Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Doomed Journals and More

The big prediction in scholarly publishing in the last week was pretty big indeed: that the success and comprehensiveness of Sci-Hub will doom subscription journals. If you don’t remember, Sci-Hub is the website that provides free but illegal access to scholarly journal articles that Elsevier keeps suing in courts that have no jurisdiction in Russia, where Sci-Hub is apparently located. Why does Elsevier keep tilting at that windmill? According to the study predicting the doom of subscription journals, “For some major publishers, such as Elsevier, more than 97% of their catalog of journal articles is being stored on Sci-Hub’s servers—meaning they can be accessed there for free.” The 3% are probably journals nobody wants anyway, like the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, a vanity journal Merck paid Elsevier to publish a few years ago. It’s probably pretty easy to cancel your Elsevier subscriptions, as several German universities are doing, if your researchers ...
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Free Speech for Nazis

Everything that’s wrong with the contemporary world can be inferred from the opening sentence to this article: “A memorial for Barbara Kulaszka, a controversial lawyer who made a career defending Holocaust deniers, took place at a public library in Toronto on Wednesday, despite calls for its cancellation.” Okay, maybe not everything, but at least one thing. And no, it’s not that controversial lawyers have memorials at public libraries. That’s a little weird, but maybe the neo-Nazis were kicked out of every decent place to hold a memorial. It’s the last phrase: “despite calls for its cancellation.” What? Some people got outraged over something completely legal and within the bounds of library activity, and even TWEETED their outrage, and nothing was done to sooth their fragile egos? My god, what is this world coming to?!?! Some of the criticism is ridiculous. “Critics of the event said it was wrong for the library to give neo-Nazis and white supremacists a platform.” A ...
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Librarians and Blue Whales

Kind Reader sent in a remarkable exchange from something called the “ALA Think Tank,” which is apparently neither a think tank nor affiliated with the ALA, but librarians are a wacky bunch. At the risk of making people sad about the current state of the world, the topic is once again suicide and libraries. The original poster is very concerned about the latest dangerous trend for teens that hardly exists outside the imagination of the easily panicked and the creators of clickbait. The Blue Whale Challenge was started in Russia by a man wanting to manipulate teen girls into committing suicide. He has been arrested and has confessed. It is not a hoax. If you haven’t heard of the Blue Whale Challenge, it’s another in a long line of supposed dangers to or from teens that usually follow the same pattern: 1) some teen does something bad (murder, assault, suicide, etc.), 2) someone else alleges that the bad thing is caused by some larger force (satanism, “knockout game,” blue ...
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Preventing Suicides @ Your Library

I was going to write about “racial fatigue” at the ALA Annual Conference, where a librarian of color got fatigued being around so many nice white ladies explaining things to her and white men complaining about being minorities in the profession, the poor dears. It could have been an interesting discussion, but after looking at the reader comments on the topic as it made its way around the right-wing echo chamber, I was so disgusted by the vitriol, hatred, and bigotry that I couldn’t go any further. So instead we can talk about something lighter, like suicide. We’ve seen how libraries are training staff to deal with overdoses, homeless people, and the mentally ill, but now the San Jose Library is learning to deal with suicide, or at least prevent it, or at least prevent it in the library. In February, “a 36-year-old San Jose man shocked patrons and employees of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. library by climbing over a seventh-floor railing and plunging to his death in the ...
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The Library Politics Problem

Kind Readers sent in two articles last week that seem like they must be connected somehow. One is by a reactionary busybody who wants everyone like him to move with him into monasteries to escape the frightening prospects of what the rest of us just call the world, or something like that. Oh, and he hates it that a library in a city he doesn’t even live in makes any effort to make LGBT folks feel welcome. The other is about the ALA’s alleged “Republican problem,” which in this situation means that Republican members of Congress aren’t signing various documents of support for library funding, and that what the ALA presents as success in getting support is really just success in getting support from Democrats. Someone already did a pretty good job responding to the first article, pointing out that the writer “is full of complaints about what the public library offers to others, but mentions nothing about what it offers to people like him,” listing the many things libraries ...
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Banning Porn and Lots More

In what might be a first, a public library has publicly banned the public viewing of porn on all library computers, and not just the computers in the children’s section. It’s a bold move, and one sure to annoy the ALA. Somehow it doesn’t bother anyone that public libraries don’t buy and display pornographic novels and magazines, if such things still exist, but some people claim that viewing pornography on public library computers is a First Amendment right, including the library director, who “indicated that an adult viewing porn at the library may be an uncomfortable reality of defending First Amendment rights.” Good luck with that case in front of the Supreme Court. While it’s possible that things will go smoothly, I foresee a hiccup, even among those who couldn’t care less whether the library allows porn or not. From the article: “if there's a complaint, library staff can point to the policy to halt the person viewing pornography or other offensive material.” Do you see ...
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