effinglibrarian's blog


Has anyone else the explosive popularity of Twitter in the last week? Ever since the Ashton Kutcher / CNN battle-publicity stunt for 1,000,000 followers and Queen Oprah's seal of approval, I've seen many new followers on the effing librarian's tweetstage. Even my mom has many more tweetpals than she ever expected (but then, she follows tons of twittererers, too).

So if you're not already tweeting, now is NOT the time to sign up. It's just too busy. But if you do sign up, my mom really likes being followed.

the.effing.librarian gets a mention in The Washington Post

John Kelly, the Metro Columnist for The Washington Post, wrote, "Due Date Stamps, A Thing of the Past?" (first mentioned on LISNews here) and I emailed him my thoughts on date stamps, library fines and Google:

no, the plot is to accelerate senility by outsourcing your memory to a computer. the old date stamp sparked thought as you wondered who had the book last or why there was a nine year gap between those last two borrowers. the date stamp was a link to history. but a paper receipt, or even no receipt, is just more crap to find a place for because it doesn't belong anywhere; the receipt doesn't even make a good bookmark, it's so small and flimsy.

no, it's actually to give Google unlimited power. because you won't remember your PIN or even the library web address. so you'll google it. "when are my library books due back?" and Google will show you ads for Amazon's Kindle and the University of Phoenix online degree program. and you'll wonder if you'd be happier as a computer technician. and then you'll end up on Hulu watching Family Guy and never ever read that book.

no, we're not making any extra money from extra fines. stop looking at my iPhone.

And John was nice enough to add most of my email to his follow-up column, "Okay, So End of Library Stamps Isn't the End of the World." My stuff is on page 2. Check it out.

The Effing Librarian Manifesto

I am absolutely quitting my blog; I'm going back to being someone with no feed subscribers (currently over ten million) and no tweet followers (some guy named Mel); I'll be a regular guy. I will go quietly.

So, please, for the love of Mike, can all the librarians stop baiting me for the next three weeks.. just stop doing dumb shit so I don't have to rant about it. I know I can't expect regular people to cease and desist, but can't all the librarians just take the month off?

The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians is what I mean. Please just stop. Stop. Stop. Stop defining or declaring. Stop. Because if you don't stop, you'll just get me started.

Because the.effing.librarian can declare shit, too. But the.effing.librarian is leaving soon, so I'll keep it short:

"The Effing Librarian Statement: Libraries and Librarians help you do all kinds of shit that might somehow involve books, but not always."

And if you want the bumper sticker version: "Librarians help you do shit."

There are no grandiose claims of preserving the freedom or enabling the pursuit or preserving the integrity of anything. Just helping people to do or find the shit that they need or want.

So take your pick: one has a bunch of statements and roles to memorize, and the other lets you stick the word "shit" on the back of your car. I know which one I'd pick.

--- -- Read More

the Library: the most successful ponzi scheme

With all the news about Bernard Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford, we might forget that America's real favorite Ponzi scheme is the public library.

Remember what very few people bothered to ask Madoff a few years before his whole fraud collapsed: "How is it that you continue to offer such consistently steady returns while others around you are failing?" It is not uncommon for libraries to boast an increase of 15-20 or even 50%, crediting these figures on "Internet" use, "bathroom" use, and people generally losing their jobs and all their worldly possessions and having no place else to go.

While all is collapsing, libraries thrive.

How do libraries continue to provide such excellent service when the local Starbucks has just closed? I mean, Starbucks charged $4 for a cup of coffee, didn't they make enough profit to keep these stores viable? What are libraries doing that's so much better?

Well, the secret is that libraries take your money and your neighbor's money and your other neighbor, well not them because they rent, but their landlord's money and then libraries buy books and other materials with it. And the libraries even borrow more money and build more libraries and then make you and your neighbors and the landlord pay it back for them. How great is that?

Libraries don't need to charge $4 for a cup of coffee because as long as you live and breathe, you will pay for libraries. -- Read More

Nebraska discovers its librarians: is Outraged!

Breaking News from the Action 3 News Team, Nebraska's top Action News Team for the past 2 years: "Some librarians play games in the library. Are you as shocked as we are? We bet you are!"

Apparently some Nebraska librarians bought a Sony PlayStation for their library and shot a video while they played games. Nebraska (Motto, "No, Sir, We Don't Like It. Not One Bit.") found the video on YouTube during a search for videos on "another use for corn" and called the Action 3 News Team to express its outrage. "It's outrageous," Nebraska apparently said.

