Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Some Real Censorship

Every once in a while we get a solid reminder of what real censorship is and thus how hyperbolic and misguided the ALA is for claiming that a library removing a book is “censorship.” If you want to read about some actual censorship, you can check out this article about the Chinese government censoring portions of translated books, sometimes in violation of translation contracts and without the authors knowing. The Chinese government has a serious problem with things like criticizing the government. It hasn’t learned the American lesson on free speech, which is that if there’s enough free speech and enough people talking, they drown each other out in a cacophony and nobody listens to them anyway. Some of this actual censorship is hardly surprising. For example, US novelist Paul Auster told PEN he did not discover the changes made to the translated version of his book Sunset Park until after publication in China last November. He said he felt his book was mutilated. The plight ...
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Rise of the Machines

The question that has been on all our minds can now be answered with scientific certainty: will your job be done by a machine in the future? Sure, there are probably other pressing questions that librarians and librarians manque ponder obsessively over. Will I get a job? Why does this job suck so much? Why did I take out $30,000 in student loans to get a job making $30,000 a year? Those kinds of questions. But younger librarians especially should ask whether they’ll just be replaced with a robot in the future. I used the guide to find the answer. “Librarians have a 64.9% chance of being automated.” By that sentence, I assume they mean that the jobs librarians do will be automated, rather than librarians themselves. Although the creation of robolibrarians isn’t that far beyond the imagination. If I’m reading the charts right, and I might not be, if you need to come up with clever solutions, personally help others, or negotiate, you have a lesser chance of your job being ...
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Yes I Can

I love a good challenge, or even a really silly one, like the claim that You Can’t Defend Public Libraries and Oppose File-Sharing. Um, wanna bet? I’m not writing for some site called Torrent Freak, so I don’t have to leave all logic behind. Before getting to the gist of the argument, we’re treated to a little history. British Parliament at the time [mid-1800s], unlike today’s politicians, wisely disagreed with the publishing industry lobby – the copyright industry of the time. Instead, they saw the economic value in an educated and cultural populace, and passed a law allowing free public libraries in 1850, so that local libraries were built throughout Britain, where the public could take part of knowledge and culture for free. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it sounds good, at least except for the part about them wanting a “cultural populace.” I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. It’s not a typo for “cultured,” either, because the same phrase reappears a few ...
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Libraries are Dangerous Places

LISNews posted this article criticizing the call for “trigger warnings” in classes. Is this related to libraries at all, even academic ones? For those of you fortunate enough to escape the acceptable speech discussions in academia, various campus groups around the country have proposed that professors issue warnings when course content is likely to “trigger” some sort of strong negative emotional response. The specific text mentioned in the article is Ovid’s Metamorphoses and a “student [who] described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work” because she is “a survivor of sexual assault.” But the triggers could be any number of things, especially violence such as assault or war. Some people even call for trigger warnings for depictions of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc. So basically all of world literature. The American Association of University Professors has come out quite strongly against them as threats to academic ...
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Braver Librarians Than Me

The job of librarian is usually a pretty safe one. It ranks low in those list of low stress jobs for a reason. Compared to being a combat soldier or a surgeon, librarianship is pretty easy going most of the time, and that’s just the way we like it. And then there are prison libraries, where things like this happen. The story is about a prison inmate in Wisconsin who plead not guilty to attacking a librarian, despite there apparently being a video that shows him grabbing her and punching her repeatedly until another inmate pulled him off her. Well, technically he plead not guilty of trying to murder her, but either way it’s a pretty bad position for the librarian to be in. When you’re getting punched in the head by a prisoner, there’s probably more feelings of terror than consoling thoughts that he probably isn’t trying to straight up murder you. When I read the article, I wondered how the heck someone becomes a prison librarian. In Wisconsin a few years ago there was a ...
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The Good News and the Bad News

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Or at least that’s how one professor sees the digitization of library content in India. During a conference on digital libraries, a professor “said that the positive effect was that books and other material reached many people and the negative aspect was that most people were accessing these materials online and not visiting the library physically.” He’s really a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy. That’s also one of the most ridiculous statements about digitization I’ve ever seen. It’s a downside that’s not a downside, at least not for library users. There are probably American librarians who feel the same way, though. Rare book librarians who are digitizing their collections might feel bad that fewer people come and visit them. For most scholarship, it’s just not necessary to fondle the physical artifact when the content is available online. But that’s irrelevant to the mission of libraries, which is to get information to ...
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