Friday, November 16, 2007

National Librarian Strike?

We're well into the second week of the Hollywood writer's strike. I haven't noticed much difference, since I don't watch a lot of TV. I just don't seem to have the time to sit down in front of the television, even if I did have cable. Besides, if I want to watch a TV show, I can catch a lot of them online, which for some reason seems to bother the writers. They want to get paid when people watch their TV show episodes online. Apparently they haven't accepted the obvious point the studios make that this online content is just "promotional." That's why I watch the shows online, so they can promote themselves to me. Somehow I never seem to get past the promotional materials, though. Actually, I usually don't even get to the "promotional" materials. Thus, the writer's strike has almost no effect on my life.

As many of you know, there was also a librarian strike recently--no, a library worker strike, since the libraries shut down completely. The Vancouver libraries shut down for about three months because everyone was striking. The library workers were determined, too, since they stayed out longer than the rest of the city workers. Apparently they still didn't get their demands met, though, which brings me to the subject of this post.

People seem to care that the Hollywood writers are on strike. If there were a national librarian strike--and I mean just the glorified "professional" librarians, not those mere support staff who do most of the dirty work--would anyone care? How long would it take for anyone to notice?

Some of the regressive librarians want everyone in the world to unionize, presumably so they can strike and make everyone else's lives miserable until they get their way. Consider the current transport workers strike in France. The transport workers have cushier early retirement benefits than many other French workers, Sarkozy wants to trim them back, save taxpayer's money, and bring the benefits in line with most French workers. The transport workers want none of this, of course, since they naturally like the special privileges they get. So to keep their special tax-subsidized privileges they shut down most of the public transportation in France, making life more difficult for everyone else, not in the interest of the common good, but merely for their own special interest. People in cities notice it when trains and buses stop running.

But what about the librarians? If libraries shut down completely, sure some people would notice. They wouldn't have the easy access to their Internet arcade cum rec center that they do now. But if just the librarians struck, this wouldn't be the case, as long as someone else had the key to the library and the computers were running. I think it might be a long time before anyone would notice if the librarians struck.

The excitable amongst you are probably saying, no, don't listen, that's just the AL being mean again! She just doesn't like libraries! Well, that might be true, but I doubt it. It's more the case that the rhetoric coming from a lot of librarians doesn't match the reality. Some excited and desperate librarians want the library to be all things to all people, but if the library is all things to all people, then it is a library for only a few people. Instead of showing that librarians are necessary, some librarians want to show that they can also be social workers and party planners and such.

Consider, though, this assertion from a recent LJ article: "We have a lot of work to do to help our users become more critically aware of the difference between a vague information want, superficially met, and a more focused information need that is deeply satisfied. So far, we seem to have focused more on marketing our image than actually providing indispensable service." I would add that many librarians are also promoting an incoherent universality for libraries rather than providing indispensable library service. Either way, when the librarians strike, it might be that no one will notice.


Jeffrey said...

Public, Academic or Professional Librarians? I can't speak to public libraries beyond the ones I have used as a patron (probably about half would be in some amount of trouble), but I know from professional experience that there are a great number of universities and corporations which would be in a bad way if their professional librarians/research staff went on strike.

Anonymous said...

I've often thought that librarians are such a sad group. We always seem to be professing how important we are. We are not a vital service. Our own president brags that he doesn't read and sadly he reflects the majority of society. And the fact that the majority of public libraries now seek to change to a corporate model is also just sad. If libraries were businesses we would all be bankrupt.
To some extent I think you are correct. For people actually coming into the library, support staff, in addition to checking in/out items, processing materials and filling reserves, would now have to attempt to answer reference questions, conduct programs and tutorials.
The area that WOULD immediately be effected would be telephone reference and e-reference. There wouldn't be any and no one to answer why.
However, as long as computers are working the disinfranchised who are the majority of library users would be happy w/o any librarian assistance until they have a question. Of course, if the volunteers stuck around - particularly literacy volunteers the empty reference areas might not be as effected.
There are many public libraries that are closing due to lack of funding and it seems no one cares enough to pay for funding.
There are valid arguments for both sides.

