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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Political Librarians Beware

When librarians turn to politics having nothing to do with library issues, they often look ridiculous. This is one of the main reasons I’ve always opposed the ALA getting involved in non-library issues. A library association speaking on library issues speaks with authority. On other issues, it just sounds like a blowhard.

Decades ago various hippies and radicals and other intemperate librarians began infiltrating the ALA to try to use it as a mouthpiece for political radicalism on non-library issues. Most of them got co-opted and contained within the SRRT. The Regressive Librarians Guild is an even more radical group, but they’re much too pure to be a part of the ALA. They’ve all been keeping much quieter in the last couple of years. I don’t know if they’re weary of their weak positions being ignored or are just all retiring.

I say that because the newer generation of librarians doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about the ALA speaking up on every controversial political issue around. I haven’t seen it in what I’ve read by or about younger (or at least newer) librarians. Someone from the ALA New Members Round Table conducted a small and admittedly unscientific survey among the NMRT librarians and posted it to the ALA Council Listserv last week. Here’s one quote from the results:

"I then asked their opinions about some issues that Council has recently dealt with in order to gauge how I should be voting in the future. The first was whether ALA should be involved with social issues relating to libraries (I used benefits for same sex partners of library workers as the example).  64.2% said yes, 7.5% said no, and 22.6% maybe.  The second was whether we should be involved with non-library social issues, the example being withdrawing troops from Iraq.  2.8% said yes, 73.6% said no, and 18.9% maybe."

Those numbers reflect my opinion for years. The ALA should speak out on library-related issues. Though I don’t always agree with its position on those issues, the motivation and authority is there. However, it should stay away from other issues to avoid sounding stupid. Seriously, who could possibly care what a library group thinks about Iraq? Does having an MLS make one an authority on foreign policy?

For years the regressive librarians have been attacking my position on this, but I think I’m in the majority here. It’s just that most librarians are just afraid to speak out, lest they face the wrath of Cranky Marxist Dude. Supposedly anyone who thought the ALA shouldn’t indulge in political controversies unrelated to librarianship was "conservative." If that’s the case, most of the profession is probably conservative.

Speaking of conservative librarians, have you seen the reaction to this poor schlub? The poor schlub is Bert Chapman – politics librarian at Purdue – who thinks homosexuals are uneconomic. He doesn’t even bother to point out thier superior fashion sense (at least the men). Maybe he doesn’t realize why people are upset by his views. "Hearing rumors of a student protest, he said he wished the matter would simply go away." I’m sure he does! But think of it think of it this way, Bert, as a blogger, there’s no such thing as bad publicity!

Considering he claims to be an unrepentant conservative Christian in an overwhelmingly liberal profession, he shouldn’t be surprised that saying homosexuals are an economic as well as moral drain on society because of their predilection for prison rape catching AIDS is going to upset some people on the left, or that students are calling for him to be fired.

To be a librarian in academia is to be within two liberal cultures that both reject his views. Had he written an article suggesting the involuntary euthanization of conservative Christians, it would have been a different story. Then the academics and librarians and students might have said, "That seems a bit extreme, but at least his heart’s in the right place!"

I used to be classified with several presently inactive conservative librarian bloggers attacking the politicization of the ALA, and I was almost pleased to see the existence of this blog since the old ones have died off. On the old blog, I had a blogroll of other annoyed librarians, and he could have made the roll. He’s obviously an annoyed librarian. His blog post is pretty silly, though. He’s no Conservator or Heretical Librarian, that’s for sure.

However, had he not written that blog post, I might never have perused the Purdue student newspaper and discovered a letter to the editor from a student making the economic case against librarians. (Read the bottom letter.) The last paragraph is a gem, and gives me hope for the future:

"Getting rid of librarians makes economic sense. Walmart trusts people to check out their groceries, so surely we could implement self-checkout at our libraries. Replacing librarians with minimum wage workers to put books back on the shelf and assist people with self-checkout would save billions. This process could even generate new income if we allowed police to access these systems and fine those who don’t return books. Of course, a degree of service would be lost without librarians. However, I think we’ll manage locally as long as someone teaches the new workers to be as helpful as the last Purdue librarian I spoke to who offered to ‘help me do a search on "the Google."’"

