Annoyed Librarian
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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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Library Might Enforce Old Law on Overdue Books

A public library in Alabama must think there’s no such thing as bad publicity, because it’s hard to consider “US Library to enforce jail sentences for overdue books” anything but bad publicity for public libraries in general and that public library in particular. That’s just crazy, right? “In an effort to recoup about $200,000 worth of overdue books, the Athens-Limestone public library will be enforcing a new policy that includes fines of $100, a city jail term of 30 days or possibly both.” A “new policy.” Well, sort of. It is sort of amazing that a library in a small town in one of the poorest states in the United States can achieve international notoriety just by warning its patrons that they can go to jail for overdue books. What a brave new information world we live in. News sites in Britain, Ireland, and India have picked up the story, although none of them has as good a headline as Raw Story: “Book 'em!: Alabama library threatens readers with 30 days in jail for overdue ...
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Fifty Years Hence

Kind Reader alerted me to this exciting article about how libraries need to “stay relevant” by doing something or other differently. The really fun part, as Kind Reader points out, is this quote: “According to Pew Research, library usage has been declining over the past three years, primarily driven by technological change” links to an article STRAIGHT UP TITLED, “Fewer Americans Are Visiting Local Libraries—and Technology Isn't to Blame.” Kind Reader suggests a place that the author could get some help with research skills. The time allowed for producing that sort of stuff doesn’t allow for much research, though. But you know who has more hopes for the future of public libraries? Futurologists! Mostly because those people will believe anything, or they believe other people will believe anything, or possibly both. And if there’s anyone who should know about libraries fifty years in the future - yes, you read that right, fifty years - it’s someone who’s a “co-editor at Boing ...
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Your Lucrative Librarian Future

After perusing this listicle, I considered starting a regular series of With Friends Like These. This one is called “5 Reasons Why Being a Librarian Isn’t Boring at All.” It also shows why being a journalist isn’t what it used to be. At the very least, it doesn’t indulge in the senseless gloom and doom of the “libraries are obsolete” variety. On the other hand, it also mentions salaries and job trends as positive for librarians. What it doesn’t discuss at all is whether being a librarian is boring or not. That’s because editors don’t care anymore if headlines are related to articles. Based on the URL, the article was probably originally called “Librarian Job Perks,” but who’d click on that? You need listicles and clickbait headlines or you’re rubbish these days. No wonder librarianship looks good to journalists. The number one reason why being a librarian isn’t boring at all, or perhaps has a job perk, is salary. Seriously. Get a load of this: According to the Bureau of Labor ...
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With Friends Like These

Count on libraries to get fluffy press like this article claiming you’re “overdue” to visit your library. Get it? Overdue? Those library puns always cease to crack me up. It’s certainly a breathless article that tries to get people excited by telling them all the things libraries have, like makerspaces, tool libraries, and every book or DVD anyone would ever need or want. It glosses over the fact that most libraries don’t have any such thing by talking about libraries as a whole. And sure, if you can make it to DC when you need some 3D printing and Toronto when you need tools and the Library of Congress when you need access to millions of scholarly books, libraries are a great idea. Of course if you could afford to do that you could probably just afford to buy stuff and not have to go to the library at all. Inevitably, there were critical comments on the article. Libraries are dying because print is dying and we know this because paper newspapers are dying, or so goes the ...
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Unreinvented Reinvented College Libraries

We’ve been reading nonsense for years about how public libraries are “reinventing” themselves. It seems they’re not alone. Now there’s a story that so big the AP labels it a big story about how college libraries are being “reinvented for the digital age.” The story opens, “Roll over, Melvil Dewey. Behold the 21st-century college library,” because nothing says “digital age” better than a reference to a 60-year-old rock song, and nothing inspires more confidence in reportage on academic libraries than a reference to the guy who designed the Dewey Decimal System, which hasn’t been used by most college libraries for decades. We are now in the presence of knowledge as timely as 1980s headlines. Supposedly, “Hundreds of schools, from Ivy League universities to community colleges, have remade their libraries as colorful hubs of college life.” We don’t get a list of those hundreds of schools, but you should take the reporters’ word for it, because clearly they know a thing or two ...
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