Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Challenging a Fallen Icon

Now that it’s National Library Week we get to find out what are the most challenged books of the past year. Surprisingly, perhaps, they’re not books that are filled with sex and profanity, the usual things that offend the easily offended American public. No, this year it’s children’s books by Bill Cosby, once upon a time everyone’s favorite sitcom dad, now everyone’s least favorite angel fallen from grace. It’s not like this was particularly widespread. It never is. The ALA recorded only 323 challenges in 2016. The head of the OIF claims this is because people are self-censoring, and perhaps so. Or maybe people were just too busy in 2016 to worry about something as useless as a book challenge. And that number was a 17% increase from the previous year. It sounds a lot more impressive if you put it in percentages. Regardless, with over 300,000,000 Americans and 16,000 public library branches, it’s not like this book challenge thing is a big deal. The relative handful of ...
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Observing National Library Week

Once again it’s time to celebrate National Library Week, which is the week when the ALA wants everyone to celebrate public libraries while ignoring all the other kinds of libraries and librarians. The boilerplate is always the same: First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate every year in National Library Week. An “observance.” Let us all bow our heads for a moment of silence.  And how do all the libraries help us? “From free access to books and online resources for families to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries offer opportunity to all.” How many academic, school, or special libraries offer either of those things? Maybe free access to books if it’s a public university and you’re a state resident and you’re anywhere near the ...
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A Fake News Followup

One interesting thing about fake news is that people tend not to recognize it when they want to believe the claims. People like to go out of their way to avoid acknowledging sensationalistic propaganda when they think it might be emanating from “their” side. Last week I wrote about an article I stumbled across regarding libraries that happened to be in an online publication no self-respecting person with minimal critical thinking skills would be caught dead reading. Coincidentally, that article was in a publication of the right-wing echo chamber. I think that’s what prompted someone to comment that when it comes to fake news, “the ALA, in typical form, only seems to want to go after conservatives.” I do hope the commenter wasn’t confusing this blog with anything propagated by the ALA. If anything, the AL is the bête noire of the ALA. The fake news incident was random, but I’ll issue a challenge. Send me articles about libraries in fake news outlets from the left-wing echo ...
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A Library-Free County

Public libraries offer a little taste of civilization in even the most remote places. Often, no matter how far removed you are from urban centers or busy trading locations, non-fast food restaurants or buildings over two stories, walking into a public library can give you a glimpse at a wider world. Some people think the internet is like that, but the internet has become a cesspool of conspiracy, hate, and feel good animated gifs. Besides, it rarely offers free access to contemporary books. That’s why it’s always sad to see public libraries close, especially in rural areas. It doesn’t happen often en masse, but it’s happening now in rural Oregon, where ten branches of the county library system have just closed. Granted, some of these libraries serve very small towns like Drain, population 1,151, or Glendale, population 874, but the county is 5,134 square miles, so it’s not like driving over to the county seat is a short trip, even if the main library at the county seat wasn’t ...
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Libraries in the Fake News

Supposedly, librarians are going to help the world deal with “fake news.” We’ve been hearing a lot about that for months. It’s going to be an uphill battle, though. Consider this article, California School Defunded for Having Too Many White Students. It’s from a “news” site called Newsline. It must be real news because it has “news” right there in the title. The headline is certainly provocative, isn’t it? It’s not true, but it’s definitely provocative. There’s a hint of truth, though. There is a California school that is losing some additional state funding under a school integration program begun in 1978 that guarantees extra funding for schools with more than 70% non-white students. The school in California now has more than 30% white students, and so it no longer qualifies for the funds. That seems to be a simple statement of fact, and what websites do with it shows the difference between news and propaganda. One of the absences of these propaganda articles from both ...
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Fun with Petitions

It’s always a little bit fun to watch what happens when a library gets rid of a lot of books. The protesters come out, sometimes with good reasons to protest the elimination of the books, but mostly full of baseless alarm and nostalgia. The response to this county law library in Massachusetts is no different. Well, maybe a little different. In a transition from a 1930s courthouse to a new “justice center,” the collection of print law books was reduced by some very large amount, and the book collection was moved to a small space away from the first floor to make space for a legal service center. The usual justifications were used. The books had seen declining use over the years. There weren’t many in-person visitors anymore. A lot of the books were outdated. And, of course, all the relevant legal material is online, and there are folks in the service center to help people with that research. That hasn’t prevented people from protesting. For example, one concerned person “said ...
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