Annoyed Librarian
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Banned Posters Week

There’s controversy brewing in the library community because a lot of librarians like to find stuff to get upset about to distract themselves from how boring their jobs are. The latest controversy is over a Banned Books Week poster. Yes, it’s a poster you can buy, and people are upset about it because they don’t have any real problems to worry about. The poster shows a young woman, bare arms, hair down, holding up a book in front of her face. The book has a red circle with a clear rectangle in the middle, and the woman is looking out through the rectangle. Bold red letters say “READSTRICTED.” The ALA Council listserv is all abuzz, because juicy topics don’t come round often enough. Here’s a representative protest: I work in a heavily Muslim neighborhood. In fact, many of you may have seen images of my neighborhood last week, when 2 women were arrested for conspiring to commit a terrorist act.  I truly believe that acts of terrorism and attacks on our cities come from an ...
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Different Ways to Celebrate Libraries

It’s National Library Week again, and once again it annoys me. It’s not the week itself, but the pretense behind it and the vague "celebrating" that doesn't seem tied to anything real. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate. Yeah, well, not really. It’s implicitly an acknowledgment that as an organization the ALA really just promotes public libraries. Academic and school libraries at least have ALA divisions. Those special librarians don’t even want to have anything to do with ALA. It’s just so silly that they keep up the pretense as well. Look back at that quote: “to promote library use.” Does anyone think that lawyers at a big law firm are going to ...
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Why the Link of the Day?

So this story was the Library Link of the Day yesterday. It reports that Walmart is refusing to stock a book by someone named Ronda Rousey because Rousey “has been deemed too violent.” Rousey is apparently the “UFC's biggest star,” which meant absolutely nothing to me. UFC is, according to Wikipedia, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which sounds dreadfully dull to me but is apparently very popular. I have to wonder about a sport where every participant has to wear Reebok shorts. My question is, why is this a Library Link of the Day? It has nothing to do with libraries. There’s Rousey, the UFC, and Walmart. What’s the link to libraries? The easiest one would probably be that there’s a book involved. However, if that were relevant, the LLotD could just post book reviews, which also wouldn’t be terribly relevant. Is it that the book is “banned”? That seems to be a stretch as well, since it has nothing to do with libraries refusing to stock any books. Even Walmart will let ...
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Hire a Librarian Next Time

Librarians get no respect, we all know that. People don’t even know what librarians do most of the time. There’s a cliched reaction to what librarians do that’s similar to what I’ve been told happens to English teachers. Supposedly, if you tell someone you’re an English teacher, they usually say, “Oh, I’d better watch my grammar!” Similarly, if you tell someone you’re a librarian, they say, “Oh, I bet you like to acquire, organize, and disseminate information!” Wait, no. They say, “I bet you like to read!” Or, perhaps worse, “I wish I had a job where I could sit around and read all day!” To which I reply, “You and me both.” Perhaps the biggest sign of disrespect is that anyone working in a library is considered a librarian by the general public. That person shelving books? A shelving librarian! That person stamping due dates? The stamping librarian! And, the most embarrassing one for the profession: that person in charge of the Library of Congress? The Librarian of ...
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Beware of False Oppressions

The so-called “religious freedom” act passed in Indiana has certainly been getting a lot of attention. Even the ALA President has weighed in on the matter. ALA’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is calling for input from the membership—how can we best engage our host communities when ALA holds its conference in the midst of a local controversy that touches us all? The next ALA conference to be held in Indiana is in 2021, and I’m pretty sure by that time there will be more pressing controversies to worry about. It is amusing that so many deluded folks think their religious liberty is under attack. America is possibly the most religiously free country in the world, whatever its other problems, so the whiners concerned about their religious freedom just look ridiculous to people who live in reality. The people who think their religious liberty is under threat in America clearly haven’t traveled to places that actually do restrict religious liberty, from Saudi Arabia ...
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Performativity and Reality

Last week a big group of academic librarians got together in Portland, Oregon and apparently had the best and most inspiring time of their lives, like, ever! At least that’s the impression I get from the Twitter conversation about the conference, which is about as close as I dared to come. I’m sure Portland is a lovely place, if somewhat lacking in racial diversity, a fact implied in the Wikipedia article that more or less white washes Oregon’s twisted racial history. Still, let bygones be bygones. Now it’s the hip, beer brewing capital of the country, it seems, which is definitely a plus for the city although not particularly attractive to me. But if you went by the Tweets about ACRL in Portland, the place is amazing. It has doughnuts and everything. And based on the many, many photos posted, the airport also has carpeting. I assume the carpet photos were taken by people from the east coast who didn’t realize that covering floors in unnatural fibers is a trend that has ...
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