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2012: the Year in Review

Ahh, the end of 2012, which apparently a lot of Chinese people thought would be the end of the world. Instead, it’s just the end of more of their Internet freedom. We can at least rejoice we live in a country without censorship. Thanks, OIF! Americans can chatter and criticize the government all they want, because nobody in the government listens unless your chatter is attached to dollars.

For example, starting the year off was the attempt by Elsevier to pay off Congress to make it illegal to make the results of publicly funded research free to the public, before the word got out and they backed away. Predictably, when the money dried up, so did the votes. My grandmother used to say you shouldn’t do anything you wouldn’t want people to find out about. Publishers and politicians should learn that lesson.

February brought a petition to boycott Elsevier. It has about 13,000 signatures at present, and has been completely ineffective, as we all knew in our hearts it would be.

March brought the news that Random House would be tripling the price of their ebooks for libraries. Numerous suckers continued to “buy” Random House ebooks for their libraries.

April brought a discussion of library pay, with some claiming as always that librarians are underpaid. I pointed out that was nonsense, and that you were almost certainly not underpaid. It’s a harsh world, I know, and you’re still not underpaid.

In May, Fifty Shades of Grey exploded onto the publishing scene. Despite the enormous popularity, some library system in Florida wouldn’t stock the book because it was porn. The curious thing was all the arguments that claimed libraries should stock the book because it was popular, with nobody addressing the only question that mattered: is it porn? I still haven’t read the book, so I don’t know or care. But we now know that Random House employees all got $5000 bonuses because the book was so popular. Think about that the next time your library pays triple for one of their ebooks.

Usually nothing happens in June, which is maybe why Forbes magazine decided to spice up the month by claiming the MLS was the worst master’s degree for jobs. A lot of people whined about that one, especially people who want students to apply to library school. The rest of us yawned.

In July we debated guns in the library as some loonies in Michigan were challenging a library ban on weapons. They just wouldn’t feel safe in a library without packing heat. One of the loonies asked, “So the library doesn’t want to spend money on security, and they don’t want law abiding citizens to carry a firearm for protection. That makes no sense. Have they not realized that “gun free zones” is [sic] where most mass shootings take place?”

I still stand by my claim that there have been no mass shootings in public libraries, which combined with the statistical unlikelihood of someone being in a mass shooting situation is a reason people shouldn’t need to carry “a firearm for protection.” But let’s put another spin on this, especially after the tragic Newtown shooting. Loonies like the president of the NRA want more armed guards, but there’s no way a library or public school rentacop or some guy with a “firearm for protection” would be able to defend the school against a crazy guy carrying an assault rifle and multiple 30-shot clips and wearing body armor. Put yourself into some perspective, Rambo.

In the doldrums of August, someone was outraged when I argued that turning libraries into food kitchens probably wasn’t a good idea, since supposedly anything libraries can do to help the poor is a good thing. I think libraries help the poor by being libraries. Apparently that makes me “elitist.”

Believing that people who think the earth is only 6,000 years old are ignorant fools also makes me elitist, it seems, based on two discussions in September. In a country ranked 23rd in science education among developed nations, I suppose actually knowing something about science does make me elite. I find that sad.

My favorite things in October were that Hopping Gangman Style library video and the fourth anniversary of the AL at LJ. Good times. That video still makes me smile.

In November, there was of course a huge election in which the Presidential candidate who was assured he would win in a landslide instead lost in a landslide. That made for some good political theater. Perhaps the Oracle at Delphi told Fox News, “there will be a great Presidential victory that day,” and they just misinterpreted. Oh, and there were some librarians checking political facts, as if anyone cares about political facts.

In December, my “elitism” reared it’s elitist head again when I pointed out that I was a professional and as such didn’t want to wear nametags or uniforms or all the other signs of workers who have little control over their work. Everyone has a list of things “they didn’t go to library school to do,” like unjamming copiers. On mine is, “wear bright buttons saying ‘Ask Me!’”

All in all, a fun year is coming to an end. I’ll drink a toast at midnight to you all, personally.

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Comments

  1. ChickenPolitics says:

    Why cloak your rhetorical madman in body armor when you’ve already given up hope of survival long before he crosses your building’s threshold?

  2. Mary Davis says:

    “In a country ranked 23rd in science education among developed nations, I suppose actually knowing something about science does make me elite. I find that sad.”

    Oh, AL, I find this sad as well, sadder than I can express.

  3. Cut Both Ways says:

    This calls for a refrain of “Annoyed Lib Snark” for the new year of columns.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Referencing the Michigan library issue, LJ editorial staff writes: “The cowboys’ attorney asks, ‘Are libraries immune from crime?’”; “In July we debated guns in the library as some loonies in Michigan were challenging a library ban on weapons. They just wouldn’t feel safe in a library without packing heat.”; and, “The library’s attorney said the administration still believes it has the authority ‘to ban the open carry of weapons in its branches in order to protect library patrons of all ages and CADL staff.’”

    This begs the question: Just how safe is the Capital Area District Library in Lansing? The online resource http://www.crimemapping.com shows that In the six months, there 43 crimes committed within 1000′ of the library. Ignoring non-violent offenses such as drug, burglary, vehicle larcenies, theft and stolen vehicles, there were still ten violent crimes including a case within the library where a 30 year old sex offender lured two adolescent girls into the library stairwell and sexually assaulted one of them. But you know, Michael Kelley (Editor in chief of the LJ) will tell you that defending yourself in the library is a matter for the “morally purblind”. Mike, I agree, facts be damned, we’ve got our moral agenda to impose!