Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Amazon Suckers Libraries

A few weeks ago, when Amazon announced a desire to start a “Netflix for books,” I opined that public libraries were doomed. So far, they’ve still been struggling along, but I have a feeling that in the end Amazon is going to get them one way or another. Eventually, there might be no escape from Amazon, so libraries had better start getting used to it. You might have seen this story about Amazon signing up authors to publish directly through them instead of publishers. If Amazon can get enough name-brand authors to abandon their traditional publishers, then the future of publishing - at least the sort of popular publishing public libraries buy - will be primarily in Amazon’s greedy but skillful hands. I could understand the temptation to publish with Amazon. They gave Penny Marshall $800,000 to publish her memoirs. I think I should mention to Amazon that I’ll happily publish the Annoyed Librarian memoirs with them for a quarter of that. After years of ...
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Heroic Librarians Destroy Books

For some reason this story raised a bunch of hackles last week: 6 Reasons We're In Another 'Book-Burning' Period in History. Usually the stories at Cracked.com are at least funny. It details various reasons libraries destroy books, such as that they have no room to store them or that it’s cheaper to destroy them than give them away. One commenter said it would be fine to destroy books, but just don’t burn them! Another mentioned pulling 1970s era encyclopedias from a fire. They were outdated and useless, but they shouldn’t be burnt! In some ways, these kind of reactions should be good for libraries. People still like books. More than just like them, people worship books. Books themselves are fetish objects with an inherent value in themselves. Burning a book is like burning a crucifix. Historically, I expect this is a cultural holdover from the days when books were expensive and hard to come by. Prior to the eighteenth century, books were too expensive for ...
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Library as Place with Real Space

Once in a while a debate or discussion will pop up in library circles about the concept of library as place rather than as information provider, but I don’t see it come up in public discussions of libraries very often. It’s an important debate, but one that usually doesn’t have immediate repercussions. It’s usually one of those philosophical debates within the community of librarians, or else part of a panicked debate on what the heck libraries are supposed to do once everything really is available so cheaply online no one will come to libraries for information anymore. However, in Shrewsbury, Mass. the debate is alive, and practical, and going on between non-librarians. This should be a good thing. It shows people care! I didn’t read far enough to get all the details, but it seems Shrewsbury might be eligible for some sort of state grant for library renovations in 2014. Before that happens, the town council wants a vote on a “debt exclusion ...
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The Rage to Defund Libraries Goes Off the Deep End

Libraries are always under attack, but the attacks lately have been strange. Tea Party types think libraries are socialist, because they were supported by that archsocialist Andrew Carnegie. Busybodies want to remove books from school libraries their children don’t even use. And the last few years have seen politicians vying to see who can cut library funding the most. I thought I’d seen everything, but I was wrong. I hadn’t seen any politicians trying to reduce library funding because a library service was too efficient, but I’ve seen it now. In New Hampshire, a Republican state representative is trying to reduce funding for the state’s popular interlibrary loan program because the service works too well. He claims to be a frequent user of ILL. According to the article, “What irks him, he said yesterday, is that he gets his requested books within a day or two.” Librarians often encounter patrons who are irked that they get their requested ...
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“Censorship” and False Courage

Now that the nonsense of Band Books Week is over, let’s take a look at a situation where books are really banned. As far as I can tell, the only sensible writing in the last week - other than my own - about “Banned” Books week is this article by a Canadian librarian on her experiences with censorship in Kuwait. She was the librarian at a Canadian school in Kuwait, and described an interaction with the Ministry of Information of Kuwait, which actively censors books mentioning such offensive topics as pigs, nudity, kissing, homosexuality, Israel, or Judaism. The Ministry of Information censor asked some ridiculous questions and then decided which books to ban completely and which to merely touch up a bit. Examples of touching up included marking out the word “flight” and replacing it with “journey” when discussing Mohammad's flight to Medina and drawing shorts on the naked backside of someone in a comic drawing. Later, the librarian had the choice to ...
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Trying to Change Stereotypes is the New Stereotype

Trying to change stereotypes is the new stereotype. It might even be the new black. Several years ago, a librarian who really, really hates this blog and claims she never reads it despite the evidence that she clearly does made a call for more “diversity” in librarianship. If I recall correctly, her call was really for more homosexual librarians. I don’t know if anyone has studied this, but I bet homosexuals are already represented in librarianship out of proportion to the general population. I know plenty of gay and lesbian librarians, and librarianship is a profession where gay and lesbian librarians are accepted for what they are, which is librarians. Librarianship attracts a lot of frumpy introverts, but at least they're not bigots. In response to her call, I pointed out that with the huge proportion of middle-aged white women in librarianship, we needed a different sort of diversity. In short, librarianship needs more hot, straight guys. If you ...
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