"The Google." Maybe those oneohonions are on to something after all.

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Comments

  1. reader says:

    I agree with you about Bert Chapman completely, AL. Why closed-minded reactionaries write blogs is beyond me. All that complaining about how the world used to be a better place and would be still if only everyone agreed with them! Seriously, don’t they have a better use for their time?

  2. Rake says:

    What do we have here?

    1. A conspiracy theory: “radicals and hippies” “infiltrating ALA to use it as a mouthpiece for political radicalism”

    2. A call for the cessation of expression of opinion – no one “cares” about it (though we are ostensibly in a democratic society, let’s leave all political discussions to people who are “authorities” on foreign policy – politicians (I guess you are inferring), not citizens or professional groups)

    3. Your standard victimization and broad generalizations: The “liberal” establishment (libraries and academia, and all the hundreds of thousands of people composing these institutions) “reject” “conservative” “views.”

    4. And, for fun, you endorse a rejection of librarians as useless. OK…

    What are you trying to accomplish?

  3. Techserving You says:

    I’m pretty sure a significant percentage of libraries DO have self-checkout and pay workers (often students) minimum wage to reshelve the books… I don’t know any librarians who do any of that.

  4. 6f3p6 says:

    Actually, Walmart doesn’t trust people to self-check their groceries. Our local Walmart took all the self-check units out because people figured out how to scam the store and steal items.

    Also, Techserving You is correct. Librarians don’t shelve books.

  5. Anon says:

    “Librarians don’t shelve books.”

    Really? You must live in some alternate universe…

    As for this post, I really enjoyed the last several posts (regarding the MLS, online degrees, dumb librarians), but now you are losing me, AL. Can you apply the same standards to yourself that you apply to the ALA?

    I think that this blog has some cred when discussing library-related issues, but when it turns to politics, not so much.

  6. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Anon, if you’re shelving library books there’s something wrong in your universe. In 25 years as a librarian I have never shelved books. My time is way too valuable and limited to shelve books, check in books, clear the book drop etc. That’s what we hire students and clerks to do. Not even our paras shelve books. And we’re a mighty small library.

  7. Grumpy says:

    “Librarians don’t shelve books.”

    I require my librarians to shelve books. It is a good exercise for all of us to know what is being checked out in our library and to maintain awareness of what actually is in our collections. Also, it provides ample opportunity to learn humility, which quite a few of the readers of this blog seem to lack.

  8. sms says:

    I read Chapman’s blog and think his obsession with anal prison rape is better suited to a therapist’s office than the blogosphere. Why AL is talking about it? No clue, except maybe to get me to read Chapman’s blog. Which I did. Guess the jokes on me.

  9. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Grumpy – don’t you have an LIS system that will report what’s being checked out? We do. It seemed like a worthwhile expenditure to automate functions back in 90s.

    Glad I don’t work for you. I didn’t get the degree to shelve books.

  10. Thomas P says:

    Wonderful argument by the Purdue student. Because a $1.97 pack of ramen is exactly the same as a $75 academic text, right?

    Heck, let’s make all of academia self-serve. Cut out all those snooty professors that gay-bash, right?

  11. 76e6c says:

    Librarians are paid too much to be shelvers. Clerks and pages do that here. And yes, we get our reports for the LIS. And helping patrons, weeding, collection development all aid in knowing the collection.

    And my librarians are too busy do other professional work.

  12. anonymous says:

    I think people are missing the point here…ALA frequently goes on and on about “academic freedom” and censorship, but here is a case to uphold principles, and what is ALA and/or librarians saying about it? *crickets*

    If we are upholding the principles academic freedom and free speech, then we should be standing by this idiot. He was blogging his personal opinion on a political, non-work related, non-ALA related web site. The students and everyone else should be told to STFU and GBTW.

  13. Grumpy says:

    NotMarianTheLibrarian – We certainly do have a automated system and we make regular use of it. For several years, we had librarians in this system who were coming into their office and staying there until it was their time to leave, never once looking at the collections they were supposed to develop. What happened was that the librarians lost a grip on the day-to-day needs of our library and the patrons. Policy decisions were created that did not take into account the changing nature of the library by these same librarians who claimed that they understood exactly what was going on because they had the statistics right there.

