Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Computers? In libraries?

I’ve been reviewing various commentary on last week’s Computers in Libraries conference and had to wonder, why does anyone bother going to this thing? Surely we all know by now that there are computers in libraries, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be anything new going on.

My favorite bit was from the keynote speech, quoted by the Librarian in Black: "Trust is based on character, competence, confidence, credibility, consistency, and congruence." To which I could only say, how coincidental! And convenient! Trust couldn’t possibly be based on anything not beginning with a "C"!

Actually, that might not have been as catchy as another acronymical offering from that speech: "FOCUS: Flexible, Observable, Courageous, Useful, and Supportive." Awww…things like this make it so much easier for librarians to remember important stuff like this, at least those of us restricted to a 6th grade education.

The strangest might have been a panel on "dead and innovative technology," in which I discovered that tape drives and floppy drives are "dead." Whew! I’m sure glad they got together some technological "experts" to tell us these things!

And innovative? "Things without hinges"! Now that is innovative, because we’ve never had any things without hinges before! Another "expert" offered "thoughtful design." It’s sure nice to know we’re getting some "thoughtful design" after thousands of years of humans designing things.

These experts are on the bleeding edge, people. Jump back before they cut ya.

According to the Library Journal wrap-up, the hot word was…wait for it…Twitter! Yay! It’s nice to know that a bunch of librarians that could be working and doing something useful for their libraries are hanging out in Virginia and talking about Twitter. But maybe they’re paying their own way and taking vacation time.

And it’s a pity I missed the preconference "videocasting boot camp" from the librarians who brought us "Library 101," because those guys sure know how to make an exciting video! With their help, your library could turn out that same quality of work.

From what I can tell, it sounds like they have the same ten speakers who have been speaking at each other for the past five years at every library conference and all over the Internet, and they’re not saying much that’s new. How many times can one recycle the same PowerPoint presentation and not fall asleep while presenting it? (Though one presenter did add pictures of cute animals dressed as humans. Am I mocking him, or does he think he’s mocking me?)

Given that the conference is relatively small, and probably attended by the same faithful flock that attend every year, one wonders who the audience is for all these repetitive talks.

So here’s my question to all of you who attended CiL: was there anything presented there that wasn’t either a) completely obvious, or b) not a rehash of the same content we’ve been hearing from library conferences and blogs for the past five years?

I know you probably won’t answer the question, because the CiL crowd, especially that tight-knit group of speakers who talk at each other all the time, are obviously afraid to confront the AL with anything remotely resembling an argument. So I guess I’ll have to let you off the hook while you prattle on about "anonymity," Twitter, and things without hinges.

Then again, I already know the answer. It’s "No."

[Nota bene in re comments: Every few months the inmates come out and think they run the asylum. They don’t.]



  1. Same old same old says:

    It’s the same presenters a lot of the time; there are a few new ones that they allow in (or maybe they snuck in?). You’re right about the rehashing–I really wish the program committee would do more innovative stuff. And the dead technologies panel has been a joke for a long time.

  2. AL=RK? (your initials here) says:


  3. Eddie Machette says:

    Yeah, that show has sucked eggs for years. I’m amazed anyone still attends.

  4. Real World Librarian says:

    Conferences are dead.

    You want to waste tons of jet fuel so you can sit in the same room with the same crowd and discuss the same thing, year after year? This is where on-line communication needs to go so that we can save the world.

    All conference goers want to do is to go to another city to get drunk and laid, multiple times, all on their institutions dime.

    That day has got to come to an end.

    For everyone’s sake.

  5. Eddie Machette says:

    I cannot go on this way. I’m a plant and LJ has paid me to make on topic comments in an effort to change the chaotic tide that the REAL AL had going on her blog, now defunct and written by the guy in the next cubicle from where I sit.

    This is a sham bought and paid for.

  6. If this is a sham, it is the best one pulled off since Orson Wells did the War of the Worlds.

  7. The sham only began on April 1, 2010. I would hardly consider this a success.

  8. Dances With Books says:

    “It’s nice to know that a bunch of librarians that could be working and doing something useful for their libraries are hanging out in Virginia and talking about Twitter. But maybe they’re paying their own way and taking vacation time.”

    Sorry to disappoint, but here in Backwater Rural Branch (BRB) U., the powers that be actually fully funded not one, but two librarians to go to this thing. They had to write a report, which went on our internal blog, and we’ll likely have to have a meeting so they can “present” (namely read from their notes) what they “learned.” From reading their blog notes, I already know the conference was mostly statements of the obvious and other twopointopian sap. But these two are now walking around as if they invented sliced bread.

    Not to mention by sending those two out, we had severe reference desk coverage during a fairly busy week (end of the semester is near and all). Guess who had to actually work?

