Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Dumping the Catalog

Over the years there have been a large number of news and opinion articles about libraries to which Betteridge’s Law of Headlines applies. “Is the library doomed?” No. “Are books dead?” No. "Should I write about libraries even if I know nothing about libraries?” Please don't. This week’s example comes from a website called Research Information, which is a nice vague title that allows for almost anything. The headline: Time to call time on the library catalogue? No. The motivating factor was a presentation by “a PhD student at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology” who talked about how he found his research material. What was missing from the list was the library OPAC. So a scientist at a research institute doesn’t look for books in the library he doesn’t really have. But wait, there’s more! Someone from the University of Utrecht “noted in her presentation how, while traffic to the library’s journal holdings had grown, the proportion of access to ...
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Against (Too Much) Library Philanthropy

If there’s still room on the list of “things I didn’t go to library school to do,” I’d like to add riding a bookcycle around town. Special training in peddling a heavy bicycle isn’t something they should add to the library school curriculum. But that’s at least a realistic way to get library services out to people who might need them, especially those children who don’t read over the summer and fall behind. If only all those children were being sent to enriching summer camps. That’s what rich people do for their children, after all. What rich people aren’t doing much of these days is giving money to libraries, but at least one person thinks they should. Here’s a not-so-modest proposal for the 400 richest Americans (together worth over $2-trillion, or more than the entire bottom half of our population). Work toward a national digital library endowment to modernize Andrew Carnegie’s vision of giving the brightest the tools to rise to the top. Something ...
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A Little Defensive

Last week all sorts of things got librarians riled up and other people defensive. My favorite might have been the guy at a library conference who called a female librarian an “ignorant slut” onstage. He then said, "Just kidding! I don't think you're ignorant!" Okay, I made that second part up, but it would have been the perfect followup. But it sort of wasn’t his fault. If only his audience had been composed of people who watched SNL in the 1970s. And if those tweeting librarians would put things in context instead of saying, “this guy just called someone an ignorant slut,” which of course he did. Darn those tweeting under-50s. And now people are being real meanies and saying bad things about him. Don't they get it that calling women sluts is funny? Maybe these days men calling women sluts brings to mind less Dan Ackroyd and more Elliot Rodger. That one I found out about on a blog, but the other lively librarian debate I discovered only because of a Kind Reader leaving a ...
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Turning the Tables

Lots of people like to make fun of the way librarians dress. In fact, I’ve probably done it myself, but I can get away with it because I’m a librarian. It’s when know-nothings from the outside take a crack at librarians that annoys me. Fortunately, the sort of people who make fun of the way librarians are dressed are pretty easy to make fun of themselves. For example, consider this clown rambling about Kirsten Dunst: “It seems like Kirsten Dunst has slowly begun to realize that running around looking like librarians and disheveled hippies all the time does very little for us interested in getting an eyeful of a fine hottie.” An entire worldview is contained in that sentence, a sad, shriveled, slightly depraved worldview, but a worldview nonetheless. Here we have a man, such that he is, who believes that “celeb hotties” exist to give him something to ogle. He believes, in fact, that such women owe him something just because they’re women and he exists. They owe him a ...
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Controversial Speakers

If you want to see the latest thing that makes some ALA Councilors cringe and protest and lose sleep at night, check out this awful film the ALA produced in 1977, The Speaker. Couldn’t sit through it? Normally, I’d sit through it for you, but this time I just couldn’t. The best I could do was skip through and watch snippets, and they were all painful. It’s a terrible film even if you disagree with its message, which apparently a lot of librarians do. Based on the ALA press release, it’s a film about a high school that invites an openly racist college professor to speak to the students about his white supremacy theories, because that totally seems like a plausible scenario, what with all the openly racist college professors around in the late 70s. By then, even the racist professors had learned to talk in code. They wouldn't have said "whites are superior to blacks." They would have said "middle class suburbanites are superior to the urban poor." The intended goal was to ...
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Telling the Pros from the Nonpros

This question is from a Kind Reader. It was more specific, but I’m trying to disguise the identity, so I’m trying to make it completely general. Lots of libraries, both public and academic, have their public service staff share a desk, so that library patrons go to one spot to check out books, ask reference questions, complain about jammed printers, and whatever else it is that library patrons do. From the public’s perspective this does two things. It makes it easier to find the service location, since there’s only the one. And it erases the distinction between the “professional” librarians and everyone else. The second one probably isn’t that important to most of the patrons, at least as far as they know, because to them everyone who works in a library is a librarian. Or perhaps worse. I’ve heard of librarians and other library workers being asked if they’re volunteers, and of patrons being surprised when told that people actually get paid to sit at a desk and ...
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