Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Potentially Partisan Weeding

A comment on a post a couple of weeks ago caught my eye. I’m pulling it slightly out of context: If your collection becomes politically or racially biased, perhaps that's an accurate reflection of your community- or at least how your community uses the library.  IF it was an unpopular collection, then wouldn't they just be weeded- leaving the shelves completely empty?  Would you rather full shelves of stuff people don't want to read, or empty shelves because everything is checking out?  Likewise, do you want pristine books in mint condition precisely because they've not been opened, or a collection of well used materials that look... well used? I hadn’t really thought much before about the obvious conflict between a rigorous weeding policy based on circulation and the policy from the Library Bill of Rights that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.” However, there’s definitely potential for a conflict ...
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More Ways Not to Argue for Libraries

I’ve written a number of times about the closing of British libraries. Usually I’m sympathetic to the arguments. Everyone likes libraries, after all, and if they don’t then they’re just mean people who should be ignored. But the logic of the public library campaigners profiled in this article is a little bizarre. For example: because visits to public libraries have declined 30% over ten years, the government should spend more money on libraries. Ummm, okay. In the world we’ve entered through the library looking glass, there are no arguments for doing anything other than spending more money on libraries. If people are visiting libraries, spend more money. If they aren’t visiting libraries, spend more money. If people aren’t reading books, buy more books. For these campaigners, is there any possible argument for not spending more money on libraries? If nobody ever visited libraries, would that mean that all the money should go to them? That’s the general bizarre argument, ...
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Libraries Aren’t About Books Anymore. Sad.

Kind Reader sent me this article about the launching of a “makerspace” at a Niagara College Library in Canada. Part of the pitch for the importance of the makerspace will probably sound familiar to librarians these days: “Libraries have changed so much over the years and are no longer about books anymore.” Notice it’s not “no longer just about books,” but no longer about books at all. Even more exciting is that the library is now a “space that encourages innovation and creation. We want to inspire.” Because nobody’s ever been innovative or creative in a regular old library with books before. A lot of librarians don’t know that for some people, like their faculty members, the library is a place for books and articles they need for their research. That’s pretty much it. In most college and university libraries, if you’re not supplying the books and articles your faculty wants, you’re not doing part of what should be your job. But that’s most academic or research libraries. If ...
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In the Bleak Midwinter

According to this article, the recent ALA meeting in Atlanta “had the lowest attendance of any Midwinter Meeting in 25 years,” following the conference last June that “had the lowest attendance in 22 years.” The speculation is that there was too much competition, particularly from Women’s Marches around the country. That seems unlikely. The people who didn’t go to Atlanta probably wouldn’t have gone anyway, for multiple reasons, but the main reason is probably the pointlessness of the Midwinter Meeting, perhaps followed by the fact that Atlanta is a terrible conference city, and Orlando is even worse. What’s wrong with Atlanta, you might ask if you’ve never been there for a conference? The downtown is a wasteland at night and on the weekends, for one thing, and one of the odd things about the ALA conferences and meetings is that the bulk of them take place on the weekend. And the less said about Orlando, the better. But back to the Midwinter Meeting. What is the point of ...
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Ambiguous Trumpian Graffiti @ Your Library

Since there are people who never tire of getting angry over Trumpian graffiti, here’s a brief story from Illinois, where, we are told, “Graffiti of the Trump name and a swastika was found in a bathroom at Northbrook Public Library last week, the fifth such incident at the library in the last two months.” The story is accurate as far as it goes, but other than the act of vandalism itself, which is always abhorrent, it’s hard to know what conclusion to draw from this. First of all, it could be either a Trump supporter or a Trump detractor. We can’t tell from the graffiti alone, because it’s subject to interpretation. The neo-Nazis who support Trump might see this as a symbol of triumph, whereas the detractors might see this as derogatory, at least if they were both incautious in their interpretations. Both groups might see this and think, “Trump is a Nazi!” and yet come to different conclusions about whether that was a good or bad thing. However, a closer look at the photo ...
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Libraries Held to Ransom

The ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta is winding down now, and it will probably be best remembered as the ALA during which 60,000 people joined the Women’s March in the conference city after the inauguration of President Trump. There were a lot of librarians wearing pink hats marching through the Atlanta streets in protest. That’s the kind of thing to be expected, though. In much weirder news, the “St. Louis Public Library computer system has been hit with a ransomware attack.” I hate to admit that I was naive enough not to know what a ransomware attack was. In this case, it means “a hacker organization has blocked their server and is demanding tens of thousands of dollars to release their computers back to them.” If that kind of news makes you wonder what sort of world we’re living in, see paragraph one. But seriously, what kind of hackers decide to hold a public library to ransom? Libraries aren’t rich, so the main motivation for ransom is out right there. Couldn’t the ...
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