You Need Some Links

I'm the f*cking librarian, motherf*cker shirtNo, really, you need some links. Really. I bet you’re bored and thinking coffee and HTML A href is JUST WHAT YOU NEED. Never say I’m not psychic.

First: everyone should watch book trailers the way Susan does. HOLY LOLZ Y’ALL.

The original trailer can be found here.

I hereby declare that Susan has won the internet for the day.

Co-ownership of the internet today is also awarded to Censored Genius for the epic library rant in response to Seth Godin’s blog post about how librarians and the role of libraries can be reinvented. Censored Genius’ rant in response reads, in part,

Read a dozen news stories from the past year and there has almost always been some derogatory comment about the homeless sleeping in the library, or people looking at porn or Facebookers, or DVD renters or old people doing the crossword puzzles in the paper or whatever. As if these people don’t deserve access to what they want, even if what they want is crap. And that’s my job to decide. Not Amazon’s job or Netflix’s or Godin’s. I’m the fucking librarian, motherfucker. I am not any corporation’s bitch. And if I want books in the library, we’re having books. And DVDs. And econtent. And graphic novels. And pie.

I would hereby like to stomp on the toes of anyone who proposes to find “value” or, while I’m stomping, a “business model” within libraries. Seriously, knock it off. Even saying stuff like that demonstrates a deep and blithe ignorance of how libraries actually function and implies libraries don’t have value already. Do I want digital books in libraries? Hello, SIMON & SCHUSTER and MACMILLIAN, yes, I fucking do. But at the expense of paper books, manga, anime, children’s books, and anything else? Of course not. First, it’s not my call, as I am not a librarian (I just cheerlead for them, no pleated skirt required). Second, I can share. I’m good at sharing, and that includes my local library’s hurtin’ budget.

I need to go deconstruct a book trailer now. That’ll make me feel better. TEAM LIBRARY!

ETA: Feelin’ frisky? There;s a Team Library shirt, I am Not Any Corporation’s Bitch, and the ever-so-tasteful I’m the fucking librarian, motherfucker. All proceeds to benefit the American Library Association.

ETA II Electric Bugaloo: via Jane on Twitter, another link that breaks down even further what’s wrong with Godin’s “vision” title In Defence of the Library:

My main gripe with Godin’s post, however, is that he seems to be almost blaming libraries for a lack of vision. No, Seth, what they’re lacking is CASH. And pointing out that they’re currently crap does not help their fight against cuts. They’re not rolling in money, but instead are facing reduced budgets every year. And you know what you can do with less? Less.

 

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The Link-O-Lator

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  1. 1
    Amber says:

    “I’m the fucking librarian, motherfucker.”

    Can she be my librarian?

  2. 2
    Sarah W says:

    “Anno Google”

    I think the Internet Win of the Day should be shared, just for that.

  3. 3
    headgirl says:

    Big love to librarians!

  4. 4
    cayenne says:

    I’m the fucking librarian, motherfucker.

    I hear that in Bruce Willis’ voice.  I am silly today.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    HA! I heard Samuel L. Jackson, but Willis totally works.

  6. 6
    Jen G. says:

    I’m the fucking librarian, motherfucker.

    Whenever anyone asks me what I do, that’s going to be exactly what I tell them.

  7. 7
    AgTigress says:

    That superb tee-shirt brought a much-needed smile to my face.
    :-)

  8. 8

    Sorry to say, but Netflix is not a keeper of everything. If it did, hubby and I wouldn’t have to go to the library to rent some of the shows we like to watch. Neener neener on it being this all knowing POS we give money to every month (cheaper than being overdue to blockbuster, which led us to just buying dvds when we wanted something instead of renting … and I’m pretty sure I’ve started to ramble by now).

    I don’t check out books all that often because I’m very weird and hate having to give them back because I want to read things over and over whenever the urge hits. Do occasionaly go check one out if I’m not too sure about wanting to buy or not.

    Used the library a lot when I had a more limited budget – just wish ours wasn’t downtown where it is because that area is just a PITA some days (course, where they proposed to move it to was even worse, so that idea thankfully fell flat).

  9. 9
    SheaLuna says:

    I want that tee shirt sooo bad.

    And then I want those guys in the video to rip it off.

