Annoyed Librarian
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Infantilization @ Your Library

Sometimes prophets claim that  America is dumbing down, but I’ve never seen much evidence that Americans on average were that smart in the first place. However, I’ve been getting a nagging feeling that if they’re not dumbing down, they are trying a bit too hard to escape adulthood. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to support this, some of which seems better than others. For example, for those of us adults who don’t play video games, it seems weird that so many grown men and women play video games. When reading about the “Gamergate” controversy it didn’t surprise me that so many men were attacking women, because I always assumed that grown men who played video games weren’t used to spending much time around women because they were stuck in adolescence when so many insecure boys moan about how nice girls always date jerks. I know that’s an unfair analysis, and in fact I know several seemingly well adjusted men and women in healthy relationships who play video games. It’s ...
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A New Way to Resolve Book Challenges

You might have read about the book challenge in Wasilla, Alaska a couple of weeks ago. Some protested that a book called “This Book is Gay” was a bit too graphic for her or her 12-year-old son’s taste. That conflict has been resolved, in a somewhat humorous way: the library just moved all the young adult nonfiction to the regular adult nonfiction section. Problem solved! When I first glanced at the story, I thought that sounded kind of drastic, although I’m assuming the public library in a town with fewer than 8,000 people can’t have too large a collection of young adult nonfiction. It’s not like moving the NYPL nonfiction or something. Then it seemed more like a passive aggressive move. “You don’t like this in the YA section? We’ll just eliminate the section. Happy now?” Then, finally, it seemed like a really clever move. One of the things those who would have us believe that censorship exists in American libraries don’t like to discuss is that a large percentage of ...
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Access to the World

It’s sort of amazing to me that there are places in America so remote and isolated that a public library would be seen as a perhaps controversial symbol of innovation and enlightenment, and yet that’s what seems to be happening in Utah. A public library is set to open next year in a polygamous town on the Utah-Arizona border that hasn't had one for decades because of controlling sect leaders who try to limit followers' exposure to the outside world. That sounds crazy, right? What is this, North Korea? The community is dominated by a polygamous sect led by jailed leader Warren Jeffs. He and other sect leaders try to limit members' exposure to the outside world by prohibiting Internet and books. Ohhh, yeah, it sort of is like North Korea, at least in that regard. Calling that group a “sect” seems kind. It seems more like a cult to me. Here are a couple of definitions from Merriam-Webster’s: Sect: “a religious or political group that is connected to a larger group but that has ...
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Thanks for Another Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has rolled around again. How time flies. And what do we have to be thankful for this year? If nothing else, we can be thankful that most of us aren’t this Harvard librarian who’s been arrested for allegedly attempting to have sex with a child. That’s got to put a damper on the holiday for the arrestee. The “child” was actually an undercover investigator, so fortunately no actual children were involved. We can also be thankful that despite lots of people claiming that public libraries are an anachronism, public libraries seem to be doing pretty well. During the recession, a few closed, but not that many relative to how many there are. Plus, they continue to house books, and people keep using the books. It’s almost as if the people who say libraries are irrelevant now haven’t actually been to any libraries. And if we look outside of libraries? It sure seems like the world is going to hell in a handcart. Constant war in the Middle East. The Syrian refugee ...
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Organize It However You Like

A librarian might not have to be a fan of the Dewey Decimal System to think that abandoning it in a high school library might be a bad idea. That’s what’s happening at a high school in Colorado. The librarian of Monarch High School has abandoned the DDC. For what, you ask? Surely those high school students aren’t ready for the rigors of the LCC yet? The LCC is tough, which is why we reserve it for college students. Only they can be expected to understand call numbers that have both letters and numbers in them. Those with such concerns need not worry. Instead, the librarian replaced the system with the Monarch Method, which also looks like it might use letters and numbers, but in an “intuitive” way. What’s this Monarch Method? What, you’ve never heard of it? That’s because the librarian made it up. Yes, she made up her own classification scheme and reorganized all the books in the library according to it. She said the traditional Dewey library classification system, published ...
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Books and More @ The Place

The King County Library System in Seattle is installing bike repair stations at nine of its branches, and a local radio personality isn’t happy about it. “I'm serious about this. I'm an avid bicyclist. My wife and I went for a ride a couple of months ago, and one of my gear-shift cables snapped. We were on the Burke-Gilman trail. So I pulled out my phone and found the nearest bike shop. I went to that bike shop, and they couldn't have been nicer…they have an air pump outside of their shop so any cyclist going by and pump for free…we don't need the libraries doing this sort of thing.” Although technically the story is news since it’s at a news site, the opposition itself isn’t surprising. It’s what always seems to happen when unsuspecting members of the public don’t realize that librarians don’t really have a coherent idea of what public libraries should be, if indeed they ever had one. Someone from the library said “the stations are meant to serve a broader community,” which ...
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