Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Another Year Gone

Happy New Year! I’m glad it’s almost here. What a long, strange year we’ve finished. I might think of it as the year of engaging the outsiders, but that was only in a few posts and it’s a terrible name for a year so I probably won’t really. There did seem to be a lot of people who wanted to set me straight on whatever they were passionate about. Those people who hate weeding library collections, for example. The most fanatical were probably the gun-toting folk who don’t feel safe walking into a public library without being armed to the teeth. Some of the emails and the more outrageous, and unapproved, comments on that were hilarious, if you don’t mind laughing at aggressive monomaniacs, which I don’t. They kind of reminded me of the science-hating homeschoolers from a couple of years ago, in that there seems to be a network of people with nothing better to do with their time than trolling social media with their obsessive commentary. Fascinating stuff from a sociological ...
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More Bad Library Reporting

British public libraries are in trouble it seems, at least according to new government report. You can read all about it in this odd news story. The report claims “public libraries in England will close unless they change and provide the type of spaces that people want to use,” and that includes providing free Internet access. That’s not the odd part, though. The oddity of the story is the way the report is spun in the news story. The story is from the Southern Daily Echo, a tabloid based in Southampton, the largest city in the county of Hampshire in the south of England, and apparently it’s a little bit provincial. The headline at the time of writing is: “A Government report says libraries will close unless they provide free internet access.” But the original headline, still embedded in the URL and in the photo caption, was: “Future of Hampshire libraries 'depends on Wi-Fi'.” If the future of Hampshire libraries depends on Wi-Fi, then it seems they’re doing okay, because the head ...
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Satire or Not?

I can’t decide if the following article is satire or not, so I’ll leave it to the readers to decide. Take a look at this listicle from the Guardian: Seven things I’ll miss about the traditional library, with the subtitle: "If they’re going to insist on monetising and modernising libraries, it’ll be the sights, sounds, smells and texts that I miss." Just to get it out of the way, the seven things are: Vintage textures Microfiche Sexual frisson 19th-century methods Silence Librarians Books The latter two most librarians agree with. The fifth one a lot will agree with. The first four are just weird. For example, of vintage fabrics: “Only in public libraries will you find that particular blend of colours and surfaces that bitterly recall the aesthetic sins of days past, specifically the era stretching from the 1940s to the 1970s.” There’s a reason for that. It’s because libraries often barely get enough money each year to buy new books and pay the staff, much less ...
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Drama in Vermont

Sometimes I think it would be lovely to slip away to a small town somewhere, or even an “unincorporated community village,” and lead a quiet, retiring life running the small local library, getting away from the noise and the urban drama. I could start my own homemade marmalade company, fall in love with the local veterinarian, and live happily ever after. And then I read an article like this one about the West Hartford, VT library director quitting just a few months after she started, and just a few weeks before the reopening of the library that has been closed since 2011 because of hurricane damage. The reason: a “difficult work environment.” Ugh. I can live in a city and find a difficult work environment. I don't need to venture into the idyllic countryside. She was pretty public about the departure, too, which I guess is a good thing. A widely distributed letter “accused board members of violating their own bylaws; she cited bylaws that prevent trustees from acting on matters in ...
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No Uniformity Please

From Oldham, England comes a curious story about uniforms in libraries. It seems that despite budget problems, the town council would like to purchase uniforms and require all library employees to wear them. Presumably any uniform would be more tasteful than what a lot of librarians in the U.S. wear to work, but that’s a different issue. Someone afraid to speak on the record, which seems to be common to libraries these days, says that requested budget cuts “will involve cuts to services to residents and the loss of jobs. At this time the libraries intend to introduce a uniform for it’s staff — a totally unnecessary waste of money.” That’s a pretty compelling argument, unless the town council adds insult to injury by requiring the library staff to purchase their own uniforms out of their huge salaries. The arguments for uniforms put forward by one councilor are mostly irrelevant. For example, “Other public-sector bodies and partner organisations... have employee uniforms.” Well, ...
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Librarians: the Latest Pawns in the Debate

If there’s a more contentious conflict in international affairs than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then I don’t want to know about it. It’s too depressing to think about. From an outside perspective, it’s easy enough to understand at least some of the issues and motivations of both sides, but most vocal people on the matter tend to divide one way or another, and one of the casualties is careful thought. For example, the dubious conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. That’s a convenient way to sway the debate away from the real problem, which is perhaps so complicated by this time that there’s no good solution possible, no matter how many American Presidents want to add such a solution to their legacies. The political statements of librarians have entered the conflict now, because several of them have signed a document calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions. The document is by Middle East Studies scholars and librarians, but mostly not librarians. They did ...
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