Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

A UK official just created a Future of Work Commission, presumably so it can discover that in the future work will mostly be done by robots with the rest of us depending on their generosity for some scraps of food. This is the paragraph of the article that stuck out to me: The pace of change can be dizzying. My first job was as a trainee assistant librarian in the Labour Party’s Head Office in South East London. Today librarians are an endangered species in a world of Google searches and Twitter feeds. The sharing economy and online platforms provide mini-jobs for millions. And what we actually do is different. Social media managers, neuro-implant technicians and user experience designers are all 21st Century creations. Then there’s the jobs that we just don’t do at all - robots are drafting contracts and drafting articles as well as driving cars. What is there really that robots can’t do? If robots can draft contracts, they can draft laws, and they probably wouldn’t do any worse ...
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Our Lucky Lack of Censorship

There’s something newsworthy happening this week that a lot of people have been talking about lately, but I can’t remember what it is, so let’s see what’s happening with a librarian in Russia instead. American librarians love to champion themselves as brave defenders of free speech and access to information and all that jazz. They go on like it’s not really easy being in favor of free speech in the country with the freest speech in the world. If those librarians really want to fight for free speech and access to information, they should head to Russia and start working at the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, which might be needing a new librarian soon if the current director goes to prison for having books on the shelves. Supposedly, she acquired a lot of Ukrainian publications and put them on the shelves for people to read. One might think that’s part of the job description of the librarian at a library for Ukrainian literature, but that’s only in places where the ...
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Journalists and Librarians

Someone with the unlikely name of “Greta Van Susteren” has issued a pronouncement on academic libraries and librarians aren’t happy about it, which is understandable because the pronouncement is complete nonsense. Here’s one of the comments: “Colleges should stop building vanity projects like huge libraries and billing students-full libraries are on our smartphones!” Where does one even begin? There are two basic statements there, and both are ridiculous. First, what colleges are building huge libraries these days? Fifty years ago that might have been a thing, but it’s not a thing now. Some campuses might be building new libraries, but it’s hardly the norm. If you were a librarian at most institutions and suggested the campus build a new library building, everyone outside the library would laugh at you. And the new ones that are occasionally built are sometimes libraries in name only. It’s not like they’re housing book stacks. They’re books would be as digital as the ...
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Utopian or Dystopian?

First, Happy Halloween! And now to our scary story for the day. A news story last week exposed the fact that some middle schools and high schools in Houston, TX had lots of bare bookshelves in the school libraries. The bare bookshelves just happened to be in poorer neighborhoods, which I’m sure was a complete coincidence. One of the people interviewed said that “When you go to some of the more affluent schools in the more affluent neighborhoods, you don’t see this problem. You see the problem in the black neighborhoods or the Hispanic neighborhoods.” The response from school officials was defensive but dismissive: “HISD administrators are aware that some middle schools still need books to supplement their school libraries and are searching for ways to meet that need despite significant financial challenges resulting from the state’s school finance system.” If they’re scrambling for money, spending it on libraries for poor kids probably isn’t going to be a top ...
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Stressful Perspectives

An article on how stressful teaching is has made some librarian rounds on the Internet. According to a British professor, teaching is up there with healthcare worker and police officer as high stress occupations. “The hours are long and antisocial, the workload is heavy and there is change for change’s sake from various governments,” he says. Why would librarians care about this at all? Because according to the professor, “Librarians, gardeners and lab biologists tended to be among the least stressed professionals,” leading some librarians to whine about how stressful their jobs are. To be fair, some librarians do have stressful jobs. Some are overextended because of inadequate staffing. Some are stressed because of toxic workplaces. But is being a librarian inherently stressful, especially compared to teaching or policing? It seems unlikely. Standing in front of 30 bored kids four or five times a day and trying to motivate their lazy selves to learn something is ...
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Librarians Not Required

According to the BBC, American libraries are seeking a “21st century model,” and if BBC News reports it, it must be true. The 21st century model of an American library seems to be one that does everything except be a library, although most of them still do that, for now at least. The article mentions all sorts of initiatives. Children can video conference with their imprisoned parents from the library, and a library runs literacy classes in prisons, and in another library “high school students are taking courses in digital media.” OCLC is trying to connect librarians and Wikipedia editors, because it’s “ time librarians went beyond their ‘four walls.” By that statement, you’d think that librarians haven’t discovered the Internet yet. Only it turns out that librarians have discovered the Internet. The problem is that the “general public has latched on to a very backward facing perception of the library as a building full of dusty books.” We know that’s true, because every ...
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