What do you do if librarians are slammed on news blogs?

An Anonymous Patron stopped by to pose this query:
I am looking for a way to report blog activity that has an impact on Libraries or Librarians. This blog on the Denver Post shows a current example that I would want to signal to Librarians about negative comments. http://neighbors.denverpost.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=10577658 See blog entry by "ranac" [Quote] ranac on 11:24 pm, Sat Sep 27 With the advent of the internet we should rethink the importance of libraries and their role. They certainly aren't up there with police and firefighters any longer. The librarians in our NoCo town are all so rude that hardly anyone goes there except homeless people who want to use free internet and are willing to stomach the nasty old crows. There are free books to be had at any yard sale that are years newer and in better shape than those at the library. [end quote]
Any thoughts or comments for the Anonymous Patron in the event of their return?


This is both a PR problem and a problem with LIS school admissions.

It's a PR problem because librarians are seen as not doing much and not providing a value for the towns they support. In these tight economic times tax payers are looking to cut needless spending and libraries are in the crosshairs. Libraries need to get with the times and evolve faster and market that evolution as something for the improvement of the city.

On the LIS school front, look at who goes into LIS programs and look at the quality of LIS programs in general. They are not rigorous, people graduate with very few credentials needed to manage libraries, to know the technologies used today, and to combat the aforementioned PR problem. Most recent grads I've met are introverts who would prefer to be among the stacks than to be with people - this is not what librarians should do, and what public libraries need to fix their image! Also, the people I see graduating know very little about traditional librarianship (reference and cataloging - the knowledge is only superficial) and they also know very little about human to human interaction and emerging tech.

Both of these need to be addressed in order to public libraries to survive this onslaught

Are you trying to convince Mr./Ms. ranac that his/her feelings are incorrect? That the rude librarians of which he/she speaks are actually nice? That the old books on the shelves are really new?

As someone who has a lot of experience in libraries working alongside librarians, it is painfully obvious to me that some librarians indeed ARE nasty old crows. They are paid poorly, harried daily, sometimes have severe antisocial personality disorders. And there are at best slap-on-the-wrist repercussions for this kind of behavior. When their positions are totally secure (contingent on funding) and any kind of sanctions have to go through a labyrinthine bureaucratic process that no supervisor wants to deal with, what is to prevent it? In many cases, of course, the supervisor is the same way and does not care or does not want to rock the extremely stable publicly funded boat.

Perhaps libraries ought to look at what works well for many large corporations such as GE and fire the bottom 5% performers annually, for example. Severe recessionary budget cuts are coming at all levels which are going to make a large number of layoffs necessary. Might as well lay off the right people.

Libraries also, of course, need to make themselves more relevant. This is a well-known dilemma in the field. If patrons such as ranac are not finding them worthwhile, they are probably right.

P.S. Your comment resize tab thing doesn't work in Firefox 3.

What the heck? Report blog activity? Don't they do that in China?

How about tell them to get a grip. Perhaps one of Obama's Truth Squads could help.

I just moved 'em out of the queue from time to time.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

If I took all Internet comments to heart, I'd be convinced that I lived in the world's biggest slum and that I'd get murdered the second I step out the door. Where do I live? Doesn't matter, I'll bet every city's newspaper sites get the same comments.

My suggestion to this person is to stop reading comments on newspaper websites. Seriously, they are vile. For all you know this person is trolling.

comments on newspaper sites reveal a seitgeist that should not be ignored

...please spell them correctly! Are you referring to zeitgeist or inventing a new word?
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

my bad - zeitgeist

The poor quality, angry rants often left on newspaper sites do tell us something, but it's more to do with the people leaving them than with the subject they're trying to address.

Your spelling mistake/typo wasn't as bad as his rudeness.

Is the Anonymous Patron someone with multiple personalities or is it multiple discrete persons? In some threads you can never tell. It gets worse when multiple folks post anonymously.

As to the rudeness, I can only say that short calculated bursts do have a point. What was used was a word that did not mean what the writer wanted it to. One small misspelling in the course of trying to be trendy, hip, and/or cool made what was written somewhat off. If the word weren't otherwise used in other places throughout this site, I would perhaps have been somewhat more gentle. The misspelling totally changes the sentence to have a meaning focused on finding a touchstone for historical attitudes rather than what is happening now as it appeared to be intended.

When in doubt, don't throw in foreign words.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

This from a person that misuses Rental to mean Loan
(link: http://lisnews.org/movie_rentals_quadruple_library )

If what someone writes is not clear, there are ways to make things clear in a polite way.

The OED defines zeitgeist as " The spirit or genius which marks the thought or feeling of a period or age." That period or age need not be historical. The current zeitgeist is what the prevailing attitudes are today.

When in doubt, please be polite.

I am Anonymous 11:59 and if it helps, my name is Cathy. I obviously was not the first anonymous commenter as well, because I said “you” don’t have to apologize.

I’m trying not to be rude here myself, but to read you completely dismiss that person and tell them what words they can and cannot use just because you don’t like their spelling set me off. It was perfectly obvious what they meant, pointing out a spelling mistake like that was unnecessary.

No one is going to feel encouraged to comment and join in on conversations this way, and they’re certainly not going to post under their own name if all they get for it is embarrassment.

I won’t tell you you’re not allowed to go around being a spell checker if that’s what you like to do, but I’m sorry... it’s rude.


Hear hear. People get their panties in a bunch about the odd swear word here and there being a deterrent to new posters and readers. Maybe high-handedness (or horsedness) should be on the list with the Seven Deadlies.

This person clearly has a personal axe to grind, any reasonable person can see that from the tone. This comment makes him/look worse than the library, and it isn't the kind of comment that will change any minds. People who like the library will just roll their eyes, people who don't like the library already don't like the library and people who don't use the library won't care.

"sitegeist" could be a new word: it appears enough on the googly. I like that the preceding thought was about news sites and current ill-mannered behavior. so has the word "sitegeist" been used in that same context before? of course it has-- website/zeitgeist: a match made in heaven.

My wife is a librarian, I am a librarian, however, as a librarian in a public library my wife was asked by one of her superiors to defend the library and its position on gaming, which it supports, on the comments to a local news story. She spent a good number of hours coming up with a response that satisfied the needs of the organization and of her boss. Now, I myself have spent a good amount of time reading the comments on various news stories on this newspapers website and it doesn't take very long to notice that, aside from anonymous posters, most of the comments are from a very small group of people, and the same people who attacked the story about the library generally attack every story they care to for the flimsiest of reasons. So, my question is, how cost effective is it to spend the time and energy trying to combat something perpetrated by a small number of trolls?

John C. Dvorak did raise that point on the latest episode of This Week in Tech. It normally is just how you describe. The problem is that there is no good theoretically solution on the j-school side of things for handling such. One was to move discussion away from actual pieces to a forum but that hasn't had blockbuster success.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

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