Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

In Which I Resist the Group Techno-Hug

A kind reader sent me a blog post by a cheerful librarian who didn’t like it that the AL is so "negative" and that the blog and many of its commenters would make fun of a ridiculous library movement because the persons behind it were "passionate" and "enthusiastic." Supposedly, we need more passion and enthusiasm in librarianship. I was under the impression that we had lots of "passion" and "enthusiasm" but almost no culture of criticism.

Passion and enthusiasm don’t matter. What matters is the result. Librarians are prone to think that being bubbly and chirpy is somehow important. For a lot of us, being bubbly and chirpy makes you look like an idiot. Dance around enthusiastically grinning like a fool all you like, but your enthusiasm moves me not a whit. You can put on a happy face or direct your feet to the sunny side of the street or load up on antidepressants or whatever else you need to get through the day, but I don’t care how you feel. I care what you do and how it makes the profession I’m in look. You don’t like it that I’m "negative"? I don’t like it that you’re chirpy.

Let’s consider that Library 101 video once again. Is anyone willing to defend that? Anyone willing to say it was successful in anything it attempted to do? Anyone at all? Please step up if so. The consensus among many of us is that the video was tedious, overlong, painful to watch, and an insult to the profession of librarianship. The only positive things I’ve read about it (apart from the people who created it) are that it shows a lot of enthusiasm. Um, so what? Is that how professional librarians should judge the worth of something to the profession? That it’s enthusiastic? Is that really our criterion of value? How many librarians actually watched that video all the way through and thought, "Oh, wow! I’m so enthusiastic now!"

We can also go back over the list of 101 things that are supposedly basic to librarianship. The very simple response is, no, they’re not. If theoneohonions presented this as "some things that some public services librarians in public libraries might want to know about," that would be one thing. But that’s not the case. It’s more like "these are absolutely critical ‘skills’ for all librarians because we say so!" Many of these things aren’t relevant for most librarians. In their "enthusiasm," the oneohonions , much like the twopointopians, make hyperbolic claims that can’t possibly be supported. To say they’re "passionate" is irrelevant. The question is, are they right? No, they’re not. 

People like to attack the AL for being "negative" or "anonymous," but they do that because they can’t address the issues I raise. That’s another sign of the bias of librarians. "Oh, let’s play nice now. If we can’t say something nice, let’s not say anything at all." Hence, the judgment that theoneohonion video is "enthusiastic." Well, it certainly is that. How many people really want something like that associated with librarianship, though? I find things like that as offensive as the Pollyannas find the AL.

Few people are willing to step up and say the things I make fun of are actually worthwhile. Instead, they try to sidetrack the discussion. That’s always been the way the anti-AL crowd has worked. It’s because they don’t actually have any arguments to make. If they did, they’d make them and wouldn’t have to try to divert our attention to other issues.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m not here to play nice. I’m here to mock and satirize the stupid things that go on in librarianship. Like a lot of librarians, I get tired of enthusiasm over trivialities. I’m trying to end the culture of nice and introduce a culture of criticism. You don’t like what I have to say? Disagree with it. Refute it. Don’t read it. Dismiss it if you like. But even if the AL weren’t here, there would be plenty of librarians who find stuff like this ridiculous. They just wouldn’t have a blog to comment on.

The twopointopians and oneohonions think they define librarianship. They praise each other and link to each other and chatter with each other on Twitter and Friendfeed, and they all show up at the same conferences and say the same things to each other and pat each other on the back that they’re so enthusiastic.  It’s a very cozy cabal, but they’re really just a vocal minority within librarianship. They certainly don’t define the profession as a whole, despite having the nerve to tell the world that they know what the basics of librarianship are and those of us who disagree should just shut up and stop being so negative.

It should be clear to you by now I’m not playing by your rules. I’m not part of your little clique. I’m not going to check my brain and my "negativity" at the door so I can join your party. So you can continue participating in your "enthusiastic" group techno-hug all you like, but don’t expect the rest of us to be impressed.



  1. downunder1 says:

    I am in total agreement with you! What a long drawn out and silly video.
    I give it half a star.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. anon.librarian says:

    What you say is true, and it’s important to be critical of groupthink and cronies that are the face of librarianship that no one keeps in check. And tactful, constructive criticism as well as purposeful, directed enthusiasm are both vital.

    Allow me to travel to the land of what if: What if the purpose of the video was to encourage passion and enthusiasm? What then? Is that wrong, even if there’s no measure of success in place?

    I’m not sure anyone knows WTF is going on in that video or what its intended outcome is. I don’t know much about the project, and don’t know why I feel compelled to “defend” it because, let’s face it, it’s a mess that no one’s paying attention to.

    But some people need enthusiasm and some people need pessimism in order to be “happy” and both types of people are a fact of life. I do consider myself average, and like most average people, I’d rather not be around people that hate/love everything for the sake of hating/loving it.

    This project has just launched. Let’s say it’s in BETA. How can anyone say it’s worthwhile at this point? From what I can gather, I do think that their initiative is “relevant” and worth thinking about for everyone in the profession, but I don’t think that they can say that everyone must know these “skills.” I do think that knowing and using these skills can be a good thing and we should be using them for marketing, information sharing, literacy, etc.

    BUT, having a plan and a focus for your library’s Facebook page is something you might want to think about before you dive in as is determining your intended outcome for Facebooking.

    We need to think about and evaluate how current methods of technology and communications are effecting literacy and, dare I say, new literacies. We need to be thinking about effectively marketing ourselves where our people are. More and more people flock to social networks to get their information, communicate, etc. Why not explore going where the people are? Why not try a new form of free outreach/library promtion? My answer/purpose is market services customers and potential customers might not know about and to create a deeper psychological connection to the libraries for our customers. How do you measure that success? I don’t know, but maybe it’s the next time your library budget’s on the line.

    I get that your shtick is to sensationalize your sarcastic angle (hey, sensationalism works for bad journalists all the time), but I’d be more inclined to stand behind you if you were constructive in your “culture of criticism”

  3. SadButTrue says:

    Readers who thought the video was bad need to read the essays. They make Libraryland look like LaLaLand with pontifications about fearlessness, flexibility, unlearning, fun, etc. Don’t the 101ers realize they’re doing more to perpetuate librarian stereotypes than dispel them?

    The fact that so few people have posted analyses of the essays in other blogs or commented directly on the 101 site signify how insubstantial and poorly crafted they are.

    One offering, which described the “vision in a nutshell” was a WORDLE. Sadly, the folks behind the project (all the participants, Infoworld and the ALA) seem to think going to a website and spending a few minutes to produce a cliched graphic is visionary. SadButTrue.

  4. Jr. Annoyed Librarian says:

    This profession is driven by the personalities, shortcomings, and needs of damaged women. Everything we see coming out like this, and the belief that we can’t criticize it, speaks to the needs and insecurities of a certain demographic.

    Think about it…

  5. I wonder who the audience for the video (and other hip new things) is supposed to be. I’m younger than 30, still in my 1st year as a professional, and I look at the stuff ALA and other groups are putting out to corral undergrads and young professionals into the library world and I have to ask, “Did they run this idea by *anyone* under 50?”
    The video didn’t make me enthusiastic: it depressed me that this is what I can look forward to for the next 40 years. Those guys are old! And this is the very best they can do for their profession? I guess my dreams of publishing or running a branch can go in the can.

  6. Ryan Deschamps says:

    Spare me. The problem of your anonymity is that anyone who puts their name behind something has to prove the ‘results’ of which you speak and address your ‘points’ but yet you do not have to do the same in any significant manner. Your anonymity gives you the power to judge without being judged and you abuse this power. I see as much ‘groupthink’ here on AL as I do in even the most parochial of internet communities. In fact, the comments this place hosts are the same calibur I’d see on a ‘smack down’ video blog. All the bravado and self-importance without the substance to back it up.

    Where’s your professionally done video? Where’s your resume? What result do you have to offer us to show that you can judge others so harshly?

    I think it’s perfectly ok to defend Michael and David’s product on enthusiasm alone – because it is enthusiasm followed up with _action_. The rest of the stuff here is just crass spectatorship – people thinking they can will a foul shot in or out from the stands, and then yelling at the players for not succeeding.

    And worse, Library Journal sponsors this cowardice. It’s shameful. It’s not librarianship in the least and it doesn’t belong in any journal, forget LJ. Go back to your lame old blogspot blog.

  7. I love AL and want to be like her when I grow up. Praise shouldn’t be given out like we’re toddlers. She cuts the crap and I get a rofl. What could be better?

    I think I am disappointed that so many archivists and librarians have such interesting things to say, are so smart, and then out comes this video that Sesame Street would find crude. And why is our profession notorious for bandwagonning? Doing things when we don’t even know why? Are other professions guilty of that to the same extent? At all? (Not a rhetorical question.)

  8. From a production side, I have to give those guys kudos. Having been involved with both music and video production, I can appreciate the work that went into that thing. Was it overlong…definitely. Embarrassing, probably. Misguided…pretty much. But still, my hat is off to them for at least trying. As to the AL, don’t let the brayers get to you. We need your voice, even if anonymous.

  9. Anonymous Coward says:

    I was going to make a comment, but I don’t think my resume is impressive enough to allow me to have an opinion. It’s strange–the L2.0 crowd will fall all over themselves praising us anonymous cowards when we’re editing Wikipedia (“traditional notions of authority have changed!”), but start frothing at the mouth when we dare to criticize anything L2.0 related.

  10. Techserving You says:

    Very well said, AL. The whole ‘what matters is that we’re passionate’ thing reminds me of how, in my library – an academic library of a very prestigious institution (which makes this all the more depressing) – it’s the EFFORT the librarians put in that matters. I probably already said this, but I sometimes feel like I work at one of those places where ‘slow’ people go to put together light switches, or whatever, so that they have something to occupy them and make them feel important and useful. No one seems to care about the product – or the unnecessary amount of time spent to get to the product… it’s all ‘so and so spent so much TIME on this! She worked nights and weekends!’ Usually the product would be sad even if the person had put very little time into it, but the fact that the product was the result of many nights and weekends of work makes it even more sad. But I digress…

    Some people at my library do things very poorly. They do things that simply don’t make any sense, are inefficient, and simply WRONG. But we have this pathological ‘rule’ that we must all play nice – and playing nice means that we can’t give even constructive criticism. We need to pretend that it’s okay for people to waste massive amounts of time on stupid endeavors, or provide very poor reference service, like a broken robot might provide, or whatever. It’s INSANE. And before anyone says I should find another job… I have, several times, and I find this sort of thing all over Libraryland. I come to this blog for a bit of commonsense and a place where I can vent without driving my husband and friends crazy.

  11. TheIlliterateLibrarian says:

    Not everything done with new media will be succesful, and I think it’s right and good to criticize what isn’t working–it’s the only way we grow and learn. However, despite the excessive length and tedium of the video, the video did one thing successfully–it TRIED. It showed us the potential of what could be. Perhaps the next person who tries it will learn these lessons and be right on point when it comes to doing things with the technology and expressing the message of the library.