Anonymous said...


Librarians at our library don't promote anything - we give the public what it wants and what it wants is not books or anything out of books. Instead, it wants internet access (plus a lot of DVDs)and people to help them use the internet: we are cyber social workers.
Our patrons are poor and computer illiterate yet are forced to apply on-line for the kind of crappy jobs ("entry-level positions")people with their skill backgrounds are stuck with. They employ diverse trickery, flattery and deep, ruseful strategies against us in their desperate need for employment and help out of the messes some of them have made of their lives. They shame us into helping them or we do it just to get away from them, up-tight middle-class people that we are (who else would become a Librarian, anyway?).
Yes, people would notice if we struck, but not important people. The movers and shakers have long since deserted our shop for greener pastures in the suburbs.
Actually, I'm hopeful - actually, I think it's great the dusty tomes of yore sit unopened gathering dust on our shelves. The pity is a few of us cling to an idea of public library service 30 years out-of-date.
Does it matter that if we struck a bus boy position would remain unfilled for a while? Or that homeless guys from the shelter would have nowhere to go during the day? I fear it would take barricades and burning cars in the streets, as in France, to get the attention of the pertinent authorities.


Jeffrey said...

Books are dead. Everything you will ever need is on the internet. If any of you people had any conviction you would quit your jobs and get employment in another field and then write about how useless librarians have become and you should know because you used to be one.

Seriously, why not just quit? No one has checked out a book since 1991 and all librarians do is supervise people who are too poor to have internet access at home, why not move on to greener pastures? I’m reminded of the guy who writes who just recently printed a book. If he had any conviction at all not only would that book not exists, but his site would be covered top to bottom with statements about how none of his material would ever be in print. Just quit.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeffrey,

Lots of librarians do quit. Better to quit when you're young so you can still start another career. People in other more prestigous professions/jobs get fed up and some of them even become librarians!

Also, librarians become sad when they forget that the job is about people, not books - or computers, or magazines, etc. And we're also the only branch of city government from which people can actually come close to deriving full value for their tax dollars.


Billy Pilgrim said...

"Books are dead. Everything you will ever need is on the internet."

Yeah, schools are a mess, why not let the kids learn what they need from TV. Yeah, there's not enough cops so just let people pack heat. Universities are not much help so why not let students learn from Google. As a matter of fact, why don't we all just drink some Jonestown Kool-Aid and get this veil of tears to cease the torture of living.
If you can get one dimwit, who subscribes to the above nonsense to read just one book then you have accomplished more than any corporate slave sucking at the bloodied teat of Bush's Amerika. What miniscule shreds of soul the country possesses is kept in libraries and I don't mean in the arcade er computer centers.

Jeffrey said...


I know. I got my MLS right after college and a lot of the people in my program were starting a second career. Sorry if I sounded overly harsh. You are right about helping people. I have to put up with a lot of crap with some of the 'programs' my library runs, but not a day goes by that I don't help people. Don't lose track of that folks.

Jeffrey said...

Billy Pilgrim,

I was being sarcastic. I agree with you. Maybe some people get caught up with the whole 'grand calling' aspect of the job but that doesn't mean every librarian is an egotistical blowhard. Just like every librarian isn't a glorified computer tech/day care provider. Despite what some people might have you believe.

Anonymous said...

Over the past week I've been reading the AL's blog and have been horrified of what I've read! I'm currently in the process of wrapping up my first quarter in an MLS program and am feeling very doubtful about my career decision after having read all of your comments.

Of course, I'm not founding my fears on the comments of strangers alone, as I've been working a VERY part-time student assistant position at my local public library and have, on more than one occasion, referred to our fine institution as nothing more than a glorified Blockbuster. The attitude of patrons can only be described as demanding and cruel, as they treat us library workers as if we were sub-human scum.

