Annoyed Librarian
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The Agony of Choice

ALA elections are right around the corner, and the Presidential election should be a hoot. If you haven’t noticed or didn’t care to, here’s some information on the four candidates. That’s right, four. Usually the election is a contest between two librarians most people have never heard of, with votes being cast for such reasons as how they look in their photos, what sort of librarians they are, whether their name sounds vaguely familiar, and other equally irrelevant issues. It’s not like it really matters who is President of ALA anyway. This year there are four candidates because two of them are write-in candidates. Apparently they were thinking, “Hey, you know what the ALA leadership needs? More white men!” And they promptly volunteered to take up the slack. It would be all too easy to criticize one, and perhaps more, of the candidates, but why bother. The basic question is, why are they doing this, especially the write-ins? There might be some people who think that ...
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What Mosul Doesn’t Teach Us

A Kind Reader sent me a link to this article, which is supposed to be about the destruction of the Mosul Public Library by ISIS. I considered writing about that topic last week, but there’s not a lot to say other than, “[stunned silence]”. So I was stunningly silent. But someone at Flavorwire is more able to draw relationships between that destruction and public library issues in less benighted areas. They’re not good relationships, but when you have a deadline you write what you can, I guess. The comparison is with the Manchester (England) Central Library, which engaged in a somewhat controversial weeding project. The library disposed of 240,000 books, many of them old reference books from what I can tell from the article. That’s a lot of books, but over the years I’ve noticed that most, but not all, weeding controversies are only controversial for people who think that a library building is like a TARDIS. For example, here’s the overwrought quote from one of the ...
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You Won’t Believe What this Woman Did in the Library

Since this is at least the second time such a thing has happened, that makes it a trend, at least according to the Internet sites that would use headlines like the one I just used. And if it’s a trend, that means lots of people are doing it, and if lots of people are doing it, it’s probably either foolish or stupid, or maybe both. Yes, I’m talking about live sex shows in the library. First we found out about one at that university in Oregon. Now it’s in public libraries in Windsor, Ontario. Last time I was somewhat sympathetic, in that sending a young woman to jail for exposing herself indecently to nothing but a webcam seemed a bit harsh. Sure, she was in a library, but it’s not like other people in the library were staring at her. It was just helpless perverts on the Internet. This one is a little weirder. First, there were a LOT of live sex shows. Over 50, according to the article. That shows a fierce determination, but also a lot of stupidity, because the more times ...
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Going To and Fro

It’s no secret that British libraries are under attack. The latest ones are apparently the Bristol libraries, which according to one editorial might be entering their “final chapter,” because British news writers are just as cliched as American ones. Although closing libraries doesn’t amuse me, some of the arguments for doing so often do. In a response to the editorial about final chapters, there are some typically bad ones. First, I love it when someone uses a stupid phrase like “fast moving digitalised 21st century,” because the 21st century isn’t moving any faster than the 20th century. It maybe just feels that way. If you don’t agree, I don’t really mind, but compared to the invention of the airplane, the television, the radio, the computer, and the increasing popularity and access to automobiles and telephones, the 21st century is pretty tame so far. Even the Internet is a 20th century invention. The 21st century has so far given us smartphones. I like smartphones, but ...
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RA on the Decline?

Public libraries have been promoting their services for a very long time. Here’s a recent example, of the library in Topeka, KS promoting its reader’s advisory service. There’s nothing special about the article. Perusing the library news over the years I’ve found numerous examples almost just like it. The only thing I wonder about is why this is news at all. Reader’s advisory services have a long history, as summarized in this Wikipedia article. For some reason I was guessing the services started up in the 1930s, but some go back into the 1870s, with the 1920s seeming to be the era in which they grew popular. This is a service that’s been around for over a century, possibly even at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, which has been around since the 1870s itself. You might say it grew up along with RA services. So why is this still news? Isn’t this like writing a news article with the headline, “Libraries have books to read”? With some news articles about ...
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Libraries Don’t Need the Homeless

There’s been a lot written about homeless people in public libraries over the years. I’ve probably written some of it myself but am too lazy to search the archives. However, I’ve now seen what is for me at least a new argument. But just as Bailey needs his library, the library needs him: In this digital age, many people who used to depend on libraries can find what they need online without leaving home. Menaced by budget cuts, many public libraries are effectively failing to justify their relevance, reducing their hours year after year. Bailey is a homeless man in Nashville who spends most of his days at a public library. He’s obviously been spending some of that time boning up his chutzpah on the Internet, which is apparently how he and many other homeless people in the library spend their time. There’s a lot about providing Internet access in the article, but not much about providing anything libraries typically provide, which probably pleases plenty of librarians who find ...
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