Monday, November 4, 2013

Bestsellers are not always what they seem.

Americans spend $6 billion a year on books. And this industry goes largely unregulated by the government. There is no Agency like the FDA or the FCC to test books for adherence to  purity or national standards in publishing.

But using a method called DNA encoding, Canadian researchers have uncovered literary fraud in one-third of the New York Times bestsellers for fiction.

Consumer advocates say that the public has fallen victim to questionable and even unsafe practices whereby popular novels are nothing more than filler and falsified ingredients. Of the 44 novels tested, many showed outright substitution from materials created from the minds of others and not of the stated author whose name is printed on the cover.

Using a test called DNA barcoding, a kind of genetic fingerprinting that has also been used to help uncover labeling fraud in the commercial seafood industry, researchers tested popular novels from over a dozen large publishers.

For example, of one unnamed novel sampled, a current legal thriller on multiple bestseller lists, was not written by the well-known author, but actually penned by Tito Wagner, a much lesser-known thriller author who makes his home in Switzerland. The novel bares no resemblance to the claimed author's work other than for locations set in Mississippi. But the DNA testing showed that often Swiss place names appeared in the work, such as the location of the story's courthouse as being listed in B√ľttenhardt, Mississippi.

The test also showed that other sections of the novel contained almost no portion of the original story and others were only a sprinkling of source material diluted with Project Gutenberg content from a public domain title, mostly Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

An example:
Nobody spoke for a minute; then Jake said in an altered tone, "You know the reason Lettie proposed not having any presents this Christmas was because it is going to be a hard winter for everyone; and she thinks we ought not to spend money for pleasure, when our men are suffering so in the army. We can't do much, but we can make our little sacrifices, and ought to do it gladly. But I am afraid I don't," and Jake shook his head, as he thought regretfully of all the pretty things he wanted.


Sure it doesn't make much sense as a legal thriller, but so far no one has seemed to notice, heaping immeasurable praise upon this fraud.

Representatives of the publishing industry said that while mislabeling of novels was a legitimate concern, they did not believe it reached the extent suggested by the new research, stating, "Meg (from Little Women) is one hell of a character."

But because the latest findings are backed by DNA testing, they offer perhaps the most credible evidence to date of adulteration, contamination and mislabeling in the publishing industry. And given the explosive growth of ebooks, an area where demands for new books are continuing to rise, the need for fresh content has encouraged this unacceptable behavior. Critics say this blatant misuse of older texts to create new works is either being created from ignorance, incompetence or outright dishonesty.

All agree that more oversight is needed.

---

story idea ripped off from this NYT story about herbal supplements with some sections stolen outright and left unchanged. because it's funnier that way.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why Public Libraries are no longer WELCOME in the MODERN WORLD

I have a theory that public libraries are tied to the Middle Class in society. And like the disappearance of the middle class in the 21st century, the loss of well-paying jobs, the weakening of trade unions, libraries can also see that there are many who don't want to pay to support something that doesn't directly affect themselves.

When you read about libraries today, you will often see the author repeat that he has not entered a library in many many years. And that is why the library isn't needed. "I" don't need it, so "You" don't need it.

It seems to be a lack of empathy that is killing libraries. You can do just minimal research to learn the part of the brain that guides or forms feelings of empathy is one of the last to develop and that it doesn't develop equally in everyone. You can have a highly developed brain in other areas, be a genius, but develop little or no empathy.

By Trade, the librarian is taught to say, We and You and They need this because the librarian represents everyone. "I need this" is not usually a factor in the decision process.

I'll acknowledge that this role does not explicitly represent empathy. Buying a GED book for the library because the librarian perceives a public need may not be a sign of empathy if that same public wants something else. Librarians believe they are building infrastructure. If there is a general need for something, a librarian considers that material part of the core of the collection.

The worst thing about the "I don't need libraries, so you don't" people is that they attempt to use logic to justify their narcissism:
I don't use libraries.
No one I know uses libraries.
Everything is on the internet.
Everyone has smartphones.
No one needs libraries.

But they don't even use simple reasoning to find out if libraries are useful: VISIT THE LIBRARY.

The most basic rule of science is to observe. Is the library parking lot full? Are people passing through the doors? Are they entering and leaving with objects? What are those objects? What behaviors do you witness on the inside of the library? What are the people doing?

I don't use an Apple iPhone or iPad, but I don't expect the company to go bankrupt because I have no need for their products. Because I can make these observations and apply critical thinking to what I see.

That there are some who don't want to see the need for libraries is just another reason for librarians to work harder to serve the people who actually need us. Otherwise those we serve would just be invisible.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I coulda been a Mover. I coulda been a Shaker. Instead, I'm just a bum.

I first took notice when the phone rang. It was my brother Charley's voice. He said, Take the fall.

What? I said.

Tank it. Flub it. Do not answer that question correctly, he said. His voice a mix of anger and desperation. And the line cut off.

So I flubbed it.

A little girl was at the desk looking for a book on Bolivia. The catalog showed we had two on the shelf. But I looked at her innocent face and thought of Charley. Why would he call me at work, here in the library at that exact moment and tell me, beg me, to take a dive? It must be important.

So I sent that girl away with nothing. I didn't even ask her if she could use a book on Paraguay or Argentina. Hell, any librarian would have offered Argentina.

I flubbed it. I told her all the books were checked out. And I did it for Charley. Because he's my brother.

I learned later that the Mafia had moved into the library. Mobsters began taking book on the outcomes of reference queries: would she find the answer, or not? Laying odds based on Google pre-searches, catalog queries, the color of the librarian's cardigan, whether she wore contacts or glasses, many factors. And people were betting money. Big money. The odds in Macau on whether a certain Brooklyn librarian could find one tiny fact hidden within a terabyte of data fluctuates based on what she had for lunch: lo mein and spring rolls or a tuna hoagie.

At first I was surprised that gambling had come to the Reference desk. But then it began to make sense. Was that book on the shelf? 3 to 2 it wasn't. Is the document feeder on the copier going to jam on that folded sheet of paper? 17 to 5.

The library is all about numbers. Most people mistakenly believe the library is about words. But numbers rule. The words are just the decoration.