    Now, I don’t expect my librarians to shelve more than a cart a day, and if they are very busy then I expect them to make the right decision as to what is more important. Shelving a cart takes twenty to thirty minutes at most. Most of the staff see this as a welcome relief to the monotony of staring at a a computer screen all day and as an opportunity to stretch their legs. When we first started the push to start shelving, it was immediately evident that many librarians were surprised by what they experienced in the stacks. Since then, changes have been adopted that, quite frankly, would have been hard for most of the librarians to conceptualize because of their disconnect with the actual goings-on of our library. Some have even volunteered to work the circulation desk to better understand that part of our cataloging system.

    I am sorry that you are too good to work for my library. I consider what we have done to be progress.

  14. anonymous says:

    The students and everyone else should be told to STFU and GBTW.

    You take the time to defend this bigot and then tell everyone to “get back to work.”

    Priceless.

  15. Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian says:

    So where is the “Economic Case For Homosexuality”? The well reasoned, well written refutation of facts, sans ad hominem nastiness and side arguments regarding the original blogger’s salary? I ain’t got no problem with gays and lesbians. My boss is a lesbian and my best friend from grade school is gay. But you don’t get any points from me when you can’t make a decent logical argument to refute the bigotry of others. You just sound whiny and sad.

  16. anonymous says:

    Actually, I am defending the bigot’s first amendment rights so say what he wants and my profession’s championing of academic freedom and hopefully.

    Also, I only meant the students of Purdue to STFU and GBTW. I want the commenters of Annoyed Librarian to continue with the day’s entertainment.

  17. Right Thinking Roger says:

    The regressives are still at it, AL. This time their bleeding little hearts are whining about Hyatt Hotel workers with a sentimental resolution to BOYCOTT the Hyatt. Wah-Wah-Wah. Those workers ought to get an education.
    Capitalism rules
    libr.org/plg/index.php

  18. 658PB says:

    Whatever happened to Greg McClay, anyway?

  19. Spekkio says:

    I agree with AL’s basic premise. Librarians (and librarianship) have enough gorram problems. Library organizations should be worrying about those problems.

    Librarians that want to advocate on behalf of other issues can join other organizations.`

  20. Morse says:

    Just my take on a couple of the comments. I don’t this post is “turning to politics” so much as commenting that some newer librarians agree with the AL’s longstanding position that the ALA shouldn’t address non-library related political issues.

    And on the Purdue student’s argument, read in context, it’s quite clearly satire, which is probably why the AL likes it. It’s making a dubious “economic case” against librarians to satirize the other economic case.

  21. Lowly Librarian says:

    Does your ILS tell you when a book smells like cat pee when you use it to develop / weed your collection?

  22. Techserving You says:

    I don’t think that I need to participate in the most menial of tasks in my library in order to have an idea of what goes on in the library on a day-to-day basis. As someone else mentioned, helping patrons, weeding, and collection development all aid in knowing the collection (as do automated circulation statistics.) I have quite a firm grasp on the contents of our collection, and I also know what happens in the library, since I teach and do a little reference, too. I don’t see how shelving books is going to help me. And I don’t NEED a dose of humility. It’s not like I walked out of library school and decided I was too ‘good’ to do things like shelves books – I worked in libraries for years before getting my MLIS and becoming a professional. I did plenty of menial tasks (though, I have to say, never shelving books) in my paraprofessional and student jobs, not to mention jobs I had outside the library world. I would venture to say that those libraries where librarians shelve books are NOT academic libraries.

  23. Techserving You says:

    Lowly – no, it doesn’t. What’s your point? One of our students or hourly workers will tell someone this so it can be discarded and replaced.

  24. Techserving You says:

    Also, I USE my library. I actually check out books myself. I browse the stacks myself. I don’t need forced physical labor to tell me what the stacks are like.

  25. FedUp says:

    I think the Regressive Librarians have it right – intellectual freedom is the freedom to think like THEM. That’s the ethic of so many management librarians getting close to retirement (the last gasp of the 70s radicals – they missed the 60s – who still think they are one of the people). I’ve found that one out too many times. They get their undies in a bundle over censorship, not realizing that it’s one thing to have a subscription to Playboy and quite another to have hardcore porn on public Internet PCs. “Change” means “YOU change” to my way of thinking . . .