I realize that no career is going to be a picnic, and this is, after all, a public service position, but I'm beginning to feel that I am truly squandering my money on a degree that will leave me working for a mere $6 an hour, which is what all non-salaried staff at my library currently makes. It's very discouraging to hear employees that have been with the library for 4-5+ years complain about not even having the money for routine car repairs or clothes. How will I pay back these student loans if I can't even afford an oil change?

In my heart I'm clinging to the idea of working in the libraries because of my love for books (I know, I know's stupid) and sharing that love with others. However, even the patrons that DO use the library for reading resources are checking out "light romances" and popular fiction ...basically, GARBAGE.

Advice ...? :( You're all scaring me!

Dances With Books said...

I would have to say it would depend on the library (public or academic. Can't speak for those of my brethren in the special libraries). Public libraries? No one would really notice. As long as the computers run, and someone is there to check out the materials, no one would notice the librarians missing. And with self-checkout, it could be just like Wal-Mart, where they may have a worker nearby in case someone has trouble with the self-checkout machines, but otherwise, patrons are on their own. Now, if all library workers struck, and suddenly the homeless had to go someplace else where they might be bothersome and thus noticed, rest assured people would notice the strike. So would those who dump their children in the library thinking it was a babysitter.

As for academic, I think it depends on the campus. In a previous job, I had a few faculty who relied on librarians for research. They would be up the creek. However, students in many ways are like public patrons: just give me the computer and get out of my way (sure, I may get an F on the paper, but that is a separate issue).

Bottom line: Librarians, at least a large segment, are so caught up in image and being cool that they forget we are supposed to provide an important service in information, reference, and for the betterment of the society (or whatever that quote in Boston about the informed citizenry is). I am sure you folks get the idea.

3goodrats said...

I think some people would notice because there are people who need our services, but they are people who are poor, less educated, and don't speak English well (at least at my library) and who cares what they think, right? If it were *just* the professional librarians and the libraries were still staffed with non-MLS folks then probably nobody at all would notice since we do so little that is professional anymore(which I recently wrote about on my blog).

My union doesn't allow strikes, so if we are unhappy with something we are shit out of luck. Which seems contrary to the point of unions, but there it is.

Gilbert Bland said...

Dear Anonymous:(in library school)

Of course the patrons treat staff like scum since you are probably one of the few people they can lord over. They are most likely stuck in jobs that they truly hate and can only suffer in silence. This blog is not as negative as you would think since most of the dark humor here is just a way of coping with the damned foolishness that working with the public involves. I see it as a healthy purging of the toxins of working for any institution.
After many years in the profession I can tell you a little about the wisdom of your investment. When you start at the ground floor the mountain may look high but if you keep climbing you either run out of oxygen and quit the library game or press on to the summit where you will say "jeez, this is sure an easy way to earn a not too bad living!" I have never worked one single minute of overtime, have been exposed to untold great stuff in my library (both as librarian and patron)and own a house thanks to a big city government full of idiots who wouldn't know Heroditus from Helen Mirren. Those who gut out and flee from the horrors of the unwashed are just rolling the dice. I stayed and am very glad I did.

Anonymous said...

AL wrote:

"If there were a national librarian strike--and I mean just the glorified "professional" librarians, not those mere support staff who do most of the dirty work--would anyone care? How long would it take for anyone to notice?


"But what about the librarians? If libraries shut down completely, sure some people would notice."

What makes you think that having glorified "professional" librarians out on strike would shut libraries down completely? Most of the work at most libraries I know isn't done by those MLS folks. Life would go on as everyone knows it (unless/until the computer network had problems) until a few years down the road when someone noticed that there weren't any new books on the new book shelf. And maybe nobody would notice.


Anonymous said...

Dances With Books,

It is highly possible that I work for an anomalous public library system, but if our library system is any indicator and we were to shut down or all MLS librarians were to go on strike, this city would very much take notice—and not just the poor and ignorant--but the business owners, state employees (as our library is also acts as a State library), students doing homework who have to contend with a miserable public school system, investors, autodidacts, historians researching our state's archives, readers (and yes, they do still exist), and a whole slew of other assorted seekers. I do get my share of all the inanities most public librarians have to face, but this is tempered quite substantially with legitimate requests by legitimate patrons. Now, I'm sure some PL systems are more anemic than others, but to say no one would miss the PL—period—is a little overstated.

Soren Faust

j- said...

*Our own president brags that he doesn't read *

Excuse me?

When did the President [note correct capitalization] "brag" about not reading? Of course, when he does read, he does it too long [i.e., My Pet Goat] and people whine and moan about that.

Bush once claimed he didn't read *newspapers*--and why should he? The man MAKES the news that others report and is briefed with secret information that the rest of may never hear of, so why bother reading a recap of what you did with your day in the Washington Post?

Plus, the man MARRIED a librarian for crying out loud--have some pity on him.

As for unions--they seem to only exist to protect the most shiftless and worthless from being promptly fired.

As for the French and their labor negotiations--they seem to be some of the laziest people on the planet. [36 hour work week? You think with all the extra time on their hands they could stop "youths" from torching all their Peugeots every time someone offends their "prophet".] It's no wonder the French haven't contributed much to the world since the invention of the guillotine.

Striking [for whatever reason] would make librarians look like the French, and that's an even worse public image than what we have now.

j- said...

*What makes you think that having glorified "professional" librarians out on strike would shut libraries down completely? Most of the work at most libraries I know isn't done by those MLS folks. *

This kind reader has pointed out another problem that needs solving. The proles [usually the first group to get unionized, btw] are getting uppity. Best that they should be released from their jobs and those duties be given to "glorified" "professionals" even though some degreed librarians thusly might get their fingers dirty checking out books or reshelving them once they are returned.

A small price to pay for averting class-based uprisings and/or backtalk.

Gus Hall said...


When did AL become the Sean Hannity show?

What utter and complete nonsense!

The question is about IF the public would notice if librarians went on strike, not punctuation or a 19th world view supported by sound-bite blather.

mdoneil said...

If the patrons could screw around on the interwebs and if the NYT bestsellers still came in no one would ever notice that the librarians were on strike, assuming they didn't have to walk around them on the way in.

No one gives a damn about public librarians. Heck I am a librarian and I don't. Generally leftist useful idiots if you ask me. One step above most library school professors.

Anonymous said...


You hate yourself, don't you? If you don't give a damn about yourself then why should anyone else give a damn about you?

Self-hating librarians, what can be more pathetic?

Soren Faust

webbygrl said...

I'm graduating with my MLS this semester and OMG what a bleak picture is painted here! However I do like the part about making a decent living, no overtime, and owning a house. What's so bad about that?

So why would librarians strike? This baffels me. Librarians work great hours, in the AC, they have access to tons of cool free stuff, are surrounded by good people (for the most part) and most have every single holiday off. That's why I changed professions. I thought, "What can I do that's indoors and no math?" But I'm one of the older ones (at a ripe old age of 44) and I know what it's like to have a crappy job. That's the problem with kids today. Seems to me the strikers are a bunch of spoiled, ungreatful brats.

Oh and you libs quit picking on the Prez. Can't you find something better to do? You make him out to be such a dope. You're just choking on a big mouthful of a two Supreme Court Justice sandwich.

Anonymous said...

Soren - Public librarians aren't the only types of librarians out there. An academic librarian not liking a public library does not equal self-hate.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous:(in library school)
You don't HAVE to become a public librarian. If you don't like how you're being treated, go into academic or special libraries.

Anonymous said...

ETA: Even the esteemed AL is NOT a public librarian!

Anonymous said...

ETA: Even the esteemed AL is NOT a public librarian!

Anonymous said...

No one said that public librarians are the only librarians. There is a very strong bias against public librarians on this blog, which I can only imagine results from ignorance of the reality of public librarianship and, in some cases, outright snobbery. I worked in an academic library before I worked in a public library and feel that both library systems have its own raison d'etre and they are both legitimate. I feel both still are and remain relevant in their own spheres. To compare them as if they ought to have the same function and do the same things is foolish and irrational nonsense.

You know, I find it interesting that we don't hear too much from special librarians on here, particularly corporate librarians. They probably don't suffer the same feelings of self-loathing and disgust with their profession as other librarians apparently do, and they get paid more.


Anonymous said...

They probably don't suffer the same feelings of self-loathing and disgust with their profession as other librarians apparently do, and they get paid more.

Perhaps that's why we don't hear from them.

Anonymous said...

Soren - I agree that public libraries are not the same as academic. I just disagree that an academic or special librarian who does not like public libraries is self-hating.

Anonymous said...

“You know, I find it interesting that we don't hear too much from special librarians on here, particularly corporate librarians. They probably don't suffer the same feelings of self-loathing and disgust with their profession as other librarians apparently do, and they get paid more.”

I suppose that I could be classed as a special librarian. I am treated like a professional and paid damn well, thank you. However, I have a few qualifications that the vast majority of librarians don’t have, like a degree in a physical science and I work in an engineering field. I’m treated like an equal because of my bachelors degree, not my MLS. The engineers and scientist I work with are constantly lamenting the urine-poor quality of the libraries and librarians when they need to do research at what is suppose to be a first rate academic library. There is a lot of support for the fine arts but librarians stay away from the physical sciences and therefore the collections are run down and no one knows how to find any relevant material. The databases are there, but the librarians can’t use them because they are unfamiliar with the terms and key words.

And for mdoneil, he’s spot on. Librarians need to get over it and live in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Live in the real world.

Hmm, I wonder what that could possibly mean—real world? The real world is dirty, uncertain and relentlessly indifferent to human fantasies of a world populated by highly literate people who disdain so-called childish entertainments like gaming and Harry Potter, where everyone reads canonical books and has mastered the pressure of days. The real world is not an orderly succession of incoming freshmen asking the same question over and over again because he or she has yet to learn how to do research or how to “work” a library—that would be too easy and neat.

The real world and what a vague term, it is. Tell me: how does one find this real world where life is fine and we can all go to the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds and basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes. Don’t you see? They’re coming to take me away to the funny farm, i.e. the public library.

And may God have mercy on me.


Farkas Is Willin' said...

"No one gives a damn about public librarians."

My dead Mom was very fond of me and all five of my cats worship the opposable thumbed public librarian in our house.

Academic librarians and special librarians eat the same rotten stew we do except they get theirs fed to them by people in suits.

Anonymous said...

"Oh and you libs quit picking on the Prez."'s one of the 34%ers

Like Barry Manilow and Wayne Newton fans I had heard about them but have just never met one in person.

public librarian said...

If our librarians went on strike and we therefore had no storytimes or computer classes, not to mention no new materials, quite a few people would be up in arms. We close for Thanksgiving and people throw a fit.

webbygrl said...

"'s one of the 34%ers"

35%...I'm new. Here we come. heh heh heh

mdoneil said...

No, you do hear from the special librarians. I am indeed a MLS holder, a member of the SLA and I work for an exceptionally large (130K+ staff, $25B in worldwide revenue) professional services firm.

I was a public librarian for 18 months and it cost me money every month to do that. I was actually paid slightly above average for my area's public librarians.

Patrons have no idea what a librarian is, or the skills we possess. In my public library tenure I was asked two -yes exactly two- questions that required skills I learned in library school. Pointing people to the computers, making change, and reserving the latest NYT best seller are not something for which you need an MLS. Heck ordering from B&T, copy cataloging, managing staff are not something you need an MLS for either.