    Librarians talk about advocacy all the time, but I think we’re one of the worst groups at it. No one understands exactly what we do, but we also don’t bridge that gap and advocate for ourselves and the worth of our jobs as well as other “lobbying groups.” The general public doesn’t understand, much less politicians/school officials/schoolboard members, which I find to be VERY sad, because in MOST cases our budget hinges on their understanding and approval.

    We go on and on about relevance, but we don’t express our own relevance. Granted it needs to be done in a way that, in itself, relevant, short, to the point, and above all, completely not annoying to the viewer. But we need to be doing it.

    But hey, at least these folks are TRYING. It’s easy to point out all of the ways in which this failed (and there are many). And its easy to not fail if you don’t try, and easier to NOT try, then sit around and criticize (in, perhaps, a non-constructive manner) what they did and how it didn’t work.

    Learn the lesson, move on, don’t make the same mistakes next time is what I’m advocating.

  12. Anonymous says:

    @Ryan Deschamps:
    What does a resume have to do with anything? Good ideas aren’t better because someone authoritative came up with them. I’ll grant that when Alan Greenspan blogs about economics it will carry more weight than when I do, but if I make a persuasive argument, it isn’t any less valid because you don’t know who I am.

    Also, thanks AL for making this more than a rant about silliness – giddy enthusiasm for the sake of giddy enthusiasm doesn’t do anyone any favors.

  13. St. Sebastian says:

    All this talk about communicating and nothing to say.

    The few defenders state that it is important that they tried… tried what? To make a video? Congrats, they succeeded.

    The problem is, no one is sure what the message is supposed to be. All this effort to learn the technology but no thought to what you want the public to know.

    My issue with the video is that it serves as a distraction from the central vexing problem of modern library service: identity. What is the purpose of the library in the 21st century? We still haven’t articulated a meaningful goal, and until then, all the twitter and RSS feeds aside, we don’t know what to tell the people.

    If the “tech savvy” among us are so smart, figure out a platform that makes sense and includes all of librarianship, not just the fluffy parts. Convince us that this will save our jobs, because at the end of the day, that’s what really worries us.

  14. Oh, Ryan, you’re so cute when you’re angry. Or is it obsessed? Seems to be both.

  15. Techserving You says:

    Ryan, you seem to think that not presenting our resume here must mean that we’re not high-calibur [sic] and haven’t DONE anything and that we have nothing to back up our comments. We all must be hiding the fact that we’re unsuccessful, unloved, bitter, whatever. I have an excellent resume filled with top-notch institutions, and I have done much to completely overhaul procedures and make them more efficient. But, if I presented my resume, then you would know who I am (duh), and I quite enjoy having a forum to which I can come and air my frustrations in a way that I can’t do at work. I DO have the ‘courage’ to raise important issues at work, but I keep encountering brick walls and stupidity. This is what happens when you work with a bunch of people who are all like kindergarten teachers and think we all need to play nice (meaning no change and no constructive criticism.) I am happy to have a place where I can share my thoughts on the profession in an anonymous manner. I’m not sure why anonymity is equated with cowardice or the suggestion that those making anonymous comments must not have substantive experience and accomplishments to back up the comments.

  16. Techserving You says:

    TheIlliterateLibrarian – I DO try. I try and I succeed, coming out with more efficient and cost-effective procedures, etc. – things patrons may never know about, but which are essential to library functioning. This whole ‘hey at least we’re trying and you’re not doing anything but complaining’ argument really isn’t working. It’s not one or the other. I spend my time on things that matter and that really ARE at the heart of librarianship.

  17. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Keep up the good work, AL. You tell it like it is and some just cannot handle the truth.

    The chirpiest among us tend to be the least able – that’s what I’ve found in 30+ years. Being relentlessly upbeat is tiresome and, very often, inappropriate in the workplace because it is used to mask real problems.

    Damaged women, Jr.? That sounds a lot like a very short, very inadequate, very chauvinistic male librarian I worked with many years ago.

  18. The Library 101 guys have better articulated themselves in comments on other blogs than they have with their video and website, but that still doesn’t mean their project has a lot of value. I think one thing they haven’t realized is that they are now well-into-their-careers middle-aged folk and not the trendsetting youngsters they once were. Simply knowing about internet trends doesn’t make you special anymore. Anyone coming out of library school now and in the past ten years sees things like social media as no big deal, just part of everyday life.

    One of the ideas better articulated in a comment was the idea that libraries should figure out a way to get into the digital media distribution game. And that may be a valid point, but the way to solve that would be to actually develop a solution. I mean come up with actual software and a business model that would work.

    If, as they say, we are on a sinking ship then don’t just sing an enthusiastic song about the existence of life rafts. Go get the life raft.

  19. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Ah Techserving You – you said it so well. Consider yourself shushed, Ryan.

  20. BTW – the Campus Technology web site has an interesting item titled “Students Unimpressed with Faculty Use of Ed Tech.” I think the same could be said of bells and whistles some libraries and librarians are using to get themselves noticed. User groups and colleagues aren’t particularly impressed.

  21. I think the video was successful in getting people’s attention and sparking a lot of online discussion. Love it or hate it, it still got people thinking and talking about how relevant that list of 101 things was to their industry, and what things they’d change on the list if they’d written it themselves. It’s sparked three consecutive posts on your blog, and countless other blogs about the place.

    So, yeah. I’d say that it’s at least had some desired impact, and gotten library and information professionals thinking about it. Even the negative responses have had an overall positive result.

