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."
With a confused look on his face the 6 year old says, "Is that bad?" His father Kevin says, "That is bad."

Not only were the librarians paid to "play games," they were reimbursed for mileage to attend "workshops" and to "eat lunch."

"How dare they," Nebraska responded when it heard.

The Action 3 News Team story concludes that the $400 "game is sitting in a closet, it is not even being used." Okay, Action 3 News Team, do you want the librarians to play games, or not???

The Nebraska Governor has appointed six people to find out just when Nebraska acquired these librarians, and what it is the librarians are doing there. Because they sure aren't farming.

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I was really hoping this was a spoof. It seemed so much like an article from the Onion.

Now I'm just sad...

... and Outraged!

Not related to librarians, but this might be similarly amusing for you. A year or two ago, the firefighters (pompiers) at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, got into a whole mess of trouble for misuse of materials, facilities, etc., including the plane on which they practice evacuations, etc. Somehow, one of their bosses or something higher up the chain of the command found this video on youtube of the firefighters mucking about:

Isn't the same as playing games during working hours, but your assessment of the situation made me think of the video.

The Library Commission's full official response is available at:

I put this in my blog section, so don't criticize me for editorializing-- but, gosh darn it, I sure am funny.

there's a contact form on their site:
I just read a story about Omaha librarians playing video games and posting the video on YouTube (the story was on the Action 3 News website)... please do not waste your time on this non-story.
Check with any public library in any major metropolitan area and you will find that they own and play with video games.
Just issue some letter about the American Library Association supporting the use of video games in libraries (have someone in your office Google it, like here:
sample letter: "We support our public libraries as they reach out to Nebraska's youth through new technology, including video games and the Internet...blah, blah, blah."
thank you for your time.

I didn't promote the story up. That's in the logs but I don't feel a compelling need to think of inquiring at the moment. Somebody with author authority liked it is all.

I've fired off requests to the NLC and the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts for interviews. We'll see what erupts. This case is a dangerous one as precedent set by Nebraska could kill or at the least harm a wee bit the games in libraries movement.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

It is more wasteful of the taxpayers money to do the investigation than for the librarians to be playing the games.

This is sort of like saying that librarians should not best sellers at the library on work time, or not be playing on the internet during work time, and then being pissed off when that librarian does not know anything about the latest best sellers and so cannot do readers advisory, or when the librarian does not know how to walk a patron through a web site that they are trying to us, because the librarian has NEVER seen the website.

I can see a parent OBJECTING to a video game because of content they do not approve of and the librarian not even thinking about it, because they simply never played the games. Or someone who wants to know something about that particular game before checking it out and not a single librarian knows anything about it.

When I worked telephone reference, my supervisor advised us to read the newspaper in the morning while we were on the phones so we could answer questions about it when they invariably started coming in. They also made photocopies of the crossword puzzles and in between calls, the three or four librarians on the reference telephone banks would start working on them, so we could answer the inevitable question "Whats a seven letter for..." For most of the morning between opening and lunch, we were sure to get several dozen of those questions from the local newspapers crossword puzzle and while attempting to answer the questions from crossword puzzle dictionaries was possible, doing it this way was also much more time consuming.

It was easier to ask the person in the seat next to you "what is 24 across, because we would ask the patron is this a crossword puzzle question and then ask them what number they were looking for".

Same thing went for best sellers. I hated most best sellers, but we all had to take one or two and read them while on desk and when patrons came in and asked us about the book, we actually had answers, and later when they would ask "can you recommend a book by..., or a book like the ones written by..., someone would be able to answer.

A lot of stuff that looks like it is wasting time to non librarians is actually work related.

I have browsing the web in my job description so I can keep on top of changes in the Library World.

