Saturday, November 22, 2008

Librarians Annoyed with the Annoyed Librarian

Everyone is abuzz with two big pieces of news from the world of libraries and both involve our favorite curmudgeon and closet alcoholic - the Annoyed Librarian. 

First and foremost is that Library Journal sold its soul and is now paying Annoyed Librarian buckets of cash to come write for them (for library journal a bucket of cash is probably minimum wage but that's probably more than most libraries can afford right now so this is a veritable boat load of moneys). 

Library Journal was once a highly regarded and respected publication with tens of readers worldwide. Now it has resorted to pandering to the lowest common denominator adding blogs like ALs in a desperate bid to both stay relevant and attract readers (or more importantly get page views aka advertising $$$). 

Or so I'm told. I only read it to make fun of it and when I did have to use Library Journal legitimately it was when I was aching for a citation for that paper I was writing at 2 a.m. on the Information Access needs of starving Africa babies or whatever gawd awful useless topic I was assigned. Frankly I could care less if a library in Timbuktu figured out you could use UPS to ship books through Interlibrary Loan but apparently this is both hard- hitting and interesting news in the information professional community.

Go figure. 

My favorite part about AL getting on Library Journal (despite the fact she openly admits she doesn't read it and has criticized it frequently) is that it really has a whole bunch of librarians' panties in a twist. Except for mine, I am going commando. Here's a smattering: 
I am definitely not the Annoyed Librarian, but neither am I particularly annoyed about all this stuff. I was already well-aware of the fact that traditional media was becoming increasingly irrelevant and I’d say that there are few clearer signs of that than its co-optation of the Annoyed Librarian. [Reject IAI board candidate, Meredith Farkas]
Ridiculous.  Frustrating.  Stupid.  I want it to be some kind of joke that we just missed the punchline on.  Barring that, I can’t wait to hear what Haworth has to say for themselves; I hope they have some excuse for their blatant disregard of their own editorial policies other than “don’t people love the AL? Now they’ll love us, too!” [Superhero Jenica Rogers-I-Can't-Remember-How-To-Spell-Her-Whole-Last-Name-I-Know-It-Has-A-Hyphen-And-A-U-In-It-But-I'm-Too-Lazy-To-Check]

To add insult to injury the Journal of  Access Services has published, not just an article, but devoted ENTIRE edition to the writing styles of the Annoyed Librarian. Bitter much: someone moving back over to Access after a long stint away, I'll be certain to send my work to the Journal of Library Administration, the Journal of Academic Librarianship, or hell, even to that cute little kid 'zine Highlightsbefore I let my professional work be associated with you. [Colleen "The Guardienne" Harris, future Highlights contributor].
Have I lost my sense of humor? Am I being curmudgeonly and behind the times? Has the purpose of peer-reviewed librarianship grown so pointless that we should be OK with this? I don’t think so.  And I think we should revolt. This journal, publishing this obvious pablum as peer-reviewed scholarship denigrates the work of every person who has ever published in the journal or for the press, and every person who does so in the future. [Systems nerd, InfoSciPhi]
I'm told that, like Library Journal, the Journal of Access Services was once highly esteemed (though it's only been around since 2002) and the fact that they published an entire issue for the Annoyed Librarian makes a mockery of the scholarly community and is a huge F-U and a slap in the face to anyone who has ever tried to publish or has published their work in obscure peer-reviewed journals. The overarching theme was "I will now be taking my "Guitar Hero in the library" articles to get rejected elsewhere - Haworth Press, thankyouverymuch! I hope you can sleep at night." 

Then there's always the problem that all of our Information Literacy training has gone to ruin! Now the children, who probably don't even know how to spell peer-reviewed let alone distinguish a journal from People Magazine, will never know who to trust when writing their own papers at 2 a.m.  What ever will they do when "scholarly" journals are producing this kind of claptrap?!? Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children? 

God forbid we teach them to be discerning in ALL of their information consumption whether it be from a journal, a government/university website, or a blog that makes fun of other blogs. Since we haven't seen any instances where say, news journalists, have led us astray... 

One blogger is so fuming mad that he wants to expose the Secret Identity of the Annoyed Librarian if his demands are not met. 

Rest assured I will be following this closely to see if he does pull her out of the figurative closet! Or maybe I won't I get distracted easily. What was I writing about?

