Annoyed Librarian
Search LibraryJournal.com ....
Subscribe to LJ
Inside Annoyed Librarian

The San Jose Blues

It has been said, possibly by Donald Trump, that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. For librarians, this story about fines at the San Jose Public Library might be an exception, because it plays up the human interest angle quite well. The headline is provocative: “In San Jose, Poor Find Doors to Library Closed.” But headlines are often provocative, especially in the era of clickbait “journalism,” and the contents rarely warrant the headline. In this case, though, they kinda do. An 8-year-old girl lost some library books and the library sent a collection agency after her parents for a hundred bucks. People with over $10 in fines can’t check out books OR use any of the library computers, because why not. It would require the tremendous effort of just letting people sign up to use the computers regardless of residency to fix that problem, and it’s just not worth it. “Public” means different things to different people, I suppose. And check out these statistics: In ...
Read More >>

The Library of Congress and Illegal Aliens

Last week the Library of Congress announced it would no longer use the the subject heading “illegal aliens” and instead would use a combination of “non-citizens” and “unauthorized immigrants.” Although apparently not quite what they wanted, this change mostly appeased a group of protesters at Dartmouth who were offended by the phrase “illegal aliens.” If the LoC gets in the business of changing everything that offends a group of college students these days, they’re going to be very busy indeed. Anyway, the group issued a statement. "We call on both politicians and media outlets to follow the precedent set by the Library of Congress. It is way past time that we all recognize that referring to immigrants as 'illegal' is an offensive, dehumanizing term and that there is no excuse to continue using it." According to a story in the Smithsonian magazine about this, the term “illegal” to describe people has already been falling out of favor with news outlets, so anybody who cares is ...
Read More >>

Statistics and Obsolescence

I always enjoy it when I find silly writing about libraries from other countries because it shows that Americans aren’t as uniquely ridiculous as they sometimes seem to be. For example, this British librarian, or former librarian, writes in the Telegraph that libraries are obsolete so we shouldn’t mourn their closure, which is apparently a much more common event in Britain than in America. Why are they obsolete? Oh, the usual suspects, mostly the Internet and cheap books. You can always tell how insular, or in today’s politicized lingo “privileged,” people are by the kinds of arguments they make about libraries. We can, and should, still love books, but we should not be sentimental about libraries, because they are a means to an end. Access to information is now widely available via smartphones: three quarters of us have one, it was one in five in 2010. I’m not sure where the statistics come from. According to Pew, not quite two thirds of Americans owned smartphones in 2015. ...
Read More >>

Ministers and Administers

Idealists are sweet, especially when they are idealistic about libraries. Whenever I see someone talk about libraries as “clinics of the soul,” I just want to pinch their little cheeks with joy. Pakistan and America might be a world away on a lot of topics, but both have libraries that inspire people to argue that they should be a lot better than they are now. They should be reinvented. It seems a lot of people want to reinvent the library. The only problem with this is that all the possible reinventions contradict each other. Librarians talk about maker spaces, and library patrons talk about books. Here’s an example from Pakistan, where a student has been studying at the major public libraries in Lahore. Despite being packed with people studying for exams, he feels that “given the role of a public library in any society with respect to a common citizen, the above mentioned libraries are not being utilised to an optimum level.” The best part is the description of what ...
Read More >>

Books for People Who Don’t Read

It seems unlikely that the level of fiction available in English could get any lower, but darn it James Patterson is going to try. And since that guy is a really successful producer of fiction for the masses, he’ll probably succeed. To date, he has published 156 books that have sold more than 325 million copies worldwide. But Mr. Patterson is after an even bigger audience. He wants to sell books to people who have abandoned reading for television, video games, movies and social media. That seems like an impossible goal, though, for a lot of reasons. Reading, even reading the fluffiest of fluff, requires a mental engagement that’s different than passively watching a movie or the immersive experience of contemporary video games. Lots of people don’t like it. That’s why they barely read novels after they finish school. The idea is to write short novels with fast plots that can be read in a single sitting. That’s not saying a lot since people seem to be able to sit for hours watching ...
Read More >>

Chasing Pirates

The latest excitement in the scholarly publishing industry is the rise in prominence of Sci-Hub, a website that makes “some 47 million research articles” available for free to anyone who can manage to track down the current Internet address. It seems like a site that’s been around for a while, but few people had heard about it until it was sued. Streisand effect and all that. A professor writing at Times Higher Education suggests that “the scholarly publishing community has been hit by its own version of Napster.” What is decidedly not Napster about this case is that the circulation of research is at issue, and not the music of Metallica. Alexandra Elbakyan, the researcher from Kazakhstan who started Sci-Hub, makes this very point about Napster and the need for change. Musicians receive royalties for music sold; researchers need access to each others’ work, for which they largely do not receive royalties. There might be some other differences, but we’ll get to that. The New ...
Read More >>

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE