Monday, May 05, 2008

The AL Has No Clothes

The AL has always been something of a controversial blog. Oh, it's so funny! Oh, it's so mean! Oh, it's anonymous! Oh, who cares! Now that I'm slowing down and reflecting a bit and don't really care that much anymore, suddenly the critics are coming out again, the sad, humorless gits who comment or blog about the Annoyed Librarian with serious words in earnest tones. A couple of such things have come to my attention recently. Some commenter left a comment on a several month old post about the anonymity, and some other earnest blogger wrote a whole post about he could agree with most of what I wrote if I just weren't so mean and anonymous, as if I care who agrees with me.

Most of my readers get it already, but I wanted to pass something on to the earnest and humorless in bibliotek blogland. It's no use criticizing the Annoyed Librarian and talking about how the AL shouldn't be anonymous. That makes about as much sense as criticizing Jane Eyre for being anonymous (Charlotte Bronte was certainly pseudonymous). The point is that it's a nonsensical criticism. In case you haven't realized it by now, the Annoyed Librarian doesn't exist, at least not in the sense real people exist. Hasn't the penny dropped yet? The AL is a fictional character. Hellooo! Do you get it now? Isn't it bloody obvious? It's a character. A persona. The Annoyed Librarian isn't anonymous. She has a name: Annoyed Librarian. The writer or writers of the AL is or are anonymous, but that's a different level of anonymity all together.

To complain that the AL is anonymous is to miss the whole point of the blog. There is definitely a writer or writers who write the AL, and some personal characteristics of the author(s) may very well show up in the character, but it's a character. How could it be anything else? How thick do you have to be to see that there's nobody who cares about all the different stuff that the AL blogs about? Is there any coherence at all? The appeal of the AL isn't that everyone cares about or is in agreement with everything the AL writes about. The appeal is that the AL isn't a one trick pony. She's at least a twelve trick pony, and a lot of us have fun and occasionally get something out of the discussions. This is typical of a lot of blogs. People write blogs the way others write novels. Usually, no one notices. The difference is that a lot of people read the AL, for whatever reason, so the earnest librarians take notice and tsk, tsk away.

Oh, I know, there'll be the critics who don't understand things like fiction or fictional characters who'll just say, that AL is just mean and trying to shirk responsibility for what she writes! If that's your response, I don't really care, though I do feel a bit sorry for you for being as thick as two planks. Of course, someone could take responsibility for creating the character of the AL, though I'm not sure that person has anything to be ashamed of. How many of you earnest, humorless critics could create so compelling a character? Yeah, I didn't think so. But what would be the point?

So who's writing this post, the AL or the writer of the AL? Is this self-description or metafiction? You be the judge.

Anyway, I've got some other stuff coming up, but haven't gotten around to doing the work. Someone sent in a great library job that sucks, and another reader sent me a link for something idiotic about video games. I'll get there eventually.


Anonymous said...

God, you're getting ornery. I used to read this because you had really well thought-out, interesting, literate posts, but lately they've just been getting really pissy and annoying. You had written a post recently about threatening to quit, and if you continue this way, I suggest you consider it. If it's not fun anymore for you, just quit. Because it's not fun anymore for this reader.

penguinn said...

Someone recently commented on a listserv I'm on, about the word "naked" - as in naked as a jay bird. Obviously he has feathers and is not "unclothed" - but means exposed, loud and obnoxious - or free, outspoken and blatent. Either way, "the shoe fits" - but isn't that the point of the blog??? Everyone has a right to an opinion. Even AL!

AL said...

I'm GETTING ornery? Where have YOU been the past two years, my dear anonymous?

Leo Klein said...

First, this fetish about anonymity is a complete cheap shot. People have been anonymous on the Web since the olden days.

Second, so what if you "came out" and told everyone you were Lucy from Bridgeport? Does anyone know Lucy? I don't. How would the world be a better place?

Leo Klein said...

Naturally that's 'fetish' about condemning anonymity.

