Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

If A Library Fell in the Forest

From the comments:

"if there are no reference librarians in 20 years is that good or bad for society?

It’s good because it means that more information is available to a wider group of people and it means that we (society) have learned how to find the information for ourselves. Self-reliance is a good thing."

Provided relevant information is readily available and easily findable in 10-20 years, would the disappearance of libraries matter to anyone but librarians? I’m thinking probably not. Librarians fret about the future of libraries, but does anyone else?



  1. I do! Well, okay, I’ve worked in libraries, both public and school and an now on the library board in our little town, but I can’t imagine a world without them. It’s a vicious circle, but bad economic times bring a bigger circulation to libraries. Sad.

  2. A. Non E. Mouse says:

    What if libraries disappeared tomorrow? Who would miss them?
    Really, I am being serious, who would really miss them.

  3. librarian formerly known as soren says:

    I think we need to make the distinction between type of libraries and their scope. I probably wouldn’t miss small libraries that only carry popular materials. But, I would miss libraries like NYPL or other large libraries that have amazing collections. Even my library, which is relatively large, has a great collection. I’m always finding something interesting to read that’s not popular lit.

  4. Anonymous Librarian says:

    I would miss the libraries if they disappeared tomorrow, because they provide me with free content (OK, not free, I pay for it with my taxes). I think libraries need a rethinking. The repository mentality of yesteryear needs to be rethought

  5. Who would miss them?

    Maybe the people who are using our computers because they need to apply for jobs or can’t get DSL service in their rural homes. Maybe the people who read our books because they don’t have the disposable income to spend on books of their own. Maybe the moms who want their kids to experience storytimes.

    (And I would miss them, because I’d be out of a job.)

  6. the poor and the thrifty would miss libraries

  7. A. Non E. Mouse says:

    So, people would miss the libraries and the stuff.


    We can hire some minimum wage high school grads to move the stuff around.

  8. Alfred E Newman says:

    The poor.

    So libraries are another of those failed social programs that are supposed to lift the downtrodden from the streets and give the Dance Dance Revolution.

    Sad Sad Sad

  9. Maybe the question is who would miss the librarians but the librarians. If we view the library as a welfare program, would there be a cheaper and more efficient way to provide the welfare?

  10. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    Concerning how to make libraries more efficient: While the services librarians provide are important (storytimes, reference services, programming for all ages, collection development and management, etc), I do not think that librarians actually need a masters degree to do these tasks well. I could have taken undergraduate courses or just received on-the-job training for a lot of what I do, and I still would be doing as well as I am now. If librarians only make the amount that people with a Bachelors degree make anyway, then we might as well just be required to have a bachelors degree and some continuing education classes. I am just finishing up my MLS degree, and while I will be glad to be finishing it, I do not feel like it’s actually worth a lot.

    I would not describe libraries as “a welfare program,” however. There is a vast portion of the population that are not considered impoverished, yet they cannot afford to own all of the books, movies, and music they want (without going into serious debt). These people need libraries.

  11. Man, I guess the AL had actual work to do today. What a short post. I expect more next time.

  12. Proud2blibrarian says:

    I have disagree with that – walk through an academic library that has work study students shelving books to see how many volumes end up in the wrong place to see that’s not the greatest employment pool.

    I also disagree that librarians aren’t necessary. The more information there gets to be, the more focused training will be needed to show patrons how to ferret out the best sources. And don’t believe for a minute that students or even adult patrons have all the skills to navigate databases, etc.

  13. Proud2blibrarian says:

    The first part of my original post was cut off. I was responding to Anon E Mous saying, “We can hire some minimum wage high school grads to move the stuff around.”

  14. Alfred E Newman says:

    We don’t need librarians, we need information engineers.

  15. Terry Eagleton says:

    I highly doubt we will ever get to the point where people can find what they need for themselves. Scratch that. I highly doubt we will ever get to the point where people can find GOOD INFORMATION for themselves. Scratch that. People are lazy, ergo librarians will always be around.

  16. Terry Eagleton says:

    Besides, I don’t think everyone else should have to fret about the future of libraries. It should just be assumed (and happily, I might add) that the library and librarians will ALWAYS be there. I think we should be a reliable background noise in people’s lives. The library itself shouldn’t be something people have to think about. It should be the things inside that spur the though.

    I’m irritated with this annoyed librarian.

  17. I miss the old AL…. since moving here, this blog isn’t what it used to be…. bring the old AL back please…. we all love her and miss her….

  18. Terry Eagleton says:

    Typo above. I meant “spur the thought”.

  19. I have learned that engineers (referring to those who are certified and have engineering degrees) get quite upset when other people use terms like “information engineers” or “sanitation engineers.”

  20. Hall and Oates says:

    Annoyed Librarian, you seem angry. Maybe it’s not such a good idea going through life with so much anger.

    Lighten up maybe?

  21. Will libraries and librarians still be here in 20 years? I think the answer is probably yes, but I also suspect they will be quite different than they are today. Before people begin to scream and rant about this, keep in mind those 20 years ago – in 1988, very few libraries (if any) had computers for the public to use. 20 years ago there was no world wide web. 20 years ago most college students were thumbing through print versions of Reader’s Guide to Periodical literature – you know that green set of volumes.

  22. How long have libraries existed? But now in 10-20 years they will be gone? It’s like people predicting the end of the world. But if there are no more librarians, at least we gave it a shot!

  23. I long for the days of the Reader’s Guide in print. Things were so peaceful then. As for lightening up, I’ll be mellow when I’m dead.

  24. Library Cynic says:

    Library staff will still be necessary, but not “librarians.” We will still need someone to open the doors in the morning for the homeless to come in. There will be no need for research assistance – that will all be self-serve at that point.

