[In case you haven't figured it out, there have been some problems with the blog url, RSS feed, and comments this week. LJ migrated to a different blogging platform, but it might take a while to iron out the kinks. When it's done, everything should work better than before, including the comments feature, since now people will be able to create more stable identities. If you experience some slowness with the comments section, don't be alarmed. Comments will get through eventually.
LJ has also moved offices, which means my new corner office is 17 stories lower than it used to be. At least I still have Chip.]
Now back to business.
I have determined that I must be a genius. I used to think it was because of my 154 IQ, but now I think it’s because I’m misunderstood. Since the beginning of time, no library blogger has been more misunderstood than the AL.
How am I misunderstood? For some reason, a lot of people think I don’t like libraries. Obviously these people don’t read very carefully, which is surprising for librarians. It’s probably the librarians who spend more time with Twitter than books.
I love libraries, and have been offering suggestions on how to save them for years. For this, I get attacked.
For example, consider a comment from this week:
For at least a couple of years now you have railed against public libraries. The public agrees with you. They have Amazon and Powell’s and Netflix and a host of other on-line retailers to supply them with the information that formerly only the public library and full-price stores could supply. What do they need libraries for? You were right. You win.
In what alternative universe do I win? (And if I do win something, please send it to me c/o LJ. I’m sure I have their new address around here somewhere.)
This commenter is blaming the messenger, pure and simple.
I have never railed against public libraries, not that the general public reads this blog anyway. What I have pointed out numerous times over the past few years is that public libraries need to persuade the public that they meet serious public needs that can’t be met some other way, and to stop feeding the public fluffy stories about hip librarians and Dance Dance Revolution.
If anything, I’ve been offering solid advice that libraries have been ignoring at their now very apparent peril. Everything I’ve warned about for years is coming true all over the country. If voters and politicians think public libraries are just glorified Blockbusters or a publicly funded option for Netflix, they will not vote to fund them in hard times.
No library was ever founded to be a public entertainment center. Librarians who forget that doom themselves to extinction. They need no help from me.
People can go on all they want about how poor people need DVDs as much as everyone else, but when it comes to it, communities are going to vote to save police or fire or garbage services before DVDs to the poor. How warped must someone’s values be not to realize this?
The poorest billion people in the world don’t have food, but Americans are supposed to care that some of their fellow citizens won’t have a new video to watch or game to play? If we really wanted to help the poor, we’d close most public services and send the money saved to Africa.
Only in the last few months has the ALA gotten serious with their propaganda, though they’re pitching the wrong message for the times. Until then, what did we hear from our august professional association? Or rather, what did the public hear?
Libraries defend porn for children! Libraries protect you from censorship of books that are easily available everywhere in the country! Libraries are cool and hip!
And what have we been hearing from various librarians and pseudo-librarians in the semi-public eye?
Librarians know a lot about Facebook! And Twitter! And videogames! And if they don’t, they’re bad librarians, because this is what libraries are about!
Since I’ve started writing this, I’ve been pointing out that none of the librarians supposedly so concerned with the future of libraries understand anything about persuading the public to value and support the library, and without the public support, there is no library. Some nitwit might know a lot about Twitter, but knowing a lot about Twitter isn’t going to convince a group of voters or a mayor or a governor that libraries are important.
When I’ve pointed out that if libraries are all about videogames and Facebook, the general public isn’t going to fund them, people attack me as some clueless reactionary.
Now I’m proved right, and for this I get blamed.