Annoyed Librarian
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How the Communists Make Money

A Kind Reader alerted me to an odd scuffle in the publishing world. It seems some of the same people who would hate Limbaugh’s book aren’t too happy with radical publishers either. Some people think libraries are all about socialism because they let people read books for free. But sometimes, the places that let people read books for free really are all about socialism. The Marxists.org website has a big collection of the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels online. However, that collection is a bit smaller than it was, because the actual publisher of the print volumes asked them to take down the Collected Works edition. And boy, were they unhappy. You can read all about it in the Socialist Worker, which apparently still exists. The background seems to be that Lawrence & Wishart received a proposal about how to capitalise on their copyright. They want to make the MECW available to academic libraries in return for payment. Because that’s how all communists in the ...
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And the Winner Is…

A few weeks ago I wrote about some clown who either couldn’t tell the difference between a library book ban and a Twitter protest or else was just a partisan hack who is paid to whine, not think. You can decide on that. The protest in question was about a children’s book allegedly written by Rush Limbaugh that had made it to the finalist list for something called the Children’s Book Choice Awards. Angry tweeters wanted it off the list. At the time, the Children’s Book Council people tried their best to disclaim any control over that list, because the finalists were chosen purely by sales figures. The sales figures themselves were in question, because supposedly Limbaugh donated thousands of the books to various places, which counted as “sales,” because we live in a world where words don’t have meaning anymore. The award givers made a big deal over the fact that when it came to actually choosing the books, it would be children's votes and not sales figures, or even ...
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Books in the Stacks

'Tis the season for weeding woes, it seems. A Kind Reader sent in this article from Slate about moving books out of college libraries that makes some good points and at least one weird one. Part of it is about a brouhaha at Colby College, where the librarians moved 170,000 books out of the library and into offsite storage, leaving about 165,000 books. In the planning process, “no faculty input was sought or welcomed.” Understandably, people are upset, and if you follow the links in the article to the Colby College newspaper you can see the only person defending this is the library director. The faculty and students are all protesting. Part of the protest should definitely be about the process. If you’re going to do something that has a major impact on the faculty and students, talking with them about it is probably a good idea. A couple of months ago, a branch library at the University of Pennsylvania wanted to move its book collections offsite. After protests from the ...
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Zero Humans Needed

A Kind Reader wrote in some despair about the future of libraries, apparently after finding out about companies serving libraries that provide, in Kind Reader’s words, “One Machine to Do it all, Zero Humans needed.” The question is, should this person go to school to be a librarian, which would imply that the future will require human beings as librarians with human patrons to interact with, or should the person give up the dream and just become an IT professional working in the background keeping the machines running. There’s always panicky talk about the future of libraries. I saw a reference to some meeting recently asking something like, will libraries be around in five years? That’s a pretty silly question, but I assume it was supposed to make people think about something or other, although I’m not sure what. It’s pretty easy to answer, too. Yes, they will be. Five years isn’t a very long time. But if you were younger and thinking about starting a career in ...
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Gem State Police Emergencies

There are all sorts of library stories lately. There’s this discrimination case in Michigan, where a retired librarian is suing her former library for discrimination against her while she was an employee. But while she claims discrimination, the library administration claims they “received a steady stream of complaints about how [she] treated patrons, particularly children. She was accused of pulling a sucker from a child's mouth, treating kids harshly and even taking a stuffed animal from a child.” Which makes me wonder if discrimination is as easy as taking candy from a baby. There was probably shushing involved. Or this unfortunate story from Canada, where the University of Saskatchewan is closing four of its seven libraries, but they won’t yet “say how many jobs will be cut during the process.” Hard times. “Another brief proposes the amalgamation of women's and gender studies, philosophy, modern languages and religion and culture departments in the College of ...
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Library Critics in the Equality State

Despite the immense popularity of public libraries and the broad support they usually get in the community, there are always some naysayers. This week’s naysayer is in Wyoming, and he really doesn’t want to pay more taxes to support libraries or education. Not that I don’t sympathize. I don’t want to pay any more taxes, either. It’s when the reasons why we shouldn’t fund libraries or education are so misguided and uninformed that I’m compelled to respond. Like this confused statement: “The library is fine as it is. Traditional libraries are becoming obsolete with the growth of digital books and Internet.” So is the library fine as it is, or is it becoming obsolete? I don't think it can be both. Someone is confused. And then there’s the old “libraries are obsolete” canard. If they’re obsolete, why do so many people use them? A question for the ages, I suppose. But then it gets better, and we get a glimpse into the weird nostalgic fantasy world where things ...
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