  22. “If theoneohonions presented this as “some things that some public services librarians in public libraries might want to know about,” that would be one thing.”

    Absolutely! For librarians to know that they exist is a good thing, but to have mastery of Hulu for a skill? Tragic. I’d rather be a proud background librarian keeping the shelves stocked and helping people than a dancing, smiling one. And Kudos to Techserving you!

  23. I am having an internal debate with myself. This video is bad, but so are the 80s films for the workplace. I can’t decide which is worse. I’m leaning toward this video because 80s movies you can fall asleep to; this one makes it hard to fall asleep to, yet, it makes me uncomfortable and annoyed.

    But as you can see, each era has bad videos, and I don’t think this will end until 2012.

  24. “Passion and enthusiasm don’t matter. What matters is the result.”

    Seems to me there’s an endless amount of passion and enthusiasm right here with all these comments. They’re from varying & conflicting points of view, but passion nonetheless. The result? We’re having a vigorous discussion about the state of librarianship in a serious & critical manner. Hallelujah! I, for one, have learned a lot from reading and contributing to these discussions. I’m passionate about my work and views but I’m also damn glad a lot of you have totally opposite views because I’d never know different ways of looking at our profession if we didn’t have these discussions/arguments. If anything passion & enthusiasm DO matter, especially here, where we can go at it with each other, and with open minds maybe we can learn from all of it and finally strengthen ourselves & improve what it is we do.

    I honestly don’t care if AL is anonymous because like her or leave her, she gets us talking in the “culture of criticism” she’s trying to establish. I mean really, who cares? I thought we were about the content, and that in the end is what we should be engaged in, not her credentials. Don’t get me wrong — she’s really pissed me off a few times with her comments, but hey, that’s exactly why we need her. Would we be talking passionately about being librarians otherwise?

  25. If librarians do not criticize what is going on in libraries, how do we improve? If librarians cannot criticize, others will. And others criticize by eliminating librarian positions, cutting funding, and closing libraries. Seems to me that being critical of ourselves ought to be the norm and not the exception.

  26. RadicalPatron says:

    I’ve followed the last few posts with great interest. At the risk of being labeled a self-promoter, here’s a link to an article I recently authored that offers many specific ideas for new public library services — and how to fund them.

    It would be great to have some of the energy and passion exhibited here focused on taking up those ideas with questions, enhancements, and constructive criticism.

  27. responder to R. Deschamps says:

    Hey Ryan,

    You begin your comment with “Spare me.”

    You don’t need AL to “spare you.” You have the power to “spare” yourself by *not reading the blog if you don’t like it*

    You say “Your anonymity gives you the power to judge without being judged and you abuse this power.”

    No, the popularity of her blog gives AL that power. If you don’t like the blog don’t add to its popularity and entertainment value by reading and responding with comments. (For a good example of how render ineffective your criticism of AL by patronizing her with angry/indignant reponses, see John Buschman’s lengthy hulabuloo with AL from Jan.-Feb. of 2009).

    You say “And worse, Library Journal sponsors this cowardice. It’s shameful.”

    Perhaps, but whether or not it’s shameful apparently LJ and some of their sponsors think it’s *profitable*.

    You ask “What result do you have to offer us to show that you can judge others so harshly?”

    Her popularity. She makes points – using satire and harsh language, as she admits – and enough people read it and find it entertaining, interesting, thought-provoking, etc. that they come to the LJ website (and, to what I suppose is the satisfaction of LJ, see the banner ads at the top of the screen). You add to that value when you respond with such indignation. If you really believe in what you say and think you’re right, why not have the confidence just to blow off AL and keep doing whatever it is you do as a librarian?

    Finally, what *actual harm* does she do you, David Lee King, or the other guy in the video? It’s just criticism. It’s just words. Sticks and stones, you know….

  28. Dances With Books says:

    >>”the L2.0 crowd will fall all over themselves praising us anonymous cowards when we’re editing Wikipedia (“traditional notions of authority have changed!”>>

    I think that commenter puts it very well. I would say more, but it may be my resume is not enough in their book for me to have an opinion. And sorry, enthusiasm alone does not cut it. And action? I have not seen any as a result of the 101 video. If you mean those things that pass for “essays” in the site, not impressed either with the cuddly, warm and fussies. I will pass on drinking the Kool-Aid, thank you. And if doing so means I don’t get it, or I am a coward, or anything else, well, I can live with that. Because at the end of the day I will have my integrity and the knowledge that I do my job and do it well. You 101ers can keep your condescension and keep hugging yourselves.

  29. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Right this blog isnt about posting how wonderful things are its where we go to see that things are not good all over the place. I am watching the head of tech in my library waste nearly $30,000 on staff computers because he cant decide between Macs and PCs. I know job security is good but what I could do with $30,000 wow. If that video turns out to be Beta, because of this blog, then the Al did her job. Especially if they incorporate the ideas presented by her, and people on this blog into a revamped campaign. A place to vent is good because it allows me to say things negative, geting it off my chest then look my boss in the eye and smile. Getting through the daily politics of the work place and ALA

  30. Nurse Dewey says:

    Somebody call the waaaaaa-mbulance!

  31. AL, you talk about “passion and enthusiasm” and equate that with being “bubbly and chirpy.” The terms are not synonymous (as your passionate posts illustrate).

  32. It’s interesting but I find the harsh criticism here just as condescending as people think “twotopians” are.

    And what I found most valuable about the Library101 were the essays posted on the site. I read several and they were inspiring and well informed and written by practitioners in our field. I’d recommend them.

    And I have to say that as a professional, David Lee King has inspired me a great deal in the work I do with high school students in my own library.

