Annoyed Librarian
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Animals in Libraries

A Kind Reader sent me a quote from an ALA listserv about a story the other AL is “considering on how libraries are handling the issue of service and therapy animals and other patrons who have allergies? If patrons complain about a library cat, aren't they also complaining about other patron service animals? Whose rights trump whose in these cases? Have you heard of this as an issue?" One might think that librarians would love the idea of library cats, but it seems there are some librarians who are allergic to cats. One might also think such an allergy would disqualify them from the profession of librarianship, but apparently that’s not so. Regardless, the basic question is pretty easy to answer. Aren't they also complaining about other patron service animals? Um, no. There, question answered. The idea of a therapy animal that a person would need to carry around everywhere is dubious. That’s not usually how animal therapy works. Also, according to ADA requirements, only ...
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Librarians Leaving the Country

What a long, annoying week it’s been. The most bizarre Presidential election in modern American history is finally over, except for the one-third of Clinton supporters who who supposedly believe the election wasn’t legitimate. There’s no polling data on how many of those people were critical of Trump for not saying he’d accept the legitimacy of the election results the week before, but who the heck trusts polling data anymore. As with any extremely contentious Presidential election, which is all of them now, there’s a lot of chatter among librarians online, and much of it is so self-righteous it’s hard to read without groaning. My favorite discussion was started by a female librarian who wanted to know about librarian jobs in other countries, because she was considering moving from the United States in the wake of Trump’s victory and the likely harm that would have on women. It’s hard to take seriously all the Americans who claim they’re going to move to Canada or wherever if ...
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Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

A UK official just created a Future of Work Commission, presumably so it can discover that in the future work will mostly be done by robots with the rest of us depending on their generosity for some scraps of food. This is the paragraph of the article that stuck out to me: The pace of change can be dizzying. My first job was as a trainee assistant librarian in the Labour Party’s Head Office in South East London. Today librarians are an endangered species in a world of Google searches and Twitter feeds. The sharing economy and online platforms provide mini-jobs for millions. And what we actually do is different. Social media managers, neuro-implant technicians and user experience designers are all 21st Century creations. Then there’s the jobs that we just don’t do at all - robots are drafting contracts and drafting articles as well as driving cars. What is there really that robots can’t do? If robots can draft contracts, they can draft laws, and they probably wouldn’t do any worse ...
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Our Lucky Lack of Censorship

There’s something newsworthy happening this week that a lot of people have been talking about lately, but I can’t remember what it is, so let’s see what’s happening with a librarian in Russia instead. American librarians love to champion themselves as brave defenders of free speech and access to information and all that jazz. They go on like it’s not really easy being in favor of free speech in the country with the freest speech in the world. If those librarians really want to fight for free speech and access to information, they should head to Russia and start working at the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, which might be needing a new librarian soon if the current director goes to prison for having books on the shelves. Supposedly, she acquired a lot of Ukrainian publications and put them on the shelves for people to read. One might think that’s part of the job description of the librarian at a library for Ukrainian literature, but that’s only in places where the ...
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Journalists and Librarians

Someone with the unlikely name of “Greta Van Susteren” has issued a pronouncement on academic libraries and librarians aren’t happy about it, which is understandable because the pronouncement is complete nonsense. Here’s one of the comments: “Colleges should stop building vanity projects like huge libraries and billing students-full libraries are on our smartphones!” Where does one even begin? There are two basic statements there, and both are ridiculous. First, what colleges are building huge libraries these days? Fifty years ago that might have been a thing, but it’s not a thing now. Some campuses might be building new libraries, but it’s hardly the norm. If you were a librarian at most institutions and suggested the campus build a new library building, everyone outside the library would laugh at you. And the new ones that are occasionally built are sometimes libraries in name only. It’s not like they’re housing book stacks. They’re books would be as digital as the ...
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Utopian or Dystopian?

First, Happy Halloween! And now to our scary story for the day. A news story last week exposed the fact that some middle schools and high schools in Houston, TX had lots of bare bookshelves in the school libraries. The bare bookshelves just happened to be in poorer neighborhoods, which I’m sure was a complete coincidence. One of the people interviewed said that “When you go to some of the more affluent schools in the more affluent neighborhoods, you don’t see this problem. You see the problem in the black neighborhoods or the Hispanic neighborhoods.” The response from school officials was defensive but dismissive: “HISD administrators are aware that some middle schools still need books to supplement their school libraries and are searching for ways to meet that need despite significant financial challenges resulting from the state’s school finance system.” If they’re scrambling for money, spending it on libraries for poor kids probably isn’t going to be a top ...
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