Annoyed Librarian
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The Lesson from a Hoax

Something shocking has happened in the world of information. It turns out that there was an error in the Wikipedia, a deliberate error introduced into an article for fun by a couple of stoned college students. This is as shocking as the time that other factual error was found on the Internet. The hoax, such as it was, concerned the fictional character Amelia Bedelia, stating that she was based upon a maid in Cameroon where her author spent some time growing up. She was instead based on a maid in Equatorial Guinea, so you can understand why exposing the hoax was so important. No, actually the whole Cameroonian maid thing was completely made up, and the person who helped put it into Wikipedia now feels a little bad about it, not so much for what it says about her, but for “what it says about the future of information in the digital age.” Trigger warning: Nazi reference coming up. Joseph Goebbels once said that if you tell a lie enough times, it makes it true. I always ...
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Those Arrogant Destructive Weeders

Every once in a while I get a comment that I can’t resist responding to. Here’s one from my last post that’s just too much: I’ve followed your posts about weeding for quite a while, and I think you’re incredibly arrogant about the task. No one says that libraries have to keep everything, but when research libraries like UCLA are tossing pre-1980 humanities books like it’s Christmas in July then there’s a problem somewhere. Why are you folks so gleeful about it, and worse, do you have any idea the kind of contempt people will have for you in 75 or 100 years, knowing how much you’ve discarded? Laugh if you want, but it’s true. This is a terrifically destructive age. Laugh if I want?  I want. First of all, this comment was in response to a post about weeding school libraries, and it wasn’t really even about that, so I have a feeling the author saw “weeding” in the title and jumped down to the comments to complain. It's as if the entire post got weeded ...
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A Different Kind of Weeding Complaint

Two different articles about school librarians got my attention last week. The first is really more about the nonexistence of school librarians, at least in the Chicago public schools. School librarians there are becoming an extinct species almost. According to the article, Chicago has over 600 public schools, most now without a full-time librarian. Two years ago, Chicago Public School budgeted for 454 librarians. Last year: 313 librarians. This year? 254. At that rate, in a few years the schools won’t have any librarians at all. Of course, given the precarious state of the Chicago schools budget, maybe there won’t even be any schools for the librarians to go to anyway. One might think that with school librarians under siege all over the country that the remaining ones would feel lucky just to have jobs, but some of them do like to complain. In Racine, Wisconsin the school librarians had their union complain to the school district when they found out books were being ...
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More Advice from the Clueless

It’s often amusing to read big bold statements about libraries from people who don’t know anything about libraries. It’s even more amusing when the statements are ludicrous. Ah, but what can one expect from a fellow from someplace called the Adam Smith Institute, which bills itself as “one of the world’s leading think tanks,” but which you’ve probably never heard of unless you live in the UK. The latest ridiculous suggestion is to close all the British libraries and have the government buy everyone a Kindle “Unlimited” subscription, because the writer knows even less about Kindle Unlimited than he does about libraries, apparently having never used either. He does try to qualify his bizarre opinion by claiming that it’s a “little, not entirely and wholly serious, thought on public policy.” I’m not even sure it can be considered a little thought. More like a little irritable mental gesture that vaguely resembles a thought. A "modest proposal" it's not. After ...
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What to Call the Reinvented Library?

A lot of passionate people seemed to be commenting last week. I noticed one easily incensed person was “disappointed” to find opinions she so strongly disagreed with published at the Library Journal. One would think she should be excited to find a public forum to defend her sacred cows. I bet there are librarians for whom the highlight of their work day is thinking they’ve set the record straight about something they read online. That always feels good. However, I’ve noticed over the years there’s a minority of librarians who would rather quash dissenting voices than have to go out of their way to read them for free. Although I'm sure they would protest that they don't want to censor dissenting views; they just don't want those dissenting views published anywhere people might actually read them. A subtle distinction. But on to the burning question of the day: what should we start calling libraries instead of “libraries”? There must be a better name. After all, ...
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Still No Censorship, Actually

Since librarians love to pretend there’s censorship in America so they can feel righteous about fighting it, let’s take a look at another contrast between something that’s clearly censorship and something that’s clearly not. But first, let me say that while I like it when people use the library, I don’t like it enough to get a mohawk. Call me crazy if you wish. So back to some more talk about “censorship.” Out in Fargo, North Dakota, they’re hosting a traveling exhibition from the National Holocaust Museum: Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings. If you want to think about a place where censorship really took place, think about Nazi Germany. The government suppressed books and encouraged their burning. Now imagine that while piles of books were being set on fire, you courageously jumped into the pile to either put it out or maybe get burned to death. Either way, you’re a champion against censorship! One of the posters from the WW2 era ...
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