Annoyed Librarian
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The Magical Library

People sure do get worked up about weeding. The fetishization of the book is the usual reason, which is also why people try to donate the old Reader’s Digest Condensed Books found in their deceased grandmother’s attic. Somebody must want these! In the comments to my last post on weeding, my attitude was supposedly “representative of everything that is wrong with the ‘future of academic libraries.’” I’ve been called worse. Another reader waxed lyrical about the benefits of browsing library stacks, which nobody ever has denied. Supposed, also, it’s the faculty’s “role to weigh in on these processes if they choose (especially in weeding projects as extensive as this one was), and it is absolutely our role to solicit and respond to their feedback.” I have to wonder if this reader has ever sought feedback from any faculty about weeding. Or, even worse, about which journals to cut, which I gather used to be a big topic at a lot of universities back in the day. There’s really ...
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Meddlesome Busybodiness in the Schools

Some eighth graders in Minnesota are assigned a book that might be “sensitive,” and their parents are bringing truth to power, or perhaps meddlesome busybodiness to the local school board. It’s probably one of those. The parents first objected that their delicate little flowers were supposed to read "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." So the school was very accommodating. When the book was taught in class, the delicate little flowers were sent out into the hallway where they could sit and twiddle their thumbs while the rest of the class engaged in whatever passes for literary education in middle school these days. Some people are never happy, and the school should have known that catering to the whims of busybodies just emboldens them. The parents of the delicate little flowers, or rather the delicate little flower parents of what are likely just normal students, consider that a form of punishment, and they want the book removed from the curriculum entirely ...
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To Fund or Not to Fund

There’s a new Pew Study out about libraries discussed in this article, and what would we do without yet another Pew Study? There’s some bad news and some neutral news, which is about as good as any news gets these days. The bad news, at least for public libraries, is that public library use is down. Supposedly, “the study confirms that Americans’ usage of libraries is sliding down in real terms.” Remember, you read it here first. Or perhaps at the Atlantic. Or perhaps at the Pew website itself. Anyway, according to Pew, “the decline in library use is driven by technological change, so the report implicitly recommends that more libraries publicize their non-print services.” I don’t see how that is even possible anymore. It seems like all libraries do these days is publicize their non-print services. “We’re not your grandparents’ library! We’re not about books anymore! We’re not dusty warehouses of old books, even though no library has ever been that!” The refrain would ...
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Little Free Libraries are Bad Because We Don’t Like Them

You might think the Little Free Library movement would be about an innocuous a subject as one can find related to books. That’s because you’re not aware that they’re “neoliberal politics at street level,” at least according to the “radical” Canadian librarians interviewed in this article sent in by Kind Reader. They also wrote a whole article about this in the Journal of Radical Librarianship, if you just can’t get enough of the subject. Fortunately, there aren’t any serious library problems in Canada or anywhere else that might take up the attention of serious people. It’s not like school libraries are dying, public library funding is often under attack, or anything like that. Thus, it’s really, really important to focus our attacks on boxes people put in their front yards so neighbors can exchange books, or not, depending on whatever they feel like doing. The horror! It’s hard to know where to start here, so let’s just look at some representative quotations. For ...
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The Purge, Library Style

Kind Reader sent me the latest pearl-clutching article on libraries weeding books, and it’s quite a read. The online journal bills itself as “a refuge for rational discourse,” and if that’s true we’re all in trouble. The headline is the usual sensationalistic nonsense clickbait we’ve come to expect from pretty much all media: “College Libraries are Purging Book Collections. Are They Discarding Thought as Well?” I’ll go with Betteridge’s Law of Headlines again on this one. Are they discarding thought as well? No. And you’re either foolish to ask or desperate for something to write about. Libraries are “purging books from” their shelves. That does sound dramatic. It’s not like a library ever removed little used books or anything. Besides whatever “local university campus” the disturbed author visited last fall, the only library mentioned is UC-Santa Cruz, a situation I discussed several months ago. Because she apparently doesn’t know better, the author takes the ...
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Fears of Staffless Libraries

A Kind Reader sent me some articles about a staffless library experiment in Toronto. The idea isn’t to replace librarians, but to extend hours, or so the story goes. Nevertheless, some people are concerned about safety, but aren’t they always, and of course the library union is against the whole idea, because nonexistent workers don’t pay union dues. The safety concerns are hard to evaluate. Supposedly, during a pilot in 2014 at three libraries in Ireland, 111 people “had their open library membership temporarily withdrawn” for various reasons, “including incidents of tailgating, giving their card to another person to use and opening the door to allow access to another person.” That does sound pretty dangerous, unless tailgating means something different in Ireland than it does in the United States. I hope it does, because the thought of people driving their cars recklessly close to other cars inside the library is a frightening thought. Assuming that tailgating means ...
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