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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Are Library Rental Fees Undemocratic?

A kind reader sent in this link wondering if there was really a controversy. It’s a reader poll in Rhode Island that asks the question: “Should Libraries Charge Fees for 'Popular' Books?” The writer expressed surprise that the Newport Public Library has a rental collection of very popular books and charges $.25/day for them, though it also has the same books in their normal circulating collection that can be checked out for free, if you want to wait until the 34 people in front of you finish reading the book, and without the incentive to read and return that even nominal rental fees provide. By the time that many readers get through with a book, you might wonder why you wanted to read it in the first place, which should be a reason not to bother reading the book at all. I thought rental collections like this were quite common, but maybe I’m mistaken. It’s a way for libraries to fulfill their mission to get as many bad books into the hands of as many people who ...

The Real Question: Is it Porn?

The biggest news hitting the library world last week, at least as far as I could tell from the headlines, was the book Fifty Shades of Grey being pulled from a Florida county library system for being too pornographic. It must have been big news, because even the New York Times covered it. The only response from the ALA I saw was a tweet from the OIF announcing the action, but I’m sure they’re preparing a public condemnation of the Florida librarians who made the decision. Then again, maybe they won’t. If a library patron challenges a porn book in the library, librarians are supposed to fight them off with torches and pitchforks. But if a librarian chooses to remove a book based on a no-porn policy, then maybe that’s okay. Aren’t librarians supposed to choose what books to have in the library? The comments on the Times article were interesting for what the bad arguments they make for keeping the book in a library. For example: I don't see how the library can ban ...

ALA Begging

Not only are librarians becoming carnies, they’re also becoming beggars, even at the ALA. Is this a small anomaly, or a glimpse of the future? A kind reader concerned that librarians are turning into beggars sent me a couple of links: this sad page in American Libraries on Why You Should Go to ALA Annual and this request by a librarian to donate money so that another librarian can go to ALA Annual. Yet another kind reader sent the original donation request. The ALA appeal demonstrates their usual blend of peppiness and cluelessness. It begins, “With more than 500 programs, 500+ exhibitors, thousands of attendees to network with, do you really need to explain why attending the 2012 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim is essential to your professional life?” Since it links to a long page of suggestions on how to make the case for attending Annual and to an even longer list of librarian testimonials about how darned great Annual is, then, yeah, I guess they ...

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