  26. Lowly Librarian says:

    I can either shelve a cart of books or post to blog entries. I do which ever of the two serves our students best at the time.

    Having to handle cat pee is not worth it for minimum wage, and I wouldn’t expect (or hope) a patron would have to bring it to my attention. But that’s just Lowly old me.

  27. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    I’m with you, Techserving You – I did my menial work back in my BA days and during graduate school. If we want people to disregard the real work we do, let’s all shelve some books. BTW, Grumpy – how many books do you shelve? Yes, I am way too good to work in your library.

  28. reader says:

    NotMarian,
    Anyone who has read your past comments is not in the least surprised that you haven’t shelved a book in 25 years.

  29. Lowly Librarian says:

    NotMariantheLibrarian:

    Since when is shelving books instead of sitting around on your rump not “real work?”

  30. Entrenched Librarian says:

    I’ve taken a break from shelving books long enough to change my name to Entrenched Librarian because the name of Lowly Librarian seems to be taken elsewhere. No offense, LL.

  31. Cecilia says:

    These comments are veering slightly off topic, but I suppose that’s fitting as AL’s current post is a bit tangential.

    I am finding the Grumpy/Lowly/NotMarian/Techserving debate very interesting, but I won’t bore you with my own opinion. I just thought I’d point out that I read Chapman’s original blog post, and several of his respondents made comments on the library services at Purdue that relate to this argument. One PhD student in particular was bewildered to discover that the reference desk was typically staffed by students or LAs, not professional librarians. He complained that the librarians would grumble when due for a shift at the desk.

    Based on more recent AL entries, it does appear that some of us have different ideas of what constitutes professional work. What may work in one library may not apply in another. The point I am trying to make, however, is that patrons are picking up on these attitudes and sensing the para/professional divide. This is not good for individual library services or the “professional image” as a whole.

    As for Chapman? Well, on the one hand, I do support free speech, no matter how abhorrent, and believe it is better to have these arguments in the open, rather than censor them. On the other, if he is forced to resign, you know what that means…VACANCY!

  32. anon says:

    see the Academic Librarian blog by Wayne Bivens-Tatum for a good response to the “homosexuals are uneconomic” post by the Purdue librarian:

    blogs.princeton.edu/librarian

  33. Dr. Pepper says:

    Greg McClay…blast from the past! Met him in person once. Didn’t seem like a bad person – despite the stuff he wrote on his blog.

    As far as “professional” goes, and what constitutes it, it seems like librarianship is not the only field that struggles with this. I would say that what it really comes down to is respect. If you respect your fellow coworkers, be they librarians, managers, IT, assistances, clerks or whatnot, then you won’t have as much of a problem. If you don’t respect them and/or the work they do, you are starting to build walls between THEM and YOU and that’s when professionalism and “real work” debates come in.

    All work is real work, otherwise you wouldn’t have hired them in the first place. Sure there are some people who sit in their cozy desk, drinking coffee and playing games on facebook all day – but those are the exceptions, not the rule (I should hope so anyway)

  34. dfcbc says:

    Circulation desk workers find the cat pee books when they are checking them in. And we do handle the books when we weed. Shelving is another thing altogether.

  35. Gman says:

    Have any of you ‘professionals’ who think your time is too valuable to shelve books checked any federal libraries lately? If we didn’t do reshelving we would be picking them up off the floor. Yes, we even check in returns. Oh, the humanity! It’s called doing more with less – try it sometime.

  36. Rake says:

    To switch to a less infantile track than “should librarians shelve…”

    Of course, the “newer generation of librarians” is depoliticized. The American government has worked very hard since the 1960s (when it was demonstrated that public opinion can influence government policy) to adopt a Bolshevist, vanguardist model of the state. That is, citizens can talk all they want about policy, but they are too dumb to actually shape policy – leave it to the state. And that’s all very clear upon examining how the public is consulted on such matters as bailing out corrupt businesses or shoveling money into destroying/rebuilding Middle Eastern nations. Therefore, people just whine and protest, but don’t actually believe they can “change” anything (the faux-populist Obama capitalized on that sentiment). The same pattern is evident at many workplaces, where very few workers organize against their employer, and instead just grumble and eat whatever comes down the pipe.