    And who is to say that librarians can’t be silly, anyway?

    I’ve worked in both public and school libraries and have found many librarians I know to be intelligent, cynical, quirky, fond of satire, witty, humorous, but also sometimes disdainful and elitist.
    It takes all kinds, like any other kind of profession.

    I wish we would use annoyance for those things that are really bothersome, like inane internet filtering, or supervisors that don’t get it, or battles with IT departments, or censorship or many other things that trouble our profession.

  33. Montmorency fan says:

    “AL, you talk about “passion and enthusiasm” and equate that with being “bubbly and chirpy.” The terms are not synonymous (as your passionate posts illustrate).”

    AL’s point seems to be that the oneohoneians or whatever they’re called
    consider the only legitimate “passion and enthusiasm” to be bubbling and chirping.

    To some twopointopians and oneohoneians passion and enthusiasm is only OK if it’s theirs.

  34. Fat and Grumpy says:

    For me, it’s not the chirpiness, it’s not the silliness, it’s the misplaced belief that energy equals outcome. You hear it in education, in sports, in libraryland: Trying hard is learning, is winning, is an accomplishment. Trying is necessary, but not sufficient to change the world.

  35. It seems that we go through the “anonymous!” crap every so often when new readers that object to the AL’s viewpoint decide to take her down a peg – not through logical argument, but instead via ad hominem attacks. (Calling someone a “coward” is an ad hominem attack too, and those that call the AL a coward should count themselves fortunate that she’s not a Klingon librarian.) It’s getting old.

    First of all, as AL has pointed out in the past – she’s not anonymous. She’s pseudonymous. Second, pseudonyms were fine for the authors of the “Federalist Papers,” among others. Third, insisting that one present one’s qualifications prior to making an argument is an appeal to authority – a logical fallacy.

    As for “Library 101,” I commented on YouTube that the video was painful to watch and I was messaged by somebody involved with it, who insisted that I offer constructive criticism. So I did – I pointed out that many, many of the 100 things on the list are problematic for people with disabilities, and as such the list implies that people with disabilities can’t be librarians. (Consider, for example, the nonsense about the iPhone – well, that doesn’t work very well if you’re blind, or deaf, or a phonophobe.) The response I got was essentially, “Great! You should write that up on the site!” In other words, “do our work for us, please.” I felt like they were trying to drag me into their little cult – like the only way you’re allowed to criticize your work is to join them first. That’s nonsense.

  36. tummytime says:

    So I actually took some time to read the 101 skills list. OMG. Typing is #7 on the list. Just awesome. They ask us to come up with #101. Mine would be finding a way to prevent this thing from going “viral.”

  37. AL, I would LOVE to know who you are, just so that I could fly to wherever and treat you to a three-day martini binge. I am (momentarily) speechless. You are a total goddess.

    Now if we could just do something about that generation which has never been told “no” and which mistakenly confuses arrogance with “courage” . . .

  38. tummytime, I took a look at the list of 101 things. I’m not going to bother to post there because I k now it’s just a group hug and any even faintly critical comments will be deleted (they all seem to be blinded by their own supposed coolness factor). I would have put in something foolish like, oh, readers advisory skills for #101 but you can guess where that would get me!! Because then you have to waste time, like, reading instead of blogging about how 101 your every waking moment is. Hmmm, guess I don’t know who my customer base is so that I can focus on it (too busy meeting the needs of that customer base to Twit it).

  39. I remember when I was applying for jobs, some libraries posted links to videos like Library 101 (some systems even made their own…). It was kind of them to give me a fair warning that I didn’t want to work for them. For Pete’s sake, I’m a children’s librarian and no one expects me to be that bubbly.

  40. Evil Librarian says:

    Oh Annoyed Librarian, it is simply marvelous how you have enabled so many spiteful feelings and truly tapped into the dark underbelly of librarianship. There is so much unacknowledged fear and anger seething in the heart of the average librarian! The thought leaders believe they can show these people the way, but they do not realize how terrified of the future everyone is. “We are not to dwell in the future! We are here to protect the books and preserve the art of writing,” they cry.

    I have not been this delighted with my profession since the late 1980s when everyone in the “Me” generation mistrusted everyone else and was afraid those new, young librarians would be stealing the few available library jobs. Oh, and then in 2005 they fretted because they had not hired those new, young librarians and there was no one with enough experience to take the place of the “Me-Mes” as they retired because they had alienated everyone after them.

    It is so rewarding to see this blog help to reinstall those fears, much the way the conversation has also become temptingly poisonous in the LSW FriendFeed room conversations.

    I admire how you are able to bring this mass of morose human feelings to light. You are truly inspiring.

    Yours in eternity,

    Evil Librarian

  41. Hippieman says:

    I’d rather librarians be fun and upbeat than what the usual stereotype portrays. You can beat this one to death, folks. I mean, the video was for fun!

  42. WarMaiden - Colleen Harris says:

    I used to read your old blog, and occasionally would agree with something you chose to critique. Posts like this are a reason why.

    It is one thing to develop a culture of constructive criticism, and quite another to call people “idiots” and “twits,” which is inappropriate, unprofessional, and yes, when done anonymously, cowardly. It’s also not “satire” – check your drama terms.

    And really? Three blog posts on this 101 business in the span of a single week? You must really be hurting for material, which I find stunning in a time when library funding is being cut, RIFs and spending reductions are the norm, and hullaballoos over libraries threatening to close abound. Either that, or you are secretly Michael Porter and this is all a huge linkbait tactic to get more views for 101! *grin*

    I’d think that if Library Journal was going to give you space to be annoyed in, you’d use it to be annoyed about something useful. You want to be a critic? Move along. You’ve already sparked the discussion on this one, and now you just look petty as you beat a dead horse.