Oh yes!

Surprisingly, a lot of the venom centers on the fact that the AL is anonymous (or pseudonymous) and therefore some sort of cowardly harpy whose negativity is ruining the profession we all take so seriously. By not revealing who the man or woman is behind the curtain it somehow discredits the arguments that she makes. 


I mean that's how I would have felt about Ben Franklin's anonymous works back in the day. Y'know Ben Franklin... the guy who is sorta credited with the idea of the American public library as we know it. He was also one of those... shoot what do you call them... oh yes Founding Fathers. He published lots of stuff under various pen names that were actually quite progressive in terms of women's rights, race relations etc, but who cares about any of that stuff  we shouldn't consider any of those works as part of the literary cannon because he didn't scrawl Ben Franklin out at the bottom of each piece. 

And who could say why?I mean it couldn't be because people can sometimes be rather hostile towards dissident voices... the quotes above certainly don't show that...

I love the Annoyed Librarian because whether its her intention or not, she is ironic. I've heard the question asked on many blogs Who is the Annoyed Librarian?  But is the Annoyed Librarian the writer of a blog or the readers?

- The Gossiping Librarian

Friday, September 26, 2008

ALA Facelift

My favorite library association (to make fun of), the ALA, launched its website redesign this week. The process began almost two years ago with the following goals in mind:

The restructured and redesigned website would show the following improvements: 


 align with users’ mental models of information architecture 

 eliminate difficult and confusing navigation 

 do a better job of “flagging” content for various audiences (member, nonmember, etc.) 

 improve the searchability of the site 

 create a more pleasing graphic design 

 assure up-to-date content and links 

 eliminate cryptic terminology and jargon 

 eliminate long, meaningless URLs 

After extensive user testing, focus groups, expert feedback, and thousands of dollars the  old website was radically transformed from this clumsy, difficult to navigate, red white and blue visual abortion

[Courtesy of the Internet Archives]

Into this!

A grey version! 

I kid I kid the two sites are nothing alike... the new website has far more broken links and bugs to work out. 

The best part is that in their  attempt to give the people what they want with a fresh, cool, up-to-date site using the latest technologies (RSS feeds weee!!!) - the brain trust that cooked up this redesign dreamed a template that looks almost identical to another group we tend to associate with forward thinking and innovation.


This website further proves that the Librarian Shortage is soon at hand  (which the ALA predicts will occur any time between now and the Apocalypse) since clearly this website was designed with baby boomers and adult diapers in mind. 

- The Gossiping Librarian

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dems' Fighting Words

Librarians are, for the most part, tree hugging hippie commie pinko liberals and when a story broke that  Sarah Palin may have even remotely suggested banning books at Wasila library in Alaska - bloggers lost their shit all over the place. Reading their entries and comments you'd think Palin was photographed in the mayor's mansion throwing copies of Catcher In The Rye  on the fireplace... while teaching children abstinence  only sex education. And since we all know McCain will die of old age or lapse into dementia once he's sworn into office, this naturally planted a seed of doubt in many librarians minds of some bleak Orwellian future  under President Palin's iron fist (assuming that iron hand is not already engaged in cocking a shotgun to kill a polar bear or  folded in prayer for the Baby Jesus). 

Even librarian web celeb Jessamyn "Bad Hair Day" West (see below) broke her pretend oath to not bring " 'who to vote for' politics" into her blog to touch on the issue. 

The entry generated over 200 some odd comments from librarians and other types of Internet weirdos! Part of that had to do with someone posting a fake lists of books Palin wanted banned from libraries containing pretty much every classic book you didn't read in high school as well as some books that weren't even around during her tenure as mayor. Essentially the only thing left on the shelves would have been the Bible and a copy of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe the Declaration of Independence assuming a pagan liberal didn't scrawl out the word God.  Luckily for us, we have heroes like Jessamyn West to guide the librarian flocks. She apparently received tens of emails regarding the fake list and felt it her duty to set the record straight. Which in these times is vital because apparently librarians are perfectly incapable of fact checking and doing their own research when they read a story that they want to believe. 