The public has little idea what librarians can do, few know that it requires a graduate degree, and even fewer care.

So no Soren, I don't hate myself. I do hate how the profession of public librarianship has been devalued and is now little more than a clerkship. When I was in elementary school the librarian was an oracle, in the upper grades the librarian was a valued source of information, and in University while I often found the twenty something librarians reading Douglas Adams they none the less knew the collection and were helpful.

As I continued with my first graduate degree I began to see the quality of the university and public librarians decline, not because I was in library school as Information Studies was not my first graduate degree, but because they were less familiar with the collection and more involved with accessing things online - this was the early 90's. By the time I got my second undergraduate degree (95ish) electronic collections were more common and the librarians were no more adept at finding things than I was. I could locate a journal article as fast, if not faster as I was limited to one discipline and thus one collection of electronic resources.
As the volumes of the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature went by the wayside so did the role of the librarian and thus the public perception of the librarian. Once a trusted and consulted advisor, they became little more than clerks.

Librarians now are generally of two schools - public librarians that is - those who have had to include technology in their practice and many of those with whom I worked are of that ilk. They have to have an instruction booklet for the B&T online order system and grudgingly use IT resources, and only then if required. The public library at which I worked had many librarians like this. In fact the 'automation librarian' as she was still titled, could not network the 50 or so staff and patron computers and had to sit at each one to perform software updates.

The second subgroup of today's public librarians are technological savvy yet lack the professional skills to perform a useful face to face reference interview, or frankly carry on a conversation with a patron who does not want to look up information in electronic form. When I took over from the departing reference librarian a 20 something twopointopian there was not a dictionary in the ready reference collection, in fact there was not a ready reference collection behind the desk. Retired people do not want to look at a computer monitor turned to the side so you can both see it simultaneously. Older people prefer to see the dictionary - they can both see the word they need defined and assess the authority of the source, a task hard for librarians to do on many online sources, and impossible for many others.

The public librarians, in concert with the ALA have caused the devaluation of the profession. I became a librarian thinking that I could somehow be a better librarian than either group, I had hoped that I could blend the best of both groups. I did and I earned praise from staff, the board, and patrons. However I still performed the job of a clerk for the better part of my day.

I have three graduate degrees, and several undergraduate degrees (including a BS in Information Studies because I assumed that it was a requirement to get an MLS as a BSN is required for a Masters in Nursing) I am a very good librarian. I participated in professional development and patron outreach and yet I was still fixing the paper jams in the copier and mopping up when the urinals leaked on Saturday when I was the only librarian in the building.

If the patrons can use the computers, find the NYT best sellers on the new fiction shelves and check out the occasional book they would never know if librarians all disappeared tomorrow.

I don't know how long you and other public librarians can stand making 1/2 as much as the private sector. I don't know how long you and other public librarians can tolerate being nothing but glorified clerks and babysitters.

Teaching people how to send email and advocating DDR is not what I want to do for the next 30 years. Living paycheck to paycheck was not something I enjoyed either.

I had big hopes when I left IBM to finish my last semester of Library School and transition to a career in a library. I can show you the stack of rejection letters I have. I was lucky I got a job 8 miles away from home in a public library after only 6 months. I thought it would be a rewarding position where I could help people and be respected for what I knew. Rather I managed a staff of mentally ill complainers and was treated like crap by a small number of patrons, like a baby sitter by others, like a clerk by many, like a servant by some, and like a buffoon by teens who I threw out for fighting, or eating, or doing any number of other prohibited things. I was also cursed, shushed, given the finger and yelled at by patrons who I asked to stop using their mobile phones -after they had to walk past 7 signs prohibiting just that to get to the reference desk. My director listened intently, yet ignored everyone preferring instead to focus on a proposed referendum to finance the library and build a shrine to himself. The technical services librarian thought she worked for the LOC and complained for half an hour every time she had to do original cataloging - perhaps once a month. The head of circulation a MLS degree holder spent 40 minutes in a department head meeting discussing a $130 trash can purchase and didn't want to order some NYT best seller because it was about making love like a porn star because she was a born again Christian.

