Annoyed Librarian
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Clean People Inspire Less Fear

Just when I think I’ve read the most depressing article about libraries and the homeless, along comes another one just slightly more depressing. This one is about the public library in California seemingly overrun with homeless people and drug addicts. But a visit to the downtown library has become, on many days, a walk through a gantlet of misery: Homeless men and women sleep in the lawn while others plead with visitors for change. Inside the building, signs warned people to avoid restrooms where some homeless use sinks and even toilet water to bathe themselves and wash their clothes. Some of Santa Ana’s down and out used the study carrels to look for jobs — others shot up drugs, with syringes found discarded in planters and even a box of toilet seat covers. Security guards carry syringe disposal kits on their tool belts. If I had to walk through a “gantlet of misery” every day to get to work, I might stay home curled up into a ball instead. And while the librarians there seem ...
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Anti-Tax Zealots Whining Again

It’s no secret that a lot of Americans like the benefits they receive from government, but hate paying taxes, especially for benefits they believe only other people are getting. That’s because a lot of Americans, like a lot of everyone else in the world, are narrow-minded and shortsighted. And yet we survive. Usually the anti-tax crowd, the crowd that doesn’t mind driving on public roads, doesn’t offer to support any relatives on the dole, doesn’t mind eating untainted food regulated by the FDA...this is getting out of hand. Let’s just say the crowd that benefits from public goods but fails to acknowledge that benefit. Anyway, that crowd is always looking for some government entity to blame for the fact that they have to pay any taxes at all and can’t just be the freeriders they desire to be. It gets goofy when they attack public libraries, as this guy in Illinois did. It’s a letter to the editor responding to another letter to the editor, because apparently people in villages ...
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Critics are Outraged Again

I’ve been considering writing about that librarian who donated $4 million to his college alma mater in his will, but what is there to say. The guy lived frugally, saved up some money, and gave it away. Good for him and his alma mater. The only thing it might prove is that if librarians weren’t such notoriously extravagant spenders, they too could finish their lives with some money in the bank instead of being nibbled on by their cats after they die impoverished and alone in a dingy flophouse like they usually do. The guy even stipulated that $100,000 of the money be left to the campus library where he’d worked for fifty years. One might think everyone would be happy. Queue the sad and angry trombones, because it turns out not everyone is happy. You see, the school decided to spend a million dollars of the donation for a new scoreboard for the newly renovated football field, and people are complaining. The expenditure is “outraging critics,” but since critics are outraged by ...
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Heroin Probably Not @ Your Library

If you want to read about yet another thing you didn’t go to library school to deal with, check out this article on heroin overdoses in public libraries. It’s not pretty. People dead from overdoses have been found in libraries in Virginia, Indiana, New Jersey, and Illinois, and in California a librarian saved a man by injecting him with Narcan, because that’s the sort of world we live in. A librarian in Michigan who has been dealing with drug problems in the library for years sounds a bit defensive. "People need to know that this is happening everywhere and that public libraries haven't done anything wrong to cause it to happen in public libraries.” There’s no need to be defensive, because only an idiot would blame a public library for someone overdosing in one. That library had already “removed bathroom ceilings and toilet tanks where people could hide drugs and restroom entrances that could be locked - changes made over a decade ago to curb cocaine trafficking.” What ...
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And the Winner is…

Candidates for Stupidest Banned Books Week Promotion are legion. It’s a week that public libraries all over the country gather up a number of books that have never been banned or censored in the United States and conveniently place them where anyone can check them out. By doing that, librarians can pretend that they’re not just theoretically in favor of free speech in a country with the freest speech in the world, they can show they’re practically fighting for it as well. What champions we are, highlighting these books that are readily available all over the country! But that’s just run-of-the-mill absurdity. That’s why I’m giving the award to the Washington D.C. public library system “UNCENSORED banned books” scavenger hunt. Congratulations. And just what have they done to win such a prestigious award, you might ask? What is this scavenger hunt and why is it so stupid? The D.C. public library system is hiding several hundred copies of books — which were once banned or ...
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Enough with the Surveys

The latest Pew Survey on book reading in America is out, and it’s as bland as all the other surveys. The page title says that the “Majority of Americans are still reading print books.” That about sums it up. Kinda makes you wonder why anyone bothers. Here’s the big news: “the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. Fully 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book (28%) and more than four times the share that has consumed book content via audio book (14%).” Anytime this or similar surveys or reports come out, there are people who like to make claims or predictions in the print versus digital book argument. That’s because there are people who think print versus digital is an argument rather than a choice to make at a given time for a ...
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