Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Another Problem with Banned Books Talk

One of the many problems with the ALA approach to so-called banned books is that it opens the door to easy criticisms by raging homophobes like this person. The general gist of the criticism is that while librarians talk a good game about intellectual freedom and are against “censorship” and “banning books,” in fact their entire collection development process effectively bans books that librarians disagree with politically. Libraries use Collection Development Policies (CDP’s) to determine which books they will purchase with their limited budgets. CDP’s hold that librarians should purchase only books that have been positively reviewed by two “professionally recognized” review journals. Guess what folks, the “professionally recognized” review journals are dominated by ideological “progressives.” That’s pretty hard to argue with, because she's right and we all know it. It doesn’t even mention that a lot of times it’s other librarians reviewing the ...
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The Myth that Won’t Die

The good news is that according to Wired Magazine your local library will probably have a makerspace soon, because it’s not just cutting edge cities like Chattanooga and Cleveland that will have them. A recent survey “found that 109 libraries in the US had a makerspace or were close to opening one.” Since there are only about 9,000 public libraries in the U.S., this is a definite trend. The slightly odd news is that a library in Canada is advertising for a "manager of welcoming initiatives," which is among the most unusual librarian job titles I've seen. Thanks to the Kind Reader who sent that one in. The bad news is that the notorious librarian shortage myth is back. I cringed at this headline in the Wall Street Journal: Help Wanted: Librarians, Sea Captains. “Oh, please, not again,” I muttered quietly. A report claiming that there would be a librarian shortage because it’s a slow-growing profession was released by some company called the Conference Board, because ...
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A Little Library Farce in the Golden State

I missed this one until a Kind Reader sent it in. I knew a few months ago that the governor of California had nominated an unqualified person to be the state librarian of California. Now it’s looking like the guy will be approved. A panel of five state senators has voted unanimously to send the nomination to the full senate. The story would make a potentially good movie, or at least a movie of the week. Supposedly the law requires the state librarian to be a “technically trained librarian,” which makes some sense. Being in charge of the state library might also require some experience in managing large organizations. So who better to be the state librarian than a reporter and blogger with no training as a librarian but great political connections? It would be bad enough just if the nomination was made. Handing out political largess to friends is how politics is always done. There’s nothing respectable about it, but there’s also nothing surprising. Rewarding yourself and ...
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Views from the Right

Tired of websites offering me too many stories that would change my life for the better or restore my faith in humanity if only I’d click to see what they were, I decided to head over to places that never offer to change your life for the better. First stop, the Weekly Standard, which foolishly offers an opinion about the “bookless library” I wrote about last week. No, that sentence was wrong. It offered a foolish opinion. The Weekly Standard criticizes the library, such as it is, but misses the point. The criticism is that polls show millennials don’t prefer ereaders and that a scientific study showed that people who read on paper are more likely to retain information than people who read the same information on a screen. Or possibly. Here’s the relevant quote from an article in Scientific American: such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading ...
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Bold Librarians Making Hard Choices

There sure are a lot of busybodies in the world, and some of them just aren’t content to let libraries be libraries. The thing the busybodies really can’t stand is seeing books thrown away at libraries, because every book is a precious item as long as you don’t have to keep it in your own home. I’ve written about the weeding busybodies. They pass a dumpster full of old library books and their first thought isn’t to mind their own business or assume there’s a good reason for a library to be throwing away books. No, it’s to believe that the barbarians have stormed the gates and civilization is nearing the end. However, it turns out that even if the books aren’t old library books, busybodies will complain. In Hawaii, a viewer “called to tell KHON2 hundreds of donated books are tossed out weekly at Kaimuki public library and asked us to find out why.” Because it would have been entirely too much trouble to just walk into the library and ask someone. Being the good ...
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Yet Another Bookless Library

Every few months it seems someone gets excited about a “bookless” library, usually the people who work in them. Me, I don’t see what the big deal is. The latest story about one comes from the esteemed Library Journal, where we find out that the brand new Florida Polytechnic University has a library with no physical books. Their professors also don't have tenure, but that's becoming so common it's hardly worth noting anymore. Go ahead, take a look at the photo of that library interior. The library has all the charm of a display office set up at Ikea. In fact, it was that picture that made me realize why I’d never want to work in a bookless library. It’s not that I’m especially wedded to the idea of reading books made of paper. To claim that those are the only “real” books is a form of superstition. Codex, computer, tablet, phone, I don’t really care about the mode of delivery as long as the content's good. And it’s not just that I think ebooks are questionable ...
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