  25. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    In response to proud2blibrarian: I definitely empathize with your experiences with work-study/high school shelvers. The ones we have at this library constantly misplace things on the shelves. What puzzles me is this: I volunteered at a library beginning in middle school for several hours each week, and I had no problem shelving things in the correct place after a small initial learning period. It wasn’t exciting work, and it was tedious, but I still made sure to do it right, even though I wasn’t getting paid to do it. The work-study and high school shelvers get paid something to shelve the books, and they still don’t make the effort to figure out how to do it correctly. It’s a hell of a lot better than getting paid minimum wage to flip burgers, and all you have to learn is Dewey Decimal System (or Libray of Congress classification in academic libraries), alphabetical order, and the difference between a few different genres, like fiction and nonfiction. So, why can’t they their job correctly? Laziness.

  26. Many people would miss libraries. Not many people would miss librarians. They already don’t really need us that much.

  27. Forever Anon says:

    Responding to proud2blibrarian, I respectfully disagree. I have a bachelor’s and have worked circ/ref for 6 years. My boss has an MLS and can’t find her way out of a paper bag, much less finding credible resources for a student. Knowing how to find information or even shelve correctly is not the difference between a bachelor and master degree. Not proud2b, but others (often in AL’s old blog) insinuate that anyone without the MLS is underqualified, but more often than not, we are the ones who know the ins and outs of every database and reference guide and can shelve properly blindfolded and the lights out. Now as to missing librarians, if you go by the degree, no the public would not miss the “Librarians”. They would miss the people who check out their books, answer their reference questions, help them with the computers, and point them to the nearest bathroom. Those are more often than not degreed librarians.

  28. Forever Anon says:

    “There will be no need for research assistance – that will all be self-serve at that point.” Spoken like someone who hasn’t ever worked in a library computer lab. It will never be self-serve. How many people still don’t know who to use a copy machine? Plenty. And how long have those things been around? There will always be people who can’t help themselves.

  29. I love it. We need libraries and librarians for the people too dumb to know how to use photocopiers.

  30. Hey, Bored, I guess size matters to you, eh?

  31. Talk to folks from places without free access to libraries and you will quickly realize how silly this supposition is.

  32. trimyourposts says:

    Everybody has free access to libraries. It’s called the internet.

  33. Forever Anon says:

    Hey sidney, yeah, we need libraries for people who are “too dumb” (your words, not mine) to use the copier or computers. But that’s not the only reason for libraries. Go to a library and see what goes on in one to find the other reasons.

  34. Forever Anon says:

    trimyourposts, who pays for that “free access”? Nothing is free.

  35. I was responding to a previous comment. Just to be clear.

  36. “Man, I guess the AL had actual work to do today. What a short post. I expect more next time.”

    Ha! I sort of did this as a test. Yesterday the complaint was the post was too long. Today a complaint that it’s too short. Size isn’t always important! Some moron the first week I move here complained that all the posts were too long because he’d intended to read a short blog post. This is why I rarely take complaints seriously.

  37. good looking straight guy says:

    I’d miss the cute, smart, female librarians with positive attitudes.

    (Yes, there *are* some out there – though on this blog such a statement will usually evoke comments about how most librarians aren’t attractive. Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder anyway.)

    I’d also miss all librarians of both genders, regardless of what they look like, if they work in research libraries and know what they are talking about.

    There’s more of those out there than the first group of librarians I said I’d miss.

    Specifically, I’d miss the librarians who made sure someone put Wing and Evans numbers in ESTC records. Thank you for that.

  38. Forever Anon says:

    sidney, I realize your were replying to the previous commenter. But the internet and a library are two different things. Sure, you can find a lot of information on the internet. But, someone has to have a computer, have viable internet access, a way to pay for such access, and the understanding of how to search for that information. For some people, all of that is not possible. Also, think of the many people in rural areas or places where libraries have shut down. Think about how hard is it to get information if they do not have a computer of their own AND do not have a local library to count on for help.

  39. Forever Anon says:

    Oops…my bad. Disregard my last post. I got sidney and trimyourposts mixed up. Boy, I need one of AL’s martinis right about now. What a day!

  40. You have a martini, I’ll have a beer, and we can ponder why the heck Ball State turned down that blue-field bowl.

  41. I had a martini earlier, and it clarified everything. Okay, so it seems we have to worry about the country folk who don’t have access to computers. Subsidized Internet cafes? Is that all libraries are? Because if that’s all they are, then there must be more efficient ways to provide that. Just giving the country folk laptops and subsidizing an Internet connection for them would probably do the trick for less money. Perhaps they don’t know how to find information, but they’re country people. What information would they really need? Don’t they have folk wisdom and stuff like that to depend on?

  42. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    “What if libraries disappeared tomorrow? Who would miss them?”

    All the people who use them for:
    Free babysitting
    Free storytime
    Free naptime
    Free bathrooms
    Free magazines
    Free books
    Free music
    Free videos
    Free gaming
    Free summer fun for their kids (with prizes)
    Free programs
    Free shelter in bad weather
    and Let us NOT Forget…..

  43. Loafy Du Slump says:

    *This is why I rarely take complaints seriously.*

    You should ban the complainers. Or at least moderate their posts into non-existence. That’d teach them.

  44. Those ow you who commented on work Study Students who couldn;t reshelve to save their life ar misisng something.

    Work Study library shelvers get paid somethin gliek 5.25 an hour [that was 8 years ago when minimum wag was 5.15.] If minimum wage is now, 7.00 an hour, I bet they get 7.10 an hour.

    These library reshelvers are already not entirely motivated to be there much less work. They are library reshelvers, afterall. Couple apathy with laziness and a poor wage and guess wha tyou get!!!

    Add in a public which simply does not get the little call number tages or get the notion that they should NOT reshelve books, because the books are not ont he shelf in any random place the might fit!!

    The college library here does a book check every week or two weeks or so; They send someone into the section with a list of ten book; if the person can find all ten books, the reshelver passes; the reshelver needs a 70% or better or else face punishment.

    But what are you going to do when you catch them? Fire them? You would be doing them a favor!!!