Now, when I play Fallout 3 at work and run the Xbox through our new ceiling-mounted $4,000 DLP projector, I shut the door to keep people from watching. Hell, I didn't trick my supervisor into thinking all this gaming crap was for teen programs just to let actual teens get their hands on all this cool stuff. I'm still in the planning stages. Planning stages that could take all of 2009.

From the Action 3 News Team Story:

Outrage of Video Showing Librarians' Playing On The Clock
The Action 3 News Team set out to show the ten minute YouTube video to some Nebraska tax payers in Omaha,... Cameron Paladino stood with his father, Kevin, while the father explained, "They are setting up this game, like a PlayStation game like Guitar Hero, while they're at work, and then they're playing it while they should be working. We are pay for that through our taxes." -- Read More

The $1,000 Book.

Due to underwhelming demand, I have repriced Fame and Fortune and Other F Words at $1,000.

Yes, that's one THOUSAND dollars.

Am I crazy? What do you think. Since it's POD, I'm waiting for the government to tax me on all unsold copies, which is an infinite amount... so I guess I'll be going to federal tax prison.

No Kids Allowed.

So it looks like Maryland is about to waste $160,000 trying to get teens to visit the library. Sure, the library will spend the money on video games and manga and give away iPods as rewards for kids reading books, but when the money runs out, the teens will leave because libraries aren't cool.

You know what's cool for teens? Trouble. If you want kids to do something, tell them they can't do it. And if you think that doesn't work, ask Tom Sawyer.

Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it--namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. [ -courtesy Project Gutenberg.]

Maryland, If you want kids to use your library, spend some of your $160K to put up a six-foot chain-link fence around the teen area. And secure the only gate with a heavy chain and lock. And hang a rusty sign that says, "Keep away. No Teens allowed." And the next time you look, the fenced-off area will be filled with with kids who've scaled the fence to violate the rule.

Trouble. "With a capital T that rhymes with B that stands for Books."

(So if this is such a great idea, how come I never get invited to discuss them at library meetings?)


I should have mentioned this earlier, but if you ask, I'll email you a PDF copy of my blog book, or blook as they're called. Or is it blobogok? Wait, blobogok is Klingon for "Vengeance is a plate of tuna noodle casserole best reheated at 350°F," so that can't be it. Anyway, free PDF copy of Fame and Fortune blah blah blah if you email me.

That esnips link on the THE BOOK page only has about 109 pages you can download, but this would be the full 317 pages of stuff you already didn't want to read last year that I'm trying to pawn off again as something new and interesting. Yes, like reheated tuna noodle casserole. Which I happen to like. BLOBOGOK!

I effing-published a book; so should you!

I think every library blogger should resolve in 2009 to publish a book. With POD publishing like lulu and createspace, it's "mostly" free and incredibly easy.

Edit your blog and republish in print.

And buying (I used createspace) copies of my book was really cheap, so I was able to give all my friends copies (that's 3 copies for my 3 friends, not counting cats!).

Maybe if enough bloggers become publishers, we can create a whole genre of blog publishing,... or not. But get off your lazy ass and do it. Or sit on your busy ass and do it, whatever gets it done.

Now if Stephen would only add my story that I recorded for him to one of his podcasts, you can hear about how/why I did it (which is basically what I just wrote here).

What would Google look like if it was built by librarians?

ReadWriteWeb asks this question, What would Google look like if it was built by librarians?

But here is the true answer:

First, Googol would be spelled correctly.

And it would be made of wood. Because wood is strong and durable and withstands the abuse put upon it by the uncaring public.
Then it would be given a cute and silly name like "Good Golly, this is a great search tool!" This is so the librarians could brand their product because librarians are all bout the brand.
Googol would get weeded regularly so that all the old, unused, dusty web sites get discarded from the index.
Googol would close at 9:00 p.m. and all major holidays.
Finally, Googol would get hacked into oblivion and shut down because the librarians used the word "password" for the password.

The Wikipedia Paradox (okay, a different one)

"Wikipedia does not publish original thought: all material in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable, published source." (I read that at Wikipedia.)

"Wikipedia's standards of inclusion--what's in and what's not--affect the work of journalists, who routinely read Wikipedia articles and then repeat the wikiclaims as 'background'..." I just read this here at Technology Review by Simson L. Garfinkel.

When the published source relies on Wikipedia content, the paradox arises.

If journalists continue to cite Wikipedia as a source, and Wikipedia links to those articles for reliability, then Wikipedia ultimately will use itself as a source, something its rules forbid: Catch-22.