    Rip it off themselves, I mean.  Not me.  Though now I think about it…

  10. 10
    Jen says:

    I am a librarian and I think you’re awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. (And thanks for the tip off to the I’m a fucking librarian shirt – I ordered one pronto.)

  11. 11
    joanne says:

    Congratulations on winning the Internet Owner Day Susan, you earned it!

    Oh, and I can not wait to tell our librarian that he—yes, he—is the fucking concierge. I’ll have to bring him donuts to keep him from destroying my library card.

  12. 12
    LG says:

    Yay to Censored Genius! And yay to SBTB! And also, I think there are probably far too many people who need to be introduced to the wonders of interlibrary loan. You may have to wait a bit for what you ask for, but (barring hideous budget cuts that force libraries to charge for items they lend out) you can get it for free. Or, more accurately, your taxes are already helping to pay for the library, so why not make use of what the library has to offer rather than spending even more money?

    I buy way, way more books and DVDs than I used to…but that’s because I am now employed, and the pay is good enough that, for the first time in my life, I actually have a luxuries budget that doesn’t require that I replace eating food with actual nutrition with eating ramen. I had a long period when I could not afford to buy much, and libraries were the only reason I was able to read as much as I wanted. I know that there are lots of people who are currently in the same position I used to be in, so, even if I don’t get as much from the library as I used to, I don’t begrudge any money of mine that happens to go to the library. Just like I don’t begrudge any money of mine going to public schools, even though I don’t have children and don’t plan to have any.

    Libraries are definitely for everybody, and should continue to be for everybody. And, unlike corporations, which only need to think about profit, libraries have to consider what’s still going to be there for future generations.

  13. 13
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    I heard Samuel L. Jackson

    Same here. I don’t think I ever hear “motherfucker” in any other voice, actually.

    Now, I’m off to buy three t-shirts.

  14. 14
    Alex says:

    That tshirt is absolute genius.

    Coincidentally, an email about this popped into my inbox today.  If only I knew any librarians to buy it for:  http://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/libraries-where-shhh-happens-mug-3464-p.asp

  15. 15
    Amy says:

    Okay, I don’t get the rant.  I don’t get what so hideously bad about the original post either.  He clearly states the need, more than ever, for real live people to assist in an increasingly large digital stream of information.

    A librarian does not get to do anything he or she wants because she is a Librarian and Keeper of the World’s Books and/or Knowledge For Future Generations.  There’s not a soul I know who trades 40-60 hours of their life per week away for cash in any vocation that gets that privilege.  Doing what the boss asks is simply the price of working in *any* profession.  If librarians would like the moral authority of a higher calling, they kinda need to be working for free.  (Yes, I know it feels like for free or this side of it, but it isn’t quite true. ;) )

    More importantly, almost every librarian is paid with public funds.  They are public *servants*.  If the public ultimately believes that they would be better served by turning the library into a manned Internet access station, you need to take the T-Shirt off and go with it.  Manned Internet access more than completely fulfills the original role of libraries, which is to relay knowledge and education at no cost to the general public.

    (By the way, I don’t believe we’re at a public e-libraries “majority” and I’m not actually advocating for that type of change.  My opinion and 1 blog post is not a mandate by any means.)

    I guess in my mind, the rant is asking to have their cake and eat it, too.  It seems grossly unfair to demand the public pay you for a position that you love and then turn around and tell the public (or at least parts of it) they are stupid and ignorant for wanting something you don’t want.  And then saying (somehow) you have the moral authority to act as you please.  I can’t wrap my head around it.

  16. 16
    Julia says:

    The librarian shirt should definitely be required wearing for book lovers.

  17. 17
    Kirsten says:

    I tend to agree with Amy. It’s not the librarian’s job to tell you what you need, it’s the librarian’s job to help you find what you need. I thought Grodin was arrogant in calling us “data sherpas” but Censored Genius was arrogant, too, in saying that libraries should only be about books and forget the digital formats (which patrons demand). Libraries are supposed to be community resources- if all they are is a warehouse for books then librarians can be replaced with a clerk or self-check terminal. And that is not the case. Grodin is arguing FOR librarians and their importance. As a librarian, I appreciate having somebody say that what we do matters. Over and over. Because right now school librarians in Los Angeles are literally on trial, at the risk of losing their jobs. Not exactly a vote of confidence in our relevance and importance, is it?