  45. Oy Vey…I need to to get rich so I can have another person proofread my posts before I post them…sigh.

  46. Forever Anon says:

    AL, it’s not just the country folks. Didn’t you post on all the library closings in Philly? I don’t think many of them fit into your little definition of country folk. But how many of them are dependent on their branch library and can’t travel very far? Many people depend on libraries as their primary source for getting information. That information can come from internet access, reference books, periodicals, or even the librarians and staff. It is often the first place people turn to, mainly because they don’t know where else to look. That doesn’t make them “dumb” as other commenters have said.

  47. If I ban the complainers, they just complain about “censorship.” They’re such ninnies.

  48. trimyourposts says:

    Internet access might not be free, but it’s available to anyone who’s willing to work hard enough to afford it. That’s all we can ask for – opportunities for those willing to take advantage of them.

    Most libraries now are just computer labs. Isn’t that a failure of the purpose of the library?

  49. The Girl on Twilight did not turn to the library when she needed nswers.

    She turned to the Internet and then turned to a local bookstore. No “library” in the entire process, unless you count as a “Library.” there has been a Culture shift; meanwhile, librarians are just confronting this shift as it pushes us towards the Crisis Stage. Once librarians make the Paradigm shift, everythign will be fine. Unfortunately, by then Society will probably be two or three shifts ahead.

  50. Forever Anon says:

    “Most libraries now are just computer labs. Isn’t that a failure of the purpose of the library?” The libraries in my area are not just computer labs. Plenty of books do get checked in and out. Recreational and educational books, before anyone jumps on that bandwagon. And what purpose is the library failing? With internet access, I see education and recreation, which the library provides in book form as well. I also see access to information. Isn’t that one purpose of a library? Or is that too abstract?

  51. trimyourposts says:

    Amazon is a library, and a much better one.

  52. Library Cynic says:

    “I am just finishing up my MLS degree, and while I will be glad to be finishing it, I do not feel like it’s actually worth a lot.” I have had an MLS degree for years and with the proverbial 50 cents [maybe a dollar now] it’ll get you a cup of coffee. I find myself shaking my head when I read the wording on it, in fact. Not the way I started out but the way I became that changed my attitude. ALA is a navel gazing joke.

  53. Van the Man says:

    If work study students can do the simplest of tasks for the smallest of wages, hell yes they should be fired. I don’t get this attitude a lot of Americans have about getting paid 20 dollars an hour to do the simplest of chores. Work-study is almost like being GIVEN the money as is–Christ, you can’t give SOMETHING back in return? How is Obama going to build his robot army of volunteers when there are just some jobs Americans won’t do even if you pay them?

  54. Original Anonymous Librarian says:

    “I miss the old AL…. since moving here, this blog isn’t what it used to be…. bring the old AL back please…. we all love her and miss her….”
    It was high time for another martini I’d say. I was just reading something about how, the way things are headed, a college or university degree is about to be priced out of the limit of the average American family. Looks almost like a race to the bottom. Of course if academia starts to go under what does that mean for its libraries; Enquiring
    Minds would like to know…. I can only guess. How’s your Mandarin Chinese??? In the interim, anybody interested in no money down real estate?

  55. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I plan to roll drunks for a living once libraries are closed. Either that or manage a hedge fund.

  56. The problem is not that Americans are unwilling to work for little pay. The problem is that Americans cannot afford to work for little pay AND keep up with their bling bling lifestyles. Even the cheaper lifestyles seem to be priced in the higher middle class. If you want healthcare that includes a doctor and a dentist, you’re looking at some serious bills most of us simply cannot afford without state welfare plans for the children or plans through our work. What’s even worse is how little that coverage actually covers, and how quickly you can be in seriously red ink for something as simple as a root canal or major surgery – heaven forbid it be something highly necessary and the provider baulks at providing coverage for it!

    Let me add some more manure to the pile. It turns out that a work study position in a library even in departments where actual work is done does not count much towards “Real Work Experience.” It does not count at all in terms of most job listings – they want 1-2 years experience full time in a library, minimum – preferably in a supervisory position. What????!!!! And this is for a $9.00 to $11.00 an hour, 20-39 hrs per week and no benefits position?? J [obs] T [hat] S [uck]!!!

    In other words those work-study students are better off going over to Mickey D’s and getting a full time shift making crabby patties.. 40 hours per week is a lot more time consuming then 20, but the pay is better, the promotion scale is better and if they keep at it, they will have 5 years of experience in sales, promotion and management when they graduate. And they will have had real faux benefits along the way. Wow – who knew, right??

    Let’s go back to the beginning of this post and review WHY Americans CANNOT work for less then $10-$15 dollars an hour. Go to the Center of Housing Policy website and locate the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Interactive database and review a couple area’s cost of living in terms of housing costs. My area, for example, requires $11.50 an hour, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks per year, in order to afford a simple one-room apartment. If you want be able to afford a house, you need to make $69,000 per year. And my area is one of the cheaper places to live in the US.

    If you make $20 dollars an hour, Big whoop. 20 dollars an hour, 40 hours a week, 5o weeks a year is only $40,000. Your spouse will have to make at minimum $15 dollars an hour if you want to be able to afford that house. You’ll both need cars to get to work right? If you use public transportation, you risk catching the common cold, losing at least an hour on a trip that takes 30 by car, and lose the ability to accomplish more after work than you could with a car. And the kids…oh my, you had kids??? It takes something like 10 grand JUST to pop the damn thing out!!! And you thought the Wedding was expensive!!!!!!!

    Do you see now why Americans cannot afford to have a job at a pay rate at anything lower than what appears to be ridiculous? And do you also see why the housing market is so seriously crunched right now? Do you see why we say “That Library Jobs Sucks!!!?” It’s all in the numbers, baby!!!!!

    The Library did not keep up with the rate of inflation – and neither have a number of fields in comparison to the CPI.

  57. annoyed more often then not says:

    –Internet access might not be free, but it’s available to anyone who’s willing to work hard enough to afford it.– Trimyourposts. So people without internet at home don’t work hard? People who work hard usually first pay the rent/mortgage or buy food and feed their families before they can afford the interent.