How this hasn't happened yet, I don't know, but it should happen soon. But I do know that when it does, Wikipedia will vanish in a puff of logic. [1]

Eventually Wikipedia "verifiability" will be supported entirely by sources citing Wikipedia in one form or another, essentially citing itself as expert.

We can only hope that the resulting anti-net ("anti-Internet," think antimatter) black hole won't suck us all in. (But I guess if it's a black hole, it will.)

[1] What happens to God in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

anyone going to the Miami Book Fair?

I'm planning to go on Nov. 15.

I need more words before I can post this because the blog tells me my post is too short: so these are extra words to satisfy the needs of the software only and not my real words.

Sarah Palin Censors Books through Telepathy!

It appears the controversy isn't over. Sarah Palin has proven her ability to travel through time to remove the entire Harry Potter series from the Wasilla Public Library back before any of the books were even published, but now she proves to hold even more Peter Petrelli-like abilities (or is it Sylar???) by having more than one superpower.

It seems that a San Francisco (ah, you mean "gay") activist donated two controversial children's books to Wasilla, but was turned down in his attempt to have them added to the circulating collection. The current librarian gave the lame excuse that the books "lacked engaging illustrations and seemed to lack the ability to engage young readers" (again, meaning "too gay").
[Wasilla public library back in the news again . By Marjorie Kehe 10.20.08]

So the books failed the approval process. How could this happen in 2008? -- Read More

Today is "Work Like a Nineteenth Century Librarian" Day

I've been listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything in my car and I find it amazing that every task took so long to complete in the early days of science. It was common for one single experiment to take a year or more. I'm guessing scientists spent much of that time dressing and fastening buttons.

But yet the research produced the most amazing discoveries. It must be that slow processes produce deep thoughts.

I guess to be really aligned with the purpose of the book, I should call this Work Like an Eighteenth Century Librarian Day, but that century just seems so messy.

So for "Work Like a Nineteenth Century Librarian" Day, I propose that we take our time and do things slowly and seek timeless or even philosophical results. We should ask "Why?" of our patrons, and "Why?" of the question or of questioning itself. Seek timeless understanding. But mostly, take it slow.

Library patron: "I would like to see everything you have on Fratercula arctica."

Nineteenth Century Librarian: "Please record your request upon this document, and I shall begin the research at the first available opportunity."

Library patron: "May I inquire as to the length of time it may take to fill?"

Nineteenth Century Librarian: "I shall endeavor to satisfy your request within six weeks."

Library patron: "Only six weeks? Miraculous!"

Fame and Fortune and other F words.

So I don't know if you heard, but apparently the Annoyed Librarian has sold out and has started writing for LJ.

I saw a post that derided her (or their) new found fame as if getting paid a little money for writing is a horrible thing. But now she has to really write stuff. She has to find a way to be annoyed about libraries once or twice a week in order to earn her keep; and this means she's probably going to have to make stuff up. I hope she can figure out how to do it and still "keep it real." (sorry.)

But because of this news, I feel I need to confess something to all of my readers, the.effing.librarian has been making money writing about libraries for many years now, for example:

Dear Penthouse letters,

You won't believe what happened to me in the LIBRARY the other day. I was browsing the stacks looking for a tune-up manual for my badass Kawasaki 650 when I was approached by a woman who was pretty stacked herself. She had huge double-D's, and when she noticed my gaze targeting her huge rack, she pressed past me in the narrow aisle and pushed those well-fed puppies against my tense chest. And you can bet that's not all that was getting tense.

She was somewhere in her thirties, a little on the plain side, but pretty, with her hair pinned up in the back and her lips colored the same bright red that was printed on the "no cell phones" sign in the front of the Circulation desk. Her skirt stretched against her firm backside as she bent down to retrieve my book. -- Read More

No one cares if you ban a crappy book.

Yay, it's Banned Books Week. But not for ugly books. Only pretty, popular books get celebrated this week.

The ALA BBW press kit says, "Banned Books Week 2008 will kick off in Chicago, with a Read-Out! The event will feature popular banned or challenged authors and local Chicago celebrities..."
See? No one cares if unpopular books are banned or challenged or reconsidered or whatever you want to call it.

I would love to see the list of books that people have asked libraries to remove that were discarded without argument or protest. The librarian just looked at it and said, "you're right, that's crap and doesn't belong in our library; I don't know what I was thinking when I ordered it. Thanks for pointing it out."