Item records are numbers. Statistics are numbers. Shelf locations are numbers. Many people have gone through library school after earning their liberal arts degrees in a bewildering cloud of unexpected numbers.

So it's no surprise that these numbers are going to make some people rich.

And that is how I got that call from Charley. He was helping to make his boss rich by taking the long odds against my finding that book and helping that girl. All it took was a threat to something Charley valued to make him make that call. Knowing Charley, it was probably the threat of someone cutting off his balls.

But for me, it was terrible timing because I'd just heard back from the awards committee at Library Journal that I made the short, the extremely short list to be named a Mover & Shaker. I wrote that Chrome browser extension where every instance of the word 'book' links in real time through IP or cell tower to the nearest library location when you touch or click the link. It works great and I was going to get some national recognition. But then Charley called. And, well, as you can guess, I didn't make the final cut.

He had "some guys" who wanted me to sabotage my algorithm to make it less accurate. And I said, Hell, No, and Charley said, But my balls! and I said, Okay. So I pushed the update with the weaker code and now 30% of the clicks direct users to the website for a Subway restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida.

But I almost made it. Almost counts for something, right? And maybe the next time Charley calls, it will be to say that some other schmuck librarian is going to take the dive and it will be my turn in the spotlight. Next time.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How we killed the public library

Don't know if you've heard, but the public library is dead. Or dying. Or has a really bad cough.

If you don't know if you know how public libraries worked when they were around, but they were places where people could read and borrow books without having to pay any money for the privilege. Lots of other people with money paid so that people without money could spend their days in a comfortable space away from all the places where the people with money went to spend their days. 

And at one time libraries had a noble goal, to educate. And then they had the somewhat less noble goal, to entertain. And now we see libraries without any goals at all, filled with librarians who sigh all day long. Until they can go out and drink all night.

The original primary goal of libraries was probably to find and store copies of all the stuff -- but since that wasn't possible as more stuff was produced, libraries chose to just collect the best stuff. So all these professional associations and publications formed to try to evaluate all the stuff and decide which stuff by which publishers and authors was worth having.

And that worked great for the last 75 years. But then libraries stopped caring so much about the best stuff and began collecting popular stuff, regardless of quality. But at least people borrowed that stuff.

But now we're in a period where we have vendor driven stuff, meaning you get what you get. We had vendor issues in the past with print materials and with CDs and DVDs, but libraries were able to get pretty much anything that was produced. But now we have ebooks available to libraries from one to three vendors and the selection is very limited with some publishers completely opting out from offering any e-content to libraries. And downloadable music has one company that I know of that gets all it music from one publisher. And streaming music and video probably suffers from the same conspiracy of limitations.

And that's where we are now, in a conspiracy of limitations. We get what we get based on any number of intentional or random factors.

So what does this mean in the really bad cough of libraries?

I guess there will be libraries with no books. They will call themselves Conversation Stations, or some other bullshit, and they will feel successful because the seats are filled every day with people streaming movies to their "devices" - whatever the fuck those will be. But there might still be libraries that are still serious about being libraries. And they will have books. (Please, let them have books.)

Ask any library professional to speculate on the future of the public library and as you listen, you will hear a prediction of its death. You will hear about the evolving space and the concept of community and some other incarnation whereby the library is essentially an open-air toilet with some bookmarks left over from a summer reading program in 2006. Services will evolve, they say as if those words are brand new.

But when free wireless is available city-wide, delivered from Google dirigibles or a massive congestion of overlapping signals from McDonald's and Starbucks, what will the library have left to offer?

I read articles where some idiot laments the difficulty with using library resources, catalogs, databases. They want everything to be easier. But tools are not easy to use; you cut your finger on a kitchen knife or smash your thumb with a hammer, but no one stops cutting or hammering. We learn. If tools were easy, we would all fix our own cars. But no, professional mechanics fix your car. Some librarians want to dumb down the profession of librarianship! To what end? Why the fuck would you want to do that? So what if the catalog is difficult to use: teach people to use it. The people who learn will be smart and the other assholes will remain assholes; it's that simple.

The librarians want people to share more with others. Share. More. You know identity theft didn't affect hardly anyone 15 years ago. There was maybe one movie on Lifetime about how "She Stole My Identity and My Daughter." But now everyone, EVERYONE, has received a letter from some company stating that your credit card information may have been included in the 200 million accounts that were stolen from their computers and that you should monitor your credit for $6.95 a month FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

So what is the future of the public library when there are no books, everything is in the cloud, wireless access is everywhere and professional librarians are replaced with videos and online tutorials?
No books means no building.
The Cloud means no building.
Online tutorials mean no building.

And no building means no staff.

But wait! The librarians say, We're a Conversation Station! Or a Community Center! Or a Homeless Shelter!

Sure you are. But is that a Library?

You can cheer and say you did your job because everyone has what they want and the mission is served, but the library will be gone.

My idea of the library has always included some form of Quality Control. I went to school to learn what that is. But now we don't seem to care about what content the library offers, just that it circulates.

The librarian used to provide answers. But this new librarian just wants to sit back and let the people converse.
What is the answer? everyone asks.
And the librarian grins, Exactly. Because everyone is talking.

I think librarians feel inadequate compared to the internet. After all, the internet has all the answers. The internet got faster while the librarian just seemed like an unnecessary second step in finding information. So the librarian quit offering to find information. The librarian outsourced more of the answers to the database vendors and told people how to search but not how to find the right answers.

And when the people proved too stupid to find the answers in the databases, the librarians gave up on those and funneled all the money into streaming movies and music. Which is okay because if you look at the library mission, there's always something in there about "community needs." And when your community is too dumb to learn, then give them Adam Sandler flicks.

I don't think about what the library will be like in 2020. Maybe it will be an organ farm, forming body parts in organic 3D printers. I don't give a fuck. I just know that for a library to function, information should be accessible. And that requires three things: information, the information seeker and the librarian.

And moving any part of that equation farther and farther from the library is not how I define accessibility.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Because we are cheap labor

It's amazing what the switch to an Information Economy does to a society.

There was an article a few months ago that showed why Amazon doesn't make a profit.
here's one.  Yet, Jeff Bezos has enough money to buy the Washington Post.