  58. trimyourposts says:

    That’s right. If you can’t afford internet, then you’re not working hard enough (or smart enough). This is the land of opportunity – go and get yours.

  59. It seems after a quick scan of the comments that everyone has failed to mention the importance of school libraries. K-12 education (as a whole) is swiftly becoming a farce due to many factors, including but not exclusive to NCLB. What level of high school grads would we be producing if school libraries and school librarians disappeared? Think of what term papers would be like! Heaven only knows what would happen to book reports because if you don’t have libraries to check the books out from, every student would have to buy their own. And we all know every student in the U.S. has plenty of ready cash to spend on books.

    I know AL is being her usual sarcastic/devil’s advocate self, so I’m not taking offense to the question she posed. But it is worth thinking about, especially in terms of school libraries.

  60. Sidney needs to visit South Dakota and maybe then he’d realize that not everyone has access to the Internet. Ever been to an Indian reservation?

  61. I think it’s time you quit the profession, Annoyed Librarian. You give librarians a bad name.

  62. Straight Arrow says:

    In 20 years there maybe no library buildings, but there will be librarians as long as we remember to separate the library mission from the building and the format of the materials. Mel Dewey had it right over 100 years ago when he said that the challenge of libraries was to provide the best reading for the largest number at the least. Too many librarians are fixated on the library as a building rather than a service that promotes the idea that our lives are better because we can read, have lots to read and at minimal cost can get most anything we want to read thanks to public libraries.

  63. Alfred E Newman says:

    We do need information engineers.

    An engineer is someone who understands the science that governs a system but has practical ways of using it.

    What we have in this profession is too many scientists who are out there thinking up good ideas, but have no practical way of implementing them.

    So, yes, we need to educated librarians to be more like engineers and less like scientists.

  64. Do they even have libraries in South Dakota? Do they even have any people in South Dakota?

  65. Jim Rettig says:

    Librarians are scientists? Now that’s funny!

  66. A lot of ivory tower types think they are scientists. They even publish in peer-reviewed journals.

  67. Some sort of librarian says:

    On the disappearance of librarians:

    First) My first wife started pharmacy school in 1977. She was informed that the profession of pharmacist was in danger. Almost no compounding was performed in the pharmacy any more. Everything was “count, pour, lick, stick” and any high school graduate could do that. Computers keep better track of drug interactions and adverse events. The future was in patron… I mean, patient education. Without that added feature, pharmacy as a profession was doomed.

    Last I looked, there were plenty of pharmacists out there — much better paid than librarians — in that cutthroat efficient world of the free market.

    Second) Two words: Bank Teller. Should be as obsolete as a drayman (look it up) but there they are, working hard, every time I use the ATM. And ATMs have been out there for about 30 years.

    Librarians and libraries are going to be here for some time to come, whether they should be or not.

  68. Why do I have to wait 30 minutes for the pharmacist dude to put some pills in a bottle?

  69. Why do people think libraries and librarians are coming to an end? I don’t think libraries are going to be taken over by Google or robots or whatever. There’s something about being inside a physical building and holding a physical book that will assure the continuing need for libraries. You guys are trying to scare yourselves. Relax.

  70. Barnes-n-Noble says:

    “There’s something about being inside a physical building and holding a physical book. . .”

    Isn’t that why we have Borders?

  71. Jim Rettig says:

    Younger generations don’t have that sense of holding a book inside a building. They are comfortable with everything being online. That’s why libraries are headed towards extinction. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, except for those who get a paycheck from the library.

  72. “I think it’s time you quit the profession, Annoyed Librarian. You give librarians a bad name.”

    Librarians give librarians a bad name without any help from me.

  73. Library Cynic says:

    Libraries are just like any other business – if they don’t adapt, they fail. Libraries are pretty slow at adapting so the future is not very bright.

  74. Hey, AL, are you the hot librarian with the bun, black frame glasses, short business skirt, white buttoned blouse…oooh, I imagine you in the stacks and someone turns on the firehose at you and you toss your head aside to let down your tresses and your clothes fall off whilst an 80s power ballad is playing in the background…oooh, yeah.

  75. Robert S Rule says:

    “Libraries are just like any other business – if they don’t adapt, they fail. Libraries are pretty slow at adapting so the future is not very bright.”

    I disagree. Why, this morning we formed a committee to look into the problem. We plan to have many meeting where we are going to gather as much data as possible. We are going to look at the problem of libraries very carefully and include as many stake holders as we can. The meeting phase should be over within the next two years.

    After we are done with the meeting phase, we are going to create various sub-committees to address each and every concern that was brought up. Each sub-committee will issue a report at the end of the year. So now we are talking three years.

    After the committee as a whole looks at all the sub-committee reports, they will have plenary sessions again with each of the stake holders to ensure that everything was addressed properly. This will only take six months so we are only out 3.5 years at this point. The sub-committees will have six months to incorporate all ideas into their final reports. Now we are back at a nice round number of four years out.

    The committee as a whole will re-examine everything and issue a hard hitting blue ribbon report to all policy makers and should land on their desks on the fifth anniversary of the committee’s formation.

    We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can solve the problems of five years ago today.

  76. “Hey, AL, are you the hot librarian with the bun, black frame glasses, short business skirt, white buttoned blouse…”

    Absolutely not. I don’t have a bun; I have a pixie.

  77. Robert S Rule says:

    By the way, we are calling our committee the Librarians For People League.

  78. 60% of college students are not familiar with the term citation, 70% call number, 40% or more don’t know what a database, subject heading, or search engine is, 30% don’t know what a keyword is (results from surveys of the past year in our library). Yet this is a computer savvy generation?
    I think librarians will be around for awhile.

  79. They may not know “your” terms, but they can out cyber you in a heart beat.

  80. Judge Ito says:

    FREE O.J.!!

  81. Marsha Clarke says:

    FREE O.J.!!

