Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This Shit Used to be True.

I want to talk about Awful Library Books. Not so much the web site because I don't really know what they do there, but I want to call out all the librarians who feel superior for identifying some pathetic old outdated book and marching it out for its public shame.

And this is the entry that sparked my ire:

Let’s Be Indians
Parish 1962

This book is still in reasonable shape given its age, although it probably hasn't been touched since I snagged it for this website. Maybe it slipped through the cracks on weeding since the call number on the spine was wrong. (Weak excuse, but I will put it out there as a possibility.) Yes, I did find it in an active public library youth collection. World Cat shows an embarrassingly large group of public libraries and school libraries holding this title. This book is so light on concrete information, they don’t even list distinctions among the native people. They are all just Indians. Time to retire this title, and for the love of God, how about some updated materials on native cultures rather than a marginal craft book?
Hey, this was us. I bet that before this book, most kids didn't want to be the Indian. Back in the 1950's, the weakest kid that no one liked had to be the Indian whenever you played Cowboys and Indians. The Indian was reviled as a sneaky thief and murderer who came in the night and captured our women. So I'm betting that in 1962, this was considered a progressive view of Indians as creative and brave and worthy of being the lead choice in a young boy's or girl's role playing.

We can all laugh and say, "Oh, I would never have bought that for my library." And I would jump into my time machine to locate which books are "awful" fifty years from now and come back and say, "Yes, you would. Here are the ones you're buying now that EVERYONE in the future is laughing at."

Ok, you're right, I'm kidding. I wouldn't do that because there are no libraries fifty years from now. That's just silly. Also, I only use my time machine to:

a. Kill Hitler over and over.
b. invest in something that I can sell for much more money now.
c. fuck hot cave chicks in One Million B. C.

Oh, yeah, we're offended now by the ignorance expressed between those sad covers of all those old books, but we used to believe what is in these books that we now toss out from our libraries.

Suddenly, we're all so enlightened. But the point is that we bought that book because it represented ideas that our society valued, ONCE UPON A TIME. At some point in our past, some person took the time to write a book that made its way to a publisher who thought it might sell a few copies so it was printed and put out for sale and listed in some catalog or even given a favorable review in a professional library publication and some librarian read about it and ordered it and catalogued it and put it on the shelf for all of us to read and take home. And we read it and agreed with it BECAUSE IT WAS THE TRUTH.

Maybe it was some long ago librarian who bought that book that seems so wrong now. Or maybe it was you. If it was you, are you admitting now that you bought a shitty book? No. At the time, it was probably a good idea to get it. It filled a need.

Or did you succumb to peer pressure when you made that decision to add that book to the collection? If so, you suck. Suck. Suck. Suck. You sucky librarian. Or maybe your boss made you do it.

Or maybe your patrons requested it. They don't really know any better; they only do what TV and now the Internet tells them to do. "Buy this money, health, relationship book and all your problems will go away." And because they're too cheap to buy it for themselves, they get the librarian to buy it. Even though you knew it was a shitty book, you bought it anyway. Because these idiots pay your salary.

But that's the problem with serving the public: they are stupid. If enough people ask for something that might present extremely dangerous health advice or risky investments or even idiotic ideals, books that are a complete waste of paper, you'd probably have to buy it. Because it's what your patrons want. And even though the book is wrong, that doesn't make it any less TRUE. It's true that your patrons were gullible enough to force you to waste tax money on shit. I bet I could publish Barefoot and Pregnant: why women should quit the workforce in these troubled times and give the jobs back to MEN right now and promote it on TV and the radio and the Internet and make it so popular that your library would buy it.

And it would circulate 500 times.

Does that make it a good book? Apparently, by library circulation standards, since we really only care about what gets checked out. But it's a shitty book that no one should be reading, but yet everyone did.

But how much crap are you collecting now that will embarrass or enrage future generations? What if some future water shortage has us drinking our urine? And all those books on mixing frozen daiquiris or swimming pool maintenance or lawn care are viewed with the same derision we now foist upon our own obsolete cultural and ecological views.

The point is, we can't know about all the stuff that we think is awesome now that might get shoved back in our faces later.

So my point is, we shouldn't weed these books.

I think librarians should keep these books and place them in a display called, Past Facts, or Local Time Machine, or Mirror Mirrors. There should be a whole Dewey number to represent these awful books.

No one says we need to be proud of them. But I think it's helpful for society to look back at where we've been and decide whether we're making progress.

But to answer your thought balloon: YES. Weed old medical books. There's no reason to kill people just so we can collectively mock useless therapies. It would be funny to do it, but still wrong.

Friday, December 16, 2011

If I were a poor, out-of-work librarian

Holy Crap. Some guy at Forbes wrote an article called, "If I Were A Poor Black Kid." Why a poor, black kid? Why didn't he just say, "If I were a kid"? If you remove "poor black" from his essay, it still makes grammatical sense AND it doesn't sound like some WHITE guy just got total amnesia about our history. So if you read the article, just try to ignore that it's completely misplaced advice, but try to focus on the details. Otherwise, damn, he sounds stupid.

With that in mind, I'm going to attempt to solve all the problems of the out-of-work librarian. And it will probably sound just as stupid.


If you're a librarian and unemployed, I don't need to tell you that there are lots of other librarians out there looking for a job.

If I were a poor, out-of-work librarian, I would read "If I Were A Poor Black Kid." And I would do what the author says to do about "getting technical." Most of this stuff can be learned through your local library. I hope you knew that.

If possible, I would learn another language. As much as I could. I would give up my free time and devote every second to making myself the most attractive candidate for the job. But for now, I'll assume you've made it past the application stage and have been called for an interview.

If I were a poor, out-of-work librarian, I would visit my target library and use all the databases and I would remember to mention them during the interview. I would browse the collection and check the place out. If possible, I'd wear casual clothes (so as not to stand out as an applicant) and visit the library early enough that I could change into my best clothes later. I wouldn't show up five minutes before my appointment looking like I just showed up five minutes before my appointment.

I would buy one good suit and have it tailored to fit like a good suit should. And if I'm a dude, two nice dress shirts and two nice ties. And one good pair of shoes that stay in the box and don't come out until interview day. If I were a poor out-of-work librarian, I'm not going to dress like one for my interview unless I want to remain a poor out-of-work librarian.

I'd think about getting a cheap wifi tablet, not so much to look cool, but to learn about how they work in order to show others, my future library customers. The good news is that many librarians in a position to hire you don't know crap about technology. They might have a smart phone, but they don't know much about it. I don't think one librarian around here understands the word "root" as related to computers. I bet saying, "I rooted my Nook" at your next interview gets you confused looks at most libraries; whereas I would ask, "What were the advantages or disadvantages in doing that?" And you'd best have an answer.

I would ask my employed librarian friends for help. Whatever they think would be useful. And based on their advice, I'd have some presentation ready, my storytime or some quick instruction on using something on the computer like email, attaching a document, anything I feel confident explaining clearly.

Keep anecdotes in mind. You will be asked about events where you needed to make decisions: don't worry if you have no library experience, at this point anything is useful. So long as it's recent and displays your professionalism. You will be asked about situations involving a conflict: the key is that there was some attempt at a resolution that didn't involve gunfire. Again, have a story in mind. If you're stuck, ask your librarian friend for help. And if you don't have an employed librarian friend, find one.

The bad news is that if you don't have a job, then library school ain't over. You need to keep learning. Why? Because you don't have a job.

And here is the worst part: look for work where the work is, even if it's 1,000 miles away. I would give up any idea of my dream job and just get hired. But I don't know if I could work for $25,000. In North Dakota.

Given my experience, I'd recommend creating some tutorials for computer instruction. Because that's what I need when I'm hiring. It shouldn't take more than a couple of days to come up with basic classes on how to teach the public a few internety things like:

Finding Friends on Facebook
Getting to Know Google+
Using OpenOffice: Calc, Writer, Impress
Tweeting like a Pro
Working in the Cloud
Portable Apps in your Pocket

If I were a poor, out-of-work librarian, I'd want to appear Intelligent, Reliable, Obedient. And definitely not an asshole. If you're not sure if you're asshole, take a look at your friends and your friends' friends. Any of them assholes? At least one of them should be, otherwise, it just might be you. Every group of friends includes an asshole; make sure it's somebody else.

I'd demonstrate a broad knowledge of the skills I learned in library school, but I'd focus on some specialized area of expertise when given the opportunity to speak during the interview. Maybe it's social networking, or gaming, or web design or children's programs, or whatever, but don't let that aspect overwhelm the interview. Start with the broad stuff, but work in the details when the conversation allows for it.

If I were a poor, out-of-work librarian, I wouldn't remain one for long.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You have wasted your life.

Humans define our attempt at civilization by our shared beliefs, our shared experiences. We bond over our memories. Dogs sniff each other's asses, but humans want to know how much you loved last week's episode of Once Upon a Time.