    Look, I love books and I actually pay extra to use the city library in addition to my own. I want the library to have books. It needs to have books, of all kinds (including ebooks) and on all subjects. But it is not enough.

    I like the T-shirt, though, and it’s cool that the proceeds benefit the ALA.

  18. 18
    KimberlyR says:

    The shirts are hilarious!

  19. 19
    Rachel says:

    Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad).

    Aaaaand that’s where I stopped reading. He clearly has no idea what he’s talking about. Wikipedia? Really? What undergrad school in the country would not fail you for citing Wikipedia? I could rant, but I’m done.

  20. 20
    Ahlison says:

    I believe that when Godin calls for more librarians, he is referring to his idealized version of data schlepers for his mythological patron who wouldn’t believe anything if it was printed on paper (it couldn’t be relevant if it was printed on paper).  Sigh.  I’m discouraged as it seems like my library is on the chopping block for when the inevititable budget cuts come with the new government, but until then – perhaps I’ll include “you ask me for crap and I help you find it” in my signature block.

  21. 21
    Afroqueen says:

    In my library, just about everyday during the school year we get some kids coming in to do papers and need our help.  We do let them know that we have a plethora of sources to use, such as books, magazines, microfilm/fiche and databases.  Those of us who actually work in a library and have to deal with the public on a daily basis know that there will always be those people who will need a “personal” touch.  That’s why they come into the library and make that, sometimes, scary trip to the reference desk to ask for help.  Because when it all comes down to it, sure some people just want to be told where to find the information that they want…but others want you to help them wade through that to get the information that they need. 

    Libraries as we know it, will probably change, but not as much as some think and not as fast as many think.  I think sometimes there is this mentality that everyone has access to all those wonderful electronic gadgets.  A large portion of our library population are transients.  They come to the library to get out of the elements, get on the internet, watch movies or read newspapers/magazines/books.  Another large portion of our population are business people (we are located downtown)…so that’s the wide range of customers we serve at my branch.  We have to serve them all.

    About 2-3 years ago our mayor, who is a moron, stated one time that in a few years all of our books would be all digital…looking at the library today…the shelves look the same.  We’ve added emedia and more databases and self-checkout and people still come up to the reference desk and ask us where a certain book is or if we have a certain movie. 

    I think what will change libraries as we know it, won’t so much be the public asking for change…but budget costs.

    Peace out.

  22. 22
    Mitzi Flyte/Macie Carter says:

    A—fuckin’—men.

    We’ve go to stop making our public institutions like businesses. Libraries are the great equalizer in our society – it’s high time we realized that.

    I’m getting the corporate bitch t-shirt. Alas, I can’t wear it until I retire – then I will no longer be a corporate bitch.

  23. 23
    Kim says:

    The Godin blog post was sent around my library and the other paraprofessionals and myself found it very offensive.

    Godin undermines the work that paraprofessionals (a newer, more euphemism term for what used to be clerk positions) do everyday to keep our libraries operating.  He relegates those who are not librarians, but work in libraries as those that do not do what he terms as the “important work” and therefore we do not need more of them.

    Paraprofessionals are often overworked, and in this current economic environment often many paraprofessionals have MLIS degrees.  They are trained to do the “important work,” but the number of postings for librarians is pathetic in comparison to the number of graduates and those out of work.  If one already has a position in librarianship, then maybe this is the right time in history, but I would NEVER recommend that anyone go into this field.

    Also, how do Librarians make these changes?  Libraries are barely hanging on.  Librarians cannot innovate the entire edifice, when there is not enough money to fill vacant positions.  It is not the fault of the Librarians, but those who fund Libraries.  This letter should be directed to county, state, and national governments, and universities that have cut library budgets to the bone to the point we can hardly function.

  24. 24
    Tamara Hogan says:

    Is anyone else getting REALLY FUCKING TIRED of so often being treated as a possible revenue source rather than as a citizen? Christ on a cracker.

  25. 25
    SB Sarah says:

    @kirsten @amy

    @1 @2

    I think we may actually be on the same side, here, which is really not as interesting or fun.

    I read Godin as advocating some sort of hipster uber coffeehouse book repository, where books are digital and we queue up to be fed what we should have by the “data sherpa.”