And Google produces nothing as far as I can tell, yet it is one of the most powerful companies in the world.

And Facebook is worth $50-$100 billion? And they produce, what?

And the companies that produce actual products or manage commodities aren't nearly as rich as the ones who manage information.

Agriculture and manufacturing may keep humans alive, but information gives us purpose.

Each of us must expect that we are here to produce data and information. You might be mad that Google reads your email, but that's their job, and yours, to let them. And what asshole thinks that free email is like paid snail mail? If you could pay 46 cents, the current price of a stamp, to send an email with the guarantee it would not be read, would you pay it?

No, you wouldn't.

In the current economy, we produce data. And we are rewarded with more crap than we can read or view or hear in this lifetime. We consume what we produce and produce what we consume. It's a cycle. But in this information chain, we humans are very near the bottom and companies like Amazon and Google, Facebook are at the top.

I just think it's interesting that snail mail and landline phone calls and UHF/VHF television and AM/FM radio could never be monetized in the way that digital media is now. Companies could only guess at what motivated consumers. But now that we are both the producers and the consumers, companies know everything. Because we just give it away.

Monday, July 29, 2013

THE FUTURE OF LIBRARIES IS...

<drumroll>

library users.

Thank you. You may go back to work.

Google gives over one million results for "a solution in search of a problem." So there should be a word for that, right? If there isn't one, make one up and create a Wikipedia for it with some bogus reference to a German text citing "Lösungnichtproblem," a solution without a problem.

Libraries are continually pushing new solutions to imagined problems. When, to quote the scholar Johnny Rotten, "the problem is you."

Problem, what you gonna do?

Here is what I see in my library. This is the library patron who hasn't visited any library in many years:
I haven't been to a library since I was a little girl.
What brought you in today?
  • I'm tired of buying shit that I can get for free.
  • I also don't need to own more shit.
  • I just want to read the book or watch the movie or listen to the album and then get it the hell out of my house.
  • I don't want my family to have to sell a whole bunch of crap after I die.
Well, then, the library is here for you.
That's your motherfucking library customer.

There's no reason to chase the customer who can't think of a reason, all on his own, to visit the library. You don't need him.

That NEW THING is not going to get that person to visit the library.

But since you work in a library and you don't know what else to do with your time, I suspect you'll buy that NEW THING.

Did you hire more staff when you did that NEW THING?
No
So existing staff need to find time to learn this NEW THING?
Yes
And spend time not helping your existing customers?
Yes.
THEN DON'T DO THAT NEW THING.

Why would you neglect your existing customers to chase after some hypothetical new customer?

Do you enjoy making people unhappy?

If you look at your visitor stats and your circulation stats and your program stats, and
everything looks good, then why are you fucking with anything?

Did you find new money to spend on this new thing?

If not, did you survey your users to see if they agree with diverting money away from old
things to this new thing?

But let's assume you answer Yes to having new money for new things. And we'll also assume everyone has time to learn this new thing. And you're not really sure what the new thing will do for your library users, but you're read about some success with the new thing at other libraries.

Then, by all means, do it. You have my blessing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ALL YOUR DATA ARE BELONG TO US

I heard another story recently about DATA, BIG DATA and how RICH we will all be when we finally learn how to make money from it. And I'm pretty sure I called, BULLSHIT.

I have bad news: the world has plans for your data. And those plans don't involve you.

What is Facebook? What is Google+? What even is Reddit? These are places on the internet. Not the internet: places. I don't even think you would call these places web portals anymore; they are communities. And they want to make sure you never leave.

What is Google for that matter? It's not the internet. It's a location. You know that Google can alter how it scores different websites so that some show up near the top of the search results and some drop to the bottom. And some probably don't make the cut at all. We know this if we work in libraries because most of our subscription databases aren't indexed in Google. So they don't exist on the internet. All of that content is available through your library and it doesn't really exist online because it can't be found through a Google search.

The Internet becomes smaller each day. Some people spend their whole day on Facebook. For them, the internet is Facebook. But we know that the internet is 1000 times bigger than Facebook. But not for many many many people.

So if you spend all day on Facebook or Twitter or even using Google, you are a captive audience. Any perceived freedom you feel you have while roaming the internet is simply an illusion. Unless you are your own ISP; and if so, bully for you.

And what does that mean to a company? To Facebook, it's free labor. If you spend all day there, Facebook grows richer as you click on the stories and games they show you. Your choices dwindle because you have chosen to give your time to Facebook. And these choices tell Facebook who you are and what you are as a dataset. You become predictable. Which means Facebook doesn't need you. A computer can reproduce your actions on Facebook. Your predictability has become predictable. All your data become worthless.

The same is true with Google. It would take a million million cameras mounted on every street to collect all the information in the real world that gets collected about us every day.

The only way your data are valuable is when you do not know you are being observed. And when the world learned that the USA was watching everyone, we learned that we were under scrutiny. I can guess that all the data collected over the last couple of weeks is crap since anyone worth watching altered everything they did. Patterns were lost. But since the USA knows that everyone knew they were being watched, they can just create a subset of new data for the last two weeks. New patterns to compare with the old.

We want to be clever and hide from whoever watches us, but we're never clever enough.

Let me explain my understanding of our current level of online or consumer anonymity. I'm not very smart, so I'll keep it simple so I don't lose focus and wander off.

You see a coupon in the paper for $1 off beef jerky. You take it to the store and save $1. Now there may be some code on that coupon that tells the company in which newspaper in or which region of the country it appeared, but unless you use a credit card for your jerky purchase, you remain anonymous.

But if the beef jerky company offers that $1 coupon in exchange for your email address, along with the promise of future coupons, then that company can begin to build some data profile for you. Even if it's a bullshit email address that you only use for jerky coupons, it's still information. And if some day you forget or get sloppy and use that email for something important, then the jerky company, or more accurately, the company collecting the data and reporting to the jerky company, will then have solid data about you. And then the company collecting the data compiles it with all the other data until it creates some kind of profile it can sell to other companies not involved in the delicious world of jerky manufacturing.

And when enough people respond to the online bait and get hooked, the jerky company will cease to offer those mostly anonymous print coupons. Because the data collected from the email campaign has become so much more important.

