Annoyed Librarian
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Librarians Destroying History

How’s this for an attack on a librarian: “it’s impossible not to rue the irony of a period when librarians take on the duties of literally covering up the past. Perhaps the definition of librarian will gradually morph over the coming decades to ‘one who protects us from the historical record.’” My goodness, what could prompt such an attack? Are we facing a future where librarians are throwing out books? That’s usually the sort of thing that uninformed people get upset about. No, it’s just that a committee decided to disarm a puritan in a carving on the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale, and a snowflake pretended to get very upset about it. The headline at the time of writing indicates that cooler heads prevailed at some point: “Yale’s Disgraceful Whitewashing of History Continues.” The url implies that the original headline had Yale “erasing history” to “appease an activist mob.” The only problem with that headline is that there wasn’t an activist mob, just the Committee ...
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School Librarians and the Pioneer Spirit

This story from the New York Post last week about activists calling for more librarians in Harlem schools reminded me of what happens when the ALA Council calls for something. Nothing happens, because nobody cares about activists or anybody who isn’t them. The activists make a couple of arguments. One is legal, and summarized in the article: The Department of Education has failed to provide librarians at 87 percent of Harlem schools that are legally required to staff them, according to a group of activists. State education law mandates that schools serving kids in grades seven to 12 must have a librarian on staff to develop research skills. As we all know, what the law demands and what the law produces are very different depending on your socioeconomic circumstances. The other is educational and financial: The students “jump into college without these basic [research] skills,” and “A lot of them end up taking remedial classes and having to use up their financial aid to do ...
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Yahoos Challenging Textbooks

A Library Link of the Day last week linked to this fun story about a new law in Florida that lets random yahoos who hate science and stuff challenge textbooks, school library books, and other material they don’t like “via an independent hearing,” whatever that might mean. One of the amusingly passionate spokespersons dedicated to this new law claims that, "We found them to be full of political indoctrination, religious indoctrination, revisionist history and distorting our founding values and principles, even a significant quantity of pornography.” Goodness, that does sound problematic, except of course all it really means is that the alleged political and religious indoctrination wasn’t trying to indoctrinate people into his particular cult and the alleged revisionist history didn’t present the particular skewed vision he wanted presented. It’s laughable that people who are the most opposed to “indoctrination” and “revisionist history” are almost always the ones who are most ...
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In Which I am Preyed Upon, Sort of

It’s not obvious from the outside, but this blog gets lots of spam comments, sometimes thousands per week. The email account is a little better since Gmail is pretty good about identifying spam without being trained, but stuff still slips through. It’s usually pretty easy to spot spam comments. The names are unusual, the email addresses are unrelated to the names, the comments are vague and usually ungrammatical, and there’s always a link to some dubious site that, if clicked on, would probably require giving my laptop a hot bath afterwards. In a recent email, someone with the unlikely name of “Gunda Breck,” using an email address Gmail recognizes as belonging to someone who seems to be a quack doctor of some kind peddling junk on the Internet, claims that “Several of [my] library visitors have requested” the self-published novels of yet a third person, all of whom are probably the same sad spammer. I’m also commanded to “Please obtain these books for [my] library promptly. ...
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Doomed Journals and More

The big prediction in scholarly publishing in the last week was pretty big indeed: that the success and comprehensiveness of Sci-Hub will doom subscription journals. If you don’t remember, Sci-Hub is the website that provides free but illegal access to scholarly journal articles that Elsevier keeps suing in courts that have no jurisdiction in Russia, where Sci-Hub is apparently located. Why does Elsevier keep tilting at that windmill? According to the study predicting the doom of subscription journals, “For some major publishers, such as Elsevier, more than 97% of their catalog of journal articles is being stored on Sci-Hub’s servers—meaning they can be accessed there for free.” The 3% are probably journals nobody wants anyway, like the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, a vanity journal Merck paid Elsevier to publish a few years ago. It’s probably pretty easy to cancel your Elsevier subscriptions, as several German universities are doing, if your researchers ...
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Free Speech for Nazis

Everything that’s wrong with the contemporary world can be inferred from the opening sentence to this article: “A memorial for Barbara Kulaszka, a controversial lawyer who made a career defending Holocaust deniers, took place at a public library in Toronto on Wednesday, despite calls for its cancellation.” Okay, maybe not everything, but at least one thing. And no, it’s not that controversial lawyers have memorials at public libraries. That’s a little weird, but maybe the neo-Nazis were kicked out of every decent place to hold a memorial. It’s the last phrase: “despite calls for its cancellation.” What? Some people got outraged over something completely legal and within the bounds of library activity, and even TWEETED their outrage, and nothing was done to sooth their fragile egos? My god, what is this world coming to?!?! Some of the criticism is ridiculous. “Critics of the event said it was wrong for the library to give neo-Nazis and white supremacists a platform.” A ...
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