Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

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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The Library Politics Problem

Kind Readers sent in two articles last week that seem like they must be connected somehow. One is by a reactionary busybody who wants everyone like him to move with him into monasteries to escape the frightening prospects of what the rest of us just call the world, or something like that. Oh, and he hates it that a library in a city he doesn’t even live in makes any effort to make LGBT folks feel welcome. The other is about the ALA’s alleged “Republican problem,” which in this situation means that Republican members of Congress aren’t signing various documents of support for library funding, and that what the ALA presents as success in getting support is really just success in getting support from Democrats. Someone already did a pretty good job responding to the first article, pointing out that the writer “is full of complaints about what the public library offers to others, but mentions nothing about what it offers to people like him,” listing the many things libraries ...
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Banning Porn and Lots More

In what might be a first, a public library has publicly banned the public viewing of porn on all library computers, and not just the computers in the children’s section. It’s a bold move, and one sure to annoy the ALA. Somehow it doesn’t bother anyone that public libraries don’t buy and display pornographic novels and magazines, if such things still exist, but some people claim that viewing pornography on public library computers is a First Amendment right, including the library director, who “indicated that an adult viewing porn at the library may be an uncomfortable reality of defending First Amendment rights.” Good luck with that case in front of the Supreme Court. While it’s possible that things will go smoothly, I foresee a hiccup, even among those who couldn’t care less whether the library allows porn or not. From the article: “if there's a complaint, library staff can point to the policy to halt the person viewing pornography or other offensive material.” Do you see ...
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A Plan to Save School Librarians

Looks like we can add Delaware to the growing list of cities and states getting rid of their school librarians. School librarian professional morale is probably low, knowing that any year their state or city could decide that it’s not worth paying them twice as much as a paraprofessional, or worse, not worth paying anyone at all. That’s got to be the most dispiriting, including for the children who can no longer use the library. The largest school district in Delaware “no longer has librarians in its six middle and high schools. Students who want access to the stack of books can only go if the teacher takes the class.” That’s something, I guess. The President of the Delaware Association of School Librarians is bravely making her case public. She says that school librarians have master’s degrees, which the public never realizes, and the “technology know-how to help students properly research and document papers and prepare them for college-level research.” We can let academic ...
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Library Culture: Dream into Reality

Despite saying that Library Culture was like “Library 2.0” but less silly and insubstantial, I realized afterwards that Library Culture might still seem insubstantial. What can I say? I was too exhausted from inventing the next important library fad--meme--movement to give much thought to what it would actually be, which is how these things usually go. I went on a bit about how Library Culture would bring all services within the library and give meaning and purpose to everyone’s lives. That might seem like a tall order, but when have librarians ever shrunk from a challenge? Please don’t answer that. The first goal of Library Culture is to get everyone to identify themselves with the goal of libraries, the way they do with the goals of religions or political parties. That should be easy. First, because such goals are always vague. Who doesn’t want salvation or freedom or security or any of the other big words that religions and political parties promise? What will Library ...
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The Solution to All Our Problems

In the last post I suggested there might be something else libraries could be doing about the problems with drug overdoses, homelessness, and other trenchant social problems that affect them besides just stocking up on Narcan and hoping for the best. Here goes. These problems are obviously larger problems than libraries are used to dealing with. Librarians are information professionals, mostly, and once it gets past providing information broadly conceived they don’t have much professionally to add. Or do they? Someone commented on the social triage post: But libraries are and always have been about connecting people to information. So maybe in the past the librarian would have looked up the name of a treatment center, or a food pantry, or a free clinic, and sent the patron there. But as those places become harder and harder to find, why shouldn’t we close the gap between the patron and the information they’re seeking? Why shouldn’t we invite those services inside our ...
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