Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Librarian in Blackface.

There are times when I question the whole notion of the librarian as a professional. I don't know about you, but I went to library school to learn how to be a librarian. And before that, I went to a decent college and learned stuff to make me smarter than other people who didn't go to a decent college. People who had knowledge presented some of it to me and I may or may not have built on it to form new knowledge. But I think I did.

But our profession is filled with assholes who think we should only do what our community wants us to do. When this happens, you know you're on a downward spiral from civilization into chaos. If libraries were originally thought up as community centers then they would have just been gambling halls and minstrel shows. Because that's what the people wanted 150 years ago. And today I would be sitting at the desk in blackface and rolling dice and taking all your money. Because that's what America was 150 years ago and the libraries would have reflected their communities. And don't even think there could have been a civil rights movement if libraries didn't have books.

The whole notion of a public library was because some rich person or group wanted the local population to have common sense and common understanding and common knowledge. In every single imagined concept of the public library you will find the goal of an educated public.

So the idea that I would go to college for five years just so I can do whatever the people say to do is counter to any idea of professionalism. I say the library needs books on math and you say you want books on tarot card reading, and guess, what, we compromise and buy one of each. And that's why your kids can't find a job outside of a carnival.

Several years ago we had a similar crisis to the one now. There was an asshole on television who played his infomercials about all the shit he claimed "THEY" didn't want you to know. And because he had been in jail for so much other stuff he'd done to rip off people in the past, he was told that the only legal thing he had left was to sell books. NOW librarians knew this guy was full of shit, but we bought the books anyway because our patrons asked for them. And we learned which of our patrons were the stupidest because the only way you could hear about these books was from the infomercial; and only the dumbest of the dumb actually watch infomercials... for any reason other than the comedic value. But this is our community.

And now we are suffering through the Downloadables Dilemma. This is when a book becomes popular as a download and is then released as a print book so libraries are compelled by their patrons to buy it. I think publishers only do this because they know that libraries won't buy the ebook, but will purchase the title in print.

So this piece of shit gets popular, and today, it appears to be be the Lady Smut genre that we seem to be battling. These are novels with below mediocre writing, but filled with sex and brand name products and easy to read in a few hours. If you call that reading. I guess it would be something like this,
"Ka$h.Aah held her gaze on Jayden19's stiffened cock poking through his Armani silk boxers. What a big boy you are.

"This isn't for you now, Ka$h.Aah, Jayden19 growled as he poured her another glass of Cristal. I'm just teasing you until you beg for it."
Trust me, there's a Ka$h.Aah and Jayden19 out there in a book somewhere.

But this is shit. It's not as bad as what's really out there because I'm an awesome writer, but this is SHIT. And libraries are buying it because so many people are asking for this, it must be good.

These titles are never reviewed in our standard journals, but they have huge buzz online. And sometimes even make the legitimate print and TV news. But not reviewed by any source we've been trained to use for evaluating potential library purchases. But maybe my writing is just too darn good. Here are a couple of near examples as I can remember them from a couple of online stores:

Example 1:
"The helicopter is on standby should you change your mind."
The helicopter is on standby? What the fuck does that even mean? That sounds like something that you'd imagine a rich person might say when you have absolutely no idea what a rich person might say. Either you own a helicopter or you don't. And you either employ a pilot or you don't. Saying you have a helicopter on standby is redundant and patently artificial. Whatever suspension of disbelief you have attempted to construct, has just blown itself apart. What does the character say next? "Raymond, take the helicopter off standby and put in the place where we put all the other helicopters. Because I am rich. And then you may swim home. Because this is my private island. Because I am rich."

You think I'm being overly critical by judging just one short sentence against the whole novel. NO. Trust me. I read about a page and that was more than enough. It's like Name That Tune. I can spot shit, Alex, in ten words or less.

Example 2 (from a different book of shit):
"He ripped off his shirt in a forceful manner exposing his muscular chest and threw down his shirt."
This is just fundamentally poor writing. Doesn't this writer know about pronouns? Adverbs? This is the writing of someone who has watched a lot of soap operas. This is the literary equivalent of a rejected Penthouse Letter that reads, "I done masheded her boobyballs with my kung fu grip like they was a Stretch Armstrong doll."

Now, can't you understand how painful the example above is for me to read? Unless you like the word, boobyballs.

But we will buy this crap. Because you ask for it. And we librarians don't have the cojones to say NO.

But will this stop here? How many things will librarians say we need to offer to our patrons to remain relevant? Now it's ebooks. Tomorrow it will be free streaming HD video of current movies that will cost the library $100,000 a year. And we'll spend it and cut the magazine and newspaper budget to $0.

If you surveyed your library users for what they really want, they'd probably say they want a ride home. Does your library loan cars? Or maybe they want to call their family in Bogota. Do you lend cell phones or offer free long-distance calls in your library, maybe give out headsets so everyone can Skype? Do you loan out computer software like Photoshop or Microsoft Office? Are you a software pirate?

If your policy is to give the people what they want without any checks and balances for quality or usefulness or reliability then how it is that you still have a job? Anyone can buy what they're told to buy, to spend money how they are told to spend it.

I went to library school to learn how to select and preserve and educate. I didn't go to college to learn to keep folks entertained. And if you're not offended by the idea of a librarian in blackface, you should be offended by the idea that you went to college to learn to do what you're told.

NOTE: Librarian in Blackface has nothing in common with the Librarian in Black. It's just a coincidence that their names sound similar. I would have changed to title to something else to avoid the confusion, but nothing else seemed as funny.

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