And you continue to collect those valuable jerky coupons in your email along with every other person. But since those others are not nearly as clever as you, the jerky company learns much more about them than they do about you. So their data are more valuable.

And then you, still relatively anonymous because you are so clever, find that your coupons stop arriving? What? And you go back to the website to enter your email address again, but it gets rejected. Why?

Because the jerky company doesn't need you anymore. It has enough consumer data. And you have been priced out of the market. You're no longer worth that $1 coupon. Or worse, you were never as clever as you thought you were because the data company was able to collect the data from everyone around you which gave them a clear picture of what and who you are simply by your proximity to known data. Have you ever heard the term, "I drink your milkshake"?

I keep hearing these stories about the value in my data. But there is nothing that proves that my data are worth anything. That's driving me crazy; I'm going to treat the word 'data' as singular from now on... since the goal of these companies is to isolate my data from everyone else's, my data will eventually become indistinguishable from me. Singular.

And if you look at the way the internet works, you know that it only takes a small percentage of internet users to determine what has value, what is trending. The internet doesn't really need me, or you.

So imagine that your online worth or even your credit is no good. Imagine if you can't get a free Gmail or Facebook or Pinterest account because no one wants your worthless data.

And from what I can understand, the internet is run by the same market forces we see in other commodities whereby manufacturers attempt to drive down the cost of labor and materials in order to increase profits. And guess what? On the internet, you are the labor and your data is the material.

Imagine being so discovered and understood and known that no company wants to show you ads anymore. Because everyone knows where you eat lunch, how you shop, when you go to the movies, etc.

BIG DATA had its way with you. Now BIG DATA is bored with you. And BIG DATA just wants you out of the apartment.


Friday, May 31, 2013

evolution of the library: using books

Librarian Job Seekers: RUN!

I know you've seen the library job posts seeking dynamic energetic trendspotting trainspotting spotty-bottomed socially-networked fun daring crunk super-powered candidates to bring new and fantastic ideas to the hiring organization.

And you probably thought that you might apply.

But I say, DO NOT.

The answer should be a simple question asked to the advertising library: Why the fuck don't you have any of those people at your library now?

Why does this library need dynamic people? Are the current ones sloths? Are those sloths still living in the 1950s?

This is what I expect with happen when you get that job:
YOUR NEW BOSS: Here are some more push pins and JCPenney catalogs for the library's Pinterest account. Make sure you pin lots of nice stuff.

YOU: It doesn't work like..

YOUR NEW BOSS: Let me know when you need more pins.
 OR...
YOUR NEW BOSS: How come our library Twitter account doesn't have one million friends yet? That Kutcher boy got a million in just a few days.

YOU: The library has over 7,000 followers. That's very good for a library serving a population of 10,000.

YOUR NEW BOSS: Oh, is it now?

And YOUR NEW BOSS will think you suck. Because YOUR NEW BOSS never had a fucking clue about what YOUR NEW BOSS wanted or needed or what to expect from any new librarian.

Don't you wonder about a library that seems so desperate to post a job description like that? What it tells me is that everyone is way past retirement age and the ones doing the hiring are totally clueless. Like they want a librarian, you, to come in and make up for the last 30 years of all those employees who clung to the belief that computers were just a fad and if they just sat quietly at their desks and never touched theirs, they would never need to. And it will be your job to get them into the 21st century in a week-and-a-half. Why would you want to try to clean up that mess? Who wants to be the sole excited dynamic fun librarian in a crowd of fossils? You will be miserable.

Or worse. And this is worse. That you will be part of a group of young librarians who are all super dynamic and full of energy and who stab each other in the back for a tiny sliver of the library's paltry book and supply budget, and that you'll go broke buying Carmex for all the ass you'll have to smooch just to stay in the game.

Either way: RUN.




Sunday, May 5, 2013

Data, data. Who's got the data?

Not only do you not own your data, you don't want to.

It was while wearing my peril-sensitive sunglasses that I understood the current consumer trend toward privacy being SEP (Somebody Else's Problem).

When I put on my sunglasses, or specifically, the Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, they were already black. I moved to another room, yet still the lenses remained totally darkened. I removed them and saw no tiger nor vampire nor Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

It took that instance to make me realize that my temporary blindness caused by my glasses was directly related to the constant peril that is all around me. But what was it that was so potentially perilous?

After some experimentation, my current theory is that it's "the cloud."

Cloud Computing isn't that scary in small bits, such as your email account. But the cloud as the standard delivery model for all computer services is what is terrifying. But that is what consumers, what you (and I), have already chosen.

So let me explain the horror since you obviously can't, or you choose not to, see it.

The cloud is like having a bank account. You put something somewhere, in this case money in a bank, and the bank sends that money off as loans to individuals, other banks, etc. The money is gone. It only exists as data that shows how much money you should be able to withdraw if the bank had that cash on hand. But really, the money is both gone and not gone. You never know whether there is any money at all in your bank. But to keep everyone from freaking out, the FDIC guarantees your money is somewhere and you should be able to get it back if something happened to the bank.

But what about other cloud products? What about email? Is it safe? This is probably the first cloud product each of us had. There isn't much you can do without an email account.

But have you ever lost access to an email account? I see someone every week who loses access to his email because he forgot his password or forgot security questions or didn't set up an alternate email. Does anyone insure this access? No. When the cloud fails, there is no backup. I guess you could export everything someplace else, but who does that?

In order for the cloud to function, you need to trust it completely. Give it access to all your other cloud accounts and let it back up your terrestrial data.

And once that happens, is your data still your data? What are the terms of service for all these clouds?

When everything is on your phone and each app on that phone is tied to a different cloud service, what happens to all your data? What do they do with it (them)? And WHO are THEY? Isn't it easier to just let them have your data and do whatever the hell they want? 

Do you really want to know? I mean, do you really really really want to know?

Of course not. And the sunglasses go black.


all italicized references copyright Douglas Adams, RIP.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Buying an MLS, Part II

How Broke Would You Be with Library Certification?

People argue every year about the MLS, that it doesn't teach what it should, or that it costs too much, or that it's unfair to people who don't have time to get it or are too lazy to get it or are too stupid to get it or are too drunk to get it, or that it doesn't stand for Major League Soccer.