  43. Jenica Rogers says:

    The fact that you think that creating an environment in which people are cruel, unprofessional, and regularly resort to namecalling is “satire” or “constructive” makes me as unhappy as Library 101 makes you. Our profession needs honest, thoughtful, actionable critique. It does not need more people dwelling in school-yard namecalling and hate-mongering. I just don’t see how that’s going to move any of us forward.

  44. ^woosh!

  45. The AL writes to get read and provoke discussions. Obviously she’s successful, because this blog is widely read despite a conspiracy of silence of sorts among a lot of bloggers/tweeters to deliberately not link to the blog.

    Critics like to point to the harshness and negativity, and yes, there is a lot of that both in the blog and the comments. But there is also a lot of substantive discussion by many librarians on a wide range of issues (library jobs, lis education standards, library technology, censorship, professional status, politicization of the field, the ALA, and a lot more). Anyone who tries to claim the blog and its readers are just childish cowardly name callers is obviously blinded by prejudice.

    This blog wouldn’t exist if it didn’t provide about the only place where many of these issues can be discussed. Most other library blogs are either boring or deal with very specific niches in librarianship. They are rarely controversial because they don’t make any controversial claims. There are exceptions to this, but that seems to me a general rule.

    I’ve noticed some of the critics saying, what has the AL done? It’s clear. The AL created a blog that thousands of librarians read, occasionally writing posts that are in my opinion must reads for the profession even if you disagree with them, written posts so provocative that librarians can’t help but respond, and allowed a forum for discussion that despite its anonymity is surprisingly gentle compared to a lot of what I see on the Internet.

    No one has to read this blog, and yet lots of people do, and on some issues it spurs thinking for many of us, if only by forcing us to examine and defend our beliefs. That in itself is more of a professional accomplishment than many of us will ever have.

  46. tummytime says:

    I’m not one of those who idolize AL at all. The thing is, there ARE idiots and twits in our profession, and I need a place to rant about them. This is the best place for that imo. Here we can talk candidly about stupid things we say/do in librarianship. If you want “professional” debate, go elsewhere or make your own blog. This is where we shoot the sh*t.

  47. AL's_a_Felcher says:

    Hey, I like ending this culture of nice BS, it’s much more fun to say what I think. Look at me. I can be like Al. I’m making an argument. It’s ok that I criticize. It’s cool that I’m an ass. It’s fun to inspire ire. I’m anonymous, mocking, and satirical (see I’m being satirical because I’m ridiculing and deriding you). I’m frustrated & ‘real’ – a true librarian. It’s ok that I’m like this. Hey AL, Get bent minger.

  48. Evil Librarian says:

    Ah yes, Felcher, that’s the spirit! Let’s all make fun of one another!

    Our little vixen AL is in hiding, and that may perchance be the best way to have her show herself. I am all a-quiver to see if she will respond to the valiant WarMaiden and Jenica Rogers, doing their best to deflate.

    Well done all around!

  49. I was fooled for a minute, Felcher. Then I realized there’s one major difference between you and the AL. She writes a popular blog that has lots of readers. You’re reduced to leaving pseudonymous comments on a blog you hate because you just can’t resist.

  50. LIS_student says:

    This has been the most frustrating thing about library school so far: my classmates rarely want to throw down. And if you dare to disagree or challenge anyone, then they become very defensive and take it personally. It is such a strange and different culture than what I’m used to. Boring, too.

  51. Evil Librarian says:

    LIS_student, should we take it you come from a family of pugilists?

  52. Sekkio — I personally loved the iPhone ones best because it says, “If you don’t have a smartphone, you can’t be a librarian!”

    Because, you know, my GA slave wages offer me that luxury. Food for a month or a smartphone — I knew I made the wrong decision!

    And fie on the “my resume is too small to comment” people! I don’t need a fat resume to realize idiocy, just a working brain.

    Ryan: While *cue airquotes* BETA is a fantastic stage to be in, I think AL’s point is that 90% of the crap twopointopians babble about should be killed pre-production. Training librarians in hulu? How about worthwhile reference services? How about actual theoretical approaches to information science? How about publishing something other than another case study that says, “Yup… people use the internet and like google-esque searching? Why aren’t you indignant that our profession’s publications could be written by high school statistics students?

    I mean, how sad is it that one of the author’s in ACRL’s “No Brief Candle” — who came to librarianship from another field said, ‘Guys, if you don’t publish on theory, then you really will be trade school suckers.’

  53. Evil Librarian says:

    Thomas P, it is good to know that you do realize your idiocy, so we need not point it out.

  54. Oh, you! You just — not pointing it out — but then you — with that backhanded comment. Clever, you are. Really. I’m in awe.

  55. Evil Librarian says:

    Oh look, if I make another underhanded comment, no doubt we could be the next Smothers Brothers.

    But, I shall refrain from further commentary of this ilk. We must treat each other better, with more respect. For my part, I shall try.

  56. I really have a pet peeve against the phrase “It takes all kinds”. It most certainly does not take all kinds. There are many kinds the world would be better off without. Unless you mean it takes all kinds to really screw everything up.

