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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Predictions for 2018

Happy New Year, everyone! Some people always hope the new year will be better than the last, but it’s probably going to be about the same, as it usually is.

But it is time for my annual predictions for the new year, predictions everyone will forget about by the end of the year so I won’t be held accountable as a seer or a fraud, just like all the other librarians who makes predictions about the future.

Based on the past, I’ll make a couple of predictions about a small percentage of readers of this blog.


I predict at least one commenter will try to leave a comment whose entire substance is, “You suck! You should call this blog the Annoying Librarian!”

That witty rejoinder never gets old. You see, the joke is that it’s the Annoyed Librarian, but since the reader is the one being annoyed, then I’m really annoying, not annoyed. I nearly bust a gut every time someone skewers me with that witticism because I do love clever wordplay and it doesn’t get much more clever than that.

I also predict at least one reader will leave a comment who substance is, “I don’t like this, so the Library Journal shouldn’t publish it.”

That particular type of comment is becoming more common in the online world, not just here at the AL. Some people are always hypersensitive to things they don’t like, but then they project their wounded feelings onto the world: if they don’t like something, nobody else should be exposed to that thing. More on this in a bit.

School Libraries

There will be some good library news, sort of. The rate of school librarian elimination and school library closures will slow considerably.

Without checking exhaustively, I seem to recall stories about school librarian eliminations from NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles. It always seems to affect relatively poor kids in very large cities.

But I haven’t seen stories outside those large cities. It could be that we’ve hit a peak of large cities with budgets they believe won’t support school librarians. That would be a positive change, except for the students in those cities, but nobody who can do anything cares about them anyway.

The Trumpocalypse

Some good news is the Trumpocalypse is almost assuredly not going to happen. Even “Little Rocket Man” seems to be calming slightly, and he’s been the most aggressive contestant in the metaphorical penis-measuring contest that the President seems to have with everyone.

The Republican agenda might continue. The pattern they’ve wanted to follow for years is obvious: cut taxes, then use the increasing debt and decreasing revenue as an excuse to cut Social Security and Medicare. But that’s not Trump as such.

And it’s just possible the elections this year will swing the House or Senate back to the Democrats, and the federal government will return to inaction, which is good because any government action is usually bad for someone.

Dystopian Fantasies

However, there will continue to be people projecting their dystopian fantasies onto the country, and this very much includes librarians.

Under Trump, we’re living in the worst country in the world! Which is totally believable if you don’t know anything at all about the rest of the world.

Whatever progressive piety you espouse, outside of a relatively small number of Western countries, things are worse for your cause in the rest of the world. But it’s easy to lose perspective when you’re so caught up in you own hurt feelings about America not being the utopia you desire, and which would be a reality if it weren’t for those stupid, evil people who disagree with you.

Intellectual Freedom

Regardless of the lack of Trumpocalypse, libraries will see an increase in attacks on intellectual freedom. This is the worst prediction.

There’s always the standard book challenges, which usually involve questions of whether children are of the proper age to be reading particular books. Those are sort of challenges to intellectual freedom, but children have only so much intellectual freedom to begin with. After all, the challenges involve books others want children to read, not what the children choose for themselves.

2017 saw at least two challenges that had nothing to do with children. Both were at academic libraries, not school libraries or classrooms where these things usually play out.

We saw students disrupting meeting space in a college library because they didn’t like it that people who disagreed with them held discussions amongst themselves, and we saw students wanting to suppress books in a university library because they disagreed with them.

Usually the meddlesome busybodies and semiliterate rubes challenging books are from the right, which makes the ALA comfortable.

But the challenges to intellectual freedom on college campuses are from the left, and I haven’t heard a peep from the ALA OIF about them, and don’t expect to in the future.g

As the Washington Office learned when they mistakenly offered to do their job and work with the political administration in power to serve library goals, take the wrong political stance and some librarians will have a fit on Twitter.

Anyone who knows about the history of the left from 1917 on knows that leftists have no dedication to intellectual freedom as such. In this they join the right. The most dedicated of politicos are always puritans.

Progressives, communists, fascists, reactionaries, and the like believe that intellectual freedom and freedom of speech are fine as long as people are exercising those freedoms in ways that are compatible with their political ideologies. Otherwise, suppression sets in.

Right-wingers love to call leftists opposed to free speech snowflakes, but get their knickers in a twist when college students or football players exercise their freedom in ways that reject the right wing agenda.

Progressive college students are no different, and they’re emboldened in their efforts to attack intellectual freedom for whatever reasons. Such has been obvious for years, and it’ll probably get worse.

Getting angry that your college library has a book you don’t like is no different than getting angry that a football player doesn’t stand for the national anthem. Actually, it might be worse, because it’s coming from people who are supposed to be learning about the world and not just enjoying themselves watching a football game.

The bad news is not all librarians are ready to defend intellectual freedom, even if it is a core library value, because they have prior political commitments. The good news is most librarians are.

Library Extinction

And, finally, the best prediction is that libraries will continue to not go extinct. I know this must be true, because I also read it in the Huffington Post, and the high journalistic standards of HuffPo have never failed me yet.



  1. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t feel comfortable posting on Library Twitter (or any professional social media setting) because my feelings about practically everything mirror your own. I’m sure I’d be labeled as a librarian traitor in five seconds flat. I’m ready to defend intellectual freedom, for EVERYONE, not just those I agree with.

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