So as a reference, I took a brief look at what it takes to become a certified Library Media Specialist in the state of New York.

First, there is all this shit:
Requirements for Permanent Certificate, School Media Specialist (Library)
Following are all possible pathways available to receive the certificate specified above. The specific requirements to satisfy each pathway are also listed. 
 
 Pathway: Certificate Progression
Requirements:
 Hold a Valid Provisional Certificate - School Media Specialist (Library)
 Additional Education - Masters Degree
 Paid, full-time Classroom Teaching experience - 2 Yrs
 Workshop - Child Abuse Identification
 Workshop - School Violence Intervention and Prevention
 Fingerprint Clearance
 Citizenship Status - INS Permanent Residence or U.S. Citizenship
Well, I don't remember exactly what it took to get my MLS, but I don't remember any 2 yrs of paid library experience or Library Violence Intervention workshops or even getting fingerprinted. I just showed up at the back door of the library and two weeks later, I picked up a check.

And after all that, there's this:
If you are employed in a New York State public school…
You must complete 175 hours of professional development every five years. This maintains the validity of the Professional certificate and allows you to continue to teach. The first professional development period begins on July 1 following the effective date of the certificate.
175 hours? That's longer than it took for James Franco to drink his own pee and saw off his arm. So that extra 48 hours might have me also sawing off my own foot.

And then there's testing, the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations. The one for Media Specialist will certify that you (0001-0005 and others omitted)
0006 Understand types and characteristics of print, nonprint, and electronic resources.
0007 Understand types and characteristics of literature for children and young adults.
0008 Understand issues and procedures related to collection development.
0011 Understand how to locate and access resources and how to teach these skills to students.
Now I'll stop here. Because 0011 would kill me. Because, yes, although I understand how to locate and access resources, I have not a fucking clue on how to teach these skills to library patrons who don't have more than 15 seconds of free time and who don't listen to what I say and who are probably hallucinating that I'm some talking moose there to steal his gold.

I can't imagine all the shit a public librarian would need to know for certification:
0001 Understand types and characteristics of library patrons, including loonies, crazies, smellies, normals, babies, seniors and tweens.
0014 Understand types and characteristics of portable reading devices such as Kindles, iPads, iPhones and Androids and Chinese knockoffs of all of the above.
So when you complain about the expense or relevance of the MLS, think about what it might be like to work in a career with continual professional requirements.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why buy an MLS?

I'll save you the trouble of reading the rest of this post: if you want to be a librarian, get the MLS. If you don't get the degree, then don't bitch when you don't get the job.

And if you're an administrator, hire people with an MLS to fill those few librarian jobs. Having the degree won't guarantee you get the best candidates, but if you don't support the degree, you can almost guarantee that many of your future librarian candidates will have no library training at all.

Now, to the post:

I haven't done any professional reading since I got a professional library gig. And by professional reading, I mean reading several articles, distilling the main points form the bullshit, then combining that with my thoughts and experiences to create solutions or methods for, umm, stuff. See, it's been so long, I don't even remember why I would do it.

The point is that I'm working. I solve my local library problems with local remedies. I clean the potato chips out of the keyboards. I kick the copier in the right spot. I do the stuff my library gives me. I don't have the luxury of time to question or survey and then to propose theories that may or may not work. Because I'm at work now. So I use my accumulated knowledge and experience and do what needs to be done.

Library school was the time for all that reading. There were lots of rhetoricals:
  • What if you had $25,000 to spend anyway you wanted, but it had to increase library use by albinos?
  • What if all Js disappeared from all the library books?
  • What if the library were replaced with a 5,000 pound ham?
And we read library books and library essays and had deep library thoughts.

The only reading I do now is for me to blog some dick and fart jokes.

Library school made me think about the profession, about the history of libraries and about the possible futures. If I didn't go to library school and just started as a shelver or a page or clerk, then I might know that job, but what else would I know?

Let's say I worked my way up from a clerk to a lead worker to a manager. That's great, but I still would be limited to what I learned at my library about those jobs. And if I moved from one library to another, I might know a few more ways to do things that could help to expand my knowledge of the career. If I had an apprenticeship at one or two libraries, I would still only know what their librarians knew enough about to teach me.

And I think my knowledge of library work would be less if I hadn't gone to library school. Having those discussions about how to create a library in a zero-g environment, or how to print books with only coconuts for paper and ink: these questions expand your understanding of the library as method and as a form, as an abstract and as a concrete thing. Library school exercises your imagination about what libraries are or could be. I don't think any work experience creates an equal environment.

I also think there would be no profession without the professional degree. I think it would become like any other job. There would be people who love it just as there are those who love folding sweaters at JCP. But love does not mean that person has the required skills to make the business succeed. And if JCP closes, then that person would go and fold sweaters at Target.

But there is no business equal to a public or academic library (to a special library, maybe, there seem to be endless models) for you to transfer to when your library bites it. What about the privately run public library? Yeah, what about it? Fuck them. They should get cancer.

What about Certification, you ask? What about it? What if librarianship went the way of Computer or Automobile Mechanics? Do you know what those certifications cost? No? Neither do I. But you should have some idea because you work in a library and you buy or don't buy those books. A+ Certification books and ASE Certification materials? I wonder if you added all those things up whether they would be cheaper than a Master's degree. So, is continual certification training and testing cheaper then the MLS, dunno, but it might be. There's got to be a calculator around here...

I also think that getting the degree is like everything else you do or don't do: you can't know. If you practice your viola, will you make it to Carnegie Hall? If you use heroin will you become a junkie? You can't know these things. Some of the best violists were junkies. Okay, I think I made that up.

So I'm not the expert on this. I can't be. Because it's your life. I can just tell you that I think the degree has value. But what do I know? I'm just a working librarian.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Information may want to be free, but you'll probably go to jail for helping it.

I'm not famous. I don't open a new pair of fresh underpants each day. Even for special days or special events, I still need to evaluate the merits of existing underpants. So in that way, I'm just like you, getting ready for Tim and Molly's wedding, poking through your collection of old and worn undergarments to find ones that won't embarrass you when you drink too much and pass out on the hood of the limo.

