Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Satire or Not?

I can’t decide if the following article is satire or not, so I’ll leave it to the readers to decide. Take a look at this listicle from the Guardian: Seven things I’ll miss about the traditional library, with the subtitle: "If they’re going to insist on monetising and modernising libraries, it’ll be the sights, sounds, smells and texts that I miss." Just to get it out of the way, the seven things are: Vintage textures Microfiche Sexual frisson 19th-century methods Silence Librarians Books The latter two most librarians agree with. The fifth one a lot will agree with. The first four are just weird. For example, of vintage fabrics: “Only in public libraries will you find that particular blend of colours and surfaces that bitterly recall the aesthetic sins of days past, specifically the era stretching from the 1940s to the 1970s.” There’s a reason for that. It’s because libraries often barely get enough money each year to buy new books and pay the staff, much less ...
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Drama in Vermont

Sometimes I think it would be lovely to slip away to a small town somewhere, or even an “unincorporated community village,” and lead a quiet, retiring life running the small local library, getting away from the noise and the urban drama. I could start my own homemade marmalade company, fall in love with the local veterinarian, and live happily ever after. And then I read an article like this one about the West Hartford, VT library director quitting just a few months after she started, and just a few weeks before the reopening of the library that has been closed since 2011 because of hurricane damage. The reason: a “difficult work environment.” Ugh. I can live in a city and find a difficult work environment. I don't need to venture into the idyllic countryside. She was pretty public about the departure, too, which I guess is a good thing. A widely distributed letter “accused board members of violating their own bylaws; she cited bylaws that prevent trustees from acting on matters in ...
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No Uniformity Please

From Oldham, England comes a curious story about uniforms in libraries. It seems that despite budget problems, the town council would like to purchase uniforms and require all library employees to wear them. Presumably any uniform would be more tasteful than what a lot of librarians in the U.S. wear to work, but that’s a different issue. Someone afraid to speak on the record, which seems to be common to libraries these days, says that requested budget cuts “will involve cuts to services to residents and the loss of jobs. At this time the libraries intend to introduce a uniform for it’s staff — a totally unnecessary waste of money.” That’s a pretty compelling argument, unless the town council adds insult to injury by requiring the library staff to purchase their own uniforms out of their huge salaries. The arguments for uniforms put forward by one councilor are mostly irrelevant. For example, “Other public-sector bodies and partner organisations... have employee uniforms.” Well, ...
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Librarians: the Latest Pawns in the Debate

If there’s a more contentious conflict in international affairs than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then I don’t want to know about it. It’s too depressing to think about. From an outside perspective, it’s easy enough to understand at least some of the issues and motivations of both sides, but most vocal people on the matter tend to divide one way or another, and one of the casualties is careful thought. For example, the dubious conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. That’s a convenient way to sway the debate away from the real problem, which is perhaps so complicated by this time that there’s no good solution possible, no matter how many American Presidents want to add such a solution to their legacies. The political statements of librarians have entered the conflict now, because several of them have signed a document calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions. The document is by Middle East Studies scholars and librarians, but mostly not librarians. They did ...
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It’s Good to be the King

Librarians by now should be used to no one in authority valuing their opinions, but the librarians at Barnard College haven’t reached that appropriate level of hopelessness and demoralization yet. They’re getting there. Barnard is building a new library bigger than their current one. Once it’s completed, the library will house 40,000 fewer books than it does now and the research librarians are leaving their office for cubicles. Soon enough, librarians who have never known the joys of prairie-dogging in cubicle land will be able to. The librarians are complaining that they had no say about any of it, which isn’t surprising. The last people to be asked about how libraries should be built, organized, and run are the people working in them. Nobody seems happy. The director resigned, possibly because she’d been thwarted. The faculty are unhappy about the books and the librarians about their disappearing offices and disappeared say in how anything works. So pretty much business as ...
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Libraries Do Business as Usual

Last week I suggested librarians tone it down a little. Some of the hyperbole is just ridiculous, but sometimes it’s more subtle, so subtle that it’s not offensive, it’s not even inaccurate, it’s just a little puzzling. Like this blog post: Libraries Reinvent themselves in the Digital Age. It makes a good argument for how libraries are positively adapting to changing technology. Except for mentioning that Bexar County library with no print materials, which has gotten way too much press coverage, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the claims of the post, except the title. Are libraries really “reinventing” themselves? The main evidence offered in the post is that most public libraries now offer ebooks, and lots of them have digital magazines and audiobooks. How is this anything other than a continuation of business as usual? Offering access to books and magazines is what public libraries have been doing since the beginning of public libraries. Offering them in whatever ...
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