Annoyed Librarian
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With Friends Like These

Count on libraries to get fluffy press like this article claiming you’re “overdue” to visit your library. Get it? Overdue? Those library puns always cease to crack me up. It’s certainly a breathless article that tries to get people excited by telling them all the things libraries have, like makerspaces, tool libraries, and every book or DVD anyone would ever need or want. It glosses over the fact that most libraries don’t have any such thing by talking about libraries as a whole. And sure, if you can make it to DC when you need some 3D printing and Toronto when you need tools and the Library of Congress when you need access to millions of scholarly books, libraries are a great idea. Of course if you could afford to do that you could probably just afford to buy stuff and not have to go to the library at all. Inevitably, there were critical comments on the article. Libraries are dying because print is dying and we know this because paper newspapers are dying, or so goes the ...
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Unreinvented Reinvented College Libraries

We’ve been reading nonsense for years about how public libraries are “reinventing” themselves. It seems they’re not alone. Now there’s a story that so big the AP labels it a big story about how college libraries are being “reinvented for the digital age.” The story opens, “Roll over, Melvil Dewey. Behold the 21st-century college library,” because nothing says “digital age” better than a reference to a 60-year-old rock song, and nothing inspires more confidence in reportage on academic libraries than a reference to the guy who designed the Dewey Decimal System, which hasn’t been used by most college libraries for decades. We are now in the presence of knowledge as timely as 1980s headlines. Supposedly, “Hundreds of schools, from Ivy League universities to community colleges, have remade their libraries as colorful hubs of college life.” We don’t get a list of those hundreds of schools, but you should take the reporters’ word for it, because clearly they know a thing or two ...
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The Death, and Life, of Reading Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

What is one to think of a blog post entitled Technology is not the death of deep reading. Did anyone think it was? It’s responding to what is supposedly a hopeful article from NPR about the return of serialized fiction, which was popular back in the nineteenth century. Returning to the nineteenth century isn’t much of an appeal for me, but more power to the publishers. With serialized fiction, people can read a little bit at a time, which will, you know, get them into the habit of reading more books, which supposedly only a quarter of us Americans do. Because, you see, “Technology is not the death of deep reading. By making a few small, conscious efforts to use technology as a means towards reading more, we can re-establish a reading culture in the digital age.” Oh my, where is one to begin. Maybe by asking just what is “deep reading?” Based on the article, it seems to just mean reading, as opposed to skimming, which isn’t reading anyway. It could also mean reading ...
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Librarians Versus Dance

I almost wrote about times when librarians try way to hard to be popular, but it was just too sad. So instead, let’s look at a much happier topic. Which is more important for middle school children: dance instructors or school librarians? That’s the dilemma some people would like a school district in New Jersey to face. Some concerned citizens are complaining that while the school district recently eliminated the school librarians because of a “difficult budget year,” they’re “adding a dance position to the middle schools that has not been part of the schools for a long time.” The persons complaining claim that, “If you have enough money to restore a dance position to the middle schools, you have enough money to restore the library position.” Let’s break this down a little bit. First, if there’s enough money to restore the dance position, there might not be enough to restore the librarian. Do they make the same amount of money? Maybe dance instructors are cheaper, because ...
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A Tale of a Tattletale Rebuffed

That Sci-Hub thing still seems controversial. I can't imagine why. In case you’ve forgotten, Sci-Hub is a service that lets people get free access to copyrighted scholarly articles. It’s based in Russia, maybe, and so far the most effective threat against it is Elsevier suing it...in New York. Since the court in New York doesn’t have jurisdiction in Russia, that’s kind of pointless, so Sci-Hub opponents have to find other ways to attack it. So how does the President of the Association of American Publishers decide to attack Sci-Hub? By sending a strongly worded and slightly absurd letter to the dean of CSU-Long Beach, which employs a librarian who talked about Sci-Hub in a conference presentation. According to the letter, the librarian in question promoted Sci-Hub use at a conference. According to the dean, who listened to a recording of the presentation, no such thing happened, and he came out in full support of the librarian. The librarian himself responded that “Every ...
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Libraries for Librarians, not Readers

If you want to read an article to find out how self-serving and annoying librarians can be, you could do worse than this paean to noisy libraries. Someone complained about the noise level in her library, which based on the comments seems to be a frequent complaint. Then she gathered dozens of comments from other librarians about such complaints. The results are sometimes nauseating. He can’t just put on headphones? Really? That’s your response? Why should the onus be put on the patron? Are libraries there for reading at all anymore? Libraries have evolved. These days they’re culture and community centers where people can gather, enjoy programs and get information. Patrons who expect absolute quiet need to adjust. Apparently they’re not there for reading anymore. They’re “culture and community centers.” People who want quiet to read or study should just “adjust.” That’s fine except for the people who want libraries, because they’re out of luck. Where should those people go? We gave ...
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