The best month there only cost me $238 after I paid my bills, including my student loan for Library School. To remain there was simply insane.

I took my current position at slightly more than double my librarian's salary and having been promoted I am now making 3X the starting salary at the library where I was a public librarian.

To suggest that I hate myself is not only improper, but is shows flawed logic. However since the public now views librarians as no more than high school graduates who work with books and computers you certainly are not disappointing anyone with your pedestrian reasoning skills.

The fact that few outside the profession respect public librarians rests solely on our shoulders. I tried my best but could do nothing to change that. I have an obligation to support myself and my family and working for a pittance and having my joie de vivre sucked from me by the patrons was not something with which I could continue to bear. I am now respected by my peers, my opinion is valued, and I am compensated fairly for my work and the knowledge, skills and abilities I possess. I am afforded opportunities for professional development (in fact my employer last year allowed me to spend more than 1/3 of what my salary would have been had I remained at my PL on educational opportunities including one course what was 8K). I have employer paid health, dental and vision benefits and they even contribute a few hundred dollars a year to my HSA. I have a retirement plan, a 401k in addition to that. I have the respect of those with whom I work. I have 22 days of vacation a year in addition to the traditional holidays. I can work from home when I see fit, and I travel occasionally to work with my counterparts from other countries.

I am very pleased to have this job, and I am pleased that I had the skills that matched the position requirements. However that is not to say that other librarians cannot find rewarding careers outside public librarianship. It is wonderful to have aspirations and a desire to change the world, but the mortgage and electric bill are still due. Now I can do both, I can work for a living and volunteer to help others. If I were still a public librarian I would not be able to do so.

Kathleen de la Pena McCook said...

The striking library workers of CUPE 391 deserve support instead of jeers. If you have paid holidays and medical benefits anywhere you work, then thank a union. You may think that these benefits were given you by choice..they were not.
You have them because of union actions that raised the bar for workers' rights. Give back these things if you believe unions have no use.
Today is Joe Hill Day.
Why exhibit..
"Cruelty and Malice for All?" []

Anonymous said...

“The striking library workers of CUPE 391 deserve support instead of jeers. If you have paid holidays and medical benefits anywhere you work, then thank a union. You may think that these benefits were given you by choice..they were not.
You have them because of union actions that raised the bar for workers' rights.”

Uh, no. I have those benefits because I required them in my contract before I was hired. If librarians would learn how to negotiate instead of being such wimps and taking anything management hands out, they might be in better financial shape.

They either knew the pay was bad, or didn't do their homework. If they don't like it, do what I and many others have done - leave.

Anonymous said...


My “pedestrian” reasoning skills are not the issue here. I wasn’t reasoning at all, in fact, but reacting to your unabashed condemnation of public librarians as useless retards. The tone of your original post suggests that I, along with my colleagues, are stupid. I can only imagine that you think the public librarian is no better than a burdensome waste of public resources, nothing more than a pariah on the good tax paying citizens who like nothing more than to abuse us. I don’t know what messed up public library you worked for, but your experience does not match mine. It seems that it’s you with the pedestrian reasoning skills; after all, a hasty generalization like the one you made is a well known fallacy. I’m happy that you have the self-validation you seem to need from the job you have, but don’t assume that I need the same.


AL said...

MD and Soren, you guys might need to take it outside.

As for Ms. McCook, I still have one question about unions. Joe Hill and the Wobblies were organizing coal miners and industrial workers and the like. They were organizing in one sense to get a share of the profits they were helping to create and to correct abusive working conditions.

These days the successful unions are all public sector. They're not organizing against the profit-making Man. They're not trying to start a revolution or overthrow the bourgeoisie. Since they're employed by the public, they're organizing against the public interest. I can only wonder what Joe Hill and Big Bill Haywood and Daniel De Leon would have thought of a bunch of librarians striking because they're so exploited. Oh, poor librarian babies.

j- said...

