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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Hackney, but not Hackneyed

So many people sent this on to me I had to respond. By now, diehard followers of bibliotek blogland have encountered this YouTube video, The Hackney Bunch. If not, click through to watch it. It’s only a minute long. The short video introduces the librarians at Barton College.

(At the end, the suggested video to watch is this one, the Band Book Tour Commercial, from the same library. It’s advertising a musical event, but seems to make fun of Banned Books Week as well, which is a plus.)

My first thought was, "Please, God, let the madness stop!" After all, YouTube videos are a favorite means these days for librarians to bombard us with idiocy, faux hipness, and cutesy kitsch. That’s where we get librarians subjecting us to execrable pop music about Hulu and toddlers allegedly demanding libraries introduce augmented reality. For sane and sensible librarians who have some shred of professional respect left, YouTube isn’t for the faint of heart.

But then I watched the video a couple of more times, and decided it wasn’t professionally offensive at all. In fact, I found it rather charming, and thus tried to suss out the difference between this and videos from oneohonions or demanding digital naives.

First, it’s aimed at the community of Barton College to introduce the library staff and not at librarians to inform them of how superior the librarians who made the video are. It’s not designed to lecture librarians about their digital or Hulu shortcomings in a pompous way. Librarians who preach to other librarians demonstrate a self-righteousness pleasantly missing from this video. This is the biggest distinction separating this relatively charming video from the pretentious schlock we sometimes get.

Second, it’s parody and not kitsch. Parody is humorous imitation, and the Hackney Bunch demonstrates that the librarians have a sense of humor. A sense of humor is one thing among many missing from the twopointopians, oneohonions, digital naives, and frustrated trendsetters (not to mention the Regressive Librarians Guild). Those librarians take themselves very seriously indeed, even if the rest of us don’t.

Not only is it parody, it’s very well done parody, down to the final introduction of the "weekend librarian." I don’t know if college students still watch "The Brady Bunch," but if they do they’ll probably chuckle at this video.

Kitsch has many meanings, but I’m using it in the sense of bad art. A sentence from the Wikipedia captures what I mean: "The term is generally reserved for unsubstantial and gaudy works that are calculated to have popular appeal and are considered pretentious and shallow rather than genuine artistic efforts." Unsubstantial, gaudy, pretentious, shallow – I’m pretty sure I can recall at least one librarian-generated YouTube video that meets those criteria.

Third, it’s short. Short isn’t always a term of praise, but something like this should be short. Six minutes of bad music video is enough to deaden the soul.

Finally, it’s not professionally insulting. When watching this, never once did I cringe and think, please don’t let anyone outside the profession see this and discover what shallow, pretentious self-promoters librarians can be. There was nothing stupid or shallow or professionally embarrassing about it.

There are probably some other distinctions to be made, and some of you might disagree with my assessment and think the Hackney Bunch is just as ridiculous as the productions of oneohonions or digital naives. I’d much rather see librarians focusing on amusing ways to introduce their library to patrons than pompous ways of introducing their ideologies to other librarians. I prefer "The Hackney Bunch" to the hackneyed bunch we usually see.

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Comments

  1. RadicalPatron says:

    Hey – did you steal this post from my queue? I’m supposed to be Glinda :) I’ve suggested *well-done* parodies like these would make a good national campaign (www.radicalpatron.com/public-libraries-sing-like-honey-bees/).

  2. Cranky in NE says:

    AL- you really liked this? All it left me thinking was that these librarians have far too much free time in their day. Oh, perhaps it could be the result of them trying out some new tool which will be used for instruction but I don’t see how it is different from the other tragic video clips you have highlighted – other than it is less annoying. We wonder why our budgets get cut and library staff are getting laid-off – it seems obvious to me.

  3. Dr. Brooks says:

    I liked the video too, very cute–someone sent it to me a few weeks ago. Let’s get serious, what do you all think of the ALA’s “Choose Privacy Week”…….I can’t stop chuckling!

  4. AL=RK says:

    I didn’t know that Barton College offered degrees in journalism.

    Nothing like be a homer.

  5. nolajazz says:

    It was a nice attempt, and well-aimed. But once again, librarians who look like they either stopped caring about their wardrobe & hairstyle 15 years ago or hate daylight are doing the profession no favors. If the show “What Not To Wear” decided to tackle the library profession, the would rack up a bill to rival the national deficit.

