Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Partial Librarians and Impartial Libraries

Last week a reader left the following a comment on my post Librarians and Journalists: Libraries have for a long time leaned to the left. Just take a look at ALA and its emphasis on librarians becoming “change agents” and “community facilitators.” Sounds an awful lot like “community organizer.” The days of librarians claiming to be impartial are over. In some ways it seems pretty obvious. Right-wing librarians are an anomaly, for some understandable reasons. If you want to exclude immigrants from public services, for example, you’re unlikely to go into a profession that ideally welcomes all users equally. We know they don’t really welcome all users equally, because nobody ever lives up to ideals, but the hope is there for a lot of librarians. What I noticed about the comment, though, is how three different things get conflated: librarians, libraries, and the ALA, and I think we can understand more about all three by separating them. Librarians tend to be pretty left-wing. A ...
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The Perfect and the Good, or at Least the Better

Kind Reader sent this article on racist librarians a couple of weeks ago. It covers the same topic an LJ article also covered this month. If you haven’t followed this topic that’s of little interest except to well meaning librarians who feel guilty about their existence, the gist is that some European social scientists decided to spend a lot of time trying to find out -  and this is not a joke - “whether racial discrimination exists in access to public services in the United States.” Whatever else this study shows, it shows that European social scientists can be  just as useless as American social scientists, and they spend time and money proving the bloody obvious. I mean, seriously, how ignorant about either the United States or human nature do you have to be to believe this is a question worth asking, much less wasting any resources trying to answer. The conclusion, and it’s a shocker, is that racial discrimination probably exists “in access to public services in the ...
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Librarians and Journalists

The other AL linked to this article in its weekly mailing of mostly tedious stuff praising libraries. It compares two polls that show how much Americans love libraries and hate journalists. “What do librarians have that journalists don’t?” it asks. It also covers the obvious answers: libraries are free to the public and they do a lot more than provide news and information. After reading the article, I looked back at my post from a few months ago about how librarians are superior to clickbait journalists. Here were the ways I listed: Librarians don’t compromise themselves for money. Librarians serve the public good. Librarians educate people. Librarians have no reason to be ashamed of their work. Librarianship is an ancient profession Librarians care about what they do. People tax themselves to pay for libraries and librarians. How many of those apply to “real journalists”? In general, they don’t compromise themselves for money in the direct way that clickbait ...
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Do Librarians have BS Jobs?

What would the world of librarians look like in a world without work? Wait, I’m not even sure that question even makes sense. If we were in a “post work” world like the one described in this article, would there be librarians at all? Or would there be librarians who worked 10-15 hours a week because that was all the work that they needed to do to make everything run? Or are we already at that point, and the rest of the hours we put in are just for show? In that case, maybe librarian jobs are BS jobs, as described in this article I somehow missed until the Guardian linked to it. The author, an anarchist anthropologist, wonders why there are so many jobs that are mostly useless, employing so many people who hate their jobs? Why don’t we have less work now that we have so much productive technology? It’s not working out the way it’s supposed to if capitalism makes sense. But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue ...
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Very Much Not in Awe

Kind Reader sent along this very, very long article on “vocational awe” among librarians. The gist is that librarians see themselves as saints and saviors, libraries as sacred places, and that viewing themselves and their libraries in this way leads to job creep, poor pay, and burnout. There, I just saved you a half hour’s reading time. Mostly it acknowledges what any librarian with a remotely critical sense can easily see, and indeed I’ve been criticizing libraries for many years, completely unaffected by “vocational awe.” That awe, to the extent that it exists, seems more like something cultivated in library school than experienced among actual librarians in the workplace, but as the author points out, a librarian actually wrote a book called “Sacred Stacks,” and played up the relationship between libraries and religious callings. Ugh. Despite the many points of agreement, I do have a few quibbles. According to the article, “the original libraries were actual monasteries, ...
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The Discrimination of the Market

On my post about no more promotions, someone commented that to move up you have to move away, or words to that effect. Was there a time when that wasn’t true? Moving away to move up in libraries could also be a natural consequence of the librarian shortage myth, at least in places where that wasn’t traditionally true. But it’s been true for lots of good librarian jobs for a long time. There’s a paradox involved. Often jobs for which one moves away pay pretty well. The sales manager is transferred to Omaha but gets a nice raise, for example. For most library jobs that’s not true. If you leave library school and aren’t willing to move anywhere in the country depending on the job, you’ve already hampered yourself in the market. However, if you do move across the country, you probably won’t get paid very much, especially if you’re just out of library school. Add to that the libraries that don’t pay moving expenses, and you’ll be out a couple thousand dollars moving across ...
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