Annoyed Librarian
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Being Mean to Poor Ivanka

The big presidential news of the last week is that Ivanka Trump tweeted something nice about American libraries, and a bunch of librarians were really mean to her. You can read all about it in this article in Footwear News, my new favorite publication. All she was doing is try to say how important libraries are: “This #NationalLibraryWeek, we honor our libraries and librarians for opening our eyes to the world of knowledge, learning and reading!” She’s probably never set foot in a public library unless it was for a fundraising gala, but she knows that libraries are really important for those lesser souls who can’t afford their own books, computers, and internet access, and who are unlikely to have their own fashion line. The public library could be just the place to let some aspiring fashionista apply for the job of designing the next pair of Ivanka Trump, which may or may not be carried at Nordstroms or TJ Maxx. And what did librarians do in response? They got all snarky ...
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Calling the Library Corps

Last week a Kind Reader commented, “I can’t imagine being constantly against everything, but that’s the difference between you and most librarians, thankfully.” It does sort of make one wonder what blog that person has been reading all these years. Whatever it is, I’m against it. Ever since you commenced it. But to inject a little cheer into everyone’s library day, let’s take a look at an elementary school in Michigan that’s getting a librarian for the first time in four years. Four years of students didn’t get the benefit of a school librarian, but now that’s fixed! How were they able to achieve that? Did school funding improve? No, silly, that almost never happens. Did a state start caring about whether everyone, and not just private school students and rich suburbanites had the benefits of a school librarian? Don't make me laugh bitterly. Instead, “an enthusiastic group of volunteers — virtually all former educators — pitched in to open the Rogers School library all day ...
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Challenging a Fallen Icon

Now that it’s National Library Week we get to find out what are the most challenged books of the past year. Surprisingly, perhaps, they’re not books that are filled with sex and profanity, the usual things that offend the easily offended American public. No, this year it’s children’s books by Bill Cosby, once upon a time everyone’s favorite sitcom dad, now everyone’s least favorite angel fallen from grace. It’s not like this was particularly widespread. It never is. The ALA recorded only 323 challenges in 2016. The head of the OIF claims this is because people are self-censoring, and perhaps so. Or maybe people were just too busy in 2016 to worry about something as useless as a book challenge. And that number was a 17% increase from the previous year. It sounds a lot more impressive if you put it in percentages. Regardless, with over 300,000,000 Americans and 16,000 public library branches, it’s not like this book challenge thing is a big deal. The relative handful of ...
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Observing National Library Week

Once again it’s time to celebrate National Library Week, which is the week when the ALA wants everyone to celebrate public libraries while ignoring all the other kinds of libraries and librarians. The boilerplate is always the same: First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate every year in National Library Week. An “observance.” Let us all bow our heads for a moment of silence.  And how do all the libraries help us? “From free access to books and online resources for families to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries offer opportunity to all.” How many academic, school, or special libraries offer either of those things? Maybe free access to books if it’s a public university and you’re a state resident and you’re anywhere near the ...
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A Fake News Followup

One interesting thing about fake news is that people tend not to recognize it when they want to believe the claims. People like to go out of their way to avoid acknowledging sensationalistic propaganda when they think it might be emanating from “their” side. Last week I wrote about an article I stumbled across regarding libraries that happened to be in an online publication no self-respecting person with minimal critical thinking skills would be caught dead reading. Coincidentally, that article was in a publication of the right-wing echo chamber. I think that’s what prompted someone to comment that when it comes to fake news, “the ALA, in typical form, only seems to want to go after conservatives.” I do hope the commenter wasn’t confusing this blog with anything propagated by the ALA. If anything, the AL is the bête noire of the ALA. The fake news incident was random, but I’ll issue a challenge. Send me articles about libraries in fake news outlets from the left-wing echo ...
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A Library-Free County

Public libraries offer a little taste of civilization in even the most remote places. Often, no matter how far removed you are from urban centers or busy trading locations, non-fast food restaurants or buildings over two stories, walking into a public library can give you a glimpse at a wider world. Some people think the internet is like that, but the internet has become a cesspool of conspiracy, hate, and feel good animated gifs. Besides, it rarely offers free access to contemporary books. That’s why it’s always sad to see public libraries close, especially in rural areas. It doesn’t happen often en masse, but it’s happening now in rural Oregon, where ten branches of the county library system have just closed. Granted, some of these libraries serve very small towns like Drain, population 1,151, or Glendale, population 874, but the county is 5,134 square miles, so it’s not like driving over to the county seat is a short trip, even if the main library at the county seat wasn’t ...
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