  6. Happy Patron says:

    I don’t care what my librarian wears, they are soooo smart and know the answer to everything!

    If they fussed and primped and did all that, they wouldn’t have time to keep up with being so smart.

    Plus, God loves us no matter what we look like or how we dress.

    Bless you my friend!

  7. brian says:

    Hmmm, maybe the AL works @ Barton College?

  8. AL=RK says:

    The AL is a paid journalist working for the Library Journal.

  9. Cypress says:

    AL’s identity is also unknown. Adds to the mystique. I have spoken to someone who was in the same room as him/her at a conference, but was unable to determine who it was.

  10. Anon says:

    AL slipped once a long time ago and gave away their secret identity. It was either Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Jean-Paul Beaubier or something along those lines.

    Library Journal likes to keep their employee “anonymous” and annoyed because it gets more page clicks than if it were a journalist going off on library issues.

  11. Cypress says:

    I once asked someone at the LJ, “Who is the AL?” and was told, “I don’t know his name”. I then said “So it’s a man?” and he replied “Uhhh, *Stammer* I really don’t know if it’s a man or woman.” If it is a man, that narrows it down by about what? 75%?

  12. Dances With Books says:

    Oh gods, put me out of my misery now. When will the madness stop? When will librarians begin to act like professionals and demand to be treated as such instead of asking to be treated like cute fluffy pets? Ar you getting soft on us now AL? Please say it ain’t so. I just pray to the deities that my director does not see this. Last thing I need is to take time away from doing actual work because the director thinks this is cute. And then we wonder why people left and right want to cut library funding.

  13. Anonymouse says:

    Actually, if you look at writing styles, there are several AL’s.

    I suspect that over at the Library Journal they take turns at posting as the AL. Kinda of like “hey, it is your turn to go poke the librarians with a stick”

    And most librarians are so sanctimonious, that they fall for the LJ’s bullpen of trolls and start spouting out MLS shit left and right.

    It is especially fun to watch the academics come on here and try to justify their standing. They have to figure out someway to boost their ego after spending umpteen years in school getting all those degrees and having to find someway to put catfood on the table.

  14. Cypress says:

    The writing style seems pretty consistent. Anyway a professional writer can easily change styles, based on the “house” style of whomever they write for. My girlfriend is a film critic and so I hear all about blogging.

    One interesting note: films critics earn less than librarians and she has 3 degrees, not two. So don’t feel too bad.

  15. Cranky Librarian says:

    There are subtle things in the styles and on how certain topics are approached.

    Of course, the audience is librarians, so unless you hit them over the head with the obvious, they will think it is the same person. Well, the authority file told me that the AL was one person, so I believe it.

  16. merricat says:

    (1) Annoyed Librarian is love.
    (2) Love is blind.
    (3) Stevie Wonder is blind.
    (4) Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.
    (5) Therefore, Annoyed Librarian exists.

  17. Unannoyed Clerk says:

    The best thing here is that the AL never reads the comments.

    We are just a bunch of rube librarians howling into the wind.

    We could cure cancer here (or at least be able to tell you where you could go find the book that has the cure in it) and the AL would never bother to mention it.

    It is off to the newest thing on u-tubed, or shiny gadget 2.0 to rail against.

    **sigh**

    I feel like I am arguing with myself again.

    No you aren’t.

    Yes you are.

  18. Techserving You says:

    I actually like the video, too. And I usually HATE all librarian marketing. But this one is basically just a little video saying, “hey, we’re here,” and it is modeled after the intro to a show that most people remember fondly for one reason or another. It’s not an attempt to be “cool” or “relevant.” It works.

  19. Techserving You says:

    Yes, it is true, though, that they must have too much time on their hands. But at least the end-result does not make me want to gouge out my eyes (or theirs.)

  20. Super Market says:

    Librarians who market themselves in anyway are whores.

    They are on par with the parasitic lawyers who advertise slip and fall practices.

    Rise above it an make our profession pure again.

  21. merricat says:

    Super Market,

    Verily I say unto you: “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the those in the libraries: To him that conquers the great 2.0 Apostasy, I will grant a Happy Patron Meal of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of the LORD.”

    And the Library 101 went on to say: “Jesus, remember me when you get into the stacks.” And he said to him: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in the Paradise Lounge on Sunset, but not until you renounce that God awful video you posted on YouTube.