So I wonder how the future will view us, with our shared experiences as compared to others. For example:

Where were you on December 7, 1941?
I was telling my ma that I was going to enlist. She cried. My pa even cried.

Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?
I spent the day with friends, telling them how beautiful they are. And getting high.

Where were you when we landed on the moon?
I was in front of the television. The whole world was in front of the television.

Where were you when on 9/11?
I went out and bought a gun.

Where were you when the first iPhone was released?
I was waiting in line!

I think we'll all remember where we were on June 29, 2007 for the rest of our lives. In 2017, the news media will look back on the 10-year anniversary of the first iPhone and on the lives of those it changed. What? You don't remember where you were on that day? Are you fucking kidding me?

We don't know who the first person was to buy an iPhone that day, but you can bet he was probably a fat, bald white guy in a Weezer tee-shirt. Or an Asian guy in a baseball cap. Or skinny white dude with an Alice Cooper haircut. Or it could have been a woman. There were a lot of women waiting in line to buy the first iPhone. And that's sad because then that makes the whole waiting in line for a hunk of plastic that no one uses anymore seem almost normal. (Does anyone still use the first gen iPhone?)

But, whoever that person is, fifty years from now, when he or she passes away, a country will mourn. And a new generation will ask, Where where you when the first person to buy an iPhone died? And the answer should be, if future human beings still have any standards, Who the fuck cares?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What I Wish I'd Learned in Library School.

What is a library?

This might seem obvious, but it's not. You also might think that it's something one might want to already know before applying to library school, but again, not obvious. It's like thinking you know what a business is before you enter Business school. There are probably ten thousand different kinds of businesses and ten thousand different ways to manage them. The same with libraries.

Libraries are essentially businesses. They are also government. They are public or private, funded by grants, foundations, donations, millage taxes, sales taxes and fees. I still don't have a fucking clue of all the ways that libraries can be funded.

They buy books or lease them. They process in-house or contract it out, or both. They own the land where the buildings reside or they lease or there could be some long-term donation involved. Again, many combinations.

They hire full-time and part-time people and ask the community for volunteers, promote from within or hire from outside, provide formal classes and on-the-job training.

Even after all these years of being a librarian, I still only have a tiny narrow idea of how a library functions. You might think I'm being flippant, but I'm not. There are so many aspects to the job that you can't possibly know what you'll need to know until you need to know it.

You can't prepare for every library job. Sure, you think you want to know about graphic design now, but in your next job it might not matter. Or maybe you think you should have learned more about computers. And then take a workshop and you realize you already know enough to do your job now.

The point is that all this woulda, coulda, shoulda, thinking is fine for commenting on your blog. But don't dwell on it. What happened in library school stays in library school. You're a librarian now, why the fuck are you still bitching about school?

What did I learn in library school? Whatever fit into my schedule that got me the credits to get my degree. I have no complaints.

I don't understand these people who look back at library school as if it failed them somehow. You learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can, so you don't waste too much money as costs increase over the years. And then you get that degree and look for work. Or if you're lucky, get the degree while you're already working.

You use the degree to get hired. Then you observe what's going on and how your new position relates to those around you. You apply new knowledge to old. You fuck up. But not enough to get fired. And you learn. And you succeed. And you backstab and kiss ass to get promoted. There's no fucking mystery to it.

Monday, December 5, 2011


So the solution for saving libraries is obvious: open internet cafes.

Sure, your library offers free internet, but do you also offer PAID internet?

Here is the difference between the boring free library and the cool internet sweepstakes cafe:
A typical scenario is for a business to advertise itself as essentially a sweepstakes parlor. Customers buy phone cards and get with each purchase a separate, magnetic card with credit for a chance for every minute of phone time purchased.

Players sit at a terminal in the cafe and log onto a sweepstakes account created for them that keeps track of their winnings. Some parlors have 50 or more terminals.
"'You can play all day long for 40 bucks.'"

$40. A day. Every day. Times 50 terminals... that's... something. Oh, I just found my calculator; that's $2,000. Oh, I could have done that in my head. Minus holidays, that's $700,000 a year. Per location. And there are over 1,000 of these sites in Florida alone. And they seem to be perfectly legal.

So why are librarians promoting coffee shops in their libraries just to make a few extra bucks? Or holding gaming nights, minus the cash prizes?

Libraries already hold prime locations. We're in the suburbs, downtown, near shops, on college campuses: libraries are everywhere.

So why can't libraries provide these harmless games to desperate poor and elderly people? Ask this man, who tells us how we would get to keep a whopping 10% of all the money we'd make and let him keep 90%, I guess, for making his informative video.

Remember, this is perfectly legal. At least, for now.

How To Start An Internet Sweepstakes Cafe. Now for Libraries!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Library as Disney World

A recent survey suggests that most Americans don't use their public libraries very much, about once a year. So if you pay $100 in taxes to support your local library and only visit once a year, to me, that sounds like Disney World. It's $90 a day to enjoy the Magic Kingdom.

But Disney World has Space Mountain, you say. Big deal. A 45-minute wait for a 2-minute ride, in the dark. Not nearly as terrifying as a 2-minute walk to your car through the library parking lot at closing time with half our lights burnt out.

Disney World has The Country Bear Jamboree with those wacky backwoods bears. The library has five guys sitting by the newspapers who smell like bears, and might not be wearing pants.

Disney World has The Haunted Mansion filled with spooky creatures who occupy a cemetery. Ditto what I said about the guys sitting over by the newspapers.

Disney World has a parade. But have you been in the library when the doors open in the morning to see fifty people make that "I'm almost running, but still walking" beeline for the Internet computers? It's just like a parade, in fast forward. We're considering asking them to carry a banner.

Disney has Fast Pass and we have self check-out. And we both have long waits for anything new.

It costs $14 to park your car at Disney World. The library has free parking. If you still count having your hubcaps stolen, free.

So visit your local library once a year. We can't legally call it the happiest place on earth, but we do have a mouse for a mascot. Several, actually, and they just ran over into the Children's section to play with your kids.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ALA Criticizes "gay" Penguin.

According to a report that I totally made up and not in Publishers Weekly, "'If gay Penguin [publisher] has an issue with gay Amazon [online retailer], we ask that they deal with gay Amazon directly and not hold libraries hostage to a gay conflict of gay business models,' read a statement from ALA."
real report here.

Okay, that whole thing was made up. Nobody said "gay" anything. But from what I heard, the American Library Association has a whole box full of unused "gay"s laying around awaiting some future defense of gay-themed children's books that never were published.

Both Bi-curious George and The Very Horny Caterpillar were postponed by their publishers indefinitely, but the ALA was fully-prepared to defend them with 8 "gay"s each, although neither book was explicitly gay-themed. Hell, George is a monkey and would probably hump anything in real life, so I'm sure even that yellow hat needs to be taken out and burned. And that horny caterpillar was only trying to get down with anything that wasn't moving including boy and girl caterpillars and even a snoozing dachshund.

But the ALA had so many extra "gay"s from the previous attacks on homosexual flightless aquatic bird picture books written for children that they felt compelled to use a few, even if unnecessarily. In fact, had this report been true, this would have been the first time the ALA openly condemned a gay penguin.

Also, since this is 2011, we don't use the term "gay" to describe something negatively. But, oh, gosh, back in 1991, this would have been hilarious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Why don't you get an iPad?" Zombies.

Zombies is the answer to everything. When you think of ebooks and social networks and your digital self, you should put it all within the context of zombies.

I don't literally mean zombies. But I mean that in any zombie-themed fiction, shit happens, society collapses, and survival gets back to basics. Shelter is a physical structure. Food is food.

There is no virtual world. Microblogging gets cut to four letters: Help. Or three, Run. Friending someone means you get to sleep for a few hours while she keeps watch. The only flash mob is the one that wants to eat your brain.

Anyone showing off his cool new Kindle Fire doesn't get it. He won't last 24 hours around zombies. But the guy with the tool box under his desk knows what matters. Hammer beats tablet. So think zombies.

Zombies says to build more libraries.
Zombies says to plan for failure and have an exit.
Zombies says your most important customer is right in front of you.
Zombies says don't over extend your supply chain.
Zombies says not to waste resources.
Zombies says to train your staff.

We take so much for granted: we assume that the wifi will be up and we expect to have a place to plug in. But this won't last forever. Zombies says so.

Buy books.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Don't Read Shakespeare on the Shitter."

Don't ask why, but I found a bunch of stories on how unsanitary it is to read while you're on the toilet. In fact, an image search for "reading on the toilet" can fill your morning with delightful visions of women and men and animals all enjoying a little light reading while voiding their bodies of waste matter. Dee-light-ful.

The good news is, reading a printed paperback or hardback book while you pinch a loaf isn't going to kill anyone and could possibly make you a better person. A disgusting, filthy, better person.