    I disagree with that premise because it vastly underestimates and under-represents what librarians do, how libraries work, and what librarians can and should be doing, were budgets as flush as we wished in every sector.

    I disagree with Godin’s assertion that digital is better for everything from movies to books. Netflix, to answer Godin, does NOT win. I get better quality DVDs from my library with fewer scratches on them than I do from Netflix, for one thing! Let me tell you of the rage when Tinkerbelle skips and freezes!

    Godin wrote:

    The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user serviceable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it’s fun.

    This also ticked me off because yet again it demonstrated Godin’s fundamental lack of understanding of How Much Other Stuff librarians do. This paragraph reeked of ‘you’re not doing enough, so let me tell you how to do your job.’ Librarians already do these things!

    Two weeks ago I was at the Connecticut Librarian’s conference and competing with my session on romance in libraries was a session on science activities, building catapults and electric cars. They didn’t have a soldering iron but hey, if the budget was there, I’d be willing to bet there’s room for that in the science activity curriculum.

    My biggest gripe with Godin’s article is the subtext that currently libraries don’t have value. They have more value than ever: their services are already paid for by our taxes and so the price at point-of-service is free. The other day I was behind a bus with an ad on the back from the NJ State Library and The National Telecommunications and Information Administration that read “It’s time to land that job. Your public library can help! NJWORKS @ yourlibrary.”

    That is value. Heaping tons of it. And that service has already been paid for. Godin’s assertions that there isn’t value in the current library really burnt my toast.

    I think libraries struggle as much as publishing or anyone else with an electrical outlet with the balance of what one might want to acquire in print vs digital. But every library and every community is different. My local library might be better off with a larger digital collection (so it has one, by banding together all the libraries across the county, I believe) but another local library may have 2 electronic readers per 500 patrons and needs other paper-based information. Godin’s understanding of value communicated a very one-size-fits-all mentality, and libraries don’t work like that in the least.

    As Censored Genius ranted, libraries are for everyone, and the librarians job in part is to determine the needs for the community, and then get that community in the door to use those services. The needs of a small town in Iowa are very different from where I live or where you live, so the balance of forms of information may be different, but I don’t think Godin has the full understanding of how to create that balance.

    I don’t agree that C.Genius is advocating print over digital, but instead is stating that not everyone has internet access at all – check out the map in this article for a wide lack of access in populated areas of the US.

    Key quote: “Over all, 28 percent of Americans do not use the Internet at all.”

    That’s a small percentage, but Godin’s vision of the library automatically excludes them, while the librarian’s mandate and, for lack of a better word, motivation is to provide information to everyone, including that portion of people without the internet.

    TL;DR: Godin has some very sparkly, thought provoking ideas, but I would rather hear from librarians who are working with a budget that amounts to a stretched penny, and learn how they reach their patrons right now in the middle of the developing changes. Godin, in my opinion, doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he talks about librarians.

  26. 26
    Jes1 says:

    I want to patronize a library that has the guys from the video wearing those t-shirts.  That library could become the most popular place in town for women to hang out.  I could see spending lots of time at the reference desk.

  27. 27
    Laughingrat says:

    Unfortunately, a great many public libraries are currently being run according to a business model.  The result is that collections are being “streamlined” to feature multiple copies of bargain-basement bestsellers, rather than operating along standards of depth and variety—that includes libraries’ refusing to purchase back volumes of ongoing series, incidentally, which is a major issue in genre lit.  It also means that reference and other specialized positions are being deprofessionalized—and contrary to some of the comments above, trained librarians do actually play a role in helping people figure out what they want, and definitely in making sure libraries have on the shelf things that not only satisfy the mainstream, but appeal to minority factions in the community as well.

    Also, that shirt is the bomb.