    However, bacon and eggs will cost you $9.99

  82. Employed Librarian says:

    If there aren’t any reference librarians in 20 years, will some of you folks STILL say that there isn’t a shortage of librarians?! Will you STILL badmouth the library school deans and ALA about it?!

  83. Rose Greer says:

    OJ got set up by his own friends. With all the criminals walking the streets right now, it’s hard to believe that OJ is going to be spending the next 15 years in prison.

  84. Hey, AL my girlfriend is the only hot female librarian in her library and the other librarians snipe at her. In addition to being hot, she’s smart and industrious.

    I tell her hotness, smartness, and industry could be part of why her so-called colleagues snipe at her.

    Your response to a previous comment suggests you might be hot. Your satire indicates you are probably smart. Despite your claims about drinking martinis, your descriptions of yourself suggest you might be industrious when you are convinced of the worthiness of an endeavor.

    So…if you are a hot, smart, industrious female librarian do your female colleagues get jealous and snipe at you?

    Just wondered. It would add some perspective.


    A person

  85. Person, has anyone turned a firehose on your girlfriend?n ;)

  86. John Holmes says:

    I could do it.

  87. anonymous Burned says:

    She is the firehose, and she could put out any flame in a heartbeat.


  88. Will O.J. have access to a librarian while he’s in prison?

  89. I love this question.

    That ancient philo question: If a tree fell in a forrest and no on was around to hear it fall, did it make a sound?

    Here is my response to that ancient Philo question:

    If a tree fell in the forest and no ‘human’ was around to hear it then it still fell.

    We know this because we quite often find things that have not been observed by man before the time it was observed by man, such as dinosaur fossil remains buried between layers of time when man did not walk the Earth and plants and other species and lots of things that were here before we were.

    However you might be of the opinion that nothing exists until YOU personally observe it and then it all miraculously appears as it does in a dream sequence.

    If you believe your existance is nothing more than dream then NO it did not fall if you did not observe it and seeing it lying on the ground is not evidence it fell only evidence that your dream sequence created an image of a fallen tree.

    And BTW, this is the first post personally made by me today.

  90. Scooby Doo says:

    As a reference librarian, I know I wouldn’t be missed, because people walk right past me now, looking confused and lost, and don’t notice me until I basically stand up and dance for them and teach them that there is a system to “findin’ stuff” and that it doesn’t just walk up and say “Hi! I’m Twentieth Century Literary Criticism! I’m what you need!” So, if libraries disappear, I’m sad to say a lot of people wouldn’t miss a beat.

  91. Well…Libraries nowadays aren’t just about research and finding the information. They are location for community activities offered free to everyone. Storytimes, Literacy, ESL, Language courses, cooking demonstrations, financial planning, job hunting skills, cultural programs and much, much more. Until none of those are needed by the community, then I think libraries and librarians are pretty safe.

  92. Jim Ryan from Atlanta says:

    With good behavior, O.J. could be out in nine years.

  93. Imposter, please, go take your meds!!

    The real question is, if a library fell in the forest and it landed on Mr. Kat, would Mr. Kat still make a sound?

    Thanks to Library Journal’s grotesquely underadvanced comment software interface, we know that Mr. Kat might as well continue on in perpetuum far beyond the breath of any one person simply because there will never be a shortage of idiots who are mindless about social manners.

    As for the libraries falling in the forest, it will pass with barely any sobbing, and perhaps with great fanfare! They will tear down aht big “PUBLIC LIBRARY” sign and replace it with “COMMUNITY CENTER” and then staff with Ex-teachers with degrees in english education and home-economics, political science, and everyone else who can push an application through the door. The librarian position, though, there will only be one of those, and if you want it you had better have a PhD-LIS from an ALA accredited Library school. and don’t even think about applying for the Director position, because that will be a MBA/Communications/PR/business organization position, and even though you may be qualified on paper the only way you will get this job is because you are in good with the local political scene.

    have a nice day.

  94. Original Library Cynic says:

    “The librarian position, though, there will only be one of those, and if you want it you had better have a PhD-LIS from an ALA accredited Library school.”
    Correction; That’ll be an Ed.S -LIS, and will be for teaching in one of the surviving state univ. diploma mills [ALA accredited] still hawking the “librarian shortage” story to the unwary. Those who lose their jobs in L.S. Ed. will probably have careers in aluminum siding or used car sales. :-/

  95. At least in 20 years there will still be houses that need siding and people will need cars. The same can’t be said for libraries.

  96. HarleyGrl says:

    For the record – I’m formerly WebbyGrl but I’m changing my screen name because my sweetie just gave me a 2009 HD Heritage Softail Classic for my birthday. Nice! So now I can be a biker librarian ha ha.—-The answer to all this is very, very simple. Look at Star Trek. There aren’t any libraries on the Enterprise or any other of the starships or the space stations. People don’t seem to need them. They tap a few keys and hit a database. And don’t give me something like the show just never had an episode in the library. I happen to be a serious Treckie and have the schematics to the NCC-1701D and no library is present. Society and technology are moving closer and closer to Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future every day. So I take that to be a very legitimate picture. What they DO have on Star Trek are curators, but not librarians. VrroooooM!

  97. Naopoleon says:

    If Libraries disappeared, where would all the kids hang out? There would be no computer access for everyone in the neighborhood. There would be no books. I think libraries are essential to communities as parks and public pools in Arizona. Libraries are the community centers. Librarians are the future. We make information work.

  98. The library focuses residents on one place for information and civic activity. It attracts many who may be unaware of other civic services and creates a positive image in its services, as opposed to some other services which may be regulatory in their nature and may create, though unintentionally, a negative image.

    Residents closely identify with their library and are quite loyal to it. This is particularly true in smaller communities or in branch library locations which serve neighborhoods. The Friends of the Library, the literacy groups, the preschool story hours, the career and job centers, the business information centers, and so on, all provide individuals with opportunities to participate in the library as users and as supporters.

  99. Library Cynic says:

    If O.J. came into my library, I would intentionally give him wrong directions to the bathroom.