Regardless I think it is almost ironic that, because her blog was overrun with comments on the censorship issue, Jessamyn was forced to institute a policy allowing her to delete comments on her blog... a.k.a. censor them!: 

"I will not edit or delete other people’s comments (unless there’s a privacy or stalking-type issue) at the request of another reader. I may delete comments that are off-topic, abusive or just plain crazy. I’m fine with people disagreeing with me or other commenters. I’m less fine with people using my blog as a place to post anti-topic screeds and/or harass and insult other readers or me."

So please be mindful of posting comments that generate other discussions in her blog. If you want to blam someone  or stalk them please do so in my blogs' comments. It is not only welcomed but encouraged. 

I've never seen the library world so politicized before. We have Librarians For Palin and Librarians Against PalinThen there's Crowned Idiot ALA President James Rettig

calling for librarians to post on because "This is an opportunity for the library voice to become an important part of the 2008 Presidential election."

So please people, post as many library questions as you can. I'm sure all of America would much rather hear about library issues than say the candidates stances on economic recovery, affordable health care, terrorism, education, unemployment, poverty rates, Social Security...

- The Gossiping Librarian

P.S. HAH I tricked you I switched the links on the For/Against Palin sites! Your minds have now been tainted by opposing viewpoints bwhahahaha

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mickey Mouse and Menstrual Cycles

I would have written about this days ago when it was still news  but I forgot my password and was too lazy to retrieve it. Being the serious journalist that I am though, I have persevered to bring a story that has  the Internet abuzz!

And by abuzz I mean like three blogs I subscribe to in my Google reader had written completely different stories about my second favorite devil worshipping baby eating corporation - Walt Disney Company! The first, of course, being the corporation that I work for. 

First up was our good friends over at Corante, a blog about copyright which I read because I like to violate copyright as much as possible and feel like I should stay up to date on these issues (especially since I'm probably breaking a couple laws just in this entry alone). The article was written by some guy named Alan Wexelblat who is about three whiskers away from being a Geico Caveman:

[Photo Source: MIT Media Lab]
[Photo Source: Celebrity Look-a-likes]

He tells us about how Disney may have lost its rights to early images and productions of Mickey Mouse cartoons so people can soon start going crazy with the images!... until Disney sues their pants off and gets the rights extended of course. But here's hoping that doesn't happen so we can have a Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto gang bang orgy in our near futures!  

Unfortunately it sounds like Disney's pretty good at holding on to their intellectual property. During high school I entered a fruit roll up Mickey into the edible arts contest. I won nothing. Luckily the evidence was consumed and Michael Eisner  wasn't there or he probably would have bitch slapped me and taken my milk money as unpaid royalties. 

Next up is a TechCrunch telling us about a new database that helps you find Internship Ratings! There's hardly anything in the database but that's besides the point. Public librarians (like I pretend to be) get all hot and bothered  about internships, especially summer internships, for a multitude of reasons. Internships mean less teenagers smelling up the library. Less teenagers means less shushing and less questions about MySpace and Facebook which in turn means even fewer complaints from Old Man Winter who is always moaning about how he wants to check his important emails/fill out his Dollar General application that's due at 4/hit on minors online but can't because the youngin's are hogging up all the computer time. 

Never fear gramps now they'll be hogging up the computers looking for internships and then they'll be semi-productive contributing members to society - freshening up coffee and faxing copies with the best of them! I'd kill for an intern to top off my water bottle ever day...kill!

I bring this up because apparently if you want to be in the Walt Disney College Program the best time to enroll in the Fall. TechCrunch highlights this point, making me think they anti-librarian. So what if it's cooler during the summer and prettier at the park around the holidays? When I think holidays at Disney, I just picture a bunch of Mickey Mouses running all over in Santa hats or pilgrims outfits. Big deal! And so what if you're liable to get heatstroke parading around like Pocahontas?  Welcome to the school of hard knocks!

Summers are about rest and relaxation... for everyone else but the public librarian! School is out and teachers and the little goons they watch over during the year are loosed upon the public library. Screaming babies and baby mamas, cranky old people, schizophrenics and homeless folk all converge to form the perfect three month storm I call summer...

But I digress... I said there were three stories and sure enough I delivered.  BoingBoing also posted a story about a 1946 Disney movie about menstruation. I wonder if the they still have the copyright: 

And there you have it!

- The Gossiping Librarian

Friday, September 12, 2008

Election Season Is Upon Us!

