Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Yet Another Bookless Library

Every few months it seems someone gets excited about a “bookless” library, usually the people who work in them. Me, I don’t see what the big deal is. The latest story about one comes from the esteemed Library Journal, where we find out that the brand new Florida Polytechnic University has a library with no physical books. Their professors also don't have tenure, but that's becoming so common it's hardly worth noting anymore. Go ahead, take a look at the photo of that library interior. The library has all the charm of a display office set up at Ikea. In fact, it was that picture that made me realize why I’d never want to work in a bookless library. It’s not that I’m especially wedded to the idea of reading books made of paper. To claim that those are the only “real” books is a form of superstition. Codex, computer, tablet, phone, I don’t really care about the mode of delivery as long as the content's good. And it’s not just that I think ebooks are questionable ...
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Who’s Saving Whom?

On an unrelated note, at least to the subject of this post, if you want to see what a real “book ban” looked like, check out this short historical news article from the New York Times: 1939: Fascist Italy Issues Book Ban. “Booksellers and librarians received the list, which included books that have been seized and destroyed and others of which the sale has been forbidden.” Now that’s a book ban! If the U.S. had a fascist government banning books I’d be a lot more impressed by the bold librarians fighting for banned books. But on to the main topic, how libraries are going to be saved yet again. The headline of the article lets us know who’s going to be the cavalry this time: Can 3D Printers Save Libraries? I was tempted to invoke Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, and answer “no.” Then I thought to myself, wait a minute, do libraries even need to be saved? The only types of libraries that seem to be in any systematic trouble are school libraries, and they don’t ...
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A Weekly Roundup

This has been a busy week, and there are a lot of things I wanted to write about, so this is a bit of a blogging roundup. First, I was contacted by someone who’s been working against the idea that seed libraries are forms of agroterrorism. He saw last week’s post and wanted people to know that they could help fight the PA department of agriculture among others. Here’s a bit from the email: We're glad you wrote about the crackdown on the Simpson Seed Library.  We thought regulators over-reached, so Shareable teamed up with the lawyers at the Sustainable Economies Law Center Center to find out: http://www.shareable.net/blog/setting-the-record-straight-on-the-legality-of-seed-libraries Turns out, they likely did over-reach and there's also an easy work around that this and other Pennsylvania seed libraries can use to operate within the law as a peer to peer seed exchanges. Normally I don’t participate in advocacy like this, but it seemed relevant to the post, and I ...
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The Secret to Weeding

Goodness, someone needs to tell librarians about the proper way to weed. The weeding complaint news article has become a regular appearance these days. This time it’s the Boston Public Library. The headline reads, "Unpopular books flying off branch libraries' shelves." I expected something much more dramatic after that headline, but it's just an article about weeding. No books are actually flying off the shelves, so they won't have to call Ghostbusters. But books are being weeded, in the branches at least, which might see a reduction of as many as 180,000 volumes by the end of the year. These are “little-used” books, apparently. One branch will weed 40% of its collection, others close to 30%. That’s a lot of books to get rid of at once. It makes the shelves look bare. People don’t like bare shelves, because that’s a sign that books are being weeded. There’s a solution to that problem that I’ll get to in a bit. But first, the complaints. Supposedly, a lot of books ...
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Sowing the Seeds of Terrorism @ the Library

It’s not often that libraries and terrorism come together as topics. Sure, there have been incidences of alleged terrorists possibly searching for their Internet porn on public library computers, and librarians gallantly fighting against the FBI for the alleged terrorists’ privacy. That probably happens all the time. But it’s not like the terrorists are being terroristic inside the libraries. That makes sense, because if you were a terrorist who wanted to harm a lot of people simultaneously, heading to the local public library probably isn’t your best option. A library in Pennsylvania recently had a budding new library collection eliminated because of its potential for terrorism, though. The Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, PA was informed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that its seed library would have to be discontinued because it violated state seed law, and yes, that is a thing. Although the law mainly deals with the sale of seeds, ...
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The Lesson from a Hoax

Something shocking has happened in the world of information. It turns out that there was an error in the Wikipedia, a deliberate error introduced into an article for fun by a couple of stoned college students. This is as shocking as the time that other factual error was found on the Internet. The hoax, such as it was, concerned the fictional character Amelia Bedelia, stating that she was based upon a maid in Cameroon where her author spent some time growing up. She was instead based on a maid in Equatorial Guinea, so you can understand why exposing the hoax was so important. No, actually the whole Cameroonian maid thing was completely made up, and the person who helped put it into Wikipedia now feels a little bad about it, not so much for what it says about her, but for “what it says about the future of information in the digital age.” Trigger warning: Nazi reference coming up. Joseph Goebbels once said that if you tell a lie enough times, it makes it true. I always ...
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