  100. Original Library Cynic says:

    The last post was by an impostor. As fro this; “If Libraries disappeared, where would all the kids hang out?” Give me a BREAK! Where they do already, at the MALL…..Or at Barnes & Noble or Borders. As for the comments about Startrek, Wasn’t there an episode on one of the episodes of this, one of the spin-offs, or a copycat series like Stargate, where they stumbled on to a library of a dead civilization? Ever wonder what it was like to be a blacksmith a century ago?

  101. “If Libraries disappeared, where would all the kids hang out?” AL, you have lurkers from East Huron here. It shows.

  102. MSUMLarry says:

    Nobody misses anything when it disappears.

  103. HarleyGrl says:

    Original Library Cynic – Exacly! “A library from a dead civilization” vs. a current thriving library. (Classic Trek, Episode 78, “All Our Yesterdays” – and the episode was written by a UCLA librarian). But there were no books – only a portal to the past. It seems that the UCLA librarian saw the future of libraries back in 1966 when the episode was written. And all this talk about the library being a civic center. So what you’re saying is that the library, in the traditional sense of the word, is no longer a viable entity. It is a government owned and run civic center for jobs, public internet access, and story hour. It might as well be a YMCA with books. And only a few people have mentioned the elephant in the room…there is no need for an MLS librarian as technicans will suffice. During my internship at a PL, the cataloger was extrememly knowledgeable and certainly could have run the place. But she didn’t have her MLS. That had nothing to do with her abilities but only kept her at a lower pay rate. Perhaps library schools should offer classes in creative writing so if you get your MLS you can write sci-fi scripts. Oh wait, you don’t need a masters to do that either.

  104. If the chief contribution of the modern library is the social organization it created and there are now a growing number of fields and information services which have crowded that social organization into a proportionally smaller part of the whole information services scene, then we might well conclude that despite having been a good thing, the social institution our field bequeathed to society will in the end have been relatively short-lived and at best only a modestly significant legacy.

    It would be facetious to claim, of course, that the modern library has been the sole champion of this social institution, this idea about information accessibility in society. Nevertheless, the modern library has been an exceedingly strong and significant voice–in many respects, perhaps, the strongest and most significant voice–giving shape to the idea. It has promoted the idea under many different guises–for example, in its early emphasis on reading guidance; in its long-term partnership with public education; in its critical role in the rise of the modern university; in its support and its advocacy of the social betterment goals of the country over the past seventy years and, especially, since the 1960s; and finally in its adoption of new information technologies.

    This list could be lengthened. The main thing is that the modern library has not only been a very strong and able champion of a much more abstract sense of a social institution than merely that of a concrete form of a social organization, but that the means by which this goal is accomplished is not absolutely necessary to its success. The means might well change in many, if not most, of its particulars, in fact. However, such changes ultimately matter little, because it is the idea itself which is the social institution bequeathed to society, not the social organization employed to achieve it. As long as that idea remains, the legacy is intact.

  105. Original Library Cynic says:

    Today, hanging out for kids takes place online more than in a physical space. The physical space doesn’t matter as long as there is electronic access to the virtual hangouts. This makes it almost impossible to regulate kids’ activities.

  106. Vegans For Meat says:

    Mr. Kat is the New Anonymous. The old anonymouns is just an archaic personality from antiquity with little to no form or meaning.

  107. English Major says:

    If he has an identity, then he is not anonymous.

  108. Vegans For Meat says:

    Anonymous is an identity of anonymity as Mr Kat is an identity of anonymous. They cancel out each other to create a new identity, which in itself is an anonymous identity, nay, identity. It’s complicated, but I believe you’re starting to get it.

  109. ?Que? Mr. Kat just took 22 blog lines to say absolutely nothing. Amazing. I would hate to be in one of his meetings. But when you use big words and talk in circles, that is how you get published and peer reviewed. Bravo! —I’m off to get bugs in my teeth. Adios!

  110. English Major says:

    What makes you believe I am starting to get it?

  111. Vegans For Meat says:

    I can tell by the way you’re typing. Let’s call it a “gut” instinct, an anonymous one, no doubt, but an instinct, nonetheless.

  112. Vegan, you nailed it. I did not write that 22 line diatribe. Why would I ever write That?

    But I did write the post about the Community Center – which Harleygrl nicely elaborated on and in a beautiful manner. But I thought I did touch the elephant in the room, I jsut touched a different part.

    See, I recognize that most librarians positions will be reduced to “Technician” positions. Once this is done the authorities that be will be able to higher lower education levels for the position. However, I do believe there will be a “librarian” position for a very long time. It is, in short, a political appeasement to those in society who have high and mighty library degrees and feel awfully full of their library prowess. They know libraries far better then anyone, so they will always be needed. Because again, people are never going to be able to find information like They find informaiton using archaic innopacs, commercial databases, and classification codes.

    So there will still be one librarian position in the old Library building, but like I said, it will require a Ph.D instead of the MLS, and it will pay no better then the MLS job ever paid. This time, however, nobody will go into the technician positions with the hope that after ten years of menial subservient work, the higher ups will give them a turn in the lIbrary Staff room. Everybody will know that experience on the floor of the Community Activity Center is nothing more then a Resume Filler for Highschoolers and recent HS graduates.

    Vegan, you are right. Mr. Kat is the New “Anonymous.” If the library fell on me in the forest, only one identity would disappear.

  113. Original Library Cynic says:

    That last post was by an impostor. “Perhaps library schools should offer classes in creative writing so if you get your MLS you can write sci-fi scripts. Oh wait, you don’t need a masters to do that either.” Actually, I write non-fiction books and articles that have nothing to do with libraries. Back years ago they required a B.S., or maybe it was a B.L.S. [ALA Accredited, naturally] to become a “Professional”. I guess the market for library ed. was getting slow, and they upped the bar to an M.L.S.. Now they are cranking out more librarianss than there are jobs, and begging Congress for money for “Library Education”, using the stalking horse of a “Librarian Shortage”.
    How is the average librarian in the field supposed to have any respect for an organization that’s rather blatantly dishonest, and acts like AIG.

