Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

An Idea for a Resolution

I have a confession to make that will probably come as a shock. I’m not a small town girl, or even a small town woman. Small towns are those places I sometimes pass through on the way to somewhere else, unless I can just fly over them. Thus, I’ve never given much thought to small town libraries, although I knew that with 16,000 public libraries in the U.S., lots of them must be in tiny places. After reading this article about library funding in small Pennsylvania towns, one question is, how do they survive? Or at least, how do some of them survive? The library in Mount Jewett, PA got $4,308 to spend from the state of Pennsylvania. What the heck do you do with so little money? $3800 has to be spent on books. I’m assuming it’s pretty easy to spend that little bit. And because of the way Pennsylvania state funding works, the low amount also means it’s not getting much support from the community, at least through taxation. That’s not too surprising, considering hardly ...
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The Library as Third Place

Inspired by this article in the Chicago Tribune hailing libraries as “havens on earth,” I wanted to write about libraries as Third Places. A Third Place is somewhere other than home or work, the first two places. From the Wikipedia article summing up Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place, we find the following characteristic of third places: Free or inexpensive Food and drink, while not essential, are important Highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance) Involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there Welcoming and comfortable Both new friends and old should be found there Depending on the community, lots of public libraries could count as third places, especially those with cafes and open spaces outside the normally quiet stacks areas. People generally don’t sit around the reference section merrily conversing, but there’s often space for that sort of thing. This is even perhaps what a lot of public librarians want libraries to ...
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It Could Be Worse

Although a few years ago it looked like American libraries might be in trouble, perhaps even reduced to the irrelevance that American Libraries has long enjoyed, they seem to be doing okay. Levies are getting passed. Cities are building or expanding more libraries. Lots of people are using them and lots more seem to like them. Everything’s looking rosy. If only that were true elsewhere in the English-speaking world, or the non-English-speaking world for that matter. It seems every week I’m reading stories on possible library closures in the UK. It’s almost as if some of the British powers that be used the recent recession as an excuse to wage permanent war on public libraries, especially ones located in people’s actual communities. I know the UK is a small country compared to the US, but it’s not like everyone can just pop into the British Library when they want a book to read. I haven’t been able to figure out the ultimate cause. Maybe it’s like the recent dramatic ...
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Librarians and Babysitters

Grumpy can be good. Or at least understandable. I understand grumpy, and could have called this blog Grumpy Librarian, except there was probably already a blog called that. In Bowie, MD, some mornings they wake up Grumpy. Other mornings they just let her sleep. And last week they interviewed her for the local newspaper, where she complained that librarians are not babysitters. Some people like to point out the completely obvious, even if they don’t know they’re doing so. This person was complaining about public libraries being filled with high school students during the after school hours. The horror! It could be obvious that librarians aren’t babysitters because librarians are librarians, and they do librarianly things like clearing printer jams, not babysitter things like enforcing bedtimes. It could also be obvious that librarians aren’t babysitters in this scenario because - and I guess this wasn’t obvious enough - high school students aren’t babies, as much as they ...
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The Post-Librarian World

First of all, I’d like to take a moment to ask Mother Nature to let up a little. Please and thank you. Now to the serious questions: when will libraries cease being libraries? Or have they already? And when they do, why will we need librarians? I thought about those questions as I read this long article on public libraries in Minnesota. The headline states that the libraries are “rushing to adapt to a post-book world.” That’s not quite right, unless ebooks don’t count as books. There are really two trends involved, moving to a truly post-book library and moving to a paperless library. The paperless library is inevitable, and probably not a great thing in the long run for libraries or library patrons. Although technology saves money and time in some ways, ebook technology will end up costing libraries a lot more upfront and give them less control over their wares. That change could be offset someday if library buildings and librarians disappear. After all, if a library is ...
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SRRT and the Tea Party

You might think it would be difficult to find similarities between the Socially Responsible Round Table and the Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives. However, you would be wrong. I don’t just mean the fanaticism, although there’s plenty of that. Or the dogmatism. Plenty of that, too. Extremes of left and right often show similarities. What’s most noticeable is the tenacity at trying to pass resolutions/legislation supported by a vocal minority and failing time and again. When everyone but Tea Partiers see this behavior in the House, they shake their heads in bewilderment. The House Republicans voted over 40 times to repeal The Affordable Care Act, with very little success at altering it, and no success at repealing it. Their strategy went from the empty “repeal and replace” to the pointless “let’s fruitlessly vote one more time just to show how angry we are, because this is all about our emotions.” Impotence in power. Then we get to the ALA Council ...
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