Which beings me to Aaron Swartz.  Remember how he got busted for downloading JSTOR articles? You should.

I was having a conversation with my girlfriend when I remembered some of the stuff I'm telling you now. Because I have a truly shitty memory and I can't remember anything until something prompts me to remember. That's why I have tattoos. Ask anyone why I have tattoos and they'll tell you it's to remember. Without all this ink, I would have no memory at all of the 1980s. Yes, that's Maggie Thatcher on my right calf almost close enough to snog Bob Geldof all wrapped in an outline of Live Aid Africa.

So something came up on our conversation and I remembered how when I wanted to "steal" all the magazine articles contained on the CDs at the library. Kind of like what Aaron did. But back in 1988.

Ever since I became aware of magazine databases I wanted to find a way to get all the articles out of them. Before I became a librarian, I had to make a reservation at the college library to use the computer that had access to all the articles I needed. And I thought about ways to download all those articles so I wouldn't have to wait ever again to use that computer. But I never did it.

And when I became a librarian, our library had a huge CD tower with all these articles stored there and I wondered how to get them off of that one computer so they would be easier to distribute to our patrons. You know, move them from that one PC and host them on our web server so all our patrons could search for articles from any of our branches.

And even within the last 5-6-7-8 years, when we'd learn from a vendor that some publisher was pulling content from the databases we pay for, I wanted to copy all the content and make it available even after the publisher pulled out. My reasoning was that we paid for it, so it was ours up till the date it got pulled. And I was going to archive it.

I'm not attempting to compare myself to Aaron, but I'm saying that if I'd had even the tiniest amount of programming knowledge, I probably could have gotten myself fired from any one of my library jobs a long time ago for all this shit I wanted to do.

But I don't think the Justice Department would have gotten involved; I would have just been fired and not one person would have even known my name. And if they did, they'd say, "What the hell did you think was going to happen, asshole?"

And I think that's because I can't program. I'm guessing that I would have been judged as an extremely low profile target and an owner of very common underpants.

Again, I'm not trying to compare my non-event with a real one, but I wonder what might have happened if I'd known someone with skills who could have shown me how to do it.

But in my case, there was clear publisher ownership. So I guess I would have been a thief. Even if this was something our library had paid for.

But Aaron's position was that the JSTOR information was meant to be free, that it shouldn't be trapped behind a pay wall. Maybe. I didn't know the guy.

I don't have the time to explain the how or why of online information or who owns it or what legal rights or expectations a company might have regarding its ability to collect money for distributing that information. But the point is, that someone has legal rights to all these things, but it ain't you.

We call these people, these owners and publishers and content distributors by their collective name: motherfuckers. And all they seem to want to do is fuck with you. There was a time when you could count the companies out to fuck with you on one hand. But not so now. The conspiracy of motherfuckers seems endless.

Because the list is so long, I'm going to just try to list the motherfuckers who prey on libraries, the ones who answer with a cheerful, Fuck You, when we complain about their monopolies and oligopolies.
  • You want that book/magazine/newspaper to remain in print? Fuck You."But it used to be in print." Now it's not. Fuck You.
  • You want that book in electronic format for your library to lend? Fuck You.
  • You want that ebook for the same price as we sell to Amazon/B&N? Fuck You.
  • You want databases priced by actual use and not projected use based on service population? Fuck You.
  • You want lower maintenance fees? Fuck You.
  • You want us to stop increasing prices (when everyone knows that manufacturing/storage/delivery costs are going down)? Fuck You.
  • You want publicly funded science research that's published in our journals to be priced based on our actual cost, which is probably zero? Fuck You. Fuck You. Fuck You.
  • You want us to stop screwing you? We love screwing you. It feels great. Now roll over, we're not finished.
Again, my non-event deserves non-recognition. I'm just saying that if information wants to be free, there seems to be a shitload of companies/governments out there trying to keep it locked up. And one less who could have helped it escape.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

YOUR TIME IS UP

You are born. And some time after, you will die.

You can argue whether you are born when you exit your mother or whether you achieve a sense of understanding before that or even much before that, that you are part of some universal consciousness that exists outside of space and time and that birth and death are simply small blips on your eternal journey. But after you are done being high, you will still die. And so you fear death because almost no one dies when it's convenient.

I had to think about that because I saw an image where someone had sprayed a wall with these words: "time does not exist. clocks exist."

This is one of those naive beliefs held by teens and possibly anarchists. No, not anarchists because they have meetings. But teens, definitely.

TIME is REAL.

In our universe. Time may exist differently or not at all someplace else, but it works here. And a clock is just a tool to measure it. Time exists because the Earth turns and the Sun appears and then relative to our position on Earth, moves elsewhere. Seconds and minutes may seem arbitrary when observed out of context, but the long view of a clock is that it reverse-engineers the day into somewhat equal parts. The event is planetary movement and the clock measures a small part of the cycle in a way that makes us always late for something.

TIME is MONEY.

Time is truly the only commodity where there is no standard of value. Love, you say? No. We know what love is worth. We've been told by experts. An engagement rings costs three months salary. You sleep with him on the third date. You buy her a nice dinner and get to spend the night. A lap dance costs around $40 for a 4-minute song. We know these things. And if you don't, you should. Lap dance: $40. The bouncer isn't happy if you can't find the other twenty.

So we know what love costs: love is free.

But Time is a mess to calculate. We attempt to measure it, but what we are really trying to measure is the space between events. That's why Time drags during meetings but flies when you're having fun: time is a measurement of space between events throughout existence.

So time is not arbitrary. Time exists. The day comes, then night. Seasons change. We age. We pay taxes. Anyone who denies the existence of time is someone with really old food in his refrigerator. Don't drink the milk. Don't even sniff it.

But Time is directly related to money. Anything that has value, gains or loses it over time. Books. You know that a new book is heavily discounted in order to increase sales and get the author on the Bestseller List. Then that 40% discount evaporates to 15% once the book is a hit. Until the market becomes saturated and the publisher remainders get marked down to $6.98. But if the book goes out of print and the author sleeps with the president, then all the available copies shoot back up to $100. Without Time, none of this could happen in any observable, enjoyable way.

