Annoyed Librarian
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The Evolution of Traditional Libraries

NPR had a story about the most exciting thing to come out of Omaha since whatever the last thing I wrote about from Omaha. It’s about a techie makerspace called Do Space, which seems like a nifty enough place. It’s got a lot of computers that are powerful enough to actually do stuff on. Entrepreneurs and programmers can hang out there and use the space. Kids can play videogames. People can learn how to use, and presumably use, laser cutters. I’m not sure what I would ever need a laser cutter for, but it’s nice to know I could always pop over to Omaha to use one. The best thing about it is the public didn’t have to pay for the stuff. Taxpayers didn't fund this library. Instead, Heritage Services, a coalition of Omaha philanthropists, donated $7 million to renovate the building — which had been a Borders bookstore — and pay for computers, 3-D printers and the Internet bandwidth. Sue Morris speaks for the donors. You might have noticed that it said the place was a library. The ...
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Betting on the Improbable

Before discussing an article about libraries I found in something called StateTech, it’s important to get bigger view of the magazine. The article about libraries is the leading article at the moment. What about the article right after it, which I shall for good reasons designate Number Two? The headline is enticing, as all clickbait is to the undisciplined mind, and undisciplined minds are what the Internet thrives on. “How the Apple Watch, Fitbit and Other Wearables Are Transforming the Workplace.” The assumption the undisciplined mind might make is that “wearables” are transforming the workplace, and this article will tell you how. Alas, the Internet doesn’t like grammar, because grammar is logical, at least most of the time. Instead of the implied article, we get claims like this: “Many large organizations, intrigued by the extraordinary value that wearables can deliver, are looking to bring them into the enterprise as well.” The emphasis is right there in the original ...
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Research is Fun, Too

I’ve been trying to figure out what annoys me so much about this article on makerspaces in academic libraries. It could be that the idea itself seems so pointless. Unlike public libraries, college campuses have lots of other places to go to make stuff, and libraries don’t have to be the center of all creative activity. But then again, if academic libraries are awash in money, why not buy some toys to play with instead of spending that money on material that fulfills the library’s mission to support scholarship on campus? Spend away if you have the extra cash, which I’m sure you don’t. After all, though, I think it’s the condescension of the piece that annoyed me. For example: From the moment I interviewed for my current position I’ve been questioned about my interest in makerspaces and more specifically, my playful nature. I’m not afraid to admit that I like to have fun, and as librarians there’s no reason why our jobs shouldn’t be fun (at least most of the time).… But it’s ...
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People You Don’t Want @ Your Library

The problem with public libraries? Anyone can use them. Who don’t you want using them, though? Well, first of all, people who download child porn. That’s disgusting and illegal, and should get you banned from your library. Should it also get you banned from your local grocery store? Well, maybe only when children are around. People have to eat. Should it get you death threats so you have to quit your job? That’s what’s happening in the U.K. right now. Isn’t murder usually considered worse than downloading child porn in libraries? I’m pretty sure the person who threatened to kill the porn loser guy doesn’t have the moral high ground here, but self-righteousness is blind. You know who else you apparently don’t want around? Loiterers! Those worthless people are up to no good. The Calgary Central Library disliked them so much they put up chain link fences to keep them away from the outdoor alcoves. Now they’re installing metal screens that reflect the loiterers back on ...
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A Tough Lesson to Learn

A recent article discusses the severe job shortages for newly minted librarians. Not the most shocking thing about it is that it was linked in American Libraries Direct, the weekly email of library fluff from the ALA. Apparently whoever collects the links for that email didn’t realize the ALA is complicit in this job shortage, having lied to people for a decade of the upcoming “librarian shortage,” a claim whose only real effect was encouraging people to attend library school. The library schools loved it, because another student is just more money to them. Once the students are gone and unemployed, it’s not their problem anymore. According to the article, San Jose State University produces “two to three hundred graduates a semester.” SJSU certainly doesn’t benefit from people knowing the truth. Despite some decent qualifications and a new MLS, the author learned a painful economic fact. It never occurred to me that the best job I’d get would be working as an aide, shelving ...
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A Tiny Fall After a Meteoric Rise

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people see what they want to see. For example, where some people see a vindication of beliefs they have about books and technology, I see some questionable arguments about them. A British journalist assures us that “books are back,” even though nobody thought they were going away. I fear they’re going away, but I’m skittish about living in a world where giant corporations not only produce but control all my media content, especially if it’s library money going to pay for access to that content. Regardless, it’s been clear since the rise of the ebook that paperback book sales are higher than every other category of book sales so far. Now we have some new British evidence: “Last year digital content sales fell last year from £563m to £554m. After years on a plateau, physical book sales turned up, from £2.74bn to £2.76bn.” I know it’s just splitting hairs, but in the source cited the actual figure was £2.748bn, not £2.74bn, making ...
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