According to the Guardian, contemplating the Meaning of Life while dropping a deuce is an enviable position in which to find oneself and that others should aspire towards, noting that, "the toilet of the middle ages, high up in a castle turret, offered the perfect solitude for "uninterrupted reading"; Lord Chesterfield too saluted the benefits, recounting the tale of a man who used his time wisely in the "necessary house" to work his way through Horace."

And we know how sanitary the Middle Ages were. But I think those old dudes were simply masturbating. They'd take a book to pretend they were reading, but they were really just diddling themselves. "How was your Horace? Wink, wink."

The danger, they add, is, "your poo can get on your hands, [and] be transferred to your reading material." Ah, public libraries: Aiding poo migration since 1600.

"Microbes don't fare too well on absorbent surfaces, and might survive only minutes on newspaper. But plastic book covers and those shiny, smooth surfaces of Kindles, iPhones and iPads are more accommodating, and it's likely bugs can live on those for hours. A recent study by Curtis suggests that in Britain one in six mobile phones is contaminated with faecal matter, largely because people fail to wash their hands after going to the toilet."
So the conclusion, the disgusting conclusion, is that reading while on the toilet is a widespread practice, which is mostly harmless so long as you view spreading feces on the objects you touch as mostly harmless.

Personally, I don't read "whilst" (the King's English) upon the "crapper" (the Earl's English). I don't tweet or play Angry Birds or do anything else with my hands. Except floss. And knit. And write checks. And compose commercial jingles on my Casio keyboard. And blog. Because I'm on the toilet now.

And The Mouthy Housewives, when asked by a mom if her son's new toilet reading habit is gross, reply, "WHO THE HELL CARES WHERE YOUR SON READS AS LONG AS HE’S READING!?!?"

Point taken. Reading trumps poo hands.

But getting back to "those shiny, smooth surfaces of Kindles, iPhones and iPads" where germs can live "for hours"... [GAG!!!!!!!!]

Someone has got to start a campaign against the reading of Kindles and iPads while on the toilet. This is fucking gross. It's like when I hear a cell phone conversation coming from the stall in a public restroom and all I can think is that the is no level of cleanliness that exists in that tiny space that allows for zero transfer of crap to every surface including the dude's face. Hand. Ass. Hand. Phone. Ear. Cheek. Mouth. I don't care if your shit came out in a neatly wrapped gift box with a bow: you're dipping you hand into the no-fly zone of the toilet. There's a perimeter level with the seat that should not be broken with the same hand you're using to hold your toothbrush.

So let's get this started now. Here is the "Don't READ" campaign. And yes, these are terrible slogans. You try coming up with authors whose names rhyme with "toilet" or "crapper" or "shit." How about, "Don't leave a turd, holding the written word"?

"Don't READ Shakespeare on the Shitter."
"Don't READ Tolstoy on the Toidy."
"Put Down That Gertrude Stein Before You Wipe Your Behind."
"Don't Wipe Your Ass While Reading 'Leaves of Grass.'"
"Don't READ Stephen King on The Throne."

You don't want to hear what I came up with for Honoré de Balzac.

Or maybe these should just be simple posters of celebrities sitting on the toilet under the banner, DON'T READ.

"The hand that swipes is not the hand that wipes."
"Leave your ebook in the hall, when you answer Nature's Call."

And the worst one of all,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Hi, Siri. Do I look stupid to you?"

I know you've seen the latest Apple iPhone commercial where everyone is an idiot. Yes, you've seen the little girl who wants to see a weasel. But did you realize that most people in that commercial are idiots?

I've seen this ad on TV about 15 times. And the first time I noticed that the woman who is rushing to the hospital is smiling. She says, "Tell me the quickest way to the hospital." And she's smiling. Is she rushing there because she's sick, or because someone in her family has been injured? Maybe a friend had a baby; that might have her smiling. But then, why is she rushing? The baby isn't going anywhere. Or is it? Her whole world seems alien to me. Stop smiling! Someone is selling a baby on the black market, you monster!

And the woman who gets locked out of her house? Why the hell is she telling her phone, for? Because if you watch, Siri doesn't unlock the door, but does a business search to locate nearby locksmiths. "No, Siri, unlock the fucking door!"

And the guy who tells Siri to move his appointment from 3 to 4, what does he expect? Because if Siri can't unlock a door or even call the locksmith automatically and get someone who *can* unlock a door, is she going to call everyone scheduled to attend the meeting to tell them about the change? What the fuck do you pay her for if she can't make a simple phone call WHEN SHE ALREADY LIVES INSIDE YOUR PHONE?

And the flat tire lady with a car full of child ballerinas? She tells Siri she has a flat tire. Will Siri inflate the flat? I don't understand. Will Siri call her husband? Or will we just repeat that same stupid response about locating 3 tow trucks in the area. That does not solve the fucking problem of being stranded with five children in the car. Siri should say, "I will entertain the children with videos while you curse yourself for not being a member of AAA. Asshole."

So if you haven't seen the video, here are the questions the idiots ask, followed by Siri's responses, assuming she's anything like me:

We have a flat tire. "I thought you wanted a flat tire so you didn't have to sit through that shitty ballet recital."

How do I tie a bow tie, again? "Again? Just buy a clip-on, asshole." (Since Siri is only about 2 weeks old, this guy has asked about this at least once, and forgotten what Siri showed him. Already.)

What's the fastest way to Hartford Hospital? "Step in front of a bus."

Do I need an umbrella in NY this weekend? "No, you don't need one. Unless you don't want to get wet."

Remind me to call Chris when I get home. [Siri deletes all the contacts from the phonebook.]

Move my meeting from 3 to 4. "Meeting moved to November 4th."

Remind me to get milk when I leave work. [Siri posts her work address to Facebook/ Foursquare/ Twitter, with the message, "Who wants milk?"]

Tell my wife I'm gonna make it. [Siri tells the wife, "Your husband is making it with his secretary."]

Wake me up at 6. "Do you think I'm getting up early just so you can hit 'snooze' 3 times?"

Play some Coltrane. "Playing some Coldplay."

I'm locked out. [Siri snaps your photo and posts it to your networks with your location, "Can someone break into my house for me?"]

What does a weasel look like?

Oh, sorry. Too soon?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wanted: Librarian Censor

Isn't it about time that censorship had some authority control? The thought of censoring a book or film may seem abhorrent to you, but what about haphazard censorship, without any standards or rules? People will censor. It's our nature to remove from view what we don't want to see. So shouldn't censorship have the same kinds of policies and ethics that guide the profession of librarianship?

We just celebrated Banned Books Week and I was appalled by the randomness of what is challenged in America's schools and libraries. One YA book is pulled for profanity, but some stay on the shelf. Sexual, homosexual, religious, violent or political content is alright in one book but not in another.

Don't people have any standards? Like, what if one day we censored all the gay penguins but not gay elephants? What if we hide the Koran in the basement but keep the Book of Mormon on the front shelves?

We have lists and lists of books that have been "censored" over the years, but those book challenges are so haphazard and random. I wonder if I need to start a site like Goodreads but called CensoredReads where people can tag everything that's offensive or possibly offensive in every published book. I think that would a useful selection, or deselection, tool.

"Find a reason to hate that book, at CensoredReads."

I'm tired of the morons who want to bowdlerize texts and replace words with friendlier terms. These are the same cowards who say N-word or F-word. We know what you're saying; you're not hiding anything. You say N-word so often that it's become the word it was meant to substitute. You say, "Oh, I would never say the N-word." Guess what? You just did.

But if we have to be cowards, at least let's gets our terms straight. We have a few resources to start. I know, based on a skit on Saturday Night Live, that dinosaurs can officially be changed into Jesus horses.

So that's one. But we need more.

That's why we need to begin teaching censorship in library school with classes on "How to Censor Responsibly," "Censorship Terms and Authority Control," and "Censor 2.0."

Here is your textbook, AACR: Anglo-American Censorship Rules.

I really want to hear a librarian who has graduated from the program say to someone who's complaining about a book, "I understand you find this book offensive, but you're hating it wrong."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Working Dead.

I guess you've heard about the Occupy Wall Street assholes, um, protestors. They're the group leveraging social media to protest the corporate screwing of America. No, wait. They're not using social media; they're actually marching on Wall Street. With picket signs. And getting busted for it.

They aren't just virtually there with a Google map representing the greed on "the street," or creating an augmented reality app with facial recognition cloud resources to identify the richest trader cocksuckers in the crowd, but are physically there in NYC. And not one protester has signed into Foursquare to claim the mayorship of the intersection at Wall and Broad streets.

Wikipedia tells me, "The participants of the event are mainly protesting against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government,..."

Ah, a political manifesto. Why not just be about jobs?

Here is their dickhead philosophy, "The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."

You know what? I don't care about the greed and corruption. I'm glad Wall Street is making money. What I care about is their refusal to share.

I would protest the seeming collusion by big business to create a two-tiered America where the few blessed earn $10 billion a year and the rest of us earn $10 an hour. I would protest the union busting. The professional downgrading. The extreme costs of education that leave us in debt just for the empty promise of a decent living wage. I've complained for the last three years that corporate America has some plan to turn us into the working dead with lower and lower paying jobs.