Time seems even more arbitrary at the Library. Due dates vary by material. Or by demand. This book can be borrowed for 14 days, while this one can be yours indefinitely. That movie is due back next week, but that box set of Game of Thrones can be yours for 14 days. 

But at least the library puts stickers on everything so you know.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Introverts in the Library. Extroverts in the Bedroom.

But I've been thinking a lot about introverts and extroverts lately. And so I'm reading Quiet by Susan Cain. And it's giving me lots to ponder. Because I'm an ambivert, so I do ponder sometimes. I was doing it earlier today. I may be doing it now. P O N D E R.

www.thepowerofintroverts.com

But am I an ambivert? Is that even a quantifiable thing? Let me take a quick check. [10 minutes later] Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is: INTP, the “Engineer.”

-Introversion: 60%
-iNtutitive: 65%
-Thinking: 65%
-Perceiving: 65%

Oh, okay.

I don't think I'm strictly an introvert, even though I work in a library which is where I would guess you'd find them, but I shun social settings, especially social networks. But I enjoy public speaking and I'm a decent performer.

But I don't enjoy speaking until I've done my research. Or thought of a good fart joke.
Of the two groups, I prefer introverts because I believe this: when two people join together, they inevitably look to fuck with someone else. I think George Carlin said that. Or Gandhi.

I say that librarians are introverts because it seems that introverts would be attracted to that environment. But if you present programs twice a day to groups and you represent your library on Facebook, etc., then don't get you underpants in a bunch because even if you do those things, you probably prefer to do them alone.

No. 6, played by Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, is a man with a secret. He was a spy who quit his job and someone wants to know why. Almost every episode is an exercise of will between the need for No. 2 to learn his secret and No. 6's desire to keep it. I just started watching this to see how it supports this introvert/extrovert theory and I feel vindicated each time 6 gets angered by everyone spying on him. If you've ever seen the show, you'll notice that when he suspects he's being watched (which is all the time), he modifies his behavior to trick the observers. So just as we can't really know what one is thinking when he sits quietly by himself, No. 6 shows us that we can't know someone's true nature even when he participates in the group.

The internet, or as we should call it, "the real world," requires that we share and be a part of a group. You can't just lurk in Facebook and you can't listen to a song on Spotify without being a member. Everywhere wants everyone for a member.

We need to remember that libraries are an essential refuge for introverts. Although that idea has been under attack for years by librarians who want us all in a group hug. But the entire nature of reading is internal. You may shout at the screen in a movie theater, "don't go in there," but no one shouts that at their book. But I'll concede that religious books inspire social reading because we have a guy who can't read his book without bringing some heavily underlined and annotated lines to our attention while we're trying to work: "but it says, one cannot worship the false god and be saved, but look at all these people worshipping their computers!" Yep, we keep an eye on him.

But when you begin converting all of your individual study carrels and study rooms into collaborative maker-spacers, don't be surprised when I tweet about what a fucked-up decision that was.

And that's the current problem with libraries. Someone it trying to convert us all, library users and library workers, from introverts into extroverts. From the job listings seeking DYNAMIC, UPBEAT, EXCITED candidates to the gamer librarians who expect us to move someplace else when the Wii is way too loud, libraries are ignoring a large percentage of their users, and their employees, who just want some QUIET.

What you don't understand is that the library is the only tiny piece of peace in our noisy cities. You can't look at the library and say, okay, this part is community commons area and this tiny part is for quiet study. Because the entire building was designed as a refuge. You shouldn't be allowed to bring the noisy back inside. So no food processors or Zumba classes or drill presses.

So I'm declaring an INDEPENDENCE DAY. For independent study and independent research. For independent thoughts that I keep to myself.

Yes, you can be dynamic. But go be dynamic way over there and quit crapping all over my quiet. Because you really don't want to force me to extrovert myself and have all that scary shit that I've been keeping in my head spill out. I'm not an introvert to protect myself from you; I'm one to save you from me.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Publishing-on-demand: I'm saying this for the last time...

I publish my crap with CreateSpace.

Yes, CreateSpace is part of the "evil empire" that is Amazon, and yes, one day Amazon will dictate what librarians will buy because they will control all the bestsellers by promoting whomever they want on their sites and by sending suggestions to all their Kindle users and creating the bestseller lists from their stock of Amazon authors. Yes, this will happen.

But when I read about libraries assisting their patrons with self publishing by getting a "print-on-demand" machine or service, I think or how much better it is with CreateSpace:
CreateSpace is free. Totally free. Completely free. No cost. Nada. As free as free can be. When I published I Came in Peece, I paid nothing. My only cost was for the 3 copies I bought for friends (total cost for 3 copies, shipped to me, around $12).

I did not pay for a proof copy because I proofed online. Free.
I did not pay for an ISBN which costs around $125-$140. This was provided free.
I did not pay for a bar code, usually $25. Also, free.

I did not pay to have anyone design my book cover because CreateSpace has a wizard for that. I uploaded my own photo and used the wizard for all other design elements. Again, free.

I don't remember the payment system, but you also need to complete that information. But I think you don't need to enter too much personal information if you want them to send you a check for your royalties (ha!), but you need to enter bank info if you want your money sent to direct deposit.

And when I was done, my book was available on its own CreateSpace web page AND also on Amazon.

And after a few days, the "Look Inside" feature was available so that anyone could preview my book. So preview it, you cheap bastard.

Now, you can hate Amazon for destroying all the traditional booksellers by being the online version of "when Walmart came to town."

Or you can hate them for giving that Chicago grandma dozens of naked lady books in her search results when she only wanted to find books for her tween granddaughter.

Or you can hate them for patenting "one-click" purchasing, which is actually 3-clicks since you need to click to sign-in before one-click becomes active, so the patent really covers what every online business had already been doing for years.

Or you hate them for selling The Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure, by Phillip Greaves, or Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers, by David L. Riegel, which were a big stories a while back, so I don't even know if those books is still for sale, or if any of the thousands of other books that cover topics that might piss you off are currently for sale. Dunno.

Or you can hate them for not collecting sales tax that could have benefited your state for the last 15 years, and you can hate them for all the other reasons that we hate multi-billion-dollar companies.