    Jesus wept until they removed the video where Library 101 gnashed their teeth in penitence and flogging.

    Jesus annoyed them with the holy spirt and said “follow me, sheep.’

  22. TheCommonGood says:

    nolajazz – I’m in my 50s and I kinda chuckle at people my age who feel the need to be trendy, hair or clothes-wise. Most don’t have the bodies or personalities to pull it off.

  23. me too says:

    merricat, the way i learned those math formulas was a little different.

    (1) Annoyed Librarian is love.
    (2) Love is blind.
    (3) Stevie Wonder is blind.
    (4) Therefore, Stevie Wonder is Annoyed Librarian.

  24. merricat says:

    me too, that’s a good one. I also like this one: it’s called the argument from uppercase assertion:

    (1) ANNOYED LIBRARIAN EXISTS! DEAL WITH IT!

    (2) Therefore, Annoyed Librarian exists.

  25. Anonymouse says:

    The Annoyed Librarian is not annoyed nor a librarian.

    AL is a group of trolling journalists trying to boost their capitalistic dog’s webpage hits.

    Keep you syllogisms to your academic discussions in the break room.

  26. merricat says:

    (1) We laugh at a joke because we recognize some innate truth in it.

    (2) We laugh at the existence of the Annoyed Librarian.

    (3) Therefore, the Annoyed Librarian exists.

  27. Anonymouse says:

    1)merricat posts to the internet

    2)most internet postings are done by a$$holes

    3)therefore, merricat is an a$$hole

  28. merricat says:

    (1) Anonymouse is:
    (a) The feeling you have when you look at a newborn baby.
    (b) The love of a mother for her child.
    (c) That little still voice in your heart.
    (d) Humankind’s potential to overcome their difficulties.
    (e) How I feel when I look at a sunset.
    (f) The taste of ice cream on a hot day.
    (2) Therefore, Anonymouse exists.

  29. Anonymouse says:

    I am sorry, merricat is not an a$$hole.

    merricat is a sarcastic a$$hole.

  30. merricat says:

    …and that is an important distinction. Thanks Anonymouse. I recommend your nuanced ability to get to the soul of the matter, to find that je ne ce qua most others ignore. Flowers to you, my friend and hope your day is fragrant and light.

    Ta ta~!

  31. Happy Patron says:

    Just remember that in the eyes of God, we all exist!

    You will all be in my prayers tonight!!!

    Yours in Christ, our Lord.

  32. CYPRESS says:

    CAPS LOCK IS THE CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL.

  33. Anon says:

    Hijacking threads and taking them no where is the coolest.

  34. Gruel says:

    I wonder how many years of funding we could get if we divide the bank bailout with the amount of federal money budgeted yearly for the libraries.

  35. Realist says:

    “I wonder how many years of funding we could get if we divide the bank bailout with the amount of federal money budgeted yearly for the libraries.”

    Zero.

    Because if the big banks fail, our society will fail as a result and libraries will be sources of cheap fuel to keep the fires burning.

    Sad, but true.

  36. merricat says:

    I confess: I am a troll. It’s not that I feel I was born to be one (like there’s a ‘troll gene’ or something) but that society made me one. I was raised in a single parent home and my dad was the proverbial “rolling stone.” I was picked on in high school had no friends. Later in life after many failed relationships, I decided to become a Furry, but only because I felt no other options open to a down and out guy like me. Believe me, wearing Panther suits in the desert is no fun! It didn’t help matters that I was in and out of prison for a drug addiction that made me the way I am. It’s not my fault that I use faulty logical syllogisms, seriously: I could have been different if my mom didn’t listen to Glenn Beck all day.

    Needless to say, I ended up a librarian and trolling one, at that. Oh, Lord is there any forgiveness in your pea-pickin heart for me? I’ve sought help, but to no avail. No one wants to even talk to a troll no less help one. I’m reaching out to all of you for HELP. I’m willing to be berated by Anonymouse and LIS degrees are a joke and look for to the many blessings Happy Meal Patron has bestowed on me. Hell, I’d even visit Lourdes if I thought it’d help me.

    Amen Ava Maria Madonna!

  37. Happy Patron says:

    Yes, merricat, the Lord, will forgive you!

    You just have to follow the outline given in the Book of John, Chapter 3, and you will find true bliss.

    After that, you will troll in the eyes of the Lord.

    Amen.

    God Bless You!

