Annoyed Librarian
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Genealogists Attack the Library…Poorly

This article’s been sitting in my consideration pile a few weeks as I’ve wondered what to do with it. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum - a nonlending library it should be noted - has decided to stop lending material via ILL after a rare book went missing when the library that borrowed it lost it. That’s why we can’t have nice things. The archivists present this as a long needed correction to its policies and necessary to preservation, and I don’t see how any reasonable person could be upset about the policy change. However, genealogists aren’t always reasonable people. In fact, they’re sometimes quite obsessive. This blog post is a good example, in which a genealogist tries to answer the question of “why do genealogy?”: My usual response “Well, why not do genealogy?” gets a few laughs, but really doesn’t stress the importance of why I and millions of others are obsessed with tracing their ancestry and heritage. Do you ever get so wrapped up in the ...
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Libraries Without Librarians

When libraries turn up in the press the reports aren’t always confused. Sometimes they get libraries just right, like this opinion article about libraries being “for the homeless, the drifters and the snorers,” people like the author, who does his self-indulgent best to sing the praises of the public library. In this case it’s the British Library, so it’s not a typical public library, but it’s still public. It’s a place where anyone is comfortable to sleep and even snore, which means the British Library isn’t one that has tried to combat the homeless using it as a shelter by creating rules against both sleeping and snoring. It provides a good demonstration of male creepiness in libraries as well. For example, whether the author would wake up a snorer “all depends on how cute they are. That is, if he or she – OK, let’s not be silly here – she were cute, then I would gently wake her up and humorously suggest we go for a coffee to remedy the situation.” That’s the sort of ...
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Libraries and Public Problems

Has there ever been a bigger example of library mission creep than the handful of libraries around the country that are now learning to administer Narcan? The latest example is in New Orleans, where librarians aren’t dashing out into the park to save overdose victims as in Philadelphia, but they’re getting ready to. It’s not so much trying to save people as some of the rationales for this being a library issue. For example, one librarian says that "as a community we all need to come together and work towards helping with this sort of thing.” Is there anything in a community that this couldn’t be said about? Should librarians be armed with rifles and shotguns so they can stop crime if they see it? There are probably plenty of robberies and assaults in New Orleans, and librarians should be there to help. Another librarian provides a related rationale: "Because we work with the public and this is a public health crisis.” That one opens up all sorts of possibilities. In ...
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Nonexistent Wars for the Library’s Future

If there was a contest for the most confused article about libraries the competition would be stiff, but this article might be a strong contender. According to the headline, it’s about a “culture war being fought over tomorrow’s libraries.” “Tomorrow’s libraries” are apparently limited to the Schwarzman Building in New York, the Seattle Public Library’s main building, and that new library in China that has pictures of books on the wall instead of actual books. The inclusion of the Chinese library is something of a puzzle since public libraries there have a shorter and different history than public libraries in the U.S. That, and almost no Americans will ever visit it. According to the article, “as public knowledge–as gained by accessing information in books–became an important yardstick for a democratic society, public libraries flourished in the 19th century.” Not so much in China. Supposedly, the Chinese library is an example of libraries “evolving with the digital ...
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Book Complaints in Florida

Library Link of the Day is getting a little obsessed over the new book challenging law in Florida, having linked to it this week and three months ago. Has anything changed? The difference seem to be that the random yahoos have emerged from the woodwork to challenge some books in schools, and what it shows is how confused they all are. For example, some yahoos in Florida “say global warming and evolution are a hoax and should not be taught in textbooks unopposed.” No problem. Along with evolution, schools could also teach Hindu cosmology, and then the teachers could ask the students to examine the evidence for each and see which makes more sense. That's the sort of thing that would make conservative parents happy with the schools. That the two theories aren’t talking about the same thing doesn’t really matter, because the main point is discussing how evidence works. The actual challenge was even funnier. A random, and probably conspiracy minded, yahoo “challenged the ...
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Facebook Isn’t the Problem

Despite not mentioning libraries or having anything specifically to do with libraries, this opinion article about regulating Facebook was a Library Link of the Day. It ends with this dire and ridiculous warning: This makes for a dangerous mix: a company that reaches most of the country every day and has the most detailed set of personal data ever assembled, but has no incentive to prevent abuse. Facebook. Facebook needs to be regulated more tightly, or broken up so that no single entity controls all of its data. The company won’t protect us by itself, and nothing less than our democracy is at stake. The article annoyed me. The fact that anyone would consider this a library issue annoyed me. And probably some other things annoyed me, too, but I’ll go with those for now. Facebook is not the problem. Nobody is forced to use Facebook. Nobody is forced to look at advertisements on Facebook. Facebook is a choice, just like democracy is a choice. Blaming Facebook for anything is just ...
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