a trajectory to improved services. The only “major impact” will be on the 64 people they’re firing. The major impacts never seem to be on the people making the decisions. ...
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The Problem is Use, not Access

My last post was about a proposal to charge everyone fees for everything in Prescott, Arizona. Fortunately, some sanity has prevailed, as the city has been told that it can’t charge people to enter the building or check out materials because it would then no longer be a “free library” or fulfill the library mission “to provide core library services at no cost.” What a surprise. If you want some thrilling librarian news from the other side of the world, definitely read about the “badass librarians” of Timbuktu saving library materials from barbaric destruction. Take that, Al-Qaida! But today I want to address a blog post that’s been sitting in my pile for a while with the ludicrous title To Kill A Mass Market Paperback and Access to Knowledge. It’s supposedly about the decision by the publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird to stop publishing the mass market paperback of the book, leaving just the trade paperback that’s a few dollars more expensive. “Students and schools who ...
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Fees for Everything

Kind Reader has pointed out a city that is supposedly in such dire need for money that they’re considering making the public library charge fees for, well, basically everything. Because nothing says “cash cow” like the average library user. The city manager of Prescott, AZ only wants to know if doing so will cause the library to lose state funding because it basically won’t be a public library anymore. There’s certainly no concern about the library, its users, or even common sense. If you don’t believe me, check out the list of possible fees: Admission to the library building Issuance of a library card to residents within service area Issuance of a library card to non-residents Checking out books or printed materials Checking out non-book materials Use of public access computers by cardholders and/or non-cardholders Use of WiFi connection at library Printing from public access computers Use of library meeting rooms Providing test-proctoring services Use of ...
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The Terror of Sex Ed Books

Supposedly America is more polarized than ever. Even Pew says so, and who are we to doubt them. I seem to recall reading about an American civil war at some point, but I must have been mistaken. It’s true there are a lot of divides in America. Democrats, Republicans, and the people disgusted by both are one divide. Some people like to think there are important regional divides. The liberal coasts, the conservative south, and whatever they believe in flyover country, for example. But the biggest divide isn’t regional. The biggest divide is between city dwellers and everyone else. That’s why Texas, for example, is so very conservative, as long as you’re not in Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio. And New York is pretty liberal, except when you leave the City and head out to the hinterlands. That’s why it’s hard to imagine a story like this one happening in Portland, Oregon instead of in Ranier, Oregon (population 1,895). A school pulled some sex ed books from the library because ...
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From Library Fines to Jail Time

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about poor people not being able to check out books in San Jose if they had any late fees. That’s pretty minor compared to what’s happening in Tecumseh, Michigan where two people are facing jail time for a late book and a missing book, both of which they’re willing to pay the library fines for. Yes, you read that right. They owe $55 to the library for a late fee and a book replacement. So far, so bad. They behaved foolishly, perhaps overly concerned by things like their poverty and poor health and paying for $500 medications from the disability payments that make up their income. But they can’t pay the library because the affair is now in the hands of “the newly established Economic Crimes Unit of the Lenawee County Prosecutor's Office,” which “investigates crimes concerning the intent to steal, such as using bad checks or retail fraud.” Because nothing says “intent to steal” like returning a library book late. But wait, one of the books was ...
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Buns and Cardigans

New England Public Radio apparently has slow news days, and because of them I can, too. It’s always good to get a reminder of how little the press knows about libraries and librarians. It helps us build up a tolerance for gobbledygook. For example, there’s this story on “21st Century Librarians; Losing The Bun And Cardigan.” Does it have anything to do with buns and cardigans? Not really, but that’s headline writers for you. It’s hard to even tell what the story is about. Supposedly it’s about libraries and librarians being reinvented for the 21st century, but that’s not much of a story. Here’s a bit: [In 1970, Hampshire College] founders wanted everything re-invented, including the library. Today...Hampshire’s re-tooling the library, again. and it’s not alone. many libraries are getting 21st century makeovers. A 21st century makeover? What is that? Is that any different from saying, “libraries are getting a 2016 makeover”? Or, “after 45 years the Hampshire College library is ...
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