Annoyed Librarian
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The Uncontroversial Librarian of Congress Controversy

The Washington Post seems to be in a tizzy about the Librarian of Congress vote, or lack thereof, dedicating both an article and an editorial to the matter on the same day a couple of days ago. I'm sure it was that editorial that got the Senate to vote yesterday on Hayden's appointment. Unsurprisingly, the editorial board wanted the Senate to hold a vote so that “Senators could debate in a substantive way” about her qualifications. When I read the phrase “Senators could debate in a substantive way” I almost spit my tea from laughing so hard. I know Washingtonians have a reputation of living in a different world than the rest of the country, but surely that world should know something about Washington politics. Except apparently not. It really is touching that some journalists and editors seem to believe that it’s possible for Senators to debate anything in a substantive way. They probably don’t really believe that, because how naive can you be, but just being willing to ...
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Spacemakers Invade Kansas Schools

As if Kansas didn’t have enough problems with its public school system - from barely being able to pass a budget to keep schools open to slipping in national rankings on math and reading to having hordes of anti-government nuts trying to their public schools - there’s now a new danger: the Spacemakers have arrived and they’re trying to get rid of school libraries by turning them into “makerspaces.” Instead of librarians, or even people remotely interested in reading and literacy, some schools are hiring “innovation specialists.” When that “innovation” turns out to be a wrong turn in a few years, those with the title “innovation specialist” will probably feel a little sheepish. They should feel embarrassed anyway with a goofy title like that. An “assistant superintendent of leadership and learning” loves the idea, because since the students all have computers they don’t need libraries. Because apparently leadership and learning don’t require books and literacy, plus everything’s ...
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Libraries Reinvent Themselves in Very Different Ways

There were recent profiles of public libraries in New York City and San Francisco that provide an interesting contrast. Depending on which source you believe, San Francisco is either the 1st, 1st, or 7th most expensive city in the United States and New York is the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Regardless, they’re both pretty expensive places to live by American standards. So what do we see in their libraries? The profile of NYC libraries would allow one to play library journalism bingo with a high chance of winning. Libraries are reinventing themselves. They’re not just repositories of old books, regardless of the many millions of books the libraries must collectively own. They’re becoming “one-stop community centers” for everyone. They’re all about technology, except when they’re about story times. There’s something for everyone supposedly, except maybe for the people signed up for the coding classes, which have “waiting lists in the thousands.” But the people who can’t get into the ...
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Return of the Privacy Fanatics

Yesterday was the 4th of July, the day Americans honor their tradition of freedom by eating ground up pig product in a tube and blowing stuff up. God bless America! This is the time of year everyone is supposed to get all patriotic, and yet supposedly Americans are all angry about something, or at least the portion of voters who passionately support Presidential candidates who keep yelling about how awful America is or how to make it great again or whatever those candidates are angry about. Are people really that angry? It doesn’t matter. We’ll get a wall across the Mexican border about the same time we get free universal healthcare and higher education, and then everyone can stop being angry, or maybe they’ll keep being angry but just about different things. As I was musing on the anger and unhappiness that supposedly surrounds us this Independence Day, it seemed to me that some of it might be because Americans are just so darned utopian. America is supposed to be the land ...
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An Information Literacy Kerfuffle

Can sitting in freezing conference rooms and then moving outside to oppressive heat cause one to get a summer cold? Well, something sure did, and I’ll go ahead and blame the ALA Conference because it’s been that sort of week. The ALA has announced that 16,587 people attended the conference this summer. That’s only a 27% drop from San Francisco last year. It’s even fewer than in Las Vegas two years ago, and a 37% drop from Chicago three years ago. Is there a lesson in there? Hint to ALA: there is indeed a lesson in there. Build it in terrible conference locations and nobody will want to come. Some supposedly big news from the conference is that the ACRL Board “voted to rescind the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.” For some reason, this has people upset, and hell hath no fury like an instruction librarian scorned. I’ve only seen some of the online fury, but it’s pretty funny. Some librarians are upset because now they’ll have to make new lesson ...
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The Coldest Summer I Ever Spent

Today I shall address some first world problems, which as a librarian in America are really the only kind I ever have. The sweltering heat, the stifling humidity, having to listen to The Eagles as I walked through the convention center--there’s really no indignity I was spared while attending the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. The only serious question to ask is whether Orlando is absolute worst place to have a conference, or if it’s the absolute worst after Las Vegas? They are serious contenders for most awful place on earth, or at least in the United States, but since Las Vegas is even hotter and is premised on shallowness and gullibility, it’s probably the worst. On the other hand, you’re unlikely to be attacked by an alligator in Vegas. So maybe it’s a tie. If you’re lucky enough to stay at one of the hotels connected to the convention center, it’s at least possible never to go out into the sun. The covered walkways were hot, but with little chance of developing ...
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