Annoyed Librarian
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Libraries are Dangerous Places

LISNews posted this article criticizing the call for “trigger warnings” in classes. Is this related to libraries at all, even academic ones? For those of you fortunate enough to escape the acceptable speech discussions in academia, various campus groups around the country have proposed that professors issue warnings when course content is likely to “trigger” some sort of strong negative emotional response. The specific text mentioned in the article is Ovid’s Metamorphoses and a “student [who] described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work” because she is “a survivor of sexual assault.” But the triggers could be any number of things, especially violence such as assault or war. Some people even call for trigger warnings for depictions of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc. So basically all of world literature. The American Association of University Professors has come out quite strongly against them as threats to academic ...
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Braver Librarians Than Me

The job of librarian is usually a pretty safe one. It ranks low in those list of low stress jobs for a reason. Compared to being a combat soldier or a surgeon, librarianship is pretty easy going most of the time, and that’s just the way we like it. And then there are prison libraries, where things like this happen. The story is about a prison inmate in Wisconsin who plead not guilty to attacking a librarian, despite there apparently being a video that shows him grabbing her and punching her repeatedly until another inmate pulled him off her. Well, technically he plead not guilty of trying to murder her, but either way it’s a pretty bad position for the librarian to be in. When you’re getting punched in the head by a prisoner, there’s probably more feelings of terror than consoling thoughts that he probably isn’t trying to straight up murder you. When I read the article, I wondered how the heck someone becomes a prison librarian. In Wisconsin a few years ago there was a ...
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The Good News and the Bad News

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Or at least that’s how one professor sees the digitization of library content in India. During a conference on digital libraries, a professor “said that the positive effect was that books and other material reached many people and the negative aspect was that most people were accessing these materials online and not visiting the library physically.” He’s really a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy. That’s also one of the most ridiculous statements about digitization I’ve ever seen. It’s a downside that’s not a downside, at least not for library users. There are probably American librarians who feel the same way, though. Rare book librarians who are digitizing their collections might feel bad that fewer people come and visit them. For most scholarship, it’s just not necessary to fondle the physical artifact when the content is available online. But that’s irrelevant to the mission of libraries, which is to get information to ...
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Go Fund a Librarian

It’s hard to be surprised anymore about the sorry state of public education in much of America, but, nevertheless, this story surprised me. A public elementary school in Arizona is trying to save the job of the school librarian, or media specialist, or whatever it is they’re called these days. They’re doing it with a “Go Fund Me” campaign, which is a sorry commentary on contemporary public education. The story as related in the article could perhaps make a good political drama. First, the Governor campaigns on educational excellence, because what politician ever campaigned on educational awfulness. Next, the Governor and the state legislature cuts the state education budget, because what politician isn’t happy to cut funding from powerless people who might actually need it. Then, and here’s where it gets juicy, a whole bunch of school districts think they’re being very clever. They exploit a loophole in the law that gives district charter schools extra money per pupil ...
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More Clueless Advice

I’ve come to realize what a practical annoyed librarian I am. For example, I’m not interested in management advice from people who aren’t managers or library advice from people who don’t work in libraries. Librarians do like management consultants, though. Usually it’s librarians in administrative positions who want to make major changes without taking the blame. That’s when the management consultants come in handy. And there are some management consultants who at least used to be managers, like this guy, who was invited to speak at a Computers in Libraries conference. Maybe he knows something about managing, but there seems to be a lot he doesn't know. He’s into “radical management,” which sounds like something that works better as a buzz phrase than something to implement. I noticed the word “disruption” when I glanced at the article in Forbes, but I couldn’t get past the first paragraph to read the rest carefully. Actually, I couldn’t get past the first two ...
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Solving Life Problems @ Your Library

People can be grateful to librarians for many things: access to books, protection of privacy, fat shaming, etc. There are so many services that librarians provide. You might think I’m kidding about the last one, but it happened. Sure, it happened in Scotland, but Scotland is as important as any other country. If you don’t believe that, just ask a Scot. A library patron “weighed 17 stone and 12lb” when she visited her local library. In Americanese, that’s 250lbs. She went looking for a book, but a librarian, or perhaps library assistant, assumed she was there for a “Slimming World” class. The woman was immediately directed to the class on the assumption that of course that’s what she’d be there for. A simple mistake, if perhaps unintentionally rude, and the woman was mortified. She suddenly realized that a relatively short woman weighing 250 pounds is pretty big for her size. So she went on a diet and exercise regimen and has lost almost a hundred pounds, and gone from a ...
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