When I'm not moonlighting as a public librarian I work at an evil corporation serving the needs of business personnell, engineers, and whatever other word you can think of for geeks. The perks of having sold my soul are that I get paid really well, my patrons all have dental coverage, and my coworkers are competent and capable at doing their jobs. This is not to say that I don't love my public library job - no the stories alone keep me going back. There is no greater joy for me than seeing my ill tempered, borderline illiterate coworkers answering reference questions from deranged toothless street urchins. Hilarity and yelling ensues 24/7. 

But I digress, the reason I mention that at all is because it is officially election season! No, I'm not talking about Donkeys vs. Elephants national elections either - I'm talkin' Special Libraries Association elections! I am a proud SLA member and I voted. Vote early and vote often folks. Rock the vote!  Vote or die! Get your friends registered! This could be the most important election of our generation... until the next one! Insert mocking election voting line here!

My only wish is that there were more mudslinging between the candidates to help spice things up but that, to my disappointment, is not the way of professional associations. Perhaps that's also because, unlike the national elections, all of these candidates are qualified for the positions they're running for.  

I've had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of the SLA presidential candidates, Anne Caputo. She's a delightful woman with a twisted sense of humor and an outgoing personality. I remember her saying she was at a board meeting for Factiva and they were discussing who they wanted their users to be to. She replied, "A man in a business suit wearing red lacy panties." Anne, you had me at gender bending! She's got a wild side which I love and appreciate which by no means comes through in her rather tame, boring SLA video interview. If she gets elected I'm sure she will add much needed creativity and spunk to the organization. Either way I'll make fun of her. 

As for the other slots, I carefully deliberated over each candidate's statement scrutinizing every detail and researching their backgrounds so I could make an educated voting decision. By that I mean I looked at their picture then looked at their job title and eliminated them based  off of how funny they looked or how boring their job sounded. 

Sorry Holly Chong-Williams you never stood a chance...looking like a cabbage patch kid and working for USPTO! 
[Photo Source: SLA Website]

Daniel Lee, however, is a hot piece of homosexual and instantly got my vote! Of course now every time I look at his photo his forehead gets a little bigger. Observe here he is with Bear Daddy Richard Huffine: 
[Photo Source: GLitter BiTs]

If he wanted to make out with me I wouldn't say no, I'd just make him wear a hat. 

If you haven't voted yet go go go!

Or don't see if I care. 

- The Gossiping Librarian

The Gossip is born!

I love and hate the librarian world. 

It can be so large and yet so small all at the same time. There are hordes of librarians and information professionals out there working in public, academic, government, and corporate institutions worldwide, yet I feel like I constantly meet the same faces in my journeys and hear the same names being bandied about. 

We all attend the same conferences like American Library Association and Special Libraries Association, we listen to the same speakers like Mary Ellen Bates and Gary Price, we read the same blogs like Librarian In Black and, and we're all up on copyright and the Patriot Act thanks to sources like Library Journal that, naturally, we all read. Not to mention we're all using twitter and blogs and wikis and whatever other web 2.0 technology we cross paths with to to try and tame the information world! 

With few exceptions, library bloggers take themselves very seriously offering tips, advice,  and news to other information professionals, like me, who are too lazy to do it themselves. As a result, people worship the ground that they walk on! Only in the information world would the kids who were picked last in gym class be heralded as rockstars and flown all over the country for speaking engagements and presentations about technologies that all of us have access to. 

We live in a culture that is obsessed with celebrities and the information world is no different. 
These popular bloggers and info pro elite have reached an exalted status, yet they are as ridiculous as the people who hang off their every word. They're part of the unwashed masses, they just got a little noteriety.

As a librarian, I should probably be more concerned with facts and figures than rumors and conjectures but one of my guilty pleasures is reading blogs like Perez Hilton, PinkIsTheNewBlog, Jossip, and GoFugYourself that make no attempts to take themselves (or anyone else for that matter) seriously. They are entertainment - pure and simple - and there's very little out there in the library world that fits the bill to my own satisfaction. 

This blog is an experiment and an attempt to look at the information world we work, live, and breathe and make fun of it.  Because what else is there to do? Everyone has already talked about everything else and it's been done to death!

- The Gossiping Librarian