Annoyed Librarian
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Some Real Book Banning

If you want a depressing reminder that some prisons do their best to make sure prison life is miserable all the time, check out this story about the books banned in Texas prisons. The opening sort of says it all: "Adolf Hitler’s 'Mein Kampf' is allowed, but an illustrated history of World War II isn’t. A 700-page defense of racial segregation is fine, but not Langston Hughes’s poetry." It’s the kind of description that makes one ask, oh, Texas, will you never change? Fortunately, though, the system by which books are approved or banned is pretty sophisticated. A “mailroom officer checks the book against a ‘master list’ of publications that are permitted. If  the book is on the list, the prisoner can have it. If not, the mailroom officer reviews it for ‘objectionable’ content.” Okay, I was kidding. Presumably one doesn’t need much education or any understanding of books or literature to become a mailroom officer, which is probably part of the problem, especially when they have ...
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Disunion @ Your Library

Sometimes the MLS is spoken of as a “union card.” It’s not, of course, because it not only doesn’t offer you job protections, it often enough doesn’t even get you a job. But lots of librarians are in unions of one kind or another, so they’re probably joyous at the job protections. Unfortunately, when you have unions you sometimes have to make things harder for the non-unionized workers, like in Orange County, CA where the county administration is planning to fire 136 library pages because the county employee’s union objects to their job. Or at least, it sort of does. The union has no objection to the $10/hour, 10 hour/week jobs as such. It objects that while the jobs are classified as “extra help employees,” which is “a county designation that typically carries a six-month contract,” the contracts are often extended indefinitely. Some of those temporary workers have worked over a decade in the same library page position. Whether this is a positive or negative development ...
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Microaggressions and Microstupidities

If you haven’t had to pay attention to discussions about “microaggressions,” then you’re lucky, or “privileged” as the people who talk about microaggressions would say. Good for you. The ironic thing about such discussions is that some people get really offended by the claim that some other people get really offended by relatively trivial matters, as if someone mentioning microaggressions wasn’t itself a relatively trivial matter. That way, both sides get to be upset, pick up their toys, and go home. And then once in awhile things go from microaggression to microstupidity, and it can be amusing to watch. For example, this opinion piece in the guise of a news article at the National Review. The headline claims that “U Minnesota Encourages Librarians to Intervene if They See Microaggressions.” It’s a relatively clear headline, and far more accurate than the story that follows it. Things start to go wrong almost immediately. The University of Minnesota has a training ...
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Clean People Inspire Less Fear

Just when I think I’ve read the most depressing article about libraries and the homeless, along comes another one just slightly more depressing. This one is about the public library in California seemingly overrun with homeless people and drug addicts. But a visit to the downtown library has become, on many days, a walk through a gantlet of misery: Homeless men and women sleep in the lawn while others plead with visitors for change. Inside the building, signs warned people to avoid restrooms where some homeless use sinks and even toilet water to bathe themselves and wash their clothes. Some of Santa Ana’s down and out used the study carrels to look for jobs — others shot up drugs, with syringes found discarded in planters and even a box of toilet seat covers. Security guards carry syringe disposal kits on their tool belts. If I had to walk through a “gantlet of misery” every day to get to work, I might stay home curled up into a ball instead. And while the librarians there seem ...
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Anti-Tax Zealots Whining Again

It’s no secret that a lot of Americans like the benefits they receive from government, but hate paying taxes, especially for benefits they believe only other people are getting. That’s because a lot of Americans, like a lot of everyone else in the world, are narrow-minded and shortsighted. And yet we survive. Usually the anti-tax crowd, the crowd that doesn’t mind driving on public roads, doesn’t offer to support any relatives on the dole, doesn’t mind eating untainted food regulated by the FDA...this is getting out of hand. Let’s just say the crowd that benefits from public goods but fails to acknowledge that benefit. Anyway, that crowd is always looking for some government entity to blame for the fact that they have to pay any taxes at all and can’t just be the freeriders they desire to be. It gets goofy when they attack public libraries, as this guy in Illinois did. It’s a letter to the editor responding to another letter to the editor, because apparently people in villages ...
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Critics are Outraged Again

I’ve been considering writing about that librarian who donated $4 million to his college alma mater in his will, but what is there to say. The guy lived frugally, saved up some money, and gave it away. Good for him and his alma mater. The only thing it might prove is that if librarians weren’t such notoriously extravagant spenders, they too could finish their lives with some money in the bank instead of being nibbled on by their cats after they die impoverished and alone in a dingy flophouse like they usually do. The guy even stipulated that $100,000 of the money be left to the campus library where he’d worked for fifty years. One might think everyone would be happy. Queue the sad and angry trombones, because it turns out not everyone is happy. You see, the school decided to spend a million dollars of the donation for a new scoreboard for the newly renovated football field, and people are complaining. The expenditure is “outraging critics,” but since critics are outraged by ...
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