Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

The Problem is Use, not Access

My last post was about a proposal to charge everyone fees for everything in Prescott, Arizona. Fortunately, some sanity has prevailed, as the city has been told that it can’t charge people to enter the building or check out materials because it would then no longer be a “free library” or fulfill the library mission “to provide core library services at no cost.” What a surprise. If you want some thrilling librarian news from the other side of the world, definitely read about the “badass librarians” of Timbuktu saving library materials from barbaric destruction. Take that, Al-Qaida! But today I want to address a blog post that’s been sitting in my pile for a while with the ludicrous title To Kill A Mass Market Paperback and Access to Knowledge. It’s supposedly about the decision by the publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird to stop publishing the mass market paperback of the book, leaving just the trade paperback that’s a few dollars more expensive. “Students and schools who ...
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Fees for Everything

Kind Reader has pointed out a city that is supposedly in such dire need for money that they’re considering making the public library charge fees for, well, basically everything. Because nothing says “cash cow” like the average library user. The city manager of Prescott, AZ only wants to know if doing so will cause the library to lose state funding because it basically won’t be a public library anymore. There’s certainly no concern about the library, its users, or even common sense. If you don’t believe me, check out the list of possible fees: Admission to the library building Issuance of a library card to residents within service area Issuance of a library card to non-residents Checking out books or printed materials Checking out non-book materials Use of public access computers by cardholders and/or non-cardholders Use of WiFi connection at library Printing from public access computers Use of library meeting rooms Providing test-proctoring services Use of ...
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The Terror of Sex Ed Books

Supposedly America is more polarized than ever. Even Pew says so, and who are we to doubt them. I seem to recall reading about an American civil war at some point, but I must have been mistaken. It’s true there are a lot of divides in America. Democrats, Republicans, and the people disgusted by both are one divide. Some people like to think there are important regional divides. The liberal coasts, the conservative south, and whatever they believe in flyover country, for example. But the biggest divide isn’t regional. The biggest divide is between city dwellers and everyone else. That’s why Texas, for example, is so very conservative, as long as you’re not in Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio. And New York is pretty liberal, except when you leave the City and head out to the hinterlands. That’s why it’s hard to imagine a story like this one happening in Portland, Oregon instead of in Ranier, Oregon (population 1,895). A school pulled some sex ed books from the library because ...
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From Library Fines to Jail Time

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about poor people not being able to check out books in San Jose if they had any late fees. That’s pretty minor compared to what’s happening in Tecumseh, Michigan where two people are facing jail time for a late book and a missing book, both of which they’re willing to pay the library fines for. Yes, you read that right. They owe $55 to the library for a late fee and a book replacement. So far, so bad. They behaved foolishly, perhaps overly concerned by things like their poverty and poor health and paying for $500 medications from the disability payments that make up their income. But they can’t pay the library because the affair is now in the hands of “the newly established Economic Crimes Unit of the Lenawee County Prosecutor's Office,” which “investigates crimes concerning the intent to steal, such as using bad checks or retail fraud.” Because nothing says “intent to steal” like returning a library book late. But wait, one of the books was ...
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Buns and Cardigans

New England Public Radio apparently has slow news days, and because of them I can, too. It’s always good to get a reminder of how little the press knows about libraries and librarians. It helps us build up a tolerance for gobbledygook. For example, there’s this story on “21st Century Librarians; Losing The Bun And Cardigan.” Does it have anything to do with buns and cardigans? Not really, but that’s headline writers for you. It’s hard to even tell what the story is about. Supposedly it’s about libraries and librarians being reinvented for the 21st century, but that’s not much of a story. Here’s a bit: [In 1970, Hampshire College] founders wanted everything re-invented, including the library. Today...Hampshire’s re-tooling the library, again. and it’s not alone. many libraries are getting 21st century makeovers. A 21st century makeover? What is that? Is that any different from saying, “libraries are getting a 2016 makeover”? Or, “after 45 years the Hampshire College library is ...
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Libraries Transform Because Why Not

It’s National Library Week again, the week the ALA tries to remind everyone in the country that libraries still exist. It’s the week librarians write articles for their local news outlets with headlines like, “If there’s ever a time to read, this is it.” The rest of the year you can go back to binge-watching Netflix like the rest of the country. Or the week in which librarians also write for their local news outlets expecting people to believe that “people are asking” about National Library Week. That’s certainly what people aren't asking. It’s also a great week to remember Public Library Privilege, where everyone, including the ALA, uses the word library to mean public library. Sure, the website says, “All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.” But they don’t. Do a Google News search for “National Library Week.” Scanning through the many results, I saw only one library that wasn’t a public library. It was at an Air Force base. There was a ...
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