Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Ebooks and the Poor

The ALA Midwinter Meeting came and went again. and with all the snow it was a bleak midwinter indeed. Normally I’d complain about being in Philadelphia in the winter instead of being in some more comfortable climate, but where would we go? Atlanta? I’m betting there are some folks in Atlanta saying, “See? I told you global warming was a hoax!” What a mess. Anyway, when I wasn’t dozing off in presentations, I finally had a chance to read the Pew Internet Trust study on reading and ebooks. More people are reading ebooks. Lots of people have reading devices of some sort. Etc. What struck me most was page 6, the demographic portrait of who is reading. Age group and community type didn’t seem to matter much, but gender, race, education, and household income sure did. Moving from high school to college grad, the percentage that had read at least one book in the last year in any format jumped from 64% to 88%. The $50,000 household income seems to be a threshold as well. 68% ...
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No Good Guys Here

Here’s a depressing library story. Dozens of schools across Los Angeles have closed up their libraries. It’s a story where it seems easy to divide everyone into good guys and bad guys, only there aren’t any good guys. First of all is the school district itself. It seems that the school district used to pay for library workers, but stopped doing that in 2011, which meant that the schools then had to pay for library workers from their own discretionary funds. That of course means that if they kept the librarians, then something else had to go. The school nurse or the librarian? The school counselor or the librarian? What to choose? I’d probably get rid of the counselor, because if the kids can’t read well they probably won’t need much guidance or get into college anyway. The worst hit schools are middle schools, “83 percent of them are without a librarian, according to district staffing numbers.” Wow, that’s a big proportion of schools without librarians, which also ...
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The Challenging Selectman

A Kind Reader sent me this article about a challenge to fiction in a public library in Massachusetts. It’s kind of weird. It started when the new library director went to ask the town selectmen for money to build a fire escape to make better use of some third floor space. Instead of a nice discussion about whether people who can make it all the way up to the third floor should just be on their own in case of fire, the director got an earful about the library having any fiction books in the collection. The Challenging Selectman, which would be a good title for a novel that he would never read, “questioned the amount of fiction in the library's collection, and explained he is wary about spending taxpayer money on a luxury that is more about entertainment than education.” That’s an understandable question that was decided in public libraries decades ago. Public libraries are about infotainment, not education. He also claimed that DVDs and such are an “expanded use of the ...
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How to Discriminate Properly

Someone left this comment on my post about old and young librarians: Today I rang a potential employer and asked what their selection criteria of “Advanced computer skills” meant in a more detailed sense. Their answer was “Well, basically we are looking for a digital native.” Oh well. Thanks for making me phone you to hear the ageism. Wow, that’s a doozy. If true, that remark was obviously by someone who has no idea how to properly discriminate against people. “Digital native,” if that phrase even means anything, is obviously age-based, so you shouldn’t just come out and say you want a digital native. What should you say instead? There are a lot of possible words to use when you really want young people. A typical one is “enthusiastic.” You want someone who’s going to be enthusiastic about whatever frustrating, low-paying job you have to offer. That’s probably not going to be any digital natives, by the way, because according to the best evidence ...
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Don’t Tell Librarians They Aren’t Stressed

If you’re a librarian and haven’t been replaced by a computer yet, then at least you have one of the least stressful jobs in the country according to some random website that releases meaningless lists like this in order to generate hits and links. But if there’s one thing librarians don’t like, it’s being told how little stress they suffer compared to police officers or whatever. Even in Canada they get upset, although Canadian indignation seems pretty mild. A Kind Reader sent me this article, which is really a response to this one. The original article is sort of responding to the list of least stressful jobs, and also making some kind of argument about technology, although I’m not clear what it is. Technology was supposed to simplify our lives, but hasn’t, supposedly. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m washing clothes in a river or walking a mile to retrieve potable water. Since librarian is lumped in with jobs like drill press operator and hair stylist, ...
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Will You be Replaced by a Computer?

LIS News linked to this study of the potential computerization of jobs. With a lot of math and stuff, the authors tried to determine the likelihood that 702 jobs now done by humans could be replaced by computers in the near future. Some jobs are pretty safe. Apparently, if you’re a recreational therapist or an emergency management director, the chance of your job being replaced by a computer is small. On the other hand, if you’re a watch repairer or a telemarketer, you should probably find other work. If you're a telemarketer, find other work anyway because you're annoying. The authors conclude that up to 47% of the occupations they studies were in danger of being replaced by computers. How do libraries fare? Librarians are pretty much in the middle of the pack, ranked #360, with a 0.65 chance of getting replaced by computers. The closer the number is to 0, the lesser your chances, the closer to 1 the greater your chances. Considering that “librarian” covers a lot of ...
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