  114. anonymous says:

    “How is the average librarian in the field supposed to have any respect for an organization that’s rather blatantly dishonest, and acts like AIG.” Well, for a start, P.T. Barnum had a saying…..and many of them thought there was an actual librarian shortage too. Talk about the “Big Con”.

  115. There have been a lot of great comments here, but I think my favorite is, surprisingly, one totally unrelated to the post: “If O.J. came into my library, I would intentionally give him wrong directions to the bathroom.”

    So would I.

  116. As for libraries not needing MLS-holders if they’re just community centers and playrooms, so much should be obvious. Though at least one prominent library blogger who teaches at a library school that supposedly has ALA accreditation spends entire class periods having his class play video games. Then again, if libraries are a joke, why not library school?

  117. Original Library Cynic says:

    That last post was by an imposter.

    As far as the “librarian shortage”, some public libraries experience temporary shortages of childrens librarians and, more rarely, young adult librarians. But that is about it. Forget about becoming a reference librarian in a university; these jobs attract hundreds of applicants and selection committees often cope with the mountain of applications by simply rejecting anyone without five years of full time experience out of hand. Public libraries will once in a blue moon hire someone right out of library school as a reference librarian, but this is because such jobs are usually not worth having in the first place.

    I don’t know why anyone would go to library school today unless they have wanted all their lives to be a librarian at all costs. Why they would want this is beyond me. Take it from someone who has been a librarian for 20 years–most librarian jobs suck. I enrolled in library school during the Reagan depression of the early 1980’s to avoid unemployment and homelessness. In those days college graduates were standing on street corners asking for spare change. Even in this lousy economy, today there must be better options than library school.

  118. Library Cynic, that is an interesting point – my cynical satire seems to be shared.

  119. O.J. should have consulted with a reference librarian to find the definition of armed robbery.

    But wait!

    He probably tried but the librarian was in her office playing solitaire.

  120. It’s important for the librarians to play solitaire. It helps them learn how to use the mouse and move the little cursor around the screen.

  121. When I was in library school they told us that the “paperless library” was right around the corner, and that university professors, lawyers, and physicians would have to pay us large fees if they wanted information because we would be “gate-keepers” – the only people who knew how to operate those incredibly mysterious things called computers.

    Of course I was stupid enough to believe them. So I doubt that the people peddling this BS believed it themselves.
    The instructors also told us that computers would bring great prestige to the “profession” of librarianship. DMV clerks already had computers on their desks by then, and it was never explained why the computers had not brought great prestige to this group.

  122. HarleyGrl says:

    I put 125 miles on the bike today! WooHoo!! — And to add to the Librarians and Star Trek theme – The director of the movie Librarian 2, “The Curse of the Judas Chalise”, (showing on TNT as I type) is Mr. Jonathan Frakes, a.k.a. Commander William T. Riker the First Officer of the Starship Enterprise under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard for 178 episodes. Now that’s just kismet! And that librarian (Noah Wylie – a personal heart throb) is more of a curator than a librarian with umpteen PhD’s in everything vs. just a measly MLS. I’ve never seen him shelve a book or give anyone dirctions to the bathroom.

  123. Vegans For Meat says:

    Who cares whether or not “librarians” will be around in the future. Today’s global economy and accelerated rate of change brings very little knowledge or security of what exactly the future holds, and this applies to more than just librarians, it applies to everyone. No one, but no one, is safe from obsolescence. So, take your stupid librarian despair and join the rest of the world in the realization that we’re all just pawns to uncertainty and the best we can do is try to “position” ourselves to be ahead of the curve, always.

  124. REAL Original Library Cynic says:

    “I don’t know why anyone would go to library school today unless they have wanted all their lives to be a librarian at all costs. Why they would want this is beyond me. Take it from someone who has been a librarian for 20 years–most librarian jobs suck. I enrolled in library school during the Reagan depression of the early 1980’s to avoid unemployment and homelessness. In those days college graduates were standing on street corners asking for spare change. Even in this lousy economy, today there must be better options than library school.” The last OLC post was by an impostor, but I agree on this. I graduated in the late 70’s, ahead of the impostor OLC, and at that time the days when there REALLY were reasonable library openings was not that long past. There were jobs open for entry level slots in quantity up into the early 70’s, but snapped close at some point and it never was the same afterwards. Sories of a “Shortage” have been hawked off and on for at least 30 years, and a lot of folks were taken in by the false claims. I know of one person who found it easier to get a book published that won an award, and also found it easier to get featured on several Cable TV programs [C-SPAN Book TV, History Channel, etc.], than find a reasonable library job.

  125. I don’t quite understand why librarians–of all people–bemoan libraries and librarianship. I think librarians, like teachers, serve a very noble purpose, and those who choose to become a librarian are in a sense noble by virtue of their endeavor. Librarians and libraries are here to stay. As I said before, Google is not going to make obsolete the library profession. Relax!

    Also, perhaps I’ve said this before, but I think the library profession suffers from some form of an inferiority complex, so to speak. Librarians and their snarky remarks about the MLS and referring to themselves as “scientist” and what not indicate this.

    Anyway, I’m not a librarian, so I’m not trying to defend myself or profession, but I do work at a library and think the librarians I work with are cool and not as whiney as the lot of you!

  126. REAL Original Library Cynic says:

    That last post was by an imposter. I wasn’t even born until 1976 so I don’t know how I could have graduated in the late 70s. Imposter – please find another way to spend your abundant free time.

  127. So, why can’t they their job correctly? Laziness.

    That’s why we’ll have librarians around 20 years from now. Our educational systems and lots of “parenting” has made for lazy students. Unless there’s a sea change in attitude, I see students continuing their lazy ways. Too many make automatic stops at the reference desk. And way too many never learn a thing. I’m thinking of several right now …

    Of course that goes for a lot of students in library school too. I hate those begging e-mails claiming it’s an “opportunity” for me to do their work for them. Egads!