A couple of weeks ago on the TV show House, the eponymous doctor was reading what looked like some bad porn novel with a title like Bondage Women in Prison; you know the ones with no cover art and filled with typos like vajina and oreola... like the ones I have on my bookcase over here. What if someone saw that episode and came in to get that book? And it was a real book. And no other library in the country owned it, but it was available from your book vendor? Would you buy a copy to fill the request?

No, you'd make some excuse about books requiring recommendations from a prominent review source even though half the books you buy are prepubs or mass-markets or popular titles with no reviews except on Amazon. You probably wouldn't buy a copy and no one would care. -- Read More

Do library catalogs violate copyright and intellectual property rights?

Here is an article which discusses whether it's a copyright violation to display a book cover on library web sites.

Here is the.effing.librarian's opinion of the broader issue:

For years, librarians have been looking at books and telling people what the book is about: Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863 -- Fiction.

And for years, people, including competing authors, have been able to riffle through these collections of book records, or "card catalogs," to see what other authors are publishing. Visiting the stacks to examine these texts is time-consuming, but librarians have been bypassing the originals materials to make this very valuable and useful information freely available to competitors for years.

You can argue that the nature of cataloging is necessary to libraries; but is it, really?

Do libraries really need to decide in which subject category to classify a book for someone to find it? Can't people just browse through all the books to find what they want?

And worse yet, libraries have been uploading these catalogs onto the Internet, thus making all of this copyrighted material available to anyone with Internet access. Shouldn't authors and publishers be protected from this blatant disregard for their intellectual property rights?

Is this legal?
Sure, you can argue fair use, but really, what is fair? -- Read More

Secrets learned from Sarah Palin's email

So what secrets did "anonymous" expose by hacking into Sarah Palin's email? From what I saw, nothing damning. Only some questionable messages and this recipe:

Sarah's Polar Bear Fondue
One polar bear, cleaned
10 pounds flour
4 dozen eggs
50 pounds Gruyere
50 pounds Emmental
corn starch
6 bottles dry white wine
1 pound garlic, peeled, crushed
serve with Triscuits, yummers!
or with optional baby seal paté (recipe to be sent in follow-up email)

So, no smoking gun there. Odd, you say? Why? What Alaska fishwife doesn't have at least one polar bear recipe up her sleeve?

Poop! from the people who brought you Gallop!

When franchises go too far.
I read the discussion about the latest Mummy movie where most critics agreed that it was time to retire that franchise, that the ideas were gone and they were just milking a dead goat.

But another franchise comes to mind in the book publishing world: Gallop!

Now, Gallop! is a pretty cool idea; it uses "scanimation" to animate still images by having stripes pass over an image thereby revealing one part or another and creating the illusion of movement. It's a simple, but extremely cool effect.

And based on the popularity of that first book, the scanimation people are releasing a second book, Swing!

And again, this is fine. But I just read that a third book is already in the works with the unpleasant title of, Poop!

Now, I don't know when an author or publisher should just call it quits, but I think a book called Poop! might be that point. I could imagine books with animals doing many other things before I would imagine them pooping. You have Gallop!, Swing!, maybe Hop! or Leap!, or, well, that's basically it, isn't it? What else do animals do? Sleep! Yeah, that'll stretch the use of scanimation to the cutting edge as animals lie completely still. -- Read More

A day or month in the life of the.effing.librarian

I came across a discussion about what a librarian does which led me to the wiki: http://librarydayinthelife.pbwiki.com/.

And it made me wonder what-the-hell-do-I-do-all-day? So I thought about it and this is what I mostly have been doing lately...
Regular duties: troubleshoot pc, printer, wi-fi, database issues; answer system-wide email; work virtual and actual reference desk; help wherever needed; other crap I can’t think of at the moment.

Sample of what I’ve done during June-July.
weeded 50 books (another 50 today, but it's August);
requested 300 books (someone else places the order);
shot and edited video for upload to youtube;
ordered equipment replacements and budgeted items for purchase;
edited system-wide training materials;
edited my web pages;
produced monthly system-wide posters, training schedules and promotional materials;
brought cookies to my co-workers;
edited monthly programs to fit into PowerPoint show displayed in library;
assisted with pc and projector and sound set-up for public programs;
taught seven instructional classes to public;
monthly, quarterly and annual stats;
prepped supervisor’s laptop for webcast;
discussed presenting long-distance webcast with instructor from NY;
attended day-long workshop;
blogged my ass off;
other crap I dump from memory after I leave work. -- Read More

Syndicate content