Where is my American Dream? That should be your fucking mantra. Don't criticize the greedy. Greed shows that there is money out there to be made. But find a way to make those greedy bastards play fair and create jobs, good jobs.

Nobody cares if Mr. Big has a billion dollars if we also have good jobs, health benefits, safe places to live and play.

All you idiots with any other political agenda need to shut the fuck up until we all have jobs with a good future, with benefits to keep us healthy and productive and with pensions for loyal hard work.

Create Good Jobs. Any other message and you're wasting your fucking time. And mine.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Librarians Need Pimps.

Have you seen the movie Taken where Liam Neeson is asking the hooker about his daughter and the pimp comes up and takes Liam's money for wasting the hooker's time? Librarians need that.

How many times have you answered your patron's question only to get another question fired right back at you? And sometimes while you're still in the middle of the first question?

I mean, if you don't have your shit together enough to wait to get an answer for something before you want to know something else, you're either a mentally unstable adult, or a 4-year-old.

"Why is the sky blue?" "Why do I have a penis?" "Why can't dogs and cats have babies?" "Where do farts go?"

That was the adult.

But from what movies I've seen, a pimp can help a ho stick to business and not waste time with bullshit. Like eating. Or bathing. Or getting an education. Or anything else that doesn't bring in money. A pimp is like an extremely violent and unstable life coach.

Here comes the Pimp now. After the movie, Taxi Driver, we'll call him Sport. Here is a sampling of his guidance. Here's a thought, has anyone written a book like Tuesdays with Morrie, but with a dying pimp?

Sport (promoting his merchandise):
This librarian here, she's been on the job five years but you'll swear she's done it for twenty. She will blow your mind. With knowledge. She will fuck you up and down with information. You can ask her anything you want. And she will find it. But no rough stuff, no legal or medical advice, all right?

Sport: Are you bothering the librarian? Because I'll bother your ass with my foot.

Sport: Time is money. And your time is about to run out. Like your blood.

Sport: Asshole, the librarian has helped you. She found you a source in India for 12-foot long unfinished mahogany boards and she sent the contact information to your iPhone. And she found you a local periodontist who uses no anesthesia and let's you hold your dog during your gum scraping. And she gave you the phone number for Zooey Deschanel's agent. Now it's time for you to go. Do you really want this to go to the next level?

So, yeah, having a pimp sounds real cool. I'm just not sure how it works with the money thing, since I get a salary and don't get paid by the trick. I'm sure pimps have a sophisticated formula for figuring it out, like taking my whole paycheck. And then punching me in the mouth. Because I'm a librarian and don't make very much.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Public Libraries for Sale.

So libraries now have ebooks for the Amazon Kindle. And so does Amazon have us.

We often talk about the value of libraries, about the library building, about the collection, but we don't often discuss the value of the concept of a library and what it means and what it's worth.

Right now we're all broke. Except for your rich bastards. But most of the rest of us are broke. Either because of our own greed or stupidity or because the The Man keeping us down. In my case, it's The Man.

But libraries have value that we can't perceive unaided. Our library gets many requests from the public for us to allow them to become associated with us. Some want us to link to their website or some want to discuss their businesses or books they've written with the public.

I don't know about you, but when we're considering a purchase for our library, we look to see how many other libraries have made a similar purchase. Because libraries are home to many professionals and bright people so we've determined that libraries make good recommendations. And I think others feel the same. That's why some many people and businesses want to work with us.

I was once told that Google even views libraries as better than most other sites. And if a library links to another site, that site in turn gets an upgrade in Google's algorithm. And how much is that worth to have your business easier to find on Google?

So what is it worth to have libraries send our patrons to Amazon to borrow ebooks? You might think, nothing, because these people are Amazon customers anyway, Kindle owners. But now the library is delivering our patrons to Amazon. And what will Amazon do with our library patrons? In order to make our Kindle users happy, we're also giving away a little of their privacy. Amazon now knows which library books they read. Again, not a big thing by itself. But these are library patrons. And in this business world, this can be an entire demographic. I don't know. I only know that we've given a huge global entity access to something that, as libraries, we've been trained to protect. And we did this because our patrons wanted it.

So I don't think anyone can truly calculate the value of a library. Actually, I think the private companies that contract to manage libraries can because they exploit the goodwill that libraries have earned over the last 100 years when they use volunteers to run their for-profit *public* library.

Companies spend millions to create the perception that they are good, whether they are, or not. And libraries have this already. A library doesn't need sponsorship or logos or mascots or jingles. Build a library any place in America, in the world, and the neighborhood becomes a better place to live.

So the battle (okay, it wasn't a battle, yet) with Amazon is lost and it's not our fault. Our patrons don't really understand the value of their privacy and how it relates to freedom. Although, I've been telling them for years.

As far as the brokeness issue, I don't have the answer. But for libraries looking for money through partnerships with private companies, please rethink your true value. It's not just how many people will see the ad in your library stacks, it's how much each of those sets of eyes, those minds, are worth. In my view, they're priceless. But I won't criticize you if you sell out for, maybe, $50 million.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Amazon's Big Ass Library

News: Amazon copies the Public Library business model. And adds fees. The story is that Amazon is going to lend ebooks. And everyone says this is bad for libraries.

I don't know why Amazon didn't do this sooner. Here's what could have happened at any time: Let's say Amazon creates the Amazon Lending division and the Lending division buys ebooks from the Amazon Bookseller division. Amazon could lend those ebooks for $2 a week and make... $2 a week minus $10 cost per ebook, is $94 a year. Or given the short lifespan of a book, $47 for six months. So Amazon can make $47 dollars on each ebook it buys from itself.

And since Amazon the Bookseller creates the demand for the books in the first place by pushing them to the front page, it can target the most profitable books to purchase for its Lending division and not waste money on dogs. But given how the web page works, it can buy and rent pretty much anything at any time. "Buy Now for $9.99 or Rent Now for $2.00 a week." I don't think publishers would even be able to keep track of the bookkeeping.

Publishers could have complained. But since Amazon sells more of their books than any other outlet, they wouldn't complain for too long after Amazon gently, but purposefully, squeezed their balls.

What's funny is that libraries have been doing this for years. But without the $2 a week. The only thing Amazon adds to the Library plan is the rental fee. And Amazon's massive global presence. And the ball-squeezing thing.

Amazon's Subscription-based Lending Library vs. the Public Library.

Amazon: Thems that can join is thems that can pay.

Library: All are welcome. Even you.

Amazon: As quickly as possible, regardless of cost.

Library: As cheaply as possible, no matter the delay.

Amazon: We track every word you read. And we can tell which ones you don't understand. Don't you know what spurious means by now? God, my kid knows that.

Library: We couldn't give two fucks whether you borrow Catcher in the Rye. Or if you read, What's Up with Down There? (a guide to your lady parts) and it's companion, What's Wrong with my Dong? (a guide to dude stuff).

Well, actually that last two have wifi keyloggers that gather your Facebook profile if you keep the anywhere near a computer or smartphone. But that's just something I did. For research, not for spying. But I won't tell anyone that you checked them out. Except in my library school thesis. You know, for research.

Whenever our library would bring up charging for services in the past, the plan would always get shot down. The purpose of the library is to provide free services, was always the reason. It didn't matter that ALL real world examples had a cost. Book and movie rentals, computer use, instructional programs, research, all incur some cost in the real world.

So in the middle of a fucking recession, with this Amazon new, libraries are being told that people would rather pay than wait.

So watching TV, I see that most people still have $70/mo for a phone. And $8/mo for Netflix. And $6/mo. for Amazon Prime. But no one seems to have fucking dime for libraries.

Everyone says that libraries have become obsolete because people only want to pay for the things they want; there is no longer a common good. And I've also heard that people shouldn't be forced to pay for something that a private company could supply. Like private roads? Private armies? Because I'm sure you could find some company willing to keep the road in front of your house in good shape if you cough up $5 a day. And if you don't cough loud enough, I'm sure a good ball-squeeze is on the menu.

So you have librarians all shouting how library lending is dead because Amazon is willing to sell the same product that libraries could provide for free if only everyone would shut the fuck up and just pay their $8/mo. in library fees so that we can continue providing books to everyone. Oh, wait, and for that same $8 you get children's programs and online newspapers and computer classes and yoga and reading clubs and meeting space and internet access and music and SO MUCH OTHER SHIT it's not possible to calculate it all. If only you fuckers would just pay your fucking taxes.

But what these librarians are saying is that the book lending model for libraries is dead. Much like how the VHS and DVD lending model perished years ago when Blockbuster and then Netflix and then Redbox appeared. What? That part of library lending is stronger than ever? In fact, Redbox is only $1 and Blockbuster has repeatedly lowered prices AND Netflix users are quitting the service because prices increased?

