Annoyed Librarian
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Librarians and Journalists

The other AL linked to this article in its weekly mailing of mostly tedious stuff praising libraries. It compares two polls that show how much Americans love libraries and hate journalists. “What do librarians have that journalists don’t?” it asks. It also covers the obvious answers: libraries are free to the public and they do a lot more than provide news and information. After reading the article, I looked back at my post from a few months ago about how librarians are superior to clickbait journalists. Here were the ways I listed: Librarians don’t compromise themselves for money. Librarians serve the public good. Librarians educate people. Librarians have no reason to be ashamed of their work. Librarianship is an ancient profession Librarians care about what they do. People tax themselves to pay for libraries and librarians. How many of those apply to “real journalists”? In general, they don’t compromise themselves for money in the direct way that clickbait ...
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Do Librarians have BS Jobs?

What would the world of librarians look like in a world without work? Wait, I’m not even sure that question even makes sense. If we were in a “post work” world like the one described in this article, would there be librarians at all? Or would there be librarians who worked 10-15 hours a week because that was all the work that they needed to do to make everything run? Or are we already at that point, and the rest of the hours we put in are just for show? In that case, maybe librarian jobs are BS jobs, as described in this article I somehow missed until the Guardian linked to it. The author, an anarchist anthropologist, wonders why there are so many jobs that are mostly useless, employing so many people who hate their jobs? Why don’t we have less work now that we have so much productive technology? It’s not working out the way it’s supposed to if capitalism makes sense. But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue ...
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Very Much Not in Awe

Kind Reader sent along this very, very long article on “vocational awe” among librarians. The gist is that librarians see themselves as saints and saviors, libraries as sacred places, and that viewing themselves and their libraries in this way leads to job creep, poor pay, and burnout. There, I just saved you a half hour’s reading time. Mostly it acknowledges what any librarian with a remotely critical sense can easily see, and indeed I’ve been criticizing libraries for many years, completely unaffected by “vocational awe.” That awe, to the extent that it exists, seems more like something cultivated in library school than experienced among actual librarians in the workplace, but as the author points out, a librarian actually wrote a book called “Sacred Stacks,” and played up the relationship between libraries and religious callings. Ugh. Despite the many points of agreement, I do have a few quibbles. According to the article, “the original libraries were actual monasteries, ...
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The Discrimination of the Market

On my post about no more promotions, someone commented that to move up you have to move away, or words to that effect. Was there a time when that wasn’t true? Moving away to move up in libraries could also be a natural consequence of the librarian shortage myth, at least in places where that wasn’t traditionally true. But it’s been true for lots of good librarian jobs for a long time. There’s a paradox involved. Often jobs for which one moves away pay pretty well. The sales manager is transferred to Omaha but gets a nice raise, for example. For most library jobs that’s not true. If you leave library school and aren’t willing to move anywhere in the country depending on the job, you’ve already hampered yourself in the market. However, if you do move across the country, you probably won’t get paid very much, especially if you’re just out of library school. Add to that the libraries that don’t pay moving expenses, and you’ll be out a couple thousand dollars moving across ...
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Meddlesome Busybodies Attack Again

Are there any busybodies more meddlesome than religious meddlesome busybodies? Okay, maybe political busybodies like those college students last year, but they’re both insufferable for the rest of us who just want to go about our business without fanatics trying to run our world. Kind Reader sent this article about a group of “concerned Christians” in Texas who are petitioning the library and city to stop displaying any books they deem immoral, in this case LGBT themed books that the library displayed last June, a month that apparently “was recognized by the American Library Association as LGBT book month,” because why not. It’s always been my suspicion that declaring months to celebrate marginalized groups creates a excuse for everyone to ignore them the rest of the year, but I’m cynical like that. The inevitable response: “Concerned Christian Citizens has a petition that calls for library and city officials to ‘refrain in both policy and practice from further advocacy ...
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No More Promotions?

Kind Reader wrote with a question regarding a situation at Kind Reader’s Library where nobody is ever promoted. Here’s the situation and the question: As positions finally open up, I am seeing more librarians with 10+ years supervisory swoop into positions that used to be stepping stones for the younger librarians. My co-workers too have been trying to move up the ranks and are beaten out by librarians whose experience seems frankly too much for the position posted. Those who get the jobs are doing a lateral shift from a nearby system rather than moving up and I'm getting tired of it. Is this is the fate of younger librarians? I’ll let readers with more experience in public library systems weigh in with their opinions on the matter, but based on the past 10-20 years of the ALA and library schools promoting the “librarian shortage” myth, this is exactly the fate of younger, or at least newer, librarians that one would expect. The logic is simple and brutal. The ALA and ...
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