    My point is, you say the organization should “stay away from other issues” like Iraq. I agree if it is just going to take a meaningless and half-hearted poll and do nothing with it. But issues like “Iraq” influence all of us. Maybe if there was more pressure, the government could spend our own money on our own culture and society. For example, we could scan our own books (and do it RIGHT) instead of having Google do it for us (doing it WRONG).

    Urging people and organizations to shut up because they aren’t “authorities” is not constructive.

  37. Grumpy says:

    NotMarian – I wouldn’t ask something of my staff if I wasn’t willing to do it myself; so, yes, I do shelve books daily. Usually the newly processed material to see what is coming in. As I said in my earlier post, I ask them to shelve just one cart, equal to roughly 20 to 30 minutes of shelving, and doesn’t take precedence over other tasks, but it is expected that everyone shelve regularly.

    Cecilia – I agree with your assessment that it is important to address the para/professional divide and that our attitudes definitely impact the “professional image” that the patrons see. I understand that, due to the gradual specialization of various library jobs, a good number of librarians feel their jobs are unique and important and should not be distracted. At the same time, this attitude breeds a sense of self-importance where we are unwilling to lend a hand or preform a task. It becomes easy for a person to see something wrong, shrug and say “It’s not my job.” As a result, no one wants to do it, and what is supposed to be a cohesive library where we all support one another turns into a crappy job for everyone because no one feels that anyone else is doing “their” job.

    I am not saying that librarians need to feel like their MLS is worth nothing and that their position doesn’t afford them the respect they deserve. What I have found, though, is that my librarians are even more respected by the paraprofessional staff because they have started doing some “menial” tasks. Also, the librarians and paraprofessionals are definitely communicating better with one another since we adopted the new policy. All of this is not without kinks, complaints or other problems – I assure you – but overall the effect has been positive.

    At the end of the day, this is about keeping the library running. That’s what our top job is, and if that means we all need to pitch in and help with those “menial” tasks after a holiday break and the book returns have piled to the rafters, then that’s what we do, no matter the pay grade. It isn’t just about librarians feeling that they are respected, it’s about feeling like we have a library that works, a staff that doesn’t feel put out, and patrons who think we do our job with dignity and pride.

  38. Rake says:

    After reading your post, Grumpy, I retract my assertion that the shelving argument was “infantile.” You produced valid and important points.

  39. reader says:

    Grumpy,
    I think you are trying to pull a fast one here. I know this is the internet and all, and we can be anonymous, but I can see right through you. You are, in fact, not grumpy :)

  40. TwoQatz says:

    All very interesting but I have to ask: If librarians are shelving books, why get an MLIS? There have been many many posts on this blog about the uselessness of the degree, how inane LS is, how all service desks should be staffed by paras/students, libraries are dying, etc.

    I don’t shelve books – I develop the collection by purchasing and weeding. I do not need to shelve. We have students who do that. Do faculty sweep their classrooms after teaching? Rearrange the furniture? Not here. Although I don’t have full faculty status, I am not going to do (willingly) tasks that undermine the sometimes tenuous position we hold here. Besides, students need the work desperately in order to pay their tuition and fees.

    Also, in 20+ years I have endured countless “how nice to read all day” and “so you don’t really work” comments. How much more difficult to explain the sometimes very hard work of working closely with people and teaching in one-on-one situations when I might also have to admit to clerical, and yes, menial work like shelving? I got an MLIS to remove myself from clerical/para work.

  41. Rural Librarian says:

    I get a bit annoyed when I see librarians make sweeping generalizations about other librarians. Each library and library system is unique to the community it serves and adapts accordingly.

    I work for an extremely small rural library system. My particular branch serves a community of approximately 1,000-2,500 people, depending on the season. Some of our patrons arrive on tractors. Daily.

    We have two librarians at our branch, and both of us have our MLS. We’re required to be jack-of-all-trades librarians. We do reference work, we shelve, we weed, we run the circ desk, and we provide technology assistance. We run all the library programming, including children’s programming. There is no right way to be a librarian. You do what’s required of you, and for us, that means shelving.

