Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

You and Everyone You Live With

A Kind Reader wrote me about an annoying situation in a library that I’d never heard of, the situation that is, not the library, although I hadn’t heard of the library either. I’m curious if this sort of thing is common, because it seems very unlibrarylike. Kind Reader, a librarian herself, was trying to check out materials from her local public library in New Jersey. She lives with at least one parent, which is relevant to the story. When she tried to check out the materials, she was told that she couldn’t check them out the because the parent she lived with owed too much in fines on his or her own library card, and the library had decided to block the accounts of everyone in the household until the fines were paid. When she complained to the library administration about the injustice of the situation, she was basically told, “too bad, that’s what we’re doing.” It does seem strange that the library card of an adult would be blocked because of the activities of a completely ...
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A Proposed Impractical Solution

My last post wasn’t the only response to the protests and woes of the Fairfax County library system. A letter to the editor of the Washington Post also proposed a new option for the library’s future, and it’s pretty funny. The article from the Post “raised an important question that few have bothered to address: Why should libraries continue to serve as Internet access centers?” That’s certainly a question few have bothered to address, because it’s kind of a silly question. Supposedly, cutting the Internet and getting rid of the computers would allow the library system to spend more money on books. That might be true, but since digital content in libraries is gradually increasing and will likely continue to do so, getting rid of the Internet would be getting rid of the content, especially periodicals and reference books. But people aren’t using them anyway. We have the most solid kind of evidence to support this: individual anecdotal evidence. For years, I visited the ...
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Books Every Library Should Have?

Concerned citizens in Fairfax County, VA are protesting as librarians rapidly shrink the book collection. Here are some numbers from the article: The library’s total collection has decreased from around 2.75 million items in 2004 to 2.4 million items in 2013, a drop of about 350,000 books, magazines and online materials, even as Fairfax added two new branches and electronic items to its system. The number of printed items, mostly books, has dropped by about 440,000 in that time, replaced by about 100,000 online items and e-books. If a book hasn’t been checked out for two years, Fairfax library officials review it for possible elimination in order to keep the collection fresh… 440,000 books gone, which even with the addition of “online items and e-books” still means a cut of 340,000 titles. The children’s sections seem to be the worst: The number of children’s books in Fairfax’s 22 branches has also plummeted, particularly outraging the activists. The library had about 1 million ...
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Introspection

Every once in a while the blog gets a comment that makes me laugh out loud. Here’s one from last week from someone who’s apparently a bigger fan of Facebook than I am: Your blog is a sad wasteland of miserableness. Do you think this is clever? Yes, people do these things but you are basically doing the same grandstanding here on your blog, minus the food. Maybe if you enjoyed something you’d be a happier person. Perhaps you should look up narcissism in the dictionary. I don’t want a librarian who thinks that the idea of anyone encouraging reading is a bad idea, that seems a little counterproductive to me. What would make someone leave a comment like that? What would anyone expect from a blog called “Annoyed Librarian”? Chirpy life advice? Videos of puppies? Maybe the commenter wanted me to take a good hard look at myself, to really explore the emotional depths of a blog called “Annoyed Librarian.” Okay. Here goes. Is this blog a sad wasteland of miserableness? Has the ...
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Strong Healthy Families @ Your Library

It’s a small irony of life in the U.S. that people who probably react in horror at groups like the Taliban or Boko Haram don’t see anything wrong with trying to turn their religious beliefs into laws. Which probably has nothing to do with a defeated book challenge reported at a website called “Christian News,” but it might. Reported might be a bit too strong a word, since it seems to me like an advocacy article in the form of a news story, but I’m not sure exactly which side it’s advocating so I could be wrong. The story involves the school board in Superior, Wisconsin voting 5-1 not to withdraw from the library a book entitled “Emma and Meesha My Boy: A Two Mom Story.” A lone rube had complained that the book was promoting homosexuality to the kiddies, and wanted that nonsense stopped immediately. It’s a typical story in many ways, and it’s pretty rare for a children’s book to be removed from a library because of such complaints, rarer than having a book removed from the ...
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The Year of Books

The big news in books recently has to be Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that he was making 2015 a "year of books," and was going to try to read a book every two weeks. That doesn’t sound like much of a challenge to me, but I’m not busy running a multibillion dollar corporation. He says he’s excited, and that he’s “found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.” For a guy who went to Harvard, it seems a bit late in life to make that discovery. If his thousands of followers take up the challenge, that’ll certainly be a lot more books read, and more book reading is good for everyone who deals in books, from book stores to libraries. It does seem slightly ironic, given that Zuckerberg is responsible for providing access to the shallowest, stupidest reading possible to millions of people through Facebook. On the occasions when I wander into the Facebook domain, I see my ...
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