  28. 28
    DianeN says:

    The bottom line for libraries is money. Budgets are shrinking, cuts of materials, programs and staffs are being made, branches are closing, and there’s no end in sight. And yet librarians continue to do what they do. We spend our money as wisely as we can—and trust me, we know how to find deals, orchestrate fundraising and do more with less. We manage to offer free internet, free computers on which to surf the internet, instructions on how to use both the computers and the internet—and at most all we probably charge you for is any copies you make. We also stock all your favorite authors in multiple formats (increasingly including digital). And if by chance we don’t happen to have what you need, we can get it for you via interlibrary loan. Want to join a book group? Bring your kids in for a multimedia storytime? Find a quiet place to read, study or just get in out of the rain? We offer it all, and our hands are only out to take your library card. And yet people continue to believe that there are better ways to get information and services!! Libraries aren’t just about the books anymore. We were learning about new technologies and figuring out ways to make them available to the public long before people like Seth Godin started weighing in about how we need to change. We stopped being all about the books a long, long time ago.

  29. 29
    Donna says:

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Libraries rock. They are about the single best use of my tax dollars I know of – and probably the one I take the most advantage of. I know that I’m lucky the (award winning puff-puff) GBPL is so active in my community and the community is hugely supportive in return. There are always ESL, job search and computer literacy classes going on. The children’s programs are HUGE. They are many and varied speakers from Elizabeth Berg to my own cousins (long distance bike riders – did the Lewis & Clark trail in their 70’s!!!). Six book clubs and a stich’n bitch meet there. There’s online catalog access, a drive through pick up window and a coffee bar. Tell me exactly where they need to add value? I’m getting more than my money’s worth.
    I’m the fucking Patron, motherfucker. And I say keep your hands off my library.

  30. 30
    Kirsten says:

    Kim,

    I totally understand your frustration there- paraprofessionals are often undervalued- but, understand also my own frustration at acquiring TWO GRADUATE DEGREES and a teaching credential and being replaced with someone with a high school diploma and no experience in libraries. Or, my husband, who worked as a “library associate” when he already had an MLS. I don’t think Godin really has a clue about how libraries actually work. My dad, a huge library supporter, also has no clue how libraries actually work. At a donor event recently he was completely shocked to find that over 200 teenagers use the library daily. Because that’s not what it was like in 1950. And he has two librarians in the family.

    I’m not exactly sure that Godin’s intent was to say that Netflix is more awesome than libraries. But it is a lot easier for me to access stuff via Netflix than it is through my library. For one thing, you can’t place holds on feature films at our city library. And, if I were a paragon of returning things on time the library’s video collection would be a great resource, but I live in Indiana(what’s public transportation?) and can’t drive, so I have no reliable way to get there… and fines for videos far outweigh the cost of Netflix for me.

    I agree with you about your next point, but it doesn’t tick me off. Godin obviously doesn’t understand what librarians actually do. Because, yes, librarians already do those things. Well, except for the soldering iron (as far as I know) So what? The guy is excited about the future of libraries, and he sees us as dynamic instead of some little old lady with a bun sitting behind the desk reading. I’m actually happy about that. Do you know how many times I’ve heard “It must be nice to be a librarian and sit and read all day”?

    Here’s the thing: I don’t think that Godin is saying libraries don’t have value. I think he’s saying that we are no longer served well by using the same exact model used since the Industrial Revolution.  On here I see people talking about how publishing is not evolving fast enough for them. How is it that publishing isn’t evolving fast enough but it’s okay for libraries to eat dust?

    I don’t see how Godin was being deliberately exclusionary.  He wasn’t giving us a step by step plan of how he personally planned to change libraries. He was sharing an overall vision, one that I think is flawed in a lot of ways, but it does show an appreciation for libraries and librarians. It’s not intended to be a prescription. I think he intended to be encouraging, not enraging.

    And, I don’t see how Godin’s vision excludes the 28% of the population who don’t use the Internet. His imagined library has more web terminals that people can use. That means the 28% of people without access, can finally check their email.

    It is so difficult right now. We really try to support libraries and librarians on our review site- they’re our reason for being- but unlike the romance genre, there are a lot of small press limited editions that have little availability and a high price. How do we juggle that with the quality of the writing in making recommendations? It’s a hard time to be a librarian, and it’s easy to get angry, but I don’t think Seth Godin deserves the publicity he’s received on this.  His writing seems pretty confrontational, but if you look at his overall point, it’s not a bad one. He just doesn’t know what he’s talking about- and neither do most other people who make declarations about libraries.

    You are an author, Sarah… Did you know ALA has an initiative called Our Authors, Our Advocates? You should get in touch with them… you are an awesome advocate for libraries!

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