Annoyed Librarian
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The Fraying Macrocosm

A Kind Reader sent the following article about the library situation in Humboldt County, CA, with a small concern that the topic is beating a dead horse. It’s yet another installment in the now popular genre of articles on libraries dealing with drug overdoses, etc., which seems to be expanding daily, both the problems and the articles. The microessay on the meaning of “microcosm” might be useful for some people, but my readers can probably skip it. In Humboldt County, the library director thinks the library is “a microcosm “of what’s going on in a given society,” and if so the macrocosm, at least in Humboldt County, is a mess. The question is still open about whether the macrocosm is messy or not except in some locations. Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco keep showing up as places where the libraries have to deal with drug overdoses, such as in this article sent in by another Kind Reader. But if you’ve been following the stream of news articles, you might notice that ...
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Copyright Infringers be Warned!

The big publisher news last week that’s sure to make nobody happy in the long run was that Elsevier won a lawsuit against Sci-Hub and $15 million in damages for copyright infringement. In case you don’t follow these things, and unless you work for Elsevier you probably don’t, Sci-Hub is the site that lets people download journal articles for free, the only hitch being the articles are mostly taken from subscription databases owned by commercial science publishers. Ooops. Those articles are apparently worth a lot of money to someone, because “in May, Elsevier gave the court a list of 100 articles illicitly made available by Sci-Hub and LibGen, and asked for a permanent injunction and damages totalling $15 million.” $150,000 per article is nothing to sneeze at, unless it’s allergy season and you just can’t help yourself. Anyway, the judge agreed, and so now Elsevier can rest content in the knowledge that Sci-Hub owes them $15 million for copyright infringement. I wish somebody ...
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Social Triage @ Your Library

There is apparently no end to the problems librarians are supposed to deal with these days. As the lead sentence of an article on mental health first aid training for librarians says, “The job description of a librarian goes far beyond recommending books and organizing shelves -- they're often the first responders when someone needs help in the library.” We could certainly quibble about the job description. Recommending books and organizing shelves haven’t exhausted the job description of librarians pretty much ever. Somebody, after all, has to catalog all those books, but catalogers are forgotten so often they’re probably used to it by now, if libraries even still have catalogers. And they are often first responders when someone needs help in the library. Need help finding information? Ask a librarian! Need help clearing a printer jam? Ask a librarian! The help provided was never insignificant, but it was at least once upon a time confined to things related to goods and ...
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Stroking the Male Ego

If there’s anything I’ve learned with this blog, it’s that you can’t please everyone, which is why I don’t even bother. Not pleasing people gives them something to complain about, and people love to complain. If people didn’t love to complain, social media would wither and possibly die. Some of the complaints and criticisms I understand, but some of them I don’t. For example, one of my lessons from last week was: Unless you’re a middle class white librarian, and probably a male librarian at that, don’t do anything that might get your attitude labelled as “adversarial and incorrigible.” Some actions might include: not smiling enough around people who think you should smile; talking when someone else would rather talk; continuing to talk when someone else has interrupted you repeatedly; talking; questioning anything. Someone left the following comment regarding that lesson, and I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be ironic or not: “It isn’t pleasant being a male librarian, so I don’t ...
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Survival of the Fittest, and We’re All Pretty Fit

It’s always nice when people praise public libraries, even if those people are librarians. It’s good to know that at least someone is willing to go on the record to say the kind of thing most people would never dare say: libraries are good things. No, wait, everyone is willing to say that. Probably even most of those people in Oregon who keep voting to shut down their public libraries think public libraries are good in the abstract, as long as someone else is paying for them. And that’s the tricky part, who pays for them? Those folks in Oregon thought the federal government should keep paying for them in the roundabout way it had been doing for years, but weren’t willing to pay for libraries themselves. The rest of us? Well, libraries tend to be popular. Taxes to support them often pass. Lot of public libraries, the Carnegie ones, were founded only because the community was willing to continue supporting them after Carnegie donated the startup funds. But now, as many ...
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Lessons from the Cranky Librarian Debacle

If you’ve missed the story of the Cranky Librarian, then you can catch up here and here. It’s quite a tale. By the way, that’s not this Cranky Librarian, who sprang to life and then immediately fizzled in 2005, or this one who started strong in 2007 and had a good run before succumbing to blog paralysis in 2015, or this one who Tumbld oh so briefly in 2016. Cranky librarians, we hardly knew ye. No, it’s this Cranky Librarian, head of adult services at the Evanston (IL) Public Library, and it’s her debacle from which we have so much to learn. You can read the long sordid history in the articles, but in brief: in 2014, Cranky Librarian invited a pro-Palestinian author to speak at the library. The director cancelled the speech. The author cried censorship and created a PR mess. The director uncancelled the speech. Three years later, Cranky Librarian commented on Facebook about a flyer claiming the library had “Free & Equal Access for All,” saying, “Some organizations are ...
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