Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Saving Us From Ourselves

Lots of people believe that they have a book in them, if only they had the time to sit down and write one. And they believe it would likely be better than the trash they’re currently reading, because nothing helps a budding writer more than reading trash. I’ve even encountered some of these people. I was once asked to read a manuscript by someone who said, “I could write better than this writer!” He couldn’t. Then there are the people who believe they have a book in them and try to write that book. Writing is hard, though, what with sitting down with a blank page and having to fill it with stuff. So they want someone to help them learn to write. If they’re short of time and long on cash, they might decide to enroll in a long-distance MFA program, maybe similar to this one from the U. of All People. Here’s the rationale of such programs: Rationale: The purpose of a low-residency M.F.A. program in creative writing is to empower those individuals who are tired of their boring ...
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The Library as Pod

I ran across this story a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to find out what would happen at a meeting that took place this week. It turns out, not much. The administration of an elementary school in Abilene, Texas is planning to build a new school without a central library. Instead, there will be half a dozen “library pods.” Unfortunately, the pods won’t be as stylish as this egg library. Instead, a “library pod is a community space with communal study areas and mobile bookshelves.” The mobile bookshelves are a nice touch. That way, in a few years when they decide they don’t want any books at all they can just move the shelves away. Some people seem upset by the idea of library pods, but I had trouble figuring out what they were worried about. For example, one concerned person said, “Elementary is where trends are set, where minds are formed, and that's why I'm concerned.” Um, okay. Is the worry that if the kiddies have pods in elementary school, they’ll be scarred for ...
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The Librarian Shortage Revisited

Looking through the library news I noticed two trends at the moment: summer reading programs and librarian retirements. Based on my tiny, unscientific, statistically useless sample, we might be facing that wave of librarian retirements that the ALA has been predicting for the last 15 years. As some of you may remember, the prediction was meant to seduce people into going to library school. Since there would be a wave of retirements in the future, there would be a librarian shortage. Since there would be a librarian shortage, lots of library school graduates would get jobs. Of course it never worked out because it was little more than wishful thinking in the first place. Librarians haven’t been retiring at rapid rates, possibly because they can’t afford to. The librarians that have retired have often been replaced by people with nontraditional library skills, or worse, not replaced at all, which means they either weren’t needed anymore or their former colleagues have to do ...
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Busybodies Among the Young

I’ve been ruminating about this opinion column for a few days, trying to figure out exactly why it bothers me so much. It’s a column in a news outlet from somewhere by a  teenager whose last name seems to be “Homeschooled.” The names people give their kids these days! Anyway, she thinks young adult fiction is a “controversial topic.” Maybe it is. Since I’m not a young adult I don’t read young adult fiction, so I have no idea. The argument, such that it is, seems to be that any YA novels with swearing or sex is bad because she doesn’t like them and they make her feel uncomfortable and the world and libraries would be better off if they didn’t have books like that so she would never have to run across one accidentally. Possibly the oddest question is this one: Why must we go falling for all the new and popular teen fiction, when you have the good ol’ trusty classics such as “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis and ...
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Some Real Censorship

Every once in a while we get a solid reminder of what real censorship is and thus how hyperbolic and misguided the ALA is for claiming that a library removing a book is “censorship.” If you want to read about some actual censorship, you can check out this article about the Chinese government censoring portions of translated books, sometimes in violation of translation contracts and without the authors knowing. The Chinese government has a serious problem with things like criticizing the government. It hasn’t learned the American lesson on free speech, which is that if there’s enough free speech and enough people talking, they drown each other out in a cacophony and nobody listens to them anyway. Some of this actual censorship is hardly surprising. For example, US novelist Paul Auster told PEN he did not discover the changes made to the translated version of his book Sunset Park until after publication in China last November. He said he felt his book was mutilated. The plight ...
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Rise of the Machines

The question that has been on all our minds can now be answered with scientific certainty: will your job be done by a machine in the future? Sure, there are probably other pressing questions that librarians and librarians manque ponder obsessively over. Will I get a job? Why does this job suck so much? Why did I take out $30,000 in student loans to get a job making $30,000 a year? Those kinds of questions. But younger librarians especially should ask whether they’ll just be replaced with a robot in the future. I used the guide to find the answer. “Librarians have a 64.9% chance of being automated.” By that sentence, I assume they mean that the jobs librarians do will be automated, rather than librarians themselves. Although the creation of robolibrarians isn’t that far beyond the imagination. If I’m reading the charts right, and I might not be, if you need to come up with clever solutions, personally help others, or negotiate, you have a lesser chance of your job being ...
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