So what is it about Amazon's model that will kill libraries? Is it the Kindle? So a business model that requires members to spend $114 upfront (for the cheapest Kindle) and then keep a valid credit card on record AND continue to pay $8 to $30 a month is going to beat out a FREE service?

What it will most likely do is allow libraries to get the same deal as Amazon and allow us to lease ebooks from publishers. So then the library will be able to lease 200 ebook copies of Stieg Larsson's ghost-written but based on his notes, second series of novels to fill demand. And then six months later, return them all and buy something else. And when libraries get the power to lease ebooks for one-fifth the cost of purchasing them, then we'll have the power to deliver content to our patrons and near-Kindle immediacy but without the added cost.

I'll say this again; if libraries could only manage to pool all the money, would could get publishers to give us what we want. Because this is tens of millions of dollars. Or even hundreds of millions. I don't have a calculator, but it's a lot. We could offer any book or movie or song to anyone at any time in any format.

Amazon isn't big because they're better. They're big because of that name: Amazon. It's a big damn river. It's the biggest river on Earth. So we'll need to come up with a bigger name for our combined national library. How about Library Planet? Or The Big Fucking Library? I'll leave the naming up to you.

But The Big Fucking Library would look great on borrower cards.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Science Fucked Up Star Wars

Fact: Star Wars is fucked up. But that's what's great about Star Wars. There are the movies and books and cartoons and toys and breakfast cereals and there are the stories surrounding each of those incarnations.

There's myth and legend. And it continues to grow. There's always some new guy with a story to tell about The Making of Star Wars. Here comes one anonymous fake source now:

When George came over to show me the script, it was just this handwritten copy. And just as he was handing it to me, he barfed all over it. He just blew chunks. He said it was something he ate. But just before that awful mess, I saw the title page and it said, Starlight Warrior. The original, original title of Star Wars was Starlight Warrior. But Georg had puked up on it and most of the letters were all wet and gross and all you could read was Star War. Which become Star Wars. True Story.

From what George had told me before he came over to show me that first draft of the script was that it was going to be a story of a small-town girl who leaves her farm to move to the big city to become a movie star. It was going to be a total glam-rock take on All About Eve with David Bowie as Margo.

But when George hurled on that script, he got depressed and so we hung out and got high. And I put on The Wizard of Oz. And the image of Dorothy evolved into Luke. Obi-Wan was born from the Wizard. And Han, Chewbacca and C-3PO were somewhat like the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man. And R2 was the Munchkins. Remember, we were pretty stoned. Later, The Emperor became the Wicked Witch.

And that's what great about Star Wars. It's mysterious. Luke Skywalker and Dorothy Gale, who knew?

So when some assholes came along and tried to apply Science to it, Star Wars got all fucked up. How do lightsabers work? How far is the Kessel Run?

What is The Force?

And that, for every single person who loves Star Wars is the biggest fuck-up. Have you read about midi-chlorians? What the fuck are those? Microscopic symbionts that detect the Force? Fuck you, George Lucas!

When I saw Star Wars, and more so, The Empire Strikes Back, I wanted to have access to the Force. And I sometimes convinced myself that it was out there for me to find, and control. To mow the lawn. If I could just get that mower to cut the grass by itself while being propelled by the Force, my life would be awesome, I dreamed.

But then everyone wanted Answers. Or maybe George Lucas felt he had to provide answers, but either way, all this cool shit that seemed like magic in the Star Wars universe got kicked in the ass by Science.

So now we know exactly how dense your cells need to be with midi-chlorians before you can even hope to get the lawn cut, let alone pull a Jedi mind trick and get someone to sleep with you. It's 16,000.

So all you writers and creators, try to remember that when you create a world and fill it with characters, leave a little magic behind for the rest of us, and let us wonder.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September is Library Card Sign-up Month.

Get a library card. Use it.
You can borrow all kinds of stuff for free. Ask us what we have.
Return what you borrow in about the same condition as you got it before it's due back to the library.
And if you ask us, sometimes you can keep it longer.
So don't steal from the library.
What the fuck is wrong with you?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Welcome, library volunteers. Mr. LaFayette will be whipping you today.

I think California is missing the point with their attempt to legislate how libraries are run. They want to add all these requirements about accounting transparency and being open for bids, but they still don't get it.

This should be about the role of volunteers in for-profit companies.

If you are a not-for-profit entity, you can use all the volunteers you want. But if you make money off the labor of unpaid employees, then you're either:

A) a pimp
B) a restaurant owner
C) a library management company
D) a time-traveling plantation slave master

Although I think waitresses make some sort of hourly salary, around $3-$5 on average. So if you chose A, C) or D), you are correct.

So when a library makes a contract with a company to maintain its collection and manage its daily operations, that company should not be allowed to run the library with unpaid employees, or, as they say in the library management biz, volunteers.

When you have 3 or 4 paid employees managing 100 unpaid workers, you have slavery. Or a Girl Scout troupe selling cookies. No, wait, slavery.

Maybe not Olde Southe Slaverye with the beating and the rape and the human trafficking, but slavery, still.

Reportedly, here is what goes on at one of these privately managed libraries:

... there are less than four full-time employees of the Paso Robles Library. There are about 125 volunteers that do everything that full-time employees used to do.

Did you hear that? Beatings! No, that didn't say, "beatings." But I didn't hear anything about free coffee and donuts, neither.

Yes, you should argue that no one is forcing anyone to work in the library for free. But what other choice is there? Every day, our library is filled with folks in search of something to do. Playing FarmVille.

Walmart couldn't get away with paying Americans nothing to work. As much as you want to curse them for other abuses, this isn't one of them. Neither could Best Buy or McDonald's or any other company in America. But libraries are doing it right now. And if library management companies are allowed to get away with profiting from unpaid workers, and don't even get me started on how Facebook does this, how soon will other companies be allowed to follow?

So when your library is out of money and some bean counter suggests that a private management company can run the library more cheaply, ask how volunteers will fit into this plan. Because if this company is making a profit while using unpaid labor to perform most of the work, you'd best check your iPhone to make sure you didn't just download an app that you thought was going to make your photos look olde-timey, but actually made everything olde timey, like it's 1850. If so, head north.

No, your GPS won't work; it's 1850, idiot.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Learn to Fucking Search

You digital natives with your iPads
are masters of Facebook, it's true.
Yet you cannot locate a decent article for class.
You really suck at searching, Fuck you.

You use the Google toolbar to find Mapquest
and you use Bing to locate Yahoo!
Your password's the same as your birthday.
Your net skillz suck, so Fuck you.

You have the best tablet or smartphone.
You're always on Foursquare, GetGlue.
You share intimate details with everyone.
We're robbing your house now, Fuck you.

Your research technique is to Google.
And Google is all you can do.
You got an F on your last paper.
You can't find shit, so Fuck you.

Google-y Google-y Google-y Goo.
Google-y Google-y Google-y Goo.
Google-y Google-y Google-y Goo.
Google-y Google-y Google. Fuck you.

Use databases for peer-reviewed journals.
But use Google to find a tattoo.
If you can't learn to tell the difference
You're totally screwed, so Fuck you.

Put phrases inside quotations;
Learn to use minus signs, too.
Learn to search the fucking Internet.
An old fart like me can, so Fuck you.

If you get lost, ask a librarian
because searching is what we can do.
But if you're too cool to ask for assistance
you deserve to fail, asshole. Fuck you.

:: idea stolen from Shelf Check, Emily Lloyd's awesome toonblog... which she stole from Go the Fuck to Sleep and I adapted it to include research from What Students Don't Know ... if I get the time, I'll use some cartoon site to illustate it with lions and shit...

ok, here's a picture... but I'm too lazy to do the whole thing... but it would look pretty cool if I did.

Image Copyright © 2007 Jeremiah Blatz

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Internet, explained in language you can understand

Remember that PSA for HIV where they told you to wear a condom or make your partner wear a condom because when you sleep with someone, you are also sleeping with every other person he or she has ever slept with?

If you understand the necessity for wearing a rubber then you should be able to understand much of what I do at the library.

So let me apply your condom understanding to the Internet.

When you use the Internet, it's like you are sticking your penis into every orifice on the planet all at once. Or shoving every penis-shaped object in the world into every hole in your body. Whichever image best helps you to understand. So imagine that. Think of all the holes or pockets or indentations you can imagine: another person, a fish's mouth, a knot in an old tree, a rifle barrel, your car's tailpipe, whatever it is, you're jamming your prick into it. Of think of every monkey's paw or beer bottle or cucumber or every other object being crammed into you at once.

That is what happens to your computer when you look at stuff on the Internet. It is literally crawling over naked bodies in the most crowded, filthiest orgy in the world. And all the lights are out so you can't see a thing.

And this is by no means an exaggeration. This is the truth. This is really happening to your computer, but you can't see it.

"But my computer is not that kind of computer," you protest. No. Your computer is a whore. Just like every other computer. You might want to argue that your computer got raped when you went on the Internet, but you'd lose. The very nature of how your computer communicates with other computers means it was looking for it. A million dirty hands are all over it before your computer can even think to shout, Stop!

