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