Annoyed Librarian
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Insert Cute Punny Title about Sewing and Charity

I don’t normally do human interest stories about libraries. They’re rarely annoying and usually pretty boring. But when I saw this one about a sewing circle at a Washington state public library, I thought about that article a few weeks ago criticizing public libraries for allowing knitters to use their meeting rooms to knit. At the time I suggested that libraries don’t have to be either/or, but can easily be both/and, and this is a sterling example of that. What started life as a community sewing circle has become a charitable effort. People gather every month in a library meeting room with their sewing machine and a lot of donated cloth and they sew things. Okay, that is boring, but they don’t sew just anything. They sew items that will specifically be needed by area people. For example, they sew “pouchlike bags that can be closed with drawstrings. Medical Teams International, a nonprofit based in Tigard, Ore., uses them in its global healthcare work. After treating people ...
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The CIA Librarian Nonstory

Stories like this one appeared in a few places last week. “The CIA is hiring… a $100,000 librarian,” reads the headline, because apparently Fox News has become a job posting center for library jobs. The opening sentence is even more pointless: “The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is hiring more than just spies.” Has some reporter been living under a rock for the last 70 years? When I first started seeing it, I thought, what a pointless story, and then moved on, but it kept nagging at me. Why consider this news at all? That the CIA hires more than spies must seem obvious to any dullard who has ever worked in or heard anything about a large organization. At a minimum CIA headquarters would need custodians, cafeteria workers, secretaries, and all the other jobs necessary for an organization to function. Does the reporter think CIA agents empty their own garbage? Also, as we know from the documentary The Hunt for Red October, the CIA hires PhDs. Maybe they’re technically ...
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Librarians are Here if You Want Them

Maybe it’s because their day to day work life is so tedious, but librarians like to be inspired. How else can one explain the excitement when anyone even remotely famous says something nice about libraries or librarians. The speech reported on here is the most idealistic I’ve read for a while. We find out that “libraries are vital to freedom of speech,” for example. Maybe in Sweden where the speech was delivered, but in America the Constitution is vital to freedom of speech. Libraries just help distribute the speech. But that’s enough, because librarians are “defenders of the right to knowledge,” at least when they’re not clearing printer jams or teaching people how to play videogames. There’s more. Supposedly, when the door to books, magazines, and newspapers is opened to the world, “who knows what people might think or do? When it comes to the freedom to express oneself: to write, draw, paint, act or protest then restrictions have often been levied by governments and other ...
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Best to Just Stay Where You Are

During election seasons, lefty types in America sometimes talk about how they’ll move to Canada if somebody they don’t like is elected President. Recently I read about some television host who claimed she’d move to Canada if Donald Trump even wins the Republican nomination, but I think she might have been confused at the time. Canada, our supposedly perfect neighbor to the north, is idealized like crazy among the American left, since it’s the closest the Americas get to the alleged perfection of the Scandinavian countries. It has a population a bit less than twice the size of Finland, Sweden, and Norway combined, but it still manages to approximate those Scandinavians. Of course, the U.S. has a population ten times that of Canada, and 32 times that of Sweden, so maybe that’s why the U.S. hasn’t achieved such perfection. When you’ve got 320 million people all clamoring for different things, it is, as the Facebook relationship status says, complicated. Anyway, that’s the ...
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Get Rid of Your Wi-Fi to Save Your Library Patrons

I don’t venture much into the most questionable parts of the Internet, except on your behalf. You’re welcome. Last week brought a press release about a paper arguing that libraries and schools should get rid of wi-fi because it’s giving everyone cancer or something. The paper is published on a wordpress.com site, so I’m thinking not peer reviewed. According to the press release, “Libraries can protect their users and staffs from dangerous radiation by converting to wired devices which are not only faster but safe.” I hate to admit it, but I haven’t heard about this particular danger before, but that’s okay, the author knows why. “The intense advertising, the economic power, and the political power of profitable wireless industries enables them to dominate the public dialogue and hold sway over government regulators and legislators.” A conspiracy! Big Wireless! Libraries getting rid of wi-fi isn’t exactly as easy as our earnest researcher believes. It’s not the staff that ...
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Approve a Real Librarian This Time

The big library news last week was President Obama nominating Carla Hayden to be the next Librarian of Congress. I’m pretty sure he followed my advice from last year to hire a real librarian next time. It’s nice to be heard. Thanks, Obama! A lot of librarians are excited about this development. Hayden is a solid choice, an actual librarian, and would be the first non-white, non-man to be the Librarian of Congress. That is, if she is approved by the Senate. And, frankly, people at the Nation calling her a “radical librarian” aren’t helping things any. For librarians, this might be considered a test of whether the LoC can get some diversity and some badly needed library experience. But it’s also a test of how seriously anyone in the Senate takes librarians in general or the Librarian of Congress in particular. Hopefully, they don’t take either very seriously. But why, you might ask, hunched forward in your seat, your coffee cup paused halfway to your mouth? Because if ...
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