*Gus Hall said... *

Gus Hall...[insert Peter Griffin laugh sound effect here].

*When did AL become the Sean Hannity show?*

It's funny that SOME people who disagree with another person's view find it inconceivable that that person formulated that view on their own. It's always "Rush told you to say that" or "Put down the Glenn Beck book" or so on and so forth.

*What utter and complete nonsense!*

This exclamation from the person who then typed:

*The question is about IF the public would notice if librarians went on strike, not punctuation or a 19th world view supported by sound-bite blather.*

Do you mean 19th-century? This is not really accurate since the French only lost one war to the Germans in the 1800s and only really acquired their image as an utter and abject loser in June of 1940, icing this particular gateau in Algeria and at Dien Bien Phu--at least, that's what Michelle Malkin told me to say.

And if no one can comment on anything but the ALs prose, why are you commenting on a comment, Commie?

mdoneil said...

I thought I made it markedly clear that I thought the profession of public librarianship had been cheapened to nothing more than a clerkship.

I never said that public librarians were anything less than noble and educated public servants, please do recall that I was indeed a public librarian myself.

Soren, first you suggest that I hate myself, then you insist I have maligned all public librarians and you defend your utterances by stating that you were using no reasonsing at all.

I wonder if it is now clear why more special or corporate librarians don't participate.

What benefit is offered to those who do participate? The twisting of our words and castigation for having an opinion that is not in lockstep with the ALA?

Anonymous said...


To be honest with you, my intention is not to personally attack you. I don’t know you. What I did do, however, is react to this inane comment of yours, which clearly shows your disdain for public librarians. I believe you wrote this unambiguous statement: ”No one gives a damn about public librarians. Heck I am a librarian and I don't.”

Now, what on earth can that mean other than you believe that public librarians are more or less useless? I find it disturbing, on this site in particular, the attitude displayed by academic/special librarians towards public libraries and the librarians who work for them. I ”reacted” not ”reasoned” to your post the way I did because what it reflects is untrue, or at least the first part of it, anyway. You may indeed not give a damn about public librarians. The letters that patrons write to our staff of public librarians thanking them for their assistance are many—this hardly sounds like “no one” giving a damn. Such sweeping statements!

I admit that my incendiary statement was a bit childish, certainly emotive; after all, who wants to be told that one’s profession is at best superfluous. I do think your comment was terribly naive.


Mindy said...

I don't think most librarians even know what business they're in nowadays. I worked in the Reference department of a public library (pop. 40,000) for five years, and the majority of my time was spent policing the Internet computers and helping people who wanted phone numbers. There was a large collection of reference books which were virtually never used, even by the staff. Most questions could be more easily and effectively answered using online resources, but the librarians continued to spend thousands of dollars each year buying new reference books. No one even questioned whether this was the right thing to do.

Public libraries need a lot of re-evaluation but they aren't going to get it because they are part of local government. They have a guaranteed income stream, so they keep on doing business as usual. They won't make meaningful changes until a budget axe comes and threatens them. If the ALA or PLA were worthwhile, they would force public libraries to do some serious out-of-the box thinking before it is too late and public libraries are shut down all over the country.

If librarians continue to sit around collecting the latest Oprah books and bestsellers and weeding the classics because they haven't circulated, and provide programming on "how to use your digital camera," and calling themselves "information professionals," they are going to have some tough times ahead.

Librarians on strike? As Douglas Adams said about a possible philosopher's strike, "Who will that inconvenience?"

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am a registered nurse (college grad) who has always loved libraries. I have considered becoming a librarian on several occasions. I am deeply troubled by many of the statements on here. I have been a "card carrying member" of many libraries, both in this country and overseas. I have only seen people eager to read and the reference librarians hopping up and down continually to assist their patrons. Either I am blind or choose to look at the magnificence that is the public library system.