    It sure must be nice to work for a big, fancy place that can afford to hire students to shelve. Meanwhile, at our rinky dink library that’s just no where near as good as some of those big city ones, we rely on volunteers willing to donate their time or ourselves. Heavens, it’s like the Dark Ages.

    Frankly, I feel more validated as a librarian working for a struggling community, getting to know my patrons and providing them with much needed services, information, and access to the outside world, than I ever did when I worked for bigger systems.

    (Grumpy — you sound like you’d be a great boss.)

  42. You're a liar, but says:

    Some monster on the SRRT defended Cuban efforts to crack down on independent libraries because the libraries were “political.” In the U.S., were the government to crack down on “politics” in libraries, the spastic leftists in the SRRT would be foaming at the mouth.

    I guess the SRRT holds state capitalist despots to a different standard.

  43. Dan says:

    There are some issues that appear to some to be unrelated to libraries but actually are closely related. Gay rights is such an issue. A few years ago in Washington State, Microsoft publically took a position to support legislation that would extend protection against employment and housing discrimination against gay people. Their reasoning was that they needed to recruit the best, most talented employees and that discrimination against gay people hurt their ability to do that. Potential employees that were gay could be discouraged from living in Washington State and current employees would be vulnerable. It makes sense to me that library associations do the same, not because they are liberal do-gooders, but because such advocacy is consistent with the organization’s purpose for existing.

  44. Techserving You says:

    Rural Librarian – I think that the people making sweeping generalizations about other librarians and saying that there is one right way to be a librarian are the people who are telling everyone that librarians should all shelve books, and that if they don’t shelve books, it must be because they think they’re too good for that.

    It’s too bad you work at a place without very much money or resources. Certainly many libraries are like that, and the librarians need to do all the tasks in the library. (As an aside, in general I question the need for the MLIS for any librarian position.) But, the fact is that plenty of libraries – especially academic libraries – DO have a lot of resources. Should we feel bad about that, and spend our time doing lower-level work just for the sake of doing it, when we’re already paying people to do it? I don’t think so.

    It IS nice to work at a ‘big fancy place’ that can afford to hire people to shelve. I have made a point to only ever apply to wealthy institutions, and have been fortunate to only have worked in the libraries of Ivy League schools and other elite institutions. I would never in a million years apply for a job at some tiny poor place with only two librarians… nothing wrong with that. I don’t think I should feel guilty about that, and, quite frankly, I feel perfectly ‘validated’ as a librarian in the positions I have had. I don’t think I need to work in a struggling public library where patrons arrive on tractors in order to feel ‘validated’.

    Also, I only ever post here when I am at home, on break, or having lunch.

    Yes, this is way off the main topic of the AL’s post.

  45. Techserving You says:

    I’m sorry about that last post…now that I read it, I realize I sound like a pompous ass. Why I feel the need to overcompensate for my own insecurities is beyond me, to tell you the truth. That part about the tractors? Seriously d-bag material. Again, sorry folks. I’ve got to get back from lunch now. I need to stop reading AL, it’s turned me into an insufferable a-hole. Even my wife has mentioned it.

  46. Techserving You says:

    Actually, impostor, I am a heterosexual female, so I don’t have a wife.

    I stand by my post.

  47. Techserving You says:

    Ignore that previous post, some weasel is impersonating me. I made a mistake when I said I have a wife, sometimes my head is so far up my own ass I forget my gender and orientation! I’m actually a smokin’ hot straight female. My turn ons include anonymous internet postings (on my lunch hour, of course!) farmers and light jazz.

  48. Techserving You says:

    Please, get a life. You think that you’re cleverly insulting me by pointing out that I spend time posting anonymously here… I think that posting anonymously as a TROLL to insult someone is a bit more pathetic. You are apparently someone who can’t take anyone disagreeing with you and resort to personal insults and other childish behavior. So sad.

  49. 8r7c7 says:

    It’s interesting how far off-topic the comments have gone. Frankly, it’s the people like Techserving You and NotMariontheLibrarian who perpetrate the myth that we need an MLS to do our job. I made the switch to librarianship late in my career; I have been a manager in 3 other industries. Library school was a waste of my time; shelving materials at least a couple times per week is not. I learn a lot about the trends of checkout (yes, we can see that in an ILS report, but I find it more interesting to talk to my staff and to see for myself what’s going on in my dept.) The best managers are those who do work a desk and shelve occasionally. Not because that work is humbling; but to facilitate communication among the staff. To help them understand how important their job is.