Anonymous said...

You're starting to let this get to you. I read this and thank heavens I left this business years ago> It was getting to me then. I guess it gets to others who have to deal with it on a regular basis. Ever thought about comparing library work to the plot of a novel by Franz Kafka? Better yet, ever thought about writingg a novel about the library a la Kafka, and let the other multiple personalities chime in on it?

Anonymous said...

You're Lucy from Bridgeport? Really. And here I thought you were Antonia from Dallas. And Tina from Culver City. Mack from Tampa. Jane from Laredo. Betsy from Boston.

That's the point. You're me, just better spoken and a whole lot more coherent than I ever could be.

So in the grand tradition of the AL, I'm signing in my usual way.

Anonymous said...

The AL is my boss--well, not really my direct boss but more the head of the reference dept, so that makes her my boss in that sense--and she is the SEX! She is so prim and proper, wears short skirts that shows her nice legs (and I bet she knows she has nice legs), and yeah, did I say that she has a nice arse? I'm not a librarian since I don't have an LIS, MLS, MLIS, or whatever you call it these days. My training is in literature, but that's besides the point. My boss is HOT, and I can't say no to her! Did I say she has a nice ass already? *swoons* *faints*

Anonymous said...

I think someone needs to write a broadway play called the annoyed librarian. I will audition.

Anonymous said...

I actually responded yesterday to another blog raising the issue of the desire to unmask the AL (hey, does that make you Batman?). The only reason to attempt to discover the identity of the AL (fictional or otherwise) is to silence her. The situation of the AL has made me reconsider my tendency to be open with my identity on the internet. I have always signed my real name (because unlike others I have the option) but now I am considering how that will restrict my ability to express my opinions. The AL provides an opportunity to generate real discussion about issues, and have a laugh at the stupidities in the profession, and I for one will fight for her anonymity. I am the Annoyed Librarian!

Anonymous said...

We all are the AL. That's the point. After 20+ years in Library service, I so hate it I shudder when I even enter one or pass one on the street. Good idea in theory, sucky idea in reality.

Anonymous said...

AL is blogging by committee.

She? Doesn't that do a disservice to the men who blog as the AL?

Oh, I forgot, only strong women, gay men, and democrats make up the library world.

Blog on!

Sanbrarian said...

As a long-time reader and in the spirit of a recent challenge in parts of the serious library blogosphere to respond to blog posts, I'm making my very first blog comment. PLEASE DON'T RETIRE MS. ANNOYED LIBRARIAN and PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T TAKE OFF YOUR MASK(S). Don't let'em get to you.

Not to be too earnest (cause I don't take a lot of what goes on here too seriously), the conversations you inspire are important. Anyone with a shred of intelligence who reads your archives could figure that out.

We must laugh at ourselves, our institutions, the cheerleaders, the naysayers -- when we laugh at our own follies it can lead to a desperately required mass change! (sorry 'bout the exclamation point BUT I am a librarian).

Not that you asked but I suggest a long or short vacation (whatever life allows), with plenty martinis thrown in, non-library friends, and some contrarian reading materials. Most things are brighter in the light of vacation and martinis. Not too mention that nose-thumbing is always easier with a slightly chilled thumb (from holding the most well-iced martini imaginable).


Minks said...

What all these ivory tower critics don't get is that we are all "the AL". THAT is why this blog is so popular, not because of Al's wit (although that certainly helps) but because we all feel his/her pain. Nothing pisses me off more then some meathead who has never served *'front line' telling me what I should feel about my job,, or worse yet, telling me how to do it (filters come to mind). Alas, there are many such meatheads (ALA) and they are all willing to chime in with their wisdom.

They need a tall frosty mug of STFU to start their morning with. >=/

/calmdown on

* By "Front line" I mean in libraries serving the general public and dealing with pornofiles, pedophiles, public intoxication, defecation, urination, masturbation, fighting, theft, and verbal abuse. If you have never dealt with most (if not all) of these issues,, congrats,, you are ivory tower.