I went to the news channels website and voted in favor of game play. The link is here: (middle of the front page)

Reminds me of the time I was changing our organization from using a minicomputer with multiple workstations using a Pick/UNIX operating system to a PC network using Windows95 (when it first came out) and the President/Chairman of the Board, my computer-illiterate boss, was furious and wanted to know why I was buying games. It took a long time to convince the board I knew what I was doing and everyone wouldn't be sitting around playing mine sweeper all day.

-The Lone Wolf Librarian

As a former journalist, I can tell you that most of these TV News OMGWTFBBQ! OUTRAEG!! OUTRAEG!! reports are based on the notion that all taxpayer-funded public employees are doing outrageous things at work that we private sector folks never, ever do. (uh oh, is this post time stamped?????) Sure, some folks on the public dime are complete timewasters and don't get anything done. But most are not. However, in this, the Age of YouTube, one 10-minute break can be blown up into full-on OUTRAEG TONITE AT 6!!

This TV report also seems to be missing something, like "the other side." If the library was indeed installing a playstation, and this was the first and presumably only time the game was played, at installation, then where is the harm? If we expect public employees to be nose-at-the-grindstone for every last minute they're on duty, then no wonder they bust out into spontaneous human behavior like playing a game now and then.

OK, back to my Free Cell game ...

Are absurd. They really should not be expected to work any more or less hard as people in the private sector. Having worked in both, I actually beleive that people who work for government actually work harder and better and are in general more productive than those in the private sector. Especially libraries which are underfunded.

The argument in general is that because in the private sector, its private money paying for the goofing off that goes on there, this makes that goofing off somehow more acceptable.

However, the recent banking debacle, where executives simply gave each other billions in bonuses and benefits, and whatever do far worse than merely playing games on work time with what was "shareholder" money as well as public money, and then went on to justify these things as being necessary to provide incentives for the executives to do a good job, makes applying arguments that public employees somehow do not rate some sort of incentives to motivate them seem a bit absurd.

Librarians and other public employees in general do not receive any of the annual bonuses that are very common in the private sector at all. Salaries in general are lower than in the private sector as well.

Most of those griping about librarians playing game in the library would think themselves ill used if their employers suddenly stopped them from posting on the internet half the day, and stopped giving Christmas bonuses, etc. They would rather object to bosses who had given them these sort of bonuses for years, and then suddenly decided that given that America is a "secular society" giving Christmas bonuses was inappropriate. The public is a rather poor boss, because they treat their "employees" in a manner that they would find rather abusive if their own employers subjected them to the same.

We got to talk to both sides last night. When we post LISTen this weekend such will be generally released. If you have a burning desire to hear before Monday the Nebraska state auditor himself, ask your local NPR affiliate to pick up these pieces and air them:
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

That link just does not open for me.

Thank you Action 3 News Team for giving us all an excellent reason for celebrating National Turnoff Week at the end of April. No, I'm not referring to turning off the game console at the library. Are you planning to make Nebraska the official home state of the vast wasteland?

Bruce Farrar
Houston, Texas

This really really pisses me off! As a librarian it gets to me even more. I see no harm in this at all, AT ALL! I mean people have so much to complain about, let them 'TRY' to do the job. It's just those people that have no lives that always seem to have something to complain about. This isn't about the taxpayer's money. Even as a government employee I pay taxes to. People just make huge deals about nothing, nothing at all. If they are testing it to help make the library better then there is no harm what-so-ever. It's just dumb. The person who just thought they had to make a huge deal about this seriously needs to get a life, and should keep there opinions to themselves. And I really respect these librarians for trying to do this for the kids. Sometimes we all don't know everything, it's called learning. Rome wasn't built in a day you know! It's just so frustrating to hear things like this turn into this huge huge deal! Get over it is the best way to end this!!!!!!!

I just want to let you know, not all Nebraskans are "outraged" at this gaming. In fact, most are outraged at the auditor for this ridiculousness.
Also, we do much more than farming and there's a reason Channel 3 news is nicknamed "Channel Third."

Don't steal my thunder, Nebraska. It's a funny piece, so don't go trying to make sense out of it. Because you will fail.

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