    It could be that Techserving You doesn’t have to supervise anyone; in that case, by all means stay at your desk. But if you do supervise people from your office and never help out with the “lowly” tasks, I guarantee your staff hate you and have very little respect for you, even if you do have an MLIS.

    I have worked for librarians who think their time is too valuable to work a desk or put a book on the shelf. Those librarians were universally hated and were why those work environments sucked.

    One other benefit of spending some time out in the dept. shelving and talking to staff is that I can train them. Each member of my staff is empowered to do pretty much anything. If they think something should be ordered for the collection, or weeded out of the collection; they can do it. I check everything before it is finalized. But my staff all have ownership and take great pride in our dept.

    Personally, I think the MLS program should be re-worked into a management/supervisory/administration degree. A whole lot of librarians I know are terrible managers – because they’ve never been taught how to supervise properly. But we don’t need an MLS to weed or develop a collection. I think the MLS is only useful for catalogers.

  50. TwoQatz says:

    8r7c7 – management cannot be taught. A person’s skills can be improved upon but after a long career in corporate I believe the Peter Principle is hard at work in libraries, too. Good managers are a rarity, period.

    I think the value of an MLIS depends on where/how it is earned. Some of the big, very competitive, residence programs do teach LS students valuable lessons. The best instruction in my program involved working with the collections and personnel of an exceptional academic library system. Virtual programs can’t provide that kind of knowledge and experience to many of their students – the ones who live in areas with no academic libraries or small public libraries. I thought a lot of the work pretty dull and stupid in my program but it was worth the time and the money

  51. Techserving You says:

    8r7c7 – have you ever actually read anything that I have written before this thread? And even in THIS thread I think I explicitly said that you don’t need the MLIS to be a librarian. One of the main “themes” I harp on is that you do NOT need an MLIS to be a librarian. I worked as a paraprofessional for years before getting my MLIS so that I could get a professional job, and I don’t think I learned anything in the two-year MLIS program that I didn’t already know. I think most experienced paraprofessionals are far more qualified to do so-called “professional” jobs than are most newly-minted MLIS grads (with no experience.) Please, know what you’re talking about before you make comments like the one you made.

  52. Techserving You says:

    8r7c7 – I do supervise a couple people and no, they don’t hate me. You’re WAY off the mark here. I don’t think I am too “good” to do lowly tasks. BUT, we PAY people to do those tasks, and I USED to do those tasks when I worked as a student and as a paraprofessional. If something needs doing and NO ONE who is paid to do the task is around, I will do it. I simply do not see the virtue in doing things like shelving books when we have people who are paid to do this. I AM paid too much to do that – it is a waste of resources, and also really outside the structure of my library.

  53. Techserving You says:

    I’m just joking, I’m MUCH better than you, and your lowly tasks. Now go shelve my books! And DO NOT make eye contact with me.

  54. ConfusedByItAll says:

    I remember in class once we were talking about censorship of gay, liberal, any-not-conservative materials and how important it is that “every potential viewpoint has a book/every book a reader” Ranganathan rubric.

    Several classes later, the topic resurfaced briefly, and I raised my hand and queried the prof about what would happen if a certain library refused to buy any very Conservative Christian books or books that point out the dangers of forced Diversity — suddenly his answer was, well, you have to fill the shelves with what the community wants, since it’s their tax money.

    I swear you could smell the rubber from the backpeddling.

    So which is it?

  55. Techserving You says:

    Actually, in light of your behavior, troll, I most likely AM better than you are.

  56. Rake says:

    To Confused by it all:

    Well, it is “every book a reader,” which is the same thing as, purchase “what the community wants.” Every viewpoint doesn’t have to be represented if no one is likely to care, and it’s the collection development librarian’s job to evaluate that.

    Pushing a bunch of Conservative Christian propaganda on most communities will be a waste of time, and it will just collect dust. Likewise, filling a Christian library with anti-God vitriol is also a waste of time and money.

