Annoyed Librarian
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Information Failure

A recent Library Link of the Day was to this article about Snopes.com. The headline asks, “Can mythbusters like Snopes.com keep up in a post-truth era?” If Betteridge’s Law of Headlines is to be believed, the answer is of course, “no.” But why would this be a Library Link? I have a couple of possible reasons. The first reason is rather mild. Here’s a partial description of the Snopes founder’s house: “Bookcases line the property: there are tomes on Hitler, Disney, Titanic, J Edgar Hoover, proverbs, quotations, fables, grammar, the Beach Boys, top 40 pop hits, baseball, Charlie Chaplin – any and every topic.” What does that sound like? It sounds like a reference library, the kind that graces just about every town in America. And what about the founder of Snopes himself? “Mikkelson’s restless mind stems from a challenging childhood. His mother was a hoarder and his father moved out, leaving young David to seek solace in reading and obsessively following the LA Dodgers. ‘I was ...
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Bed Bugs @ Your Library

Since libraries don’t tend to have beds in them, one doesn’t normally associate them with bed bugs. It might be time for that to change. Over the past month or so, bed bugs have been found coast to coast in libraries in Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri, Texas, California, and even in London, so this is an international scourge. The article from England Canada says bed bugs in libraries are not uncommon, the article from California says they are uncommon, and now I just don’t know what to believe. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of commonality. Some of the bed bugs show up in upholstered chairs in computer labs, others scurry from books in book returns. When it happens, librarians act quickly to implement their library’s bed bug infestation plan. I’m not even sure if my library has such a plan, but it sure will from now on if I have anything to do about it. What can libraries do to prevent this? Bed bugs like to hide in harborages near their hosts, i.e., humans. ...
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Library Daycare

In Teton County, Wyoming the library board decided “that children younger than 8 must be accompanied by a caregiver who is at least 12” in order to combat the swarms of unattended children that descend upon the library after school every day and harass other library patrons by being children. One person complained that “It used to be a lot more quiet, a really congenial atmosphere full of kids really wanting to learn,” but now it’s so loud she can’t tutor there, which is amusing considering the library where people were complaining about the tutors taking up too much space. “I think parents are using it like free daycare,” she said. Another complained that “It’s not the librarians’ responsibility to babysit your kids,” and that she doesn’t “think it’s fair to the librarians to ask them to add that to their job. It’s the parents’ responsibility.” The babysitter complaint was common, although some understood “the position some families may find themselves in with limited ...
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The Political Powerlessness of Libraries

A Canadian librarian published an essay a couple of weeks ago about the “surprising political power of libraries.” Not sure I’m convinced. The opening anecdote is a pretty good example of something, but perhaps not the political power of libraries. A practicum student noticed something funny. “Did you know that our Health display is all diet books? All of them!” I’ve been working here for two months, but I didn’t know that. That leads to the conclusion that, “Without intending to, simply by grabbing the most accessible books in the relevant sections, we have created the impression that health is synonymous with fad diets.” That seems like a sensible conclusion, but what should one take away from that? Perhaps many things. First, for a lot of people, health is about fad diets. There’s no secret to good, or at least decent, health. Eat, drink, and exercise moderately, and don’t smoke. That’s pretty much it. You’ll probably be okay until you die anyway because everybody dies in ...
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Fire Librarians for Recommending Books, says State Senator

It’s a bit disconcerting to watch people react negatively to YA literature who seem to know nothing about teenagers. The Virginia state senator in this article seems to be one of those people. Earlier there was some brouhaha about summer reading lists for middle and high school students in Chesterfield County, VA. Some parents complained that “some books on the lists ‘pornographic’ and filled with ‘vile, vile, nasty language.’” The first charge is likely nonsense. While “pornography” etymologically means writing about sexual intercourse, not all writing about sex is porn. Since sex is a part of life, and literature is about life, some literature writes about sex. One has to be rather benighted to not understand the difference between literature and porn or to believe that teenagers know nothing about sex. As to the second complaint, that seems likely. On the other hand, anyone who thinks teenagers don’t hear that kind of language all the time in school and life has never been ...
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More Trouble in the Sunflower State

I think I’ve figured out what’s going on in Kansas, and why the journalists at the Kansas City Star got so excited about Spacemakers taking over the school libraries. They’re in denial. Or at least they are if they’re like the journalists at the Wichita Eagle who published this story about Wichita school librarians. The headline, at least at the time I’m writing this, says, “School librarians: It’s about more than just books.” That seems to have been a replacement headline. The first clue is the pronoun number disagreement. We have the plural “librarians,” but the singular “it’s.” A grammatically proper headline would have been, “School librarians: they’re about more than just books.” Another indication is that the headline is different from the page title, visible by viewing the page source or possibly in the tab at the top of your browser: “<title>More Wichita schools replacing librarians with noncertified staff.” The reason I speculate that the journalists are ...
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