Annoyed Librarian
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Libraries Don’t Need the Homeless

There’s been a lot written about homeless people in public libraries over the years. I’ve probably written some of it myself but am too lazy to search the archives. However, I’ve now seen what is for me at least a new argument. But just as Bailey needs his library, the library needs him: In this digital age, many people who used to depend on libraries can find what they need online without leaving home. Menaced by budget cuts, many public libraries are effectively failing to justify their relevance, reducing their hours year after year. Bailey is a homeless man in Nashville who spends most of his days at a public library. He’s obviously been spending some of that time boning up his chutzpah on the Internet, which is apparently how he and many other homeless people in the library spend their time. There’s a lot about providing Internet access in the article, but not much about providing anything libraries typically provide, which probably pleases plenty of librarians who find ...
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What the Best Schools Don’t Do

We don’t often think of them that way, but school libraries provide a good measure for just how little American society values the poor. For example, we know that school librarians are disappearing species in cities like Philadelphia and Chicago. They’re usually among the first school workers to be removed or reassigned. It’s happening other places as well. I ran across this news column from Ohio that discusses the closure of some libraries. During the past three years one southwest Ohio school district not only closed its libraries, but shrink wrapped the shelves. Another district cut over half of the local librarians’ positions, then assigned the remaining librarians the overwhelming task of assuming most of the responsibilities vacated by the losses. As if removing the librarians weren’t enough, closing the library entirely was like a final “screw you” to the children too poor to afford private school. It was the next sentence that resonated most with me: “Can anyone ...
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At Least It’s a Desirable Job Somewhere

Despite the large numbers of library closures in Great Britain, it turns out plenty of people still wouldn’t mind being librarians, at least according to this poll. New...research reveals that the most desired jobs in Britain are not what you might expect; they are not even the most reliably well paid ones. Instead of actors and musicians, it seems that an aura of prestige still surrounds the quiet, intellectual life enjoyed by authors, librarians and academics. 60% of people said they would like to be an “author.” I suppose if you narrow down “author” to people who spend most of their time sitting around writing novels, then it might be a quiet intellectual life. I’m not surprised that people might want to be academics. If your image of academics is what you see in movies and in British mystery shows, who wouldn't? I mean, except for the possibility of being murdered over the whereabouts of a medieval artifact or something like that. And we must consider the quiet intellectual ...
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Advice for a Prospective Librarian

An email has been sitting unanswered in my inbox for a couple of weeks because I wasn’t really sure how to answer it, so finally I decided to put it out for readers to see if they had any advice. I’ve left out part of the email that seemed personal enough someone might be identified, but it’s from someone who has been working in paraprofessional positions in academic libraries for a few years. Here’s the request for advice: Do you think, with my experience, that such an investment in a MLIS degree is worth it? I know only I can really answer this question, but since I've been in the field for years, I am wondering if I should just make it "official" and become an "actual librarian." Also, how important is it to have a concentration? Thanks in advance for any reply. There was a point several years ago where my advice might have been “definitely not.” Library schools were packed with prospective librarians and the jobs just weren’t there. If you're going for graduate degree ...
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Fights @ Your Library

l’ve remarked before that public libraries seem to be among the safest public places in the country, mostly when mocking people too afraid to venture into one without arming themselves. However, that’s not always true, and the public library in Desert Hot Springs, CA is proof of that. According to the article, “Recurring fights among teenagers, including one where a security guard was injured, have prompted the Desert Hot Springs Library to close just as kids would be heading there after school.” Yowza. The library will now close at 3pm so the kiddies can’t use it. At least the fights are outside the library, but the library still comes into it, or rather the kids come into the library. “The fights occurred outside, but teenagers would sometimes come into the library to escape or wash blood off themselves.” Yuck. I guess there are some practical solutions some librarians might advocate. For example, if the kids were playing Dance Dance Revolution in the library, ...
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The Decline and Fall of British Libraries

One of my predictions for 2015 was that British libraries were all going to close. So far that hasn’t come true, but it’s getting closer. According to this story, 324 libraries have closed because of budget cuts. Two years ago, that figure was 201 libraries, so the closings have kept up at a rapid pace. Of the 4612 British public libraries in 2010, about 7% have now closed. In the U.S., that percentage would mean closure of over 1100 libraries if you count branch locations, which is definitely something we’d notice. In addition, “Some 216 static libraries and eight mobile libraries are a risk of closure, Labour claims.” If those closed, it would be about a 12% closure rate since 2010. The American equivalent would be over 1900 libraries. Oh, and of the libraries left, “330 fewer are open 10 hours or more a week.” If the library isn’t open more than ten hours a week, it almost might as well be closed. Between the closures and the reduced service hours, that’s about 14% of ...
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