  38. Cypress says:

    I have a lvl 80 Troll with a +3 Axe of Great Cleaving. Total pwnage.

  39. Cypress says:

    I have a lvl 80 Troll with a +3 Axe of Great Cleaving. Total pwnage.

  40. Furrycat says:

    “I have a lvl 80 Troll with a +3 Axe of Great Cleaving. Total pwnage.”

    Is that in the King James Version? or, am I missing something?

  41. Anonymouse says:

    WOW.

  42. Crackpot says:

    Actually, the AL is a Turing Machine.

    Woe is all those who guessed wrong.

    And you call yourselves professionals.

    Sad Sad Sad

  43. Bruce Campbell says:

    Slow news day in the libraries. Maybe this is like the “human interest” story they run on the news.

    “Well the economy’s tanking, funding is getting cut, but if we could all adopt the attitude of Philadelphia’s rescued Panda Bear, we might all learn to get along”

    *cut to young reporter with Panda Bear and dispense boiler plate questions*

    This vid is better than the toddler twaddle one.

  44. Zombie Zam says:

    Bruce, go back to cleaning your boomstick.

    Please

  45. I Like Books says:

    “Because if the big banks fail, our society will fail as a result and libraries will be sources of cheap fuel to keep the fires burning.”

    When banks are bailed out rather than being allowed to fail, that creates what they call a moral hazard. That means the people who run the banks learn that they can take risks without having to expect to pay for them. It’s not that markets self-regulate, but “creative destruction” eliminates those that can’t figure it out well enough.

    Maybe greater disaster would have ensued without the bailouts. BUT it could have been done better. For instance, let them fail spectacularly, liquidate the companies, management loses their jobs, shareholders are wiped out, bond holders get a hair cut… THEN the feds could have swooped in and made good on what had to be made good on, as part of the bankruptcy process. Securitized debt and default insurance gets paid a fraction of the promised amount. Then see if the next generation of management takes those kinds of risks, if the next generation of bondholders are so complacent about it, and if the next generation of companies buying innovative financial instruments are so lax in their investigation and oversight of them.

    If there has to be a bailout, don’t make whole the people who fed the mess. Let them hurt a bit and be thankful that they didn’t lose it all. But instead, those same people that made the mess are getting their bonuses again this year, and a lot of those bonuses are more than you’ll make in your lifetime. What have they learned from all of this?

  46. Cypress says:

    I object to the idea that systemic failure would necessarily follow a failure of those large institutions. It could if nothing was done, but there are options.

    The full economic mobilization of the US during WWII could provide an example of a way out of such a scenario. During WWII,most all contracts had to be with the government. When a contract was singed, it became a guaranteed discountable note, meaning that when the company presented the contract to a local bank, the bank was required to present a portion of the funds to the company with the contract. Thus the full economic mobilization of the economy.

    Something similar could be done to ensure the free flow of credit now. Though the idea is a bit repulsive to me personally being and anarchist.

    The real issue here is that the situation was staged from the start, and we have witnessed the largest single consolidation of wealth in the history of the world. It’s the same game of manipulation of interest under the guise of the fake “business cycle”, only on a more dramatic level. This crisis will be used to advance the elite agenda for years to come. It’s an economic 911.

  47. Happy Patron says:

    Wow!

    Not only do librarians understand the Internet, law, literature. . .

    They understand macro and micro economics!!!

    We need to have a librarian run the country, they are all so smart!

    Let’s draft librarians across the country to solve all our ills!

    God Bless!

  48. Torino says:

    A comments section full of flaming, trolls, and very little stimulating conversation.

    A blog poster who tells the same stale jokes (librarians teach Hulu, librarians want kids to look at porn, “shiny gadgets”) and offers little in the way of substantial analysis.

    AL, you should cut down to one post a week, cut back on the posturing – it’s old and not funny anymore – and really focus on provoking deeper discussion as to where librarianship should go. Otherwise, this blog will keep going to the dogs.

  49. Cypress says:

    Torino: Excuse me, but your post is the perfect epitome of a troll post. Furthermore it is an excellent example of a flame. It is amusing to me that you post a trolling flame post in protest of trolling and flaming.

    Need I reinvent the wheel to say that stimulating conversation is subjective? Perhaps an in-depth conversation about the minute details of the left hind leg of an African bumblebee would be more up your alley? No really, what do you find ‘stimulating’?