AL said...

Thank goodness for the ivory tower.

Another AL, Another Anonymous said...

“The situation of the AL has made me reconsider my tendency to be open with my identity on the internet . . . I am the Annoyed Librarian!”

I’m with you, pal. I think that someone should come up with an AL t-shirt that we could buy and all show up wearing them at fing ALA in June. It could just say “I am the Annoyed Librarian.” I’d buy one.

contrarian said...

AL, you go girl(s)!

Anonymous said...

AL, all of those wanting to unmask you just want their avatar to get it on with your avatar.

Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

Ok, we have gone from

Romancing the AL


AL's Passion


AL has no clothes.

If this gets any racier, our network nanny is going to be coming over and asking me why I keep reading a blog about a drunken, naked guy named Al.

Anonymous said...

The Annoyed Librarian is Us.

~RCN, San Francisco Bay Area (as anonymous as I wanna be)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Oh, I forgot, only strong women, gay men, and democrats make up the library world."

That explains why I can't get a job in a library.

the "pissed off" librarian

Anonymous said...

That other blogger must not have had anything to blog about, so she picked on the AL. That is so blogging 1.0.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be working on the broadway play, "The Annoyed Librarian." I hope the WDL auditions, he's so hot.

Anonymous said...

No Cloths well thats not how I want to see my librarian let them be who they are. As far as being a front line staff goes does having some die of a heart attack count? Lord I need to get the ivory tower.

Anonymous said...

As a closeted republican, heterosexual, conservative, male librarian all I can say is

dont't ask don't tell

Anonymous said...

dont't even learn how to type


my bad.

Anonymous said...

This unmasking discussion reminds me of the book "The Gospel According to Larry." worth the read

Kevin Musgrove said...

I love the idea that the advocates of the virtual library just don't get the concept of virtual: none of the people in the blogosphere are real though their thoughts and views and actions may be dictated by the keyboards and mice of real(-ish) people. The labels we choose to wear are merest drapery.

All power to you AL!

Anonymous said...

The labels we choose to wear are merest drapery.

Especially if you work in the library at Tara.

Anonymous said...

I am SHOCKED! Shocked, I say! to find out that the AL is not "possibly the most successful, respected, and desirable librarian of her generation" and that just maybe you don't sit around in your ivory tower glowering all day. Why you might not even drink martinis! I'm going to stop looking for your profile on Facebook or Linkin where I hoped we could play games and develop a meanful friendship in virtual mode. My disappointment is tremendous!

Anonymous said...

I once considered signing my name to my posts. Then last year, I read the frightening (to me) posts on the John Berry blog. The individuals who posted not only heavily criticized anonymous posters but also talked about reporting individuals whose posts they did not like to those posters' bosses. I kept thinking about "The Crucible". Posting anonymously lets me discuss library issues while making sure that I still get a paycheck.

Perhaps the posters who don't approve of anonymity should:

1. Go read that Berry post.
2. Watch (or read) Spartacus.

Proudly Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Great idea anonymous AL! Please someone make an 'I am the Annoyed Librarian' shirt - i'll buy one! Actually, i'll buy them for all my librarian friends. Long Live the AL!

P.S. anonymous and 'pissed off' librarians - the AL's female persona doesn't make it impossible for the authors to be male - there are plenty of female authors who write as men and male writers who write as women, now and throughout literary history. People find it freeing. It's all good.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:10 PM go it right.

"I am Spartacus."

Or to put it another way "Why can't we all just focus on the issue, rather than the anonymous side show?"

Anonymous said...

The individuals who posted not only heavily criticized anonymous posters but also talked about reporting individuals whose posts they did not like to those posters' bosses.

That is why I rarely post on other people's blogs and am even reluctant to do this anonymously because there really is no such thing in the online environment. The blogger can call you out by IP address. The UL frequently does this, so don't post there. For most of these people, blogging soothes their ego, so there isn't much sense in arguing with them.

