Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Library Hijinks in Alaska

I can’t figure out precisely what crazy shenanigans are going on in Soldotna, AK, but one thing’s for sure: some people there sure love their librarian. Rather, they love their former librarian and are protesting at her being fired. It’s kind of touching to see so many people stand up for a librarian.

The basic facts are that without giving a reason the city manager fired the public library director who had worked for the library for 28 years, and lots of people showed up at a city council meeting to protest.

There are a lot of protests in the comments to the news article as well, with such deliciously small town comments like “First dumb move was to hire a new york lawyer to run Soldotna.” Those New York lawyers can’t catch a break, although another story on the firing indicated he’d been a lawyer in upstate New York, which is hardly the image conjured up by “New York lawyer.”

Not everyone is protesting the dismissal. One person described how the librarian in question was dismissive of her many years ago, when the commenter was eleven years old. That’s pretty damning evidence.

Another complains that the Soldotna library isn’t very cutting edge. I guess cutting edge libraries are the norm in rural Alaska. Based on a Google Image search, Soldotna is mostly a picturesque place to catch large fish and kill bears with handguns. There’s probably not a lot of time to keep the library cutting edge with all that going on.

From the reporting and the comments, there could be all sorts of interpretations. Lots of people seem to dislike the city manager and think he got rid of the librarian from spite, because that’s what New York lawyers do.

Then again it could be that the librarian did some bad thing that the city manager isn’t making public to protect her reputation. It seems unlikely, but it also seems unlikely for librarians or former librarians to plan torture murders or be 6’7” bodybuilders with Tourette Syndrome. Strange stuff happens.

Other people think he might have used her lack of a library degree as an excuse to get rid of her. One comment even speculated that the lack of a library degree helped explain the alleged backwardness of the library, which shows that person doesn’t know much about what library school was like 30 years ago. It didn’t exactly prepare people for the Internet age.

What people might miss in the story is the criticism of online library schools. Explaining why someone working in a library might not have a library degree, one of the library workers said,

you can’t get a library degree in Alaska when you’re living here. You have to do it by correspondence — people don’t look well on correspondence degrees — or you have to leave the state. Not all of us have that opportunity, even if we had the desire, to leave the state to get a master’s degree in library science.

Take that, San Jose State! “Correspondence degrees.” Small towns are so quaint.

It’s one of the beauties of the Internet that the city manager maneuverings of a tiny town in Alaska can be followed by the entire world. We get a little drama safe in the distance the Internet creates for us, sort of like the people who were identifying false suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings on Reddit and Twitter.

It’s a wonderful world.



  1. cranky librarian says:

    heh heh – “Rosie Reeder”

  2. What I got from this blog post is that we need more 6’7 bodybuilding librarians (tourette’s optional). That would remove all of our security issues in a heartbeat.

  3. free2read says:


    Maybe the city manager’s wife needed a job

  4. Hi all. I’m the 6’7″ librarian with Tourette’s, and, while pretty strong, I’m no bodybuilder. I’ve got shrimpy little legs, but I can loom pretty well.

    The whole time I was writing the book I tried to find a way to mention Annoyed LIbrarian, my favorite librarian blog by a mile, and I finally worked it in–AL gave me a great analogy about carnies.

    • Annoyed Librarian says:

      Sorry about that! Since the book isn’t out I haven’t read it, but saw weight lifting mentioned in the blurb.

  5. AL, I love you too much to allow you to apologize to me. Got to call it something. The distinctions between fitness, bodybuilding, weight lifting, strength training, and strongman are pretty irrelevant for jacket copy!

    Now, time to move to Alaska.

  6. Josh Hanagarne – The World’s Strongest Librarian – is my favorite librarian in the world. :)

  7. Someone needs to tell those bozos that these days it’s called “distance education”.

    I got my MLIS from the University of Illinois via their LEEP program (aka “distance education”). Given the UIUC is has been the top library school in the country for a number of years now, I can assure you that my “correspondence degree” is quite well regarded, thank you very much. It even managed to get me a decent job, all without having to leave my home state. Granted, I wasn’t living in Alaska at the time (or ever, for that matter), but there you go.

    • anonymous says:

      I know you won’t want to hear this, but every library I have worked at has a policy of not hiring anyone with a distance education degree. Say what you want, but it is not the same thing as a face to face education

  8. hey, AL, can you plug my book, too? an eagle-eyed Reddit user said, “this probably sucks.”

  9. Come on, they never mentioned to Terri why she was being fired? Seems pretty pathetic. Glad I don’t live in Soldotna.

  10. This is what cracks me up about libraries-people think they have some kind of right to know every single thing about every single decision that is made. They don’t. No one directly involved in such a matter would ever comment on the specific reason for the dismissal. It is a personnel matter, and is not up for public debate. As for the librarian saying she does not know why she was fired, there is no way to know if that is true or not. I’ve been involved in similar matters before; the dismissed employee always plays innocent.

  11. Well, it’s a public library run with public funds, so the decision is partly up for debate. The personnel aspects are of course private, as a matter of law. But as the University of Missouri found out when it tried to close down the Missouri Press, if the taxpayers are not satisfied with your explanation for an unpopular decision, you may be forced to reverse it.

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