Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

The Unanswered Question of Dan Brown

Like many people, except for seeing a few episodes of Oz and Prison Break, I don’t know much about life in prison. And considering those are TV shows, I probably know less than nothing about life in prison. Other than CIA libraries, the oddest libraries to me have always been prison libraries, and it looks like the oddest prison library at all is the one at Guantanamo Bay. The prison at Guantanamo Bay currently has 41 inmates, and the library “has 35,000 volumes,” which is probably more volumes than a lot of public library locations around the country. The library also has DVDs and video games, because if those 41 inmates aren’t entertained at all times, who knows what trouble could ensue? Except the inmates can’t visit the library, and only those who “have been on good behavior can have items delivered to them.” And like many prison libraries, it seems, the collection can’t just have anything. There might be dangerous books, which is the kind of talk that makes public ...
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Fighting Nazis @ Your Library

The library news was mixed last week. For example, ACRL’s latest “keeping up” thing has to do with mindfulness, which is all the rage these days, if one can rage about mindfulness. Is mindfulness what we need right now? Here’s how it can supposedly help academic librarians: As a librarian, you become clearly attentive and focused to truly hear, listen, and respond to each student’s need with nonjudgment and authentic interest. These mindful techniques and interactions can extend to your faculty collaborations, too. “Loving kindness” meditations may help to create a more empathetic listening environment, guiding your communication interactions during faculty collaborations. Maybe. But it’s just as interesting to see what’s not considered here, such as interactions with other librarians. There’s nothing about supervisors, supervisees, or colleagues being “clearly attentive” or “focused” or having “loving kindness.” Maybe “loving kindness” meditations, whatever those are, ...
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Millennials Saving Libraries

As library puff pieces go, this is one of the weirdest examples of the genre I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t seem to know what public libraries are doing or why. The same might be true of public librarians themselves, but they hide it better. Start with the headline: “Libraries obsolete? No way, say Millennials.” I expected mention of the recent Pew study, but the journalist wanted to get so much more out of the story. There’s a logic to the article that unravels by the end. For example, we get this: “In the age of Amazon's two-hour delivery and ubiquitous internet searches, libraries are seemingly obsolete institutions.” Ah, yes, the old “Amazon makes libraries obsolete assumption.” It’s a foolish assumption, perhaps, but without it why bother writing articles like this. Then the Pew study is mentioned: “according to a recent Pew Research study, 53 percent of Millennials (those ages 18-35) in the United States visited a library at least once in 2016, more than any other ...
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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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