Annoyed Librarian
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Yahoos Challenging Textbooks

A Library Link of the Day last week linked to this fun story about a new law in Florida that lets random yahoos who hate science and stuff challenge textbooks, school library books, and other material they don’t like “via an independent hearing,” whatever that might mean. One of the amusingly passionate spokespersons dedicated to this new law claims that, "We found them to be full of political indoctrination, religious indoctrination, revisionist history and distorting our founding values and principles, even a significant quantity of pornography.” Goodness, that does sound problematic, except of course all it really means is that the alleged political and religious indoctrination wasn’t trying to indoctrinate people into his particular cult and the alleged revisionist history didn’t present the particular skewed vision he wanted presented. It’s laughable that people who are the most opposed to “indoctrination” and “revisionist history” are almost always the ones who are most ...
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In Which I am Preyed Upon, Sort of

It’s not obvious from the outside, but this blog gets lots of spam comments, sometimes thousands per week. The email account is a little better since Gmail is pretty good about identifying spam without being trained, but stuff still slips through. It’s usually pretty easy to spot spam comments. The names are unusual, the email addresses are unrelated to the names, the comments are vague and usually ungrammatical, and there’s always a link to some dubious site that, if clicked on, would probably require giving my laptop a hot bath afterwards. In a recent email, someone with the unlikely name of “Gunda Breck,” using an email address Gmail recognizes as belonging to someone who seems to be a quack doctor of some kind peddling junk on the Internet, claims that “Several of [my] library visitors have requested” the self-published novels of yet a third person, all of whom are probably the same sad spammer. I’m also commanded to “Please obtain these books for [my] library promptly. ...
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Doomed Journals and More

The big prediction in scholarly publishing in the last week was pretty big indeed: that the success and comprehensiveness of Sci-Hub will doom subscription journals. If you don’t remember, Sci-Hub is the website that provides free but illegal access to scholarly journal articles that Elsevier keeps suing in courts that have no jurisdiction in Russia, where Sci-Hub is apparently located. Why does Elsevier keep tilting at that windmill? According to the study predicting the doom of subscription journals, “For some major publishers, such as Elsevier, more than 97% of their catalog of journal articles is being stored on Sci-Hub’s servers—meaning they can be accessed there for free.” The 3% are probably journals nobody wants anyway, like the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, a vanity journal Merck paid Elsevier to publish a few years ago. It’s probably pretty easy to cancel your Elsevier subscriptions, as several German universities are doing, if your researchers ...
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Free Speech for Nazis

Everything that’s wrong with the contemporary world can be inferred from the opening sentence to this article: “A memorial for Barbara Kulaszka, a controversial lawyer who made a career defending Holocaust deniers, took place at a public library in Toronto on Wednesday, despite calls for its cancellation.” Okay, maybe not everything, but at least one thing. And no, it’s not that controversial lawyers have memorials at public libraries. That’s a little weird, but maybe the neo-Nazis were kicked out of every decent place to hold a memorial. It’s the last phrase: “despite calls for its cancellation.” What? Some people got outraged over something completely legal and within the bounds of library activity, and even TWEETED their outrage, and nothing was done to sooth their fragile egos? My god, what is this world coming to?!?! Some of the criticism is ridiculous. “Critics of the event said it was wrong for the library to give neo-Nazis and white supremacists a platform.” A ...
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Librarians and Blue Whales

Kind Reader sent in a remarkable exchange from something called the “ALA Think Tank,” which is apparently neither a think tank nor affiliated with the ALA, but librarians are a wacky bunch. At the risk of making people sad about the current state of the world, the topic is once again suicide and libraries. The original poster is very concerned about the latest dangerous trend for teens that hardly exists outside the imagination of the easily panicked and the creators of clickbait. The Blue Whale Challenge was started in Russia by a man wanting to manipulate teen girls into committing suicide. He has been arrested and has confessed. It is not a hoax. If you haven’t heard of the Blue Whale Challenge, it’s another in a long line of supposed dangers to or from teens that usually follow the same pattern: 1) some teen does something bad (murder, assault, suicide, etc.), 2) someone else alleges that the bad thing is caused by some larger force (satanism, “knockout game,” blue ...
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Preventing Suicides @ Your Library

I was going to write about “racial fatigue” at the ALA Annual Conference, where a librarian of color got fatigued being around so many nice white ladies explaining things to her and white men complaining about being minorities in the profession, the poor dears. It could have been an interesting discussion, but after looking at the reader comments on the topic as it made its way around the right-wing echo chamber, I was so disgusted by the vitriol, hatred, and bigotry that I couldn’t go any further. So instead we can talk about something lighter, like suicide. We’ve seen how libraries are training staff to deal with overdoses, homeless people, and the mentally ill, but now the San Jose Library is learning to deal with suicide, or at least prevent it, or at least prevent it in the library. In February, “a 36-year-old San Jose man shocked patrons and employees of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. library by climbing over a seventh-floor railing and plunging to his death in the ...
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