    In response to where librarianship should or will go: I feel like it is obvious. Librarianship is going to “free internet cafe barista”

  50. William botched Steinkirk says:

    At least there’s no more illogical bufoonery from that Mr. Kat person of last year, etc.

  51. Happy Patron says:

    I love all the intellectual banter that goes on on the comments section here! I can’t follow all of it, but I know that it is written by some of the smartest people going!

    I wish that the AL could post seven times a week! All the discussion that followed would advance the world to a better place.

    God Bless all of you wonderful librarian!!!

  52. 5bh5b says:

    Well if we go to free internet cafe barista at least the bums will get free food and a place to sit. Its been then cheese lines any day. Great community outreach plan, and we can all put our social work skills to work

  53. Dirty Marian, the Librarian says:

    “Well if we go to free internet cafe barista at least the bums will get free food and a place to sit. ”

    We can follow Starbucks lead and allow handguns to be carried openly.

    Go ahead bum, sit in my carrel, if you feel lucky. I may have stamped books six times or maybe five, in all that frenzy after story hour, I lost track.

    So go ahead and ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?” Well bum, do you?

  54. Cypress says:

    I hope AL will cover the open admission today that the NSA is spying on ALL communications. Ten years ago when the first whistle blowers came out I was a conspiracy nut for saying it, and now it’s admitted right out in the open.

    In 2006 when other whistle blowers came out and said that the FBI was using cell phones to monitor locations and dial in and listen, even when the phone was off, I was a nut again. Then it was reported in the New York Times and openly admitted. Now I am saying that the NSA randomly dials in a listens to EVERYONE, even when the cell phone is off. Am I a nut now? Give it a few more years.

    blogs.wsj.com/digits/2010/03/02/%E2%80%9Ceinstein%E2%80%9D-program-disclosed-as-us-cyber-shield/?blog_id=100&post_id=11601

  55. Dick Cheney says:

    You better watch out Cypress. We are on to you.

    Things will be better when we elect a Democrat into office, one with a Democratic majority in both houses.

    Then, we will see the Patriot Act revoked and personal freedoms returned.

    Right?

  56. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Did anyone else see the San Jose MLIS online degree at the top? Wow! More flooding of the market to make jobs even harder to find.

  57. Cypress says:

    Dick:

    You jump to conclusions. I am a libertarian through and through. Obama is a tool just like the Republicans. I have always said that.

    Republicans and Democrats have the same elite masters. The real power behind in this world are the truly rich people. Many people will agree with the saying “money is power” but then double think about the power of bureaucrats. They do mental gymnastics. The real power? Saxe-Coburg-Goethe (I.e. British Royal Family), Rockefeller, Rothschild, a few others such as the Queen of the Netherlands.

  58. Cypress says:

    Dick:

    You jump to conclusions. I am a libertarian through and through. Obama is a tool just like the Republicans. I have always said that.

    Republicans and Democrats have the same elite masters. The real power behind in this world are the truly rich people. Many people will agree with the saying “money is power” but then double think about the power of bureaucrats. They do mental gymnastics. The real power? Saxe-Coburg-Goethe (I.e. British Royal Family), Rockefeller, Rothschild, a few others such as the Queen of the Netherlands.

  59. Dick Cheney says:

    Come on Cypress, that is not what you think.

    And we have your mind probe data going way back to prove it.

  60. merricat says:

    This guy is destined to be a librarian.

    htt p: //tinyurl. com/ yamc6bn

  61. Lyle Smythers says:

    In recent weeks the level of political comments here has become tiresome to the point of being almost intolerable, not to mention off-topic and inappropriate. Not to mention the volunteering of personal religious beliefs, also off-topic and (it could be argued) inappropriate. Oh, well, I am in favor of free speech, but if I wanted this sort of stuff I would be watching talking heads on cable TV.

  62. Happy Patron says:

    Thank you Mr. Smythers for the concise and totally appropriate comments.

    At our prayer meetings we have people who ramble on and on and go to topics that have nothing to do with the prayer at hand, but God knows where their heart lies and what they mean so we give them the benefit of doubt.

    We are humbled in the face of God and know that he knows best!

    God Bless you my son!!

  63. melikesyoutubes says:

    AL posting something postive? The End is Nigh! Seriously though, I like the clip. I hope the libvid award folks find it!

  64. Anon says:

    So, when the AL posts some video to the web and then references on their blog, it is a good thing?