Annoyed Librarian
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Fights @ Your Library

l’ve remarked before that public libraries seem to be among the safest public places in the country, mostly when mocking people too afraid to venture into one without arming themselves. However, that’s not always true, and the public library in Desert Hot Springs, CA is proof of that. According to the article, “Recurring fights among teenagers, including one where a security guard was injured, have prompted the Desert Hot Springs Library to close just as kids would be heading there after school.” Yowza. The library will now close at 3pm so the kiddies can’t use it. At least the fights are outside the library, but the library still comes into it, or rather the kids come into the library. “The fights occurred outside, but teenagers would sometimes come into the library to escape or wash blood off themselves.” Yuck. I guess there are some practical solutions some librarians might advocate. For example, if the kids were playing Dance Dance Revolution in the library, ...
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The Decline and Fall of British Libraries

One of my predictions for 2015 was that British libraries were all going to close. So far that hasn’t come true, but it’s getting closer. According to this story, 324 libraries have closed because of budget cuts. Two years ago, that figure was 201 libraries, so the closings have kept up at a rapid pace. Of the 4612 British public libraries in 2010, about 7% have now closed. In the U.S., that percentage would mean closure of over 1100 libraries if you count branch locations, which is definitely something we’d notice. In addition, “Some 216 static libraries and eight mobile libraries are a risk of closure, Labour claims.” If those closed, it would be about a 12% closure rate since 2010. The American equivalent would be over 1900 libraries. Oh, and of the libraries left, “330 fewer are open 10 hours or more a week.” If the library isn’t open more than ten hours a week, it almost might as well be closed. Between the closures and the reduced service hours, that’s about 14% of ...
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Not a Library Problem

The IRS is cutting back on its Tax Forms Outlet Program earlier than expected, and that supposedly puts librarians in a “bad situation.” Because of the cutbacks, libraries will have fewer to none of the tax forms they’ve traditionally offered. If there’s ever a time for libraries to be disruptive and innovative and all those other buzzwords, the time is now, because this isn’t a library problem. Obviously, tax forms aren’t going away. They’re available online. However, because the library in the article, and probably most public libraries, charge for printing, printing out the form might “upset people,” or “may not be practical.” Well, we wouldn’t want to upset people over something they have no good reason to be upset over. The 1040 form is two pages long. Yes, the instructions and tax tables are a couple hundred pages, but people can always read those at the library if they don’t have home Internet access. Tedious, yes. The easy answer to that is, “THIS HAS NOTHING ...
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The New Trend in Library Use

When I’ve talked about porn in libraries before, I never has this in mind. In case you haven’t heard the story, a former student at Oregon State University made a risque video in the university library for a sex chat website and is now facing charges of public indecency. As the article says, “She faces up to a year in prison and a fine of more than $6,000 if found guilty.” After I read the story, two different trains of thought started, each heading towards the other, one at 54 mph and one at 45mph, and they’re 12 miles apart. I’ll let you do the math. Until then, the trains. First of all, that seems like a steep charge. Yes, she recorded herself baring her breasts and masturbating in the library, presumably neither of which required removing all her clothes. (I haven’t seen the video, but if you have a link please don’t post it in the comments.) That is bad, perhaps even indecent. On the other hand, she was 18 years old at the time and obviously not too bright. As ...
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Time to Beef Up the Security

I knew something bad would happen when libraries got into the videogame business, and now it has: massive theft. I hate to say I told you so, but, no, actually I don’t hate that. I told you so. Okay, maybe I didn’t. One smoky slacker has apparently stolen $14,000 worth of video games from possibly seven different libraries in Massachusetts. At first, he was checking “items out from various libraries using different names and didn’t return them.” It seems to me that would be difficult. Although I haven’t tried to acquire library cards under multiple names, every time I’ve gotten one I’ve needed an ID and a proof of address. Are multiple IDs and proofs of address so easy to get, or are they not necessary in Massachusetts? I guess that twenty-something gamer can do anything, at least anything except get a job so he can afford to buy games instead of stealing them from public libraries. Library workers finally figured out what he was doing and immediately did nothing because ...
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You and Everyone You Live With

A Kind Reader wrote me about an annoying situation in a library that I’d never heard of, the situation that is, not the library, although I hadn’t heard of the library either. I’m curious if this sort of thing is common, because it seems very unlibrarylike. Kind Reader, a librarian herself, was trying to check out materials from her local public library in New Jersey. She lives with at least one parent, which is relevant to the story. When she tried to check out the materials, she was told that she couldn’t check them out the because the parent she lived with owed too much in fines on his or her own library card, and the library had decided to block the accounts of everyone in the household until the fines were paid. When she complained to the library administration about the injustice of the situation, she was basically told, “too bad, that’s what we’re doing.” It does seem strange that the library card of an adult would be blocked because of the activities of a completely ...
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