Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Week in Review

An emergency trip to the ancestral manse metamorphosed into an impromptu vacation, and when I got home last night I realized I hadn't blogged for a week. Ahh, the relaxation. Except I didn't relax much either.

Now I'm trying to catch up on all the library happenings over the past week.

Looks like the scrotum controversy has died down a little bit, though I guess we won't see the end of the story until the TV movie comes out. I hear they're going to get that nice Barbra Streisand to play the part of the scrotum. According to Conservator, the folks on the ALA Council aren't happy about the whole thing and some definitely don't want "to make it an intellectual freedom issue," because, as we know, for some people intellectual freedom means the freedom to think like them.

My policy has always been that I don't care if some librarian does or does not buy a Newbelly Award winning children's book about a guy who goes into a twelve step program so that he can stop getting drunk and biting his dog on the scrotum. That sounds like just the kind of inspirational literature necessary for all the little kiddies with scrotum-biting drunks for family members. I just wish I'd had a copy of the book that time my Uncle Graham had too many dry martinis and bit himself on the scrotum in order to win a dollar bet. By the way, I paid him the dollar.

But now I turn to the other AL to keep me informed. My lovely AL Direct email reports that the ALA-APA is now calling for library workers to unionize. Solidarity forever! According to their wiki, unionization "is especially important in public libraries where the union brings greater power to win budget increases from local governments." I do wonder sometimes why public sector unions seem to be the only ones growing. I'm all for private sector unions. If coalminers or autoworkers unionize, then they're organizing against a private interest that wants to make as much money as possible. But who do public sector unions organize against? Wouldn't it have to be the public interest? Just asking.

From a major supporter of the ALA-APA comes a sob story about some library workers he talked to who aren't "paid enough to cover many of life’s necessities—things like transportation, rent, let alone entertainment." Lots of questions spring to mind, but the main one is, why don't they go get other jobs, then? If they don't have the skills to get other jobs, then how do we know they're underpaid? Perhaps they're paid exactly what their work is worth. Who's to say? Since when did the public library become the welfare employer of last resort? Please don't answer that.

I think my favorite story of the week is the woman in Miami who checked out the controversial pro-Cuba children's books and won't return them. "“If you take it out and don’t return it, no kid can read it," she said. That's the sort of civil disobedience I'm sure the SRRT would be proud of!

There's a battle at Cal Poly Pomona. A librarian started a petition to stop the library from discarding a lot of books in a library expansion and renovation and the Library ain't happy with him. That makes perfect sense. Build more space and get rid of books! My own take? I didn't even know they had a library, but then again I didn't know that "the Pomona campus is the third most popular choice in the state university system among college-bound students in the Inland region." Just goes to show you can add a lot of qualifiers and still not be the best at something. I'm waiting for the Banned Books folks to start protesting that the students won't have access to all those books that get discarded that they probably wouldn't have read anyway. Of course I'm still waiting for them to protest every time a public library weeds its stacks. "No! You're denying someone the ability to check out four copies of Salem's Lot!

In other news, the police in some place in Alaska confiscated a man's laptop computer and chased him away from the library because he (gasp) was using the library's public wifi. And the library was closed! And he was in the parking lot! Horror of horrors! They might accuse him of "theft of services." This guy is something else, though. He's 21, but his parents won't let him log in after 9pm, so he drives around trolling for free networks. So they don't stop him from driving around all night, but they can stop him from using their computer? What must that household be like. He only started hanging out in the library parking lot after police chased him away from the front of people's houses. The whole thing sounds creepy to me. The spokeswoman for the ISP "said she has heard of complaints from customers regarding people hopping onto their networks." I'd get tired of complaints from idiots who don't know how to secure their wireless networks.

For some reason the AL Direct hasn't been linking to the Nat Hentoff stories critical of the ALA weasels for smooching the censoring, book-burning, librarian imprisoning Castro on his revolutionary haunches. Oh, sorry, those are not real librarians, since they don't have their genuine ALA-accredited MLS. It doesn't matter if their books are burned or they're put in prison. No, let's talk about scrotums instead. Much more important.


Woeful said...

Yes, the "scrotum flap" is beginning to relax... I'm of the same opinion, if I was going to be outraged it wouldn't be over the word "scrotum" it would be over the book's character drunk driving. It's amazing what people choose to protest... Dumbasses.

And yes, we public librarians are trying desperately to unionize against the public interest. If we don't do it, who will?!

Gotta' go, all this is making my scrotum itch...

Anonymous said...

In the general sense, professionals do not "organize," as that places them in the context of "Labor versus Management."

Management for public librarians isn't equivalent to "management" in ther private sector. "Management" is the City Council, the County Board of Supervisors. the City Manager, the County Library Board, etc., etc.

These people are the ones who must respond to the taxpaying citizens of the community - - - and, Union or no Union, the persons on the Library Board, the Ad Hoc Task Force, the staff of the City Council, etc., are held accountable by the citizens.

In a very large section of the US (outside of a few states in the Northeast and possibly California) the very idea of "professionals" establishing a Union to squeeze the local government for more money is a non-starter.

Librarians with an MLS are either accorded the "professional" status - - or they aren't. You are either a professional, or you are not.

Take your pick.

(Coming from a Library Trustee with two MS degrees.)

contrarian said...

Welcome back AL. I was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms.

Anonymous said...

Splendid! Now my Al withdrawl tremors are subsiding. All is right in the World.

Anonymous said...

glad you're respite with the fam invigorated your own trolling for such diverse reporting...yours is a treasure to read.

alas, one beefette: enough with the 'never heard of 'em' diatribe. so what if not every institution is a. notable b. the superlative.

again, though, missed your jazzy rants!

AL said...

Thanks for reading. I admit I'm a snob, but a surprisingly minor one. I've heard of a lot of different colleges, so one doesn't have to be either notable or superlative for me to have heard of it. I was amused by all the qualifications the news story added to the description of that university, though. It seemed to me they were really trying to make the universityy sound grander than it is, though I'm sure it's a perfectly solid mid-level place.