Annoyed Librarian
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More Seuss Protests

That protesting librarian may have had a practical effect upon the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, if nothing else. That’s the Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield, MA, which is removing a mural of a stereotypical Chinese man after some children’s authors complained prior to a children’s literature festival in Springfield. That goes to show you, if you really want something done, get famous people to complain about it. If the illustration is the only offensive one from And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, it doesn’t provide much support for the protesting librarian’s claim that Dr. Seuss books are “steeped in racist propaganda.” That just seems like simplistic propaganda itself. Dr. Seuss, like most of life, is complicated. Regardless, it’s the kind of thing that makes the defenders of Seuss as some sort of perfect children’s author for the ages, which oddly enough seems to be a thing, look pretty silly. Since he changed over the years, clearly even he didn’t ...
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Focused Forgetting and Remembered Library Duty

I ran across this blog post at ACRLog and thought, yeah, she’s got a good point there. Written after on of the worst mass shootings in American history, although who knows how they rank that stuff anymore, how does one just keep on working and, if a blogger, cranking out the words? Sometimes it’s just personality. I’ve known people who probably curled into a ball and sobbed the night after the last Presidential election, but they’ve done exactly the same thing after a breakup or if the ice cream wasn’t the right flavor, not even after a breakup. Do any of those immediately make a better impact on life after the Las Vegas shooting? We should put all this in perspective, which is usually lacking these days. According to Steven Pinker, who’s a full professor at Harvard so how could he be wrong, world violence is declining over the past few hundred years, despite the blips like Las Vegas. That’s exciting, right? Why not? What if it’s absolutely true, would it excite people ...
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The Stupidity of Crowds

The Dr. Seuss librarian protesting the First Lady certainly got some attention, with at least a few librarians, and probably a lot of non-librarians, thinking she stepped over some line and should be fired or something equally drastic. That was the gist of a couple of comments I didn’t approve because they seemed to come from overwrought fanatics. Calling for people to be fired because of something legal on the internet is a contemporary disease and you should be ashamed of yourselves. It’s particularly galling coming from librarians who supposedly believe in intellectual freedom, but as I’ve noticed over the years that intellectual freedom usually just includes the freedom to think like the crowd. Good grief, let’s put things into some perspective. Should she have written that letter for Hornbook, and should Hornbook have published it? I would have said no, at least not in the form that got published. It was weird. The thing is, there were much more politic ways to get ...
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Racist Propaganda, Protest, and a Post-Fact World

Not one by three Kind Readers sent in a story about a school librarian declining a gift of Dr. Seuss books from the First Lady, along with a nice little condescending public note as to why. Apparently she didn’t have the authority to decline the gift on behalf of the library or school system. She also apparently isn’t supposed to use her professional position for political advocacy, but who cares about stuff like that any more. We could question whether she violated the school district “policy against public resources being used for political purposes,” since she could have written that letter on her own time. On the other hand, the books were technically public resources once they were given to the library, so who knows. It's almost as if she's trying to educate the First Lady about schools that need the gifts more than her very well funded school. She does make some good points, and school libraries, as I’ve often discussed here, are in dire straits in many ...
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On Semiliterate Rubes

Crazy things are happening this week. In a comment on my last post, it’s implied that the Annoyed Librarian is “on the Left” because I supposedly has an “argument by labeling.” Here’s part of the comment: Well sure. A book like 1984 makes for an easy case. And it’s always easy to win an argument by labeling the opponent as a parent semiliterate rube. Argument by labeling is standard fair [sic] on the Left these days…. The opinion of the Librarian is not necessarily dispositive whether the Librarian thinks so or not. And those who disagree with the Librarian are not by definition “semiliterate rubes”. That comment is crazy for at least two reasons. Is crazy the right word? Is that an “argument by labeling”? Never mind. For one, you’d have to be obtuse to miss the fact that labeling other people and things is just what people do. It’s not “left” or “right,” just human. To imply otherwise is to pretend that your side doesn’t do the thing you claim the other side does, and you ...
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The Unintended Lesson of “Banning” a Book

The ALA gets so excited over Band Books Week that sometimes I think they make up stories about Bland Books just so people won’t forget the ALA exists. Stories like this one always feel made up. It’s about a school district in Idaho “banning” George Orwell’s 1984, because “banning” 1984 is just the kind of censorship 1984 and the ALA always warns us about!! Here’s the lede, which shows that small towns can produce better journalism than most so-called new sites: “Administrators in the Jefferson County School District are considering prohibiting a classic novel from being taught in two senior government classes after at least one parent voiced concerns over the book’s violent, sexually charged language.” You have everything you need right there. My favorite part of the sentence is the slightly snide and editorializing “at least one parent,” because if you’re a timid administrator just one parent is all it takes. The timid administrator in question, no doubt just expressing ...
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