  128. So, why can’t they their job correctly? Laziness.

    That’s why we’ll have librarians around 20 years from now. Our educational systems and lots of “parenting” has made for lazy students. Unless there’s a sea change in attitude, I see students continuing their lazy ways. Too many make automatic stops at the reference desk. And way too many never learn a thing. I’m thinking of several right now …

    Of course that goes for a lot of students in library school too. I hate those begging e-mails claiming it’s an “opportunity” for me to do their work for them. Egads!

  129. Mithrandir says:

    The title of this thread was taken from a post i made. i demand remuneration from AL for using my words of wisdom.

    But on the topic at hand, anyone who thinks that reference librarians will go the way of the passenger pigeon are, as my pal Bugs would say, MAROONS!

  130. Greetings!
    I used to work at the Largo Library before I was forced to resign. I am here to slander them because apparently alot of the other libarians who were forced to resign have not done so yet. If you think anything I have said is inaccurate – find an ex-employee and ask them their experience.
    I have a question for you! Who needs librarians when you can train a circulation clerk to do it for less?(sure a crappy failed job – but an attempt nonetheless)
    During my time at the Largo library I saw the transformation : Librarians unavailable to the public(yes patrons verbally approached me often looking for them) because they were working the circulation desk(”

  131. You got to be kidding me cant use ”

  132. Yo! LJ web programmer!! escape those double quotes!! If you built this – I know you can do it.

    As I was saying – librarians unavailable because they were working the circ desk, and circulation clerks assigned to the reference desk(fail!)

    Problem with librarians at the circ desk and circ at the reference desk? Well we’ll solve that by even more de-regulation. A solution in a term called ‘roaming’. Nobody is assigned anywhere. Just pee on everybody.

    Let’s listen to the sound of silence together :
    1. eliminate all the competent people or as much as you can.
    2. give training called ‘core competency’ to those remaining. This week or so of training may someday replace the MLS if we can pull it off. Its job training.
    3. disreguard negative complaints from staff and patrons on poor quality.
    4. ask for more money to improve the same quality that was intentionally broken.

    When the circ clerks and library aides are under the gun to do the librarians job(and fail at it) :

    no – noone will hear the fall of the librarian.

    People of the community will simply sit and wonder why the quality of their library is equivalent to that of a fast food joint.

    Yes – they are building a drive thru window at that library.

  133. NJShoreLibrarian says:

    Your post defintely made me laugh. I too agree that information professionals functioning as circulation clerks degrades the quality of service libraries provides. Now I wouldn’t go as far as comparing our institutions to fast food joints, but I like your point. Moreover, if I only wanted to check books in and out books, I wouldn’t have pursued my MLS degree.
    Also, and Brian Williams posted a clip on the importance of libraries in our economy today. If you get a chance check it out.

  134. Jim Rettig says:

    You librarians that call yourselves information professionals need to get real. Just because you got a degree that any trained monkey could get, that doesn’t make you a professional anything. Quit looking down on other library staff and join the real world.

  135. NJShoreLibrarian says:

    I am unsure Jim of your educational background, but I would guess you do not possess a Master’s degree. I believe if you took your negativity and channeled it in a more proactive way you too could one day become an Information Professional. Moreover, I disagree “any trained monkey” could persevere in any ALA reputable program. I wish you luck.

  136. I attended one of those “ALA reputable programs” and became addicted to caffeine because I needed some type of stimulus to keep me awake. MLS classes are a joke. If you struggled in library school, then you weren’t intended to exist among the living. The term information professional is tossed around by insecure librarians who know that any high school graduate could do their job. It sounds impressive but it means nothing.

  137. Maybe libraries should start training monkeys! They can direct people to the restroom or sign them up for a computer–oooh, there’s an idea! Librarians can then do real work, like answering reference questions.

    “I am unsure Jim of your educational background, but I would guess you do not possess a Master’s degree.” NJShore, this comment of yours does sound a bit haughty and seems indicative of some, if not many, librarians who wear their degrees on their sleeve, as it were.

  138. Jim, I slept at least once in every single class through my bachelors and near every single class in my masters. Once I learned I could sleep through class and still get B’s and even A’s, I simply stopped coming to class as often. Attendence wasn’t required, you see!!! Why go to class and get an A when you can sleep at home and get a B? Simple Economics, see??

    My notes some days included skematics of things important to me like car diagrams alongside my complete notes. My margins are filled with little sketches of airplanes and cars and stragne things seen nowhere else.

    The degrees are meaningless and clas was usually quite dull. One day I fell asleep in Paleontology and I saw the entire lecture on a green chaulk board in yellow chaulk. when I woke up I saw the material that had yet not been erased only on white boards and in marker. My professor remarked that I had been mumbling in response to questions the whole time too. Que the twilight zone theme song!!!

    Those who want to think that university degrees are meaningful need to know that real life experience trumps all. University degrees do not come with real life experience – unless you count Girls Gone Wild a real life experience.

    I’m quite a bit foggy right now, the girl got me drunk tonight on this sweet peachy flavored wine. great stuff, but this is going to be a long night…oye vey!!

  139. I’ve been a librarian for over 20 years, and I think the most valuable part of my MLS program was learning how to think. Also maybe some theory gave me a base to build future learning on (or: on which to build future learning). I believe a bachelors degree in librarianship would have accomplished the same thing. I think lots of people are like me (or were at the time)– not sure of what they were going to do with their life, and relieved to find there was a profession that fit their interests. I never worked in a library before library school which is unusual among my colleagues.

    We are relevant now in helping people find the information they need online or in books and helping people do things which are now required to be online, such as applying for jobs or their digital tv box coupon. We are still helping people, and providing education to those who need it, and are no longer in school.

    You never know what life will bring you — I thought I would be an academic library cataloger, and I’ve been a reference librarian in a public library for 20 years.

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