Annoyed Librarian
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Those Poor LC Librarians are Restricted

I'm postponing my followup post to the last post until Monday, because I just had to say something about the Library of Congress blocking access to Wikileaks. I obviously haven’t been paying enough attention to shenanigans at the Library of Congress lately, mainly because its blog is usually really boring. I’m not sure I agree that all the Wikileaks are that bad. Though some of the leaked documents could lead to damage, some of that information should already have been leaked to make Americans feel safer. I feel better knowing that China knows what a dangerous basket case North Korea is, or that Iran’s neighbors are sane enough to know how insane it is. But anyway. Here’s the official response from LC: The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information.  Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the ...
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Would Public Libraries Be Founded Today?

Every once in a while, I speculate on an alternative history for public libraries. It seems like they’ve always been embattled, and that makes me wonder if the public library movement could have been successful in any other era. The late nineteenth century was a boom time in American history. America always seems to be booming and busting in forceful ways, but the late nineteenth century was especially booming. Americans still believed in public education and public projects. Towns and cities that had been cultural backwaters in an age of slow communication started to understand that building a few good cultural institutions - schools, colleges, libraries, symphonies, theaters - that it might actually be good for people. And of course there was Melvil Dewey doing his best to make librarians into professionals of some sort, instead of the loose collection of bibliophiles and bluestockings that ran what few libraries there were. We got the ALA and a small army of library ...
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No Way to Deal with Fines

First, it was libraries using Netflix to get DVDs to library patrons that they libraries were too cheap to buy for themselves. Now it’s libraries trying to be like Netflix. Well, at least one library in California, according to this LJ article. The Hayward Public Library now has a “three-tier subscription plan” that “allows users to pay a monthly, automated fee in exchange for taking out items on an ‘endless loan.’ For $2.99, three items can be borrowed; for $4.99, five items; for $8.99, ten items.” Woohoo, what a deal! Or maybe it’s not. For one thing, the selection is nothing like Netflix’s. The library currently has about 9,400 videos. Netflix has tens of thousands of DVD titles. For $9.99/ month subscribers can get one DVD out at a time plus access to the 10,000+ titles available streaming through Netflix Instant. I doubt the library offers streaming video. Supposedly, it was created a year ago as “a way to alleviate the burden of unresolved fines that ...
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