Now that you know what's going on, think about what you're really saying when you call me over in the library to tell me that your computer is "acting funny." Imagine what your doctor might say if you complained about your body feeling funny a few days after you rolled around naked with a few thousand of your friends of various species. "Yeah, it's possible my jaw hurts because I may have given a blowjob to a walrus," you'd have to admit just before your doctor sterilized the examination table with a whole lot of fire.

Sure, we have a firewall and antivirus software running to protect the computer, but doesn't mean you won't put your hand in something funky.

So when the computer starts doing something weird, don't expect me to know what it is. It's the Internet. Just be thankful you can't see everything that's going on out there in it. Did you ever see that movie, The Ring? Where there's a video that's so horrible that if you watch it, 7 days later you die? And did you ever see TRON? Where cyberspace is all neon lit cities and hot chicks in skin-tight body suits? Take a guess which movie is closest to what the Internet is like. Hint: it's not the one about computers.

So when I don't know what's wrong with your computer after I've just looked at it for all of 3 seconds, try to not be such an asshole about it. Think about all that stuff that just happened to your computer. All that terrifying and gross stuff. And try not to throw up on my shoes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Libraries: making you feel like shit all over again

It's pretty much ever other day since I became a librarian that I hear, "It's been so long since I've been to the library."

And since computers have existed since before I went to library school, it's been every other other day that I've heard, "I've never used a computer."

And by next year I'll need to find new days to squeeze in for all the times I'll hear, "This fucking iPad can suck my dick."

So it seems like forever that libraries have been making people feel stupid or guilty or unsuccessful or lazy. We're constantly changing to add new technologies to make our patrons feel like shit.

Remember that many of your patrons learned to use the library by borrowing printed books. And that technology didn't change very much from year to year. Except the collection changed. New books arrived and found homes on the shelves next to the older books. So there was an actual, tangible history on the shelves. One could hold an old book that was once enjoyed in childhood in one hand right along with the latest bestseller in the other. And it inspired reflection, reflection on the years that have passed, on life, marriage, children, work, health, death. And all that reflection sucks.

People don't want to remember their lives. Or rather, they want to remember but only when they are guaranteed to not remember the next morning. And that's why we drink. To remember how much our lives suck and how much promise was wasted but to be able to forget it all tomorrow.

That's why shopping is awesome. Everything is new. You don't have to compare your life to some old diet book you tried to apply to your live 15 years ago that didn't work. Or to remember how much you loved reading Dean Koontz and how you met someone else who loved Koontz but then that person turned out to be such an asshole. Everything is wonderful in the Macy's Juniors department.

But libraries always remind you that you don't know shit. If you read books and love them, the next the books will be stamped on gold foil that you read by rubbing them against your teeth. Or worse, the books will require some special hardware to read and some overly complicated process for getting them out of the sky and onto the device. A process that makes you lose control of your bowels, just a little.

So let me apologize to all the library users who just want things to be the way they were way back when they first visited the library. I'm sorry. From all the libraries everywhere, I'm deeply sorry.

Libraries keep changing. But yet we keep all the old stuff to keep you off balance and fuck up your day. Just when you got used to borrowing The Sound of Music on VHS, we dumped that copy and bought it on DVD. And now that you've learned to love your DVD player, we're switching to blu-ray. And next April we're going full streaming HD video. Won't that just make you lose your shit?

But it's not our fault.

Your one bit of satisfaction should come from knowing that all the smug assholes stroking and caressing their iPads now will be the old codgers later when the idea of manipulating a device with one's hands will seem prehistoric because all the world's data will just shoot out from our asses.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it.

So fewer schools are teaching kids cursive writing. And many of you probably don't care. Click this link for what I said about this a couple of years ago.

But think about all the places where a kid needs to know cursive, like signing yearbooks. Oh, wait, I guess in the future, all school yearbooks will be a Facebook page and kids will pay $75 for the app to be able to view it and leave messages. Duh.

But, really? Didn't you love seeing everyone's handwriting? Didn't you compare the cute curves of most girls' notes to the awkward blocky text of the boys? Didn't that make you laugh? I always wondered how the girls learned to write so cute. Look at this example [reading from my 19** middle school yearbook] "U R the sweetest. Yum! I hope to C U this summer."

See? That's awesome. And that was written by, oh, um... Stephen. Yeah, I remember now. That was a good summer, our secret summer. What ever happened to Stephen?

And what about our serial killers? How will we be able to identify the tell-tale signs of their future horrors without being able to analyze their handwriting after they kill all those people? "Oh, look at this letter 'a,'" we'll say, "this was a clue that he was a ticking time bomb." Isn't it funny how we all do that? After some terrible action like a mass killing, we look back to see if we could have predicted it and stopped it before it happened. Like solving a maze from the end going backwards. Which is easy as hell. But try to solve the maze going in the right direction and you get blindsided by dead ends or traps. So now we'll without the "Monday morning quarterback" wisdom of the handwriting analysts.

And speaking of evil, how can you strike a deal with the Devil if you only know how to text? You can't sign your name to become a billionaire or a movie star! You can bet Tom Cruise is teaching his kids how to write in cursive. Maybe the Devil has a BlackBerry, I don't know. I just think he does business that way. Don't ask how I know. But when my birthday rolls around, I always know whose card is in the singed red envelope.

So some day when kids can't write in longhand and we've had a century of texting and interweb lingo and our civilization has fallen due to that meteor that the government keeps saying will totally miss us and we have to create a new government, I'm guessing that we won't have these words to help guide us:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

But we'll have this because this is what our schools will be teaching in 5 years:

we hld thz trootz 2B slf-Fident, dat ll men r cr8d eql, dat thyre Ndowd by ther cre8r W certN Nalienabl ryts, dat mong deez r lyf, lberty n d prsuit of ^^.

But maybe cursive writing isn't such a big deal. I've never had a purchase rejected because my signature didn't match something that I don't know what it should match when I check out at Best Buy and pay by credit card. I move the pen in circular motions on the screen of the scanner and it makes some line on the cashier's screen and she presses a key and I get my receipt. It's an obsolete action that is probably just a carry-over from days of the Old West when the local feed store refused to take Discover.

So kids won't be able to compose beautiful notes to each other or write flower love poems with pretty penmanship. They'll have emoticons. And I think the right one for that feeling is <3. That's either a heart or a witch with big tits. But either way, Love.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What makes a hack.

You are a hack author if any of your major characters is [a/an]:

sea monster
talking dog
regular dog
holocaust survivor
omniscient voice
coconut macaroon
meat packer
homeless person
porn star
historical figure
rock star
terminally ill
geometric shape
part of speech
inanimate object
the color orange
chronic handwasher
drug addict
fashion designer
pool of water

So shame on you, shame on you all. You should be able to come up with something better that this.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Library Scabs

If your local Friends group loves your library so much, then why are they getting your librarians fired? Or forcing them to work at much lower salaries.

Library volunteers are scabs, not because they break picket lines, but because they'll do a job for free that should be done by a paid employee.

Not all volunteers are bad. Look at Wikipedia. But then, if the Wikipedia volunteers don't show up on Tuesday, it's not like you can't find the entry for Lutynia. If the library volunteer doesn't show, that hilarious DVD of Failure to Launch doesn't make it back on the shelf.

Library jobs are some of the most vulnerable public sector jobs in the country. Why? Because it's considered normal that we allow volunteers to perform so many of the library jobs.

People come in right off the street and we let them into the staff areas and let them use library computers that can access user personal information, and all we ask is if they can come in on Saturdays.

We don't do background checks on volunteers, then we let them work around children, regardless of whether this kindly old grampa was known as The Playground Killer back in the 1950's.

Oh, we love our library volunteers, you say now. But wait until your library decides to turn its money over to a private company, then see how you feel when those same volunteers are doing your job and you're applying for a part-time position at Home Depot.

Think of any other job where they allow volunteers to do the work... is it skilled labor? Maybe volunteers built your 1977 Chrysler Cordoba, but hell, we didn't even wear seatbelts in the Seventies, and children could buy cigarettes, so clearly we didn't give a shit.

People volunteer at the hospital delivering flowers. My mom volunteers at the hospital. Which is run by a large corporation whose goal is to make a profit. And she provides free labor when some other person could perform that job for at least minimum wage.

One simple strategy with privatization is to cut library hours. Then wait for the outrage. And then ask for volunteers to work to keep the library open regular hours. Easy.

So you cut staff. You reduce full-time positions to part-time. You reduce salaries. And then exploit the good name of the public library to convince people to work for free.

Who the fuck do you think you are?

Yes, you can fool lots of old people into volunteering. They don't know any better. But let WalMart try that.

The library could do this themselves; they don't need a private company to pull this scam.

