Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

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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Ebooks and the Poor

The ALA Midwinter Meeting came and went again. and with all the snow it was a bleak midwinter indeed. Normally I’d complain about being in Philadelphia in the winter instead of being in some more comfortable climate, but where would we go? Atlanta? I’m betting there are some folks in Atlanta saying, “See? I told you global warming was a hoax!” What a mess. Anyway, when I wasn’t dozing off in presentations, I finally had a chance to read the Pew Internet Trust study on reading and ebooks. More people are reading ebooks. Lots of people have reading devices of some sort. Etc. What struck me most was page 6, the demographic portrait of who is reading. Age group and community type didn’t seem to matter much, but gender, race, education, and household income sure did. Moving from high school to college grad, the percentage that had read at least one book in the last year in any format jumped from 64% to 88%. The $50,000 household income seems to be a threshold as well. 68% ...
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No Good Guys Here

Here’s a depressing library story. Dozens of schools across Los Angeles have closed up their libraries. It’s a story where it seems easy to divide everyone into good guys and bad guys, only there aren’t any good guys. First of all is the school district itself. It seems that the school district used to pay for library workers, but stopped doing that in 2011, which meant that the schools then had to pay for library workers from their own discretionary funds. That of course means that if they kept the librarians, then something else had to go. The school nurse or the librarian? The school counselor or the librarian? What to choose? I’d probably get rid of the counselor, because if the kids can’t read well they probably won’t need much guidance or get into college anyway. The worst hit schools are middle schools, “83 percent of them are without a librarian, according to district staffing numbers.” Wow, that’s a big proportion of schools without librarians, which also ...
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