Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

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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Defensive Librarians

We made it to May Day. The year seems like it's flying by. Before I get to today’s topic of defensive librarians, I want to introduce this bit of news to anyone who hasn’t seen it. A “father’s rights advocate” tried to get the Toronto Public Library to remove Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop, claiming it encourages children to “use violence against their fathers.” I suspect that the children that book is aimed at couldn't do a lot of damage anyway, but who knows. Somewhere there’s probably a clean house advocate trying to ban The Cat in the Hat because it encourages children to mess up their houses. But on to other business. Why is it that librarians often sound so defensive when talking about libraries? And why are articles defending libraries in general so weird? We know people like libraries. Every study affirms that. We know people use libraries. The statistics confirm it. So why things like this: 7 Big Myths About Libraries? It’s both defensive and misleading, myth ...
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A Soft Furry Belly for Librarians

Last week the Daily Telegraph reported on a study in Britain that tried to figure out a quantitative monetary comparison for how good some cultural and sporting activities make us feel, because if you can't put it in terms of money it just doesn't count. For example, the highest rated activity, dancing, supposedly makes us feel as good as a pay raise of £1671 pounds (or $2810). I’d feel good if I got a $2810 pay raise, especially if it came every time I felt like dancing, and I'd feel like dancing a lot more if I got that pay raise each time. Swimming is second. That makes us feel like we got a raise of $2739. And surprisingly enough, going to a library regularly makes us feel as good as if we got a $2285 pay raise. I tend to be a little skeptical of studies like this, but lets assume these numbers actually mean something. If so, they explain a lot. First, they explain why people like libraries. If they use them regularly, they like them for that reason. If they used them a ...
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The Weeding Problem Solved

A Kind Reader sent a link to this story with the statement, “Thank god this isn’t me!” It’s another entry in the series Weeding Projects Gone Wrong. Or maybe Weeding Projects Gone Right that shouldn’t have been made public. The University of New Hampshire’s library is weeding books, withdrawing 36,000 and moving 15,000 to offsite storage, which supposedly totals about 3% of the collection. However, the opening sentence of the news story is “A dumpster on the campus of the University of New Hampshire is filling up with books from Dimond Library, and professors want to know why.” Because that’s more provocative. Sometimes it would be nice if professors knew anything about how libraries operated and thought of the system as a whole instead of their little niche, but I guess that’s what librarians are for. Regardless, the article mentions only one professor, so even that initial sentence might be wrong. “The library is weeding old books that haven’t circulated ...
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Library Decay

The website TV Tropes analyzes something they call “network decay.” This happens when a television network changes over time to the point where it differs significantly or even totally from its initial incarnation. This is the sort of change that has often happened with the niche cable TV channels that popped up in the 1980s. MTV is a prime example, changing from a network showing videos of pop music to whatever it does today that’s nothing like that. The transformation of networks with a pretense of educational programming has been more dramatic. It’s hard to remember a time when there was such a thing as The Learning Channel, and it sort of wanted you to learn something. Sometimes that change has been what TV Tropes classifies as “slipped.” In this category we find The Discovery Channel, which was a network mostly showing documentaries. By the mid-1990s, they showed an obscene amount of home improvement shows and cooking shows aimed at stay-at-home moms.... Now, ...
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