Look at this job ad: "Library Systems & Services, LLC (LSSI) has an opening for a Part-Time, 30 hrs/wk, Friends and Volunteer Services Coordinator located in the Santa Clarita..." Your volunteers are cutting off your tits! Your hours are cut so you can become a Lagerführer.

According to this NYT story, "the volunteers are still showing up — even if their assistance is now aiding a private company. ...Jim Ceragioli, a board member of the Friends of Shasta County Library,... says, 'We volunteer more than ever now.'"


Would you volunteer to work for free at Target? You might, but AARP or some other senior protection group would sue and get you an hourly wage. But somehow this is okay at the RUN FOR PROFIT library. Yes, you volunteer when the library is a public entity because you feel like you're helping the community, but how the fuck can it be legal to solicit free labor when the company is private and for profit?

That same NYT article says, "Officials would not discuss the company’s profitability." HOW THE FUCK LEGAL IS THAT? We have to report every fucking dime we spend now. It's taxpayer money. It's called transparency. But suddenly, when you sign a contract with a private library management firm, the public no longer has a right to know where their money goes?

And this is not like some contract to purchase automobiles where I say we need transparency with the company selling the cars, this is because, like many local governments, ours collects library taxes as its own line on the tax bill. Just like for schools. Your tax bill says, Public Schools: $1000, Libraries: $50. So this money now goes directly into a private company that has no accountability back to the taxpayer.

But getting back to the volunteers. How the fuck can a company claim that using volunteers is part of it's business model? Does McDonalds go to your local city council and say, "We want to open 25 restaurants and provide no jobs, but use volunteers to manage them"? And your local council says, "Fuck, yeah! Volunteers pay the bills around here! No salaries, no taxes, no disposable income to spend on goods and services!!!"

The first thing these private companies ask is, "What can we get away with? Will people work for free?" Yes. If the choice is no library or work for free, many people will choose to work for free to keep the library running. But how fucking legal is that? And not even how legal, but how stupid!

Imagine any other company trying to get away with that. "It is the determination of an independent consultant that the position you currently hold will become an unpaid position starting tomorrow. You may continue in this position an an unpaid volunteer. And you will be beaten with sticks." How much shit do you think you'd be stealing when you opened that letter? How big of a fire would you start in your cubicle?

When the Parks department gets their budget cut, they don't run it on volunteers. Why not? Because some grandma would drive a lawn mower over a child. Or half the kids would drown in the pool because the volunteer had to be as her granddaughter's birthday party. So why not? Because some shit is too dangerous to rely on volunteers.

But also because these privatization pimps rely on the good name of the public library to get all this slave labor. The library has spent, in many cases, 20-50-100 years building these community relationships, and then some private company swoops in and takes all that goodwill shoves it right up the librarians collective ass by eliminating professional positions and using more paraprofessionals and volunteers to boost their profit.

But the saddest thing is that most people would never notice the loss of librarians. All they want is their new books or movies and they don't care who gets it for them. We could be grinding up baby seals in the back and using the blood to power the computers and they wouldn't make a peep. "Baby seals, you say? Whatever works. Is my copy of the new Danielle Steel in?"

I wish this was something we could complain to the Department of Labor about so they could document the amount of unpaid workers, elderly men and women, Hispanics, African-Americans, all bending and lifting for hours without compensation or benefits. Oh, wait, it is, and calling 1-866-487-9243 could help.

So the next time some smiling senior citizen comes into your library asking about volunteering to read to children, I expect you to scream right in her face, "You would steal food from the mouths of my children? Get the hell out, you fucking scab! Now, somebody grind up some more of those baby seals and get this line moving."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Future for the Library is Fucked.

We make many assumptions when it comes to civilization. At the top is the assumption that it's here to stay. But the truth is that civilization is fragile. One hiccup in our supply chain and we're all squatting in open air toilets. But at least we'll have iPads.

But one simple mention on LISNews tells me how fucked we are. Someone wrote that their library in New York has had to turn off the A/C on some summer days to avoid crashing the power grid and causing a brown-out in the city.

And therein lies our fuckededness.

We need electricity. We need wired and wireless networks. We need hardware. All these things erode the foundation of the future of libraries. But mostly, all these things need money.

Compare this to the guy who lends books from the back of a donkey to see why modern libraries are destined to fail.

Our supply chain for moving information is weak. When it works, it's magically fast. But it's fragile as hell. I'm not talking books because books are stable. But the future isn't about books.

There are many who feel that libraries can't survive without ebooks and streaming media. Not only do I disagree with that thought, I feel it's the library's mission to survive without them. I'm not opposed to digital content, but I think my library shouldn't devote more than 12% of our energies to providing access to it.

We also have the closing of bookstores.
And Amazon's ability to avoid collecting sales tax.
And the privatization of public libraries.
And the closing of some libraries.
And the cyclical devaluation and revaluation of school librarians and media specialists.
And mobile communications patent disputes.
And streaming media.
And library futurists.

Add all these things and the future for all libraries looks pretty crappy.

But the real reason libraries are fucked is that I've discovered how to run any and all libraries for practically nothing. And if I've figured that out then it won't be long before someone with evil designs figures it out, too. I won't go into details, but the bottom line is that you seal up the bathrooms.

To run a proper library, you have to serve people with people. I don't know what the ratio should be, but one librarian for each 100 people who visit the library is probably okay. We usually have around 150 people sitting around here so we have 2 librarians. And I don't need to tell you that this other guy isn't really pulling his weight when he says that I have to handle the first 100 and he'll handle the rest.

But the library of the future is just going to be about delivering content, not about people. So when all the librarians are fired, except for that one guy who said he had your back but was secretly negotiating to keep his job, you'll look back on these days and think of how the fuck you didn't see it coming.

If I have a digital library, then why would I need a library building? And without a library building, why would I need staff to keep it running properly, to keep things in order and to keep it clean? I wouldn't.

All I would need is wireless internet located at inconvenient, dangerous-after-dark locations around the city. I could run my whole library system, from 2 to 50 branches, with a grand total of 2 or 3 librarians. My patrons would need some sort of portable wireless device and our app. And I would push content to them, as needed, whether it's prerecorded storytimes or ebooks or movies or live help or Q&A or whatever. And when their batteries ran down, they'd go home.

But, you might say, what about all the people who don't have these devices or don't know how to use the internet? Well, they'd better step up. Right now, your library is filled with books and there are people in your service area who don't know how to read them; what the fuck are you doing about that? So screw anyone who can't figure it out. Because the digital library, by definition, isn't about people.

And gadgets are getting cheaper. I can get a cheap tablet for $129 that will let me do almost anything that is worth doing. And haven't you been saying that If you're not on the internet, you might as well be a dog?

So in the digital future, I don't see that any librarian will have a job. Unless you are amazingly awesome or a brown-nosing motherfucker. And since I know my boss takes her coffee with two sugars, you can guess which side I fall on.

But I oppose all of this. I don't want to see my library become all digital all the time. Because then, why would you need us? The internet isn't successful because it has millions of people greasing gears and shoveling coal to keep it running. It's success exactly because it doesn't. So if the public library is meant for people, why would you do something that eliminates people from the service side of the people equation?

We know that some people don't really need other people. Facebook and Twitter and MMORPGs prove we don't really need to meet people to feel like we have friends. We only want a reasonable facsimile of a person and any reasonably competent AI program will satisfy most people's needs for human interaction. Or we could video conference. But we don't really need a physical person to make us feel human.

If left to their own choices, would any of these people choose to support the library? Probably not. So why give them that power? Why give them everything they could ever need through their computers and devices? Because these people don't need us.

Each choice leads us toward different paths. Yet some paths will make it impossible to go back to choose another. The path toward a 100% digital library is one that may not destroy libraries all together, but one that I think will destroy librarianship as a profession.

So check your corners. The role of the library building is much more important than you can imagine. Sure you can have a digital presence, but keep it small. Focus on your relationships with the people who visit the physical library because those people will scream and be heard when that library is threatened. By comparison, I don't think many people scream when our digital library is down for a day or two. They might tweet, but they don't scream.

I would rather die a noble death serving people than live a thousand lifetimes serving machines.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Public Library Social Network

Circles. Tribes. Groups. Clubs. I always hear about how libraries need to become more involved with social networks, but I never read about how libraries are already social networks.

Granted, my library doesn't pry into the lives of 500 million people or allow private companies to build databases from a billion photos that can be used to find images of each and every one of us and link them to our online profiles. To sell us crap.

Sure, our library utilizes facial recognition software, but it's extremely buggy and only runs properly when I'm at the desk with the other librarian who can spot every trouble making patron we have. "You see that guy?" he asks, "I saw him take all those magazines from the shelf and dump them on the floor. And then he walked away and left them there."

So the social network meta data or tagging for that patron might include: asshole, magazines, sloppy, disrespectful, problem, etc. Libraries could use the same tools as other social networks if we chose to.