    The real point of your post is to show us how you “caught” him by being so tricky, and to show us how the insidious liberals have infected our schools. That’s annoying and innaccurate; most of us have been burned out on that song and dance for several years now.

  57. ConfusedByItAll says:

    Actually, he gave two different answers to the same question, and it all depended upon the material in question. I didn’t “trick” him, I expected him to say the same thing for both situations and was quite disappointed that he didn’t, because he had been such a big proponent of making sure “all” viewpoints were represented, but I guess that was only for anti-conservative topics. I really was surprised he flip-flopped.

    The library community in question has a demographic pretty evenly split between the 2 parties, by the way, so there is no “one” overriding theme. When the community continually asks for conservative books and they are denied, that goes against what libraries are “supposed” to be about.

    And yes, the “insidious liberals” have infected our schools, proven by the fact that promoting pro-homosexual anything is fine, but having the audacity to say that you want a pro-hetero stance portrayed as well is considered hate speech.

    So, silly boy, I didn’t try to “catch” him, he threw himself in the net by being intellectually dishonest.

  58. Rake says:

    There is a difference between “every book a reader” and “all viewpoints are represented.” The former indicates that every book in the collection should have a reasonable prospect of being checked out. The latter means that the library should get every book conceivable on a particular topic, whether or not it may be checked out, an idea that is not only unattainable, but insensible. If this is what the instructor maintained, then he was wrong, and of course he shouldn’t have contradicted himself if that’s what he did.

    And yes, if the conservative community’s requests are being denied for ideological reasons, that is unacceptable. In my experience, the reverse is more often the case, but most public libraries are fairly responsive to requests.

    And, I think the fact that professors with a “liberal” stance, if we define it in this case as anti-segregationist, is indeed more common in universities. In my opinion, this isn’t a result of conspiracy, but because people who are anti-gay and anti-diversity are generally less intelligent than those who are for equal rights. Thankfully we are seeing the anti-gay ideas becoming less socially acceptable, as we have for the last 50 years with anti-black/anti-”diversity” ideas. You “conservatives” would have to initiate an affirmative action campaign to get yourself back in to teaching positions (“yes we are less intelligent, but we deserve an equal chance to teach”), but that is against your beliefs, so a catch 22 there.

  59. Techserving You pretending to be Techser says:

    Techserving You, I see you’re taking the bait in a BIG way. It seems not much has changed around here! I thought Library Journal was going to change the comment platform, I see they haven’t. Don’t respond and believe me, they’ll go away. They need instant gratification.

  60. John Berry, LJ says:

    Wow! Well LJ asked for this. I’ve been in ALA so long enough I get in for nothing. I’m a political infiltrator, gald we ALA on record against Vienam, for ERA, etc., etc., etc. Every issue is a librarian issue. Keep ALA activist!

  61. DeyonnaLibrarian says:

    Wow, way to base an argument on name calling. Whether librarians should take political stances is a major debate in the profession that has been going on for almost a century. And you’ve think your going to contribute to it with a page of petty insults.

    Who do they let write these Library Journal blogs anyway?

  62. sharon says:

    return books at my library and them not do there jobs i retuns books i have two still on my account one i have in disput i retun it way before the due date they still didn’t check it in i call even went down there i wish you can check on them to see who is not do there jobs we can check the books out i wish you change it were we can check them in this is abount the three time this has had to me i have more books out i tire of this i don’t know what to do i bring them back and still said i have them out what do i do i try email the library main brach but did’t get a answer back i call them that’s when they put the book back in disput i wish there someone who can check on them ti see if they are do their jobs

  63. Ozzie says:

    “return books at my library and them not do there jobs i retuns books i have two still on my account one i have in disput i retun it way before the due date they still didn’t check it in i call even went down there i wish you can check on them to see who is not do there jobs we can check the books out i wish you change it were we can check them in this is abount the three time this has had to me i have more books out i tire of this i don’t know what to do i bring them back and still said i have them out what do i do i try email the library main brach but did’t get a answer back i call them that’s when they put the book back in disput i wish there someone who can check on them ti see if they are do their jobs”

    Proof positive that the Dummy Books for Psychotic Episodes really don’t work.