Annoyed Librarian
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Future Less Imperfect

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday celebrating the nation's independence. There's no better way to celebrate our freedom than gobbling hot dogs and watching the sky explode. There was one more bit from New Orleans I wanted to discuss. Not much exciting happened, if you leave out the drinking and socializing and other tangential nocturnal activities, but there was a fun document discussed by the council, “Envisioning ALA’s Governance in the 21st Century” by the grandly named “Future Perfect Presidential Task Force.” The link is to an attachment on the ALA Council listserv. There’s another document linked there called “workforce_anal_cover.” I don’t even want to know what that’s all about. Probably some management CYA recommendations. The Future Perfect task force consisted of people who had neither served on Council nor knew anything about ALA governance. Maybe it should have had some people who weren’t even ALA members or librarians. It was supposed to take a “blue sky” ...

Melting in the Big Easy

New Orleans is much as I expected it to be at this time of year, sweltering and miserable outside, the only comforts being a semi-air conditioned tavern and a cold martini. I say “semi” because anything else is intolerable. New Orleaners, if that's what they're called, seem to compensate for the ridiculously hot temperatures outside by creating ridiculously cold temperatures inside, so if you dress for the one you are bound to be very uncomfortable in the other. I would Tweet that, but Twitter doesn't allow for complex sentences or, based on reviewing the ALA tweets, complex thoughts. At least that’s my impression after reading through numerous tweets about #ala11, which mostly seems to consist of the shallow talking to the bored, or perhaps vice versa. It’s difficult to tell if the majority of Twitter users are just shallow and boring extroverts, or whether the limitations of Twitter means that people who aren’t always shallow and boring can only show that side of ...

Upcoming Council Controversies!

As you read this, I’m probably wending my way to New Orleans, soon to be miserable in the tropical heat and French Quarter filth. Why, oh why, does ALA ever have to be in places like New Orleans in June? If you’re going to be in the NOLA, you’ll definitely want to drop by the ALA Membership Meetings for discussions of four hot resolutions being proposed. Three of them no less are about Wikileaks, and the fourth is on an even more controversial topic: self serve hold practices! One of the resolutions “Supports the rights of WikiLeaks to publish leaked government documents.” This is partly backed by a clause from the Library Bill of rights stating that “Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.” Is there any right to publish leaked government documents? What rights are these? Where are they located? If there are no such rights, what exactly would the ALA be supporting? If there is a ...

Libraries or Librarians?

A kind reader sent me this opinion article about AB 438, a bill in California that would make it extremely difficult for municipal governments to outsource library services to private contractors, and seemingly impossible to save any money by doing so. The bill has passed the Assembly and is headed to the state Senate. You can read the article for details, but basically any outsourcing would have to continue to protect union jobs, which is the goal of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the brains behind the bill. They have a website supporting the bill. The "privatization beast." Oooh, how scary! It hosts a very tedious video with people saying how great public libraries are, which is somehow relevant to someone, though I’m not sure how, since outsourced libraries are supported by the public and do the same things regular public libraries do. There is a guy in the video who says, “Public libraries are supposed to be public, not private.” That’s mighty clever. ...

Working ’til I Die

While looking through this list of  exciting programs planned for the upcoming ALA Annual, I stumbled across the existence of the Retired Members Round Table. I'd forgotten all about this. It was created last fall, and supposedly “shall exist to develop programs of particular interest to retired persons from all types of libraries and all forms of library services, including formal opportunities for continued involvement and learning; a variety of leadership training and opportunities for mentoring; lifelong professional involvement and networking; and active engagement in the American Library Association and the profession of librarianship.” Anyone can become a member by paying ALA and RMRT dues, so it’s also a way to keep getting money from people even after they’re not working anymore. Very clever! Or maybe it’s in response to the huge waves of retirements the ALA has been telling us will come. I’m still waiting! They even have a Facebook page, though they only post to ...

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