  9. sdlibrarian says:

    Who cares if there’s another AL writing the blog. Someone sane has got to speak up about what’s really happening in libraries. Loved the comment above about conferences being dead.

    Lots of good thoughts here.

  10. Electronic forums are the wave of the future.

    Plus, it is really hard to troll a conference without your identity coming out.

    It can be done, but it is a LOT of work.

  11. I’m also thinking that this is a new writer, and not our beloved AL.
    But…it seems like the first post after 4/1 was SO badly written, and so much like an AL form-generator, as someone noted–that it could just be the same old AL having a joke in another way. Hard to tell. FWIW, I think this post is pretty good, though.

  12. I actually wondered why we were all there on company money. I thought I’d hear more innovation. But nope.

  13. AL is completely correct (as usual) about the content of the conferences. But let’s just keep it on the QT, please! I like to go to Monterey each fall for Internet Librarian, and listening to the same old sesssions is a small price to pay for a great trip. I usually learn enough from fellow attendess to make the trip worth it. Honest. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  14. John Cotton Dana says:

    And I believe my eyes! After I left this world back in 1929, I thought I left the proud and relevant institution, the library, intact: something that would just continue to grow and serve the people, and what do I see? An institution purportedly represented by mind-paralyzed reptilian brained writers of swill posing as Mark Twains of the library field, but in fact, are more akin to the alcoholic hacks that write nothing better than sports column level tripe and pass it off as scathing commentary.

    What would Insane Clown Posse say? This expletive is blowing my expletive, expletive mind; man its an expletive miracle, yo.

    I’m going back to the grave to roll around.

  15. Bill Gates says:

    Computers do not have a place in libraries.

    They should be for books only.

    If the library wants to have a separate room for teens to come play weeeee, then that could be ok. If it keeps them off the street and off drugs.

    Otherwise, if you want a computer, go buy one (if you are poor, check out craigslist) and you can surely find one of your yuppie scum neighbors who has not protected their wireless connection so you can get on the Internets.

    As for staff, the only thing I see them use computers for is to play solitaire and to sell city computer equipment on craigslist.

  16. Judas, but you can call me Jude says:

    Libraries and Librarians were at an apothesis back in the time of Jesus, in fact five of the twelve apostles, including Insane Clown Posse, were librarians. Nowadays, librarians are socialist mites who suck the city and university coffers dry with their silly programming and adherence to serving the public. When librarians finally realize that it is only their own skins that will be at the right hand of Jesus is when libraries in general will reach the zenith of glory it achieved in 507BCE at the destruction of the Temple.

  17. I attended. I’m not sure I’m very well qualified to answer your question because I don’t read many library blogs and have only been attending conferences for a couple years.

    But I found many of the sessions informative and useful. Specifics: two Wednesday morning sessions in the Cool Tools track, a session on Tuesday on strategic partnerships, a session on Monday about digital commons. True, many of them are things that I could have found through other venues, but one of the things I find important about conferences is that they require me to step away from my every day work and focus on professional development for three days straight. That’s something I have a hard time doing otherwise.

    As far as the completely obvious question, that’s difficult to answer as well since obvious is in the eye of the beholder. There were sessions that seemed to fit that description, but there were sessions that didn’t.

    I think it’s a mistake to condemn an entire event in general when nearly any event of this size has things that are great and things that aren’t.

  18. iHateCiL says:

    I went to CiL and, frankly, I never will again. From the shills like Mr. KitchenSink ResearchGuides (who is at least openly working for the vendor after 3 straight years of pitching for them) to the sad and bitchy VP Strategic Ranting from the big database vendor, the pain and suffering inflicted on innocent conference-goers is just shameful. I’m estimating that this conference goes about 5 years between new ideas.

  19. BackwardLudditeOnABlog says:

    I’m so glad to see someone point out that the librarians most enamored of getting “technology” into libraries are the ones who think it’s news that the floppy is dead. Meanwhile, those who buried the floppies years ago and have already been through the stages of grief, who propose that the latest way of doing things just MIGHT NOT BE PERMANENT… are labeled as technology hating Luddites. I recall saying that some particular app or site (I don’t even remember which one!) was a fad, and having a “technophile” librarian smile smugly and say, “Dear, the internet is NOT A FAD.” Er… yeah.

    But hey, no worries with this crack team in charge, right?

  20. ConfVsForum says:

    Ugh, if ‘electronic forums’ are anything like message boards, blog comments or microphone blowing snore webinars, I am NOT looking forward to the future.

  21. I really liked the original Annoyed Librarian. This one is a poor substitute.

  22. Nota bene in re comments: Every few months the inmates come out and think they run the asylum. They don’t.

  23. Now we cannot even comment?


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