  57. Hippieman says:

    It’s kinda weird that in our culture you can have a reactionary library blog like this in Librarian Journal and not have a counterweight. You know, where is the unrepentant socialist librarian blog? I mean, because most librarian are pretty left wing. It seems to mirror the general culture. Only the right wing is listened to and taken seriously

  58. Hippieman says:

    An addendum to my above post…I guess what I am trying to say is that AL is the mainstream. She/he is not some radical at the ramparts fighting the good fight against the evil techno-librarians. If she weren’t mainstream, she/he wouldn’t be paid to write in Library Journal. Now…if the suits at LJ really wanted to stir things up, they’d have one of the anarchist librarians blog about library issues. But, you and I know that ain’t gonna happen. It’s verboten in the mainstream library culture

  59. Montmorency fan says:

    I think Ryan Deschamps made his anti-AL point more effectively than John Buschman did in the flap earlier this year. Buschman just went on and on, and couldn’t stay away from the very blog he reviled. Deschamps said his piece, and then when others said “if you don’t like the blog, don’t read it”, stopped commenting (at least under his own name, that is). We don’t know of course whether he stopped *reading* it, but at least he’s not on here egging AL and her defenders on by continuing to comment. Although I haven’t been reading the blog that long, it’s the first time I’ve seen that more effective strategy from an AL-detractor. Most of them just can’t stay away, despite their proclaimations of dislike for AL.

    I find AL entertaining, so I read it sometimes. On the very few occassions that the blog grows tiresome, I just click the little X at the top right of the window. It’s an amazing, stress-free alternative to making continual high-handed prononcements in the comments section about AL’s elitism, hate-mongering, etc.

  60. Some of the more extreme anti-AL folk don’t seem to realize that no one agrees with her all the time. There are no “AL acolytes” as someone once says. At her best, like in the past few posts, she clearly cuts through the bs. At her worst, when she’s just grasping for material, she sounds like Andy Rooney. (“You know what I hate? I hate old nickels. Old nickels make my hand smell funny.”)There’s no need to get upset at the existence of the AL. If you disagree with her, fine, say so here, and then go about proving her wrong in your professional career.

  61. The AL blog is like watching Fox Noise or listening to AM talk radio. A kind of train wreck, PT Barnum kind of experience. Fun, but really bad for you in the end.

  62. young librarian says:

    Energy does not equal outcome, but I have to agree with Hippieman: “I’d rather librarians be fun and upbeat than what the usual stereotype portrays.”

    I have worked with some of the nastiest, meanest, old crows in this profession that would rather namecall, critique and complain before ever getting off their butts to actually do something — anything!

    What kind of action is being annoyed at silly Library 101 or 2.0 going to inspire? Do you have any recommended suggestions or are you just paid to be annoyed without answer.

  63. got to stop drinking that haterade, son!

  64. Young Librarian… Are you kidding?? I worked with someone who wanted us to try to wrap up our ref interview with the patron as fast as possible, in order to discourage “neediness.” If you took too much time with a person, she’d get all bent out shape. Now that is old school librarianship. Not saying I’m perfect, but c’mon!

  65. Matt: Love the Andy Rooney comment.

    Hippieman, so right. That is why I listen to Michael Savage. His show is often vitriol mixed with a few good ideas. I thought when AL got a blog on LJ it was analogous to MS getting a T.V. show. Difference is… LJ hasn’t realized that AL should have been booted off a while ago.

  66. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    “This profession is driven by the personalities, shortcomings, and needs of damaged women.”

    Damaged? I guess we haven’t met yet! Oh yeah…but you better take a closer look at the men. Talk about pomposity, self-importance, and arrogance…sheesh! Not to mention the fact that they don’t care what the Community wants…they just change everything so as to leave their mark (just like a dog).

    So….moving right on…I’m happy to provide reader’s advisory, collection development, reference services (searching & teaching how to search the catalog & databases), storytime, and just plain old-fashioned Customer Service.

    Games? Wii? That’s for the Teen Librarians, and I happily step aside and leave it for them.

    Another difference here, is how we dress…I just do not wear faded jeans and tee shirts….but I’ll tell you this, it is the younger group that is getting promoted and put into the open managerial positions, not us “old timers”.

    “The times they are a’changing” and so too are our community libraries.

  67. “Now that is old school librarianship.”

    Oh, it’s so tasty, this hypocrisy: we need more socially-minded, rebel librarians in the mainstream instead of wicked old people who stereotype the new generation, right?

    But it’s totally okay to stereotype the last generation. I mean, they’re so -old-.

  68. Once you converted “passionate” and “enthusiastic” to “bubbly and chirpy” you created a straw argument that easily could be knocked down & not challenged.

    But I contend passion and enthusiasm are important and keys to improving library service and advancing the profession.

    The late E.J. Josey epitomized passion and enthusiasm. There are many many more librarians who accomplished great things at their jobs or advanced the profession who were passionate and enthusiastic. I wish we could have more people with such passion and enthusiasm–accompanied of course by knowing what the hell they are doing.

    Your straw argument of “bubbly and chirpy”, is irrelevant. I don’t know of anyone who espouses “bubbly” and “chirpy” nor who advocates it. Certainly not me.

  69. 44-year-old guy librarian says:

    Whatever the AL is, and whether you agree with her comments or not, she is darn-good at getting us to think about ourselves, our libraries, and how we go about doing our work. Don’t you think?

    For myself, I come to work and give the best effort I’ve got for the day. I try to give patrons what they want, as well as what they need, and I try to do it within the budget I’ve been given by the powers who control the money. I go home at the end of the day, and have dinner with my family.

    As someone who keeps up with the AL blog on a regular basis, it’s funny how nothing the AL has ever said, or how any of the comments from the posters has ever caused me to be mad, or upset, or angry, or sad.

