Annoyed Librarian
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Why Librarians and Not Professors Make the Decisions

Kind Reader sent me this article on the “outrageous mass destruction of books” at the University of California - Santa Cruz. In it, a math professor who was outraged when the Science and Engineering Library moved or removed 80,000 books does a good job of showing why librarians and not professors are in charge of libraries. If professors were in charge of libraries, nothing would ever get done. They’re usually incapable of making hard choices because they can’t see past their own narrow interests, and they get emotional just at the moment when rational decisions have to be made. Consider this bit of maudlin prose: “When my mother died, there was her chair left in the living room, the red chair with tattered holes on the right arm, white stuffing poking through, cigarette marks, sitting in the open sun. The second floor of the library was that chair, that hospital room, cleared out, cleaned, the sun streaming in, empty after the machines had been unplugged.” Yes, a library ...
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Nobody Murdered in the Library

You have to hand it to some people. They know how to exploit the leadup to the Christmas season for maximal ironic effectiveness. For example, whoever stole donated toys from a public library in Albany, OR. What’s even more amazing is how brazen the thief was. A woman walked into the library, said she was there “about the toys,” and someone from the library helped her carry 75 toys from the Toys for Tots donation bin to her car. One could imagine some situations in which maybe stealing a toy or two wouldn’t be quite so bad. Destitute parents hoping to bring their little tyke a moment of joy during a stressful holiday, etc. Of course that’s the sort of thing Toys for Tots already does, so strike that. There’s not really any decent reason to steal toys. Food maybe, but not toys. It takes a special kind of gall to steal donated toys from a library the week before Christmas. And with that kind of ability to con library employees into helping with the theft, I’d say that person has ...
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Whitesplaining and Censorship

Some Virginia schools stopped teaching Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird because the parent of a biracial teenager complained about them, saying “her son struggled to read the racist language. You’d think it was the end of the world to listen to some people. I’m sure the ALA is all over this one complaining that the schools are “censoring” books that are readily available, including Huck Finn for free. But I’m used to that. What I didn’t know is that there were other organizations just as shrill when it comes to fake censorship. The “National Coalition Against Censorship described” the removal “as ‘particularly egregious’. The NCAC slammed the action in a post on its Kids Right To Read website, writing: ‘By avoiding discussion of controversial issues such as racism, schools do a great disservice to their students.’” Oh my, “particularly” egregious. That IS bad. It’s a pity those two statements don’t have anything to do with each other. Not reading Huck Finn in no ...
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Librarians Fear the FBI more than ISIS

Paranoia strikes deep, as some hippies once sang, and it’s been striking deeply into librarians at least since the Patriot Act. The latest bout of paranoia comes from YALSA. It’s called “Libraries and the FBI Guidelines for Preventing Extremism in Schools,” because it thinks those two things have some connection. The blog post  starts okay, stating simple facts like “the FBI has published guidelines for secondary school personnel regarding at-risk behaviors that serve as ‘drivers of violent extremism,’ to facilitate intervention activities that would disengage youth from them.” Doesn’t that seem like a good thing? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a good idea to disengage troubled youth being radicalized before they commit some awful terrorist act. That way everybody wins, except the terrorists of course, but who cares about them. But then things go quickly awry. “While this may seem expedient from the FBI’s law enforcement perspective, there is little published ...
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Uninformed Journalist Criticizes Librarians

It seems I’m not the only one to poke fun at the mess surrounding the ALA Press Release Debacle of 2016, as I’m now calling it. The NY Post has weighed in, with commentary that demonstrates the typical journalistic understanding of libraries. We can start with the headline, “Why quiet-loving librarians can’t shut up about politics.” There’s the stereotype that librarians love quiet, because why else would anyone want to work in a library? They love quiet because they sit around and read all day. The part about shutting up about politics is supposed to contrast with the quiet-loving librarian stereotype, but really it has nothing to do with it. The stereotypical librarian doesn’t shush herself. It’s other people who are supposed to be quiet in the library. That contradiction continues in the first two sentences: “Librarians used to be known for telling everyone to be quiet. Now they can’t seem to shut up.” Great point, except those two sentences have no logical connection to ...
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Some Fake Library News

Kind Reader sent a link to what seems like a good example of fake library news. As far as I can tell it hasn’t been criticized by any of the sophisticated librarians who bemoan how “fake news” has destroyed the world as they thought they knew it. I know it’s just boingboing, but that’s how people get their news these days. Let’s start with the idiotic headline: “Libraries become new domestic terrorism target in Trump wave of hate crimes.” That headline isn’t just misleading, it’s flat out false. Is there any evidence to support this claim of “domestic terrorism” in libraries? Has someone blown up a book tree to protest the “war on Christmas”? There is an attempt to support the headline, but it’s a stupid attempt. Here’s the lead paragraph: Authorities say in recent weeks there has been an unprecedented wave of hate crimes targeting library buildings, books, and the people who read them. The officials told the New York Times they'd rarely seen such before. These crimes are ...
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