But the difference between the major online social networks and the public library is that we keep your activities to ourselves. We don't go blabbing about every book we've seen you scan on the shelf. We don't talk about your behavior in the restrooms. We don't link your name to your car to your address to your property records to your court records to your online identity. We could do it easily, but we don't. Because we're professions who value your privacy. Besides, there's nothing in it for us. Maybe if TMZ wants to send me a couple hundred bucks, I might change my mind, but since we don't have any local celebrities using our library, that'll probably never happen.

On a normal day like yesterday, our library had over 500 visitors. It could have been more like 800, but some people were too hideous to count, so I ignored them.

So 500 beautiful, or moderately attractive, or tolerably ugly people visit our library daily. And on a hot day like yesterday, a few of the really awesome members of the human race wore almost nothing so that from my seat at the desk, I could see almost everything.

But no one took any pictures. And no one blogged it or tweeted it or liked it. Because the public library is the social network that keeps your secrets. Even when your thong is completely out there.

So if you want a real social network that includes other people like you who read the same books and watch the same movies, then support your local public library.

Or else I'm showing everyone the photo I found stuck inside the book you just returned. You're disgusting. Call me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

because it's funny.

@sweet_steffy Lady Like

Boobs will NOT get you anything you want. I've been rubbing this crossword puzzle across my chest and still don't have the answers.!/sweet_steffy/status/89338100169453568

yeah, but somewhere Will Shortz is getting a chubby.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Libraries: Widening the Digital Divide.

So I don't know if you've noticed, but there seems to be a digital divide. The reason why I ask is because I don't know what the digital divide is supposed to be. I thought the digital divide was about access to digital and electronic resources. But if that's the case, then why are libraries working to make access to information even more difficult for anyone without the technology to access it?

I don't understand how it happened, but libraries are actually, make that ACTUALLY, widening the digital divide.

First, a little simple understanding: I feel, and I feel this is a truth, that the more steps it takes to reach a goal, the farther that goal is from achieving.

So if information is shared from person to person, the steps are small. We should speak the same language and not be insane or not eating food or any other logical thing that normally happens when people communicate. Remove idiotic barriers and we communicate.

If we print out the information, similar rules apply. We don't print the information in the sand inches from the rising tide that begins to wash it away; we don't spell it out with breadcrumbs so that birds eat it; we don't brand symbols into another person's skin with hot iron, unless they've signed a release, and we don't intentionally scribble the text in characters that others can't understand.

So in this world, we print with inks onto sheets of paper and we share those ideas with others who understand the languages we use. And that, I think, is a very short path between having information and sharing it with others.

And this used to be the method that libraries preferred. For years. Libraries made all of these printed pages available to others by collecting, organizing and storing them.

And if there was a technological divide, it was only there because visiting the library might have required a long trip of some distance.

But then libraries began purchasing digitized online products and texts. Or leasing. And by giving money to these products, they encouraged publishers to digitize more products. And these products were only accessible through the use of a computer with online access.

Thus, the digital divide was born. Actually, it was born when the publishers decided to digitize the data, but if the data didn't have a buyer, then would it have been digitized in the first place. It's a chicken and egg thing. Did the product exist before the market demanded it, or vice versa?

And so now libraries continue their complicity in the perpetuation of the divide by supporting every step that separates the user from the information.

Books require few steps between the user and the information.

Online information adds more steps in technology and online connectivity.

Ebooks add another step based on the various file formats and another for registering for DRM and even more if the content requires a specific ereader device.

And now The Cloud adds another step as it requires the user to have ongoing wireless connectivity that could cost $$$ per month in bandwidth fees to access content that could just as easily be downloaded and accessed locally.

Digital content can also be limited to specific applications that only run on specific portable devices such as iPads or Android tablets with the latest OS. And since portable devices are not as easily upgraded as desktop PCs or laptops, whole groups of users can be shut out from accessing information unless they purchase newer and better hardware.

And libraries encourage this. Proudly. Robustly. As if the librarians have forgotten that information should be accessible to everyone. Which, if true, forces me to question why the hell I'm working to keep information free when clearly, these other librarians want there to be some cost.

If these librarians are attempting to bridge the digital divide, then they must be building one longer than the one at Jiaozhou Bay. And God help anyone who breaks down in the middle.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Public Libraries: unprofitable, yet undefeated.

How does one measure success when discussing public libraries? Cardholders? Circulation? These measurements mean almost nothing in the business world.

Compare cardholders to cardholders and your library might feel like a business. Companies have credit card accounts that might mean something, unless the shoppers aren't buying, just as libraries have library card holders who may not be borrowing.

But item circulation? How does that compare to selling products? The only thing a library has for sale is... the professional librarian and library employees. The library doesn't sell paper towels and coffe; the library sells skillz.

You could say that the library sells FREE. That the books and computers and movies are free, and that's why people come. But if that were true, then how long could a library remain open after everyone looted the place? Librarians don't give away the things people want; we are caretakers for what people want. We are educated people who are motivated and committed to preserving this ongoing social experiment called the public library.

We are not Borders. We are not Kmart. We are not a company where shareholders need to be satisfied by some increase in their earnings or else they shut us down. For the most part, we are THE GUMMINT. We take your money and we do whatever the hell we want with it. And we went to school to know how.

Which brings me to Google Health and how it got the axe. Google shut down this very library-like service because "we weren’t able to create the impact we wanted with Google Health."

Here is a service that could benefit its users greatly. But it didn't do what Google expected, whatever that was. One opinion was that Google Health apparently failed because people want "something fun and engaging."

So people want social networking and cool stuff. Predicable. It doesn't matter that their health records could someday save their lives.

So where Google Health failed is that they didn't make tracking illnesses a game. Like FarmVille. But with viruses and cancers and blood-borne pathogens and erectile dysfunction.

So Google, since you know better now, why not make a game? If someone has their avatar hop around the board sleeping with all the other avatars, you could calculate what the odds would be for them to get AIDS, chlamydia, genital warts, whatever. So the game is for them to "sleep around" until they get sick. You could send vaccines to friends. And maybe they could buy power-ups like condoms or nutritional supplements or prayer to keep from getting knocked up or getting someone knocked up.

Or maybe your avatar could pursue perfection by getting tons of cosmetic surgery until your avatar goes insane. Or obesity, you could never exercise and get diabetes. Or take all the vitamins in the world, become vegan, do yoga, and still get hit by a bus. That sounds like a great game. Call it BodyFarm. But I get 5% of all ad revenue.

And that's the difference between for-profit corporations and libraries; the librarian doesn't need for you to be entertaining. We help, regardless.

The librarian is already there, being paid to present programs, to purchase materials, to preserve, collect, organize, index, categorize and whatever else that needs to be done to keep the information flowing. Thank THE GUMMINT.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the Librarians who say MotherFacebook

I heard a story that some large corporations have begun devoting all their time to their Facebook presence, to boost their Likes as if they have real value.

And then I heard a story about an author who had her manuscript turned down because she didn't have enough friends on Facebook. The publisher figured that the book would sell better if the author had more FB clout.

So, really, wft?

So I'm wondering if any libraries have moved their main online life to Facebook.

Yes, your library has a Facebook, but is that the page you update first? Is that the page that's on all your publicity? Is that where your patrons go to communicate with you?

I don't advocate using Facebook for anything. But I'm curious. I believe that libraries and social networks go together like oil and water.

I think that libraries should create or host limited social networks, but I don't think that the privacy and freedom that libraries have attempted to protect for the past 100 years mixes with today's openness, lack of privacy, disrespect, voyeurism, rudeness and bullying.

So, anyway, that's the question: are any libraries devoting all their resources to Facebook and/or to trying to generate more Likes?

and reply to my damn tweet:!/effinglibrarian/status/83558904499412992

Monday, June 13, 2011

Change. For the fuck of it.

I just read the latest post from the Annoyed Librarian and I am inspired.

She.... okay, we'll pretend we don't know she's a She, or He, says that bad managers pursue change. Continuously.

Change can't be quantified, so how can Change ever fail? Change is about Change and so long as Change Happens, then everything is a WIN. AL concludes that continual change is barely more than havoc wrought.

But libraries are about people. And people are havoc in a meat sack. People will find ways to circumvent any rule. No amount of Change can ever keep up. Even adopting a "we change for you" attitude can't make it happen fast enough. You're broke; we fund you. You're dirty; we clean you. You're hungry; we feed you. You're guilty; we absolve you. We're always a step behind.

Change is always about trying to catch up, but never making it. You act; we react. How can we ever win?

But I want Change. I want to become a Change Agent. Without actually doing anything. I'm just going to wait until the People do something and then I'll take credit for it.

When the People create their havoc, I will be there as the Agent for Change with my new Change slogan: "We're trying something new."

Your library sucks.
"We're trying something new."

Your carpet's on fire.
"We're trying something new."

Why is there baby shit on the self-checkout station?
"We're trying something new."

Someone just stole my iPad!
"We're trying something new."

I can feel it. This is it. Librarians will look back on this day and say, "The effing librarian is a fucking idiot."

That's not new.