    I don’t define my worth by how good I am at being a librarian. Oh, I care about doing the best job I can, and I do try to pay attention to the ‘cutting edge’ stuff – but being a husband and a father is more important – to me.

    Relax people. It’s just a blog. And it’s just a job.

  70. Montmorency fan says:


    You say “But I contend passion and enthusiasm are important and keys to improving library service and advancing the profession.”

    Agreed, but AL seems to suggest that it’s more important that whatever it is you do so passionately and enthusiastically provide tangible *results*. If it does then, yeah, it advances the profession. You seem to acknowledge this when you continue “I wish we could have more people with such passion and enthusiasm–accompanied of course by knowing what the hell they are doing.” AL’s complaint with this 101 thing seems to be that it’s passion and enthusiasm without evidence that the people in question know what they are doing, or are doing anything that yields tangible results.

  71. yapping cynic says:

    44-year-old guy librarian, you sound too sane, emotionally-secure, and grounded to be in the library profession. Please get out so we can continue in our dysfunction. Thank you!

  72. HeresTheDeal says:

    44-year-old guy librarian –

    You sound like the 4 librarians at my public library. They’re good people and real assets to our community.

  73. Techserving You says:

    lis_student… I totally agree with you about library school. It was really one of the biggest frustrations and something I commented about to other people (outside of school.) In college, learning always involved serious discussion and debate – no one could say something stupid and have people let it lie… we looked at everything from every angle, and people were called to the carpet when they said things that were wrong or made no sense. In library school, it was as it is in the library in which I currently work… so ‘polite’ (well, passive-aggressive….) no one can question anything or they are seen as overly-aggressive.

  74. I salute the courage of the Anonymous One and John Berry or whomever of Library Journal for writing, publishing and providing space for this magnficent blog. And I’ve worked more years, answered more questions, tougher questions, had more problem patrons, dealt with more systems, had more jobs than any two Monsieur Deschampes. So therefore my vote counts more. And my name isn’t Psmith. Plus people like me.

  75. I don’t see how the AL compares to Faux Noise or right-wing hate radio at all. Just sayin’.

  76. “Oneohonions”

    that’s cool, huh-huh. huh.

  77. “that’s cool, huh-huh. huh.”

    Pop-culture reference there is a decade-and-a-half old, but I appreciate it.

  78. YAWN!!! new topic, please.

  79. Hippieman, maybe you should propose just such a blog to LJ.

    The AL should have moved on to a new topic, however, I suppose it was too hard to resist stoking a fire that so many people (on all sides) were still warming their hands around.

  80. TheIlliterateLibrarian says:

    @Techserving You: I do wish I succeeded in everything I did in life. I succeed more often than not, but I fail a good portion of the time. But I’m not fond of the attitude that you should only do things that you will succeed at. I’m glad you are effective with everything you do in librarianship. I hope to one day rise to your level.

    Do I set out to fail? Do I set out to make lousy product? No. I try to get as much input as possible during the “creation” process so that it turns out the best, but a lot of times, I release things into the world, and THEN figure out by patron/colleague response what was effective and what wasn’t. And trust me–those failures are valuable learning experiences. Letting kids hate on books via YouTube? Wildly successful–kids think VERY critically when they’re telling you why the book they’re reading in English is awful.

    Letting teenagers use glitter in crafts projects?? Not so successful. While someone else would have seen that one coming a mile away, I missed it.

    I’ve had some failures in trying new things in librarianship, and I’ve had some successes. But I’d have never known if I wouldn’t have at least put forth the effort, and put MYSELF out there, and my product out there to be criticized.

    I guess that’s one thing I bring from my arts background–the ability to release a product into the “wild” and allow it to fail or succeed on its own, and take the criticism coming to it, no hard feelings. Should these guys be heartbroken and give up New Media just because this video is particularly awful? I don’t think so. I’m sure they learned a lot in the making of the video about production values and process. I’m hopeful they’ve learned things via the reaction of their patrons and their colleagues.

    I think librarians are obligated to use our time and resources wisely and not take uncalculated risks. However, I don’t think librarians (or any professionals) are obligated to be RIGHT and SUCCESSFUL all the time. That’s a heck of a lot of pressure to put on anyone, and I don’t think ANYONE is capable of living up to that. If we learn more from our failures than our successes, then we’re missing out on valuable learning opportunities by immobilizing ourselves with the fear of failure.

    As for this video–we don’t always see if we’re succeeding. We see what we MEANT to do with a project, and not necessarily what we actually accomplished. We need the feedback of our patrons and peers. I think it’s fair to talk about THE WORK. But we don’t need to imply that these people are idiots for trying and not succeeding.

  81. anon.librarian, you can belittle her schtick all you like, but remember that she never claimed to be anyone’s role model. She wrote a blog about being annoyed (see, she put it right there in the title!), people read it, Library Journal agreed to pay her to write, and here we are. The blog’s not called “The Problem-Solving Librarian”. I mean, in a broad philosophical sense, I do not feel that this is an excuse for negativity without solutions. But the reality is that the Annoyed Librarian, like most people and things in this world, are not beholden to our broad generalizations.

    In other words, who ever said you have to have solutions in order to anonymously gripe on a blog?? I wish we COULD hold the entire internet to that standard, but alas…

  82. “Anonymous Coward commented:

    I was going to make a comment, but I don’t think my resume is impressive enough to allow me to have an opinion. It’s strange–the L2.0 crowd will fall all over themselves praising us anonymous cowards when we’re editing Wikipedia (“traditional notions of authority have changed!”), but start frothing at the mouth when we dare to criticize anything L2.0 related.”

    OMG, I love you. Perfect.

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