Could you please refer us to that particular Berry post?

I'm Kat! said...

Evey Hammond: Who are you?
V: Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask.
Evey Hammond: Well I can see that.
V: Of course you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.

There are those who cling to their identity as the only way to keep order in the world. With an Identity, no man is ever free from persecution for what he says, for what he believes, for how he lives.

If you disagree, you can make him pay; you can make him hurt; you can make him suffer. You can take his life away. You can silence the voice of the critic, of the lunatic, of the snitch, even the voice of the Oracle.

These people cling to identities because they are high, and mighty, and any weakness could be their undoing. And their Compounds, while they are made of solid concrete to an Identy, to Nothing these walls are nothing more then glass, built upon a foundation of rotten timber, a tower that would topple in the slightest breeze.

An invisible enemy - one with no face, one that brings everything you hide to surface, but has nothing to surface for itself, that is power. That is the power of Big Brother. And this power Big Brother seeks to squander, for power in a world of fear is control.

Keep your icy grip on your anonymity and your right to use it for so long as you have life left to live!

We need the T-Shirts...

So go make them: You can use

If you want, I could put up a design, and those who do not want to take the time to do the work to make a design can simply buy the one I put up.

There is the problem of Profit sharing. It simply COULD uncover an identity. And that would not be a good thing.

Uncovering this identity would be lucrative for cashing in for the Annoyed Librarian. But in all earnesty, I think the time is not yet ripe. Let a new association be formed first. The Annoyed Librarian. Not "of America" or anything else - just "The Annoyed Librarian."

What is it? Well, if this needs to be explained to you like a two year old, you shouldn't be in it.

When the AL gets closer to retirement, or a couple years, then the unveiling can happen when the AL creator officially "retires." But otherwise, by then the organization would be a strong staunch Little Sister to ALA and the community of Big Brother librarians everywhere.

Edgar Allen Poe only made $8 for "The Raven" so I suppose there is little issue?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:55 AM

This is the original blog entry and the 139 posts:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I apologize. Here I thought you were attempting to offer serious commentary and insights into the library world, but now I discover it's all entertainment. The AL is just a fictional character, it seems, who can state any opinion she wants, freed from the annoying need for logic or accountability and we're supposed to cheer and applaud or we don't "get it." What a clever way to rant in anonymity and have no accountability for whatever fool thing comes to mind. Congratulations! Now I get it. Gee, anonymous sarcasm IS fun, thanks.

AL said...

"Here I thought"

That was definitely your first mistake. It's best to know your limitations.

Anonymous said...

Stop while you are "ahead". It's not like you're getting paid for it. If it's some sort of an weird ego boost thing to have random other disgruntled librarians leave you comments singing your praises...then I'd ditch blogging. Agreed that the posts aren't as fun anymore.

SusieLibrarian said...

These posts aren't as fun anymore? Au contaire, we just be gettin started!!

Anonymous said...

As someone who has recently left one academic field - wrongly considered glamourous (the proper way to spell such a word for all you silly Americans) and nothing more than tedious and soul crushing - the wonderful world of publishing, I thought ooh a blog about being a librarian this should be fun to read! Am so excited to begin my studies in Information Science!

Dear me, AL (et al), seriously, this blog really falls flat. I feel as if the person (or persons) responsible read the infamous "Belle de Jour: diary of a london call girl" and thought BRILLIANT! I'll write a blog, "Annoyed Librarian: diary of a academic who knows call numbers" and see if I can have the same witty, smug, and annoying blog. Who knows, perhaps you can parlay this blog into a book deal AND a tv show as well.

Seriously, this blog is nothing but the brain child of bored intellects who can't handle the horrific tedious nature of their white collar, ivory tower jobs. Oh how funny, we are overeducated and endlessly whining.

NOW if you were a call girl AND a librarian, that might be a superb blog!

Yours truly,

sapna said...

"The AL has no clothes". i did not get anything.
Buy Clothes Online