But if you want to get your library patrons published so that they have the best possible exposure for their books and so their family and friends can purchase them, then you should consider using CreateSpace for your "makerspaces." I know this process is not "print on demand," which might be what your patrons want, especially those really old guys who don't expect to live out the week. But my order for my books got me in about nine days.

Now, CreateSpace is part of Amazon's family, but they don't seem to communicate that well, so it's a dysfunctional relationship. I had a lot of trouble getting my book, I CAME IN PEECE (read it!), in Kindle format even though it was supposed to be a simple click of a button to make it happen. But I had to create a whole new account on Amazon and upload everything myself without getting any help from CreateSpace. But now it's out there in all its Kindley goodness. And it's only 99 cents!

And since CreateSpace is free, you can try it by uploading anything. Yes, even your dreamy-dream journal.

FYI, I published a book back in the 1990s and the 500 copies I had to order (and pay for) for the minimum print run are still collecting dust in the attic. So this is new way to publish is practically a freakin miracle.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

too long for a tweet

If the sense of entitlement that people have regarding ebooks was somehow transported back in time, it would have our patrons calling us each time they found a word in a book they didn't understand.

Which they did, now that I think of it. But not nearly as many would have called as those who call about every tiny aspect of their ebook devices.

So what would be comparable between NOW and THEN and how would the libararian have handled it?

NOW.
"I downloaded the wrong ebook."
Oh, that's okay; it happens. I'll fix it for you.
THEN. [Possibly pre-1980 library.]
"I checked out the wrong book."
What? Are you a fucking idiot? You had the book in your hands for probably five minutes and you waited in a line to check it out and then you gave your library card to a library employee, and at no point during this time did you question whether this was the wrong book? What the fuck happened when you got home? The book didn't keep the table from wobbling? What the fuck made it the wrong book? What new information do you have when you got home that told you it was the wrong book? What an asshole. Can you understand this makes you look like an asshole? Yes? Okay, which book did you mean to borrow? Okay, let me got get it. I'll hold it here at the desk and since this is the past, gas is probably pretty cheap, so you can drive back over here and get it. Don't forget to bring the other book with you! Oh, no, you will forget. So go put it in the car now. Then go eat your lunch or whatever you need to do that will somehow cause you to forget to come and pick up this book. It's okay; I have nothing better to do than carry books back and forth to the stacks. Fuck you.



NOW.
"I downloaded the book, but I can't find where it went."
Oh, that's okay; it happens. I'll find it for you.
THEN.
"I just checked out a book, but I can't find it."
Did you call the police and file a report? Because the library will block your account if you don't return that book or if you don't give us a copy of the police report. And when we block your account, it stays blocked. Forever. Even if the library ever gets computers and you think that the records will just start all over again, they won't. Or even if you move away for ten years and then come back, you'll be blocked. We remember these things because a librarian never forgets the asshole who loses a library book.


NOW.
"I just got this ereader, but I don't know how to use it."
THEN.
"I just checked out this book, but I don't know how to use it."

[Past and Present librarians, in unison, as the time-streams merge.]
Give me that so I can beat you to death with it. Asshole.



Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Apple can teach libraries

So I just saw the story on what it takes to be an Apple Genius... or maybe it was about what it takes to be in the Sea Org, it was confusing. But let's give the credit to Apple.
 
It's an old article, but I don't actively search for Apple news so I missed it.

But what it teaches is that your every behavior should be guided toward making your library patrons feel good, to make them feel like their concerns are important, but without ever committing to anything or accepting blame. Read the article, the manual is literally genius.

Apply this to your library. You listen to people. You empathize with their concerns. You say something like, I'm sorry this happened. And you redirect them to some other part of the library or out into the parking lot because, holy crap, enough is enough, and you have work to do.

But use that connection to promote some library service. Because part of your job should be Sales.
Most library employees don't realize that we have a product that we need to sell. It's the continuation of the library; it's more libraries; it's increased budgets for more stuff and people and raises. You are the product. You sell yourself and your job.
I sell library services every chance I get. Unless I'm drunk. Or naked. At the very least, I should be wearing a pair of socks before I'll promote my library. Or three socks? Who said that?

Apple has a formula for their brand of sales, and it spells APPLE:
(A)pproach, (P)robe, (P)resent, (L)isten, (E)nd.
Isn't that adorable.

Libraries should also adopt some similar cutesy acronmym-like thingie:
(L)isten. (I)-contact. (B)-present. (R)edirect. (A)void. (R)estate. (Y)-me?

You probably might want to mix those around depending on your particular situation, for example, I would always begin with (Y).

But you have to sell. If someone can't use a computer, direct him to one of your computer classes. Or online tutorials. Or if he won't stop being a pain in the ass, give him a program  schedule and suggest he look it over at home.

or if you can't find a book on the shelf, sell the Hold. Send the book to whichever branch they want. Or sell the ebook. No interaction with a patron should ever terminate with a direct answer. The response to "Where is the bathroom?" should include directions to the area for appropriate reading material: The books on bladder control are over here and the bathroom is down that hallway.

How would you deal with this patron?

PATRON: Ga-ga-ga-ba-ba-ba [Stops babbling, puts his fingers in his mouth and pulls out own tooth - drops it in an envelope addressed to the White House and puts the envelope in his robe pocket].

YOU: I can see how you'd feel this way. It can be frustrating. But many of our patrons use the library often. To wash their clothes in our bathrooms. So come back after your visit from the Secret Service.

Notice you said nothing substantial. You empathized with nothing. You promised nothing. But these kinds of interactions often make people feel good without requiring you do any work at all.

But remember to sell. And remember our acronym:
  • (L)isten, or just appear be to listening. Earbuds help.
  • (I)-contact, [eye contact] avoid it for crazies or keep it for normals.
  • (B)-present. I really don't have anything dopey to say about that. It's actually really useful when you give 100% to the listening and not laughing.
  • (R)edirect real problems to someone else. Anyone else. Maybe someone at your library who uses a cane and can't escape too quickly? This will save you a lot of headaches.
  • (A)void making promises. There's not much you can do to solve problems while working with no budget. So just empathize. Everything else costs money.
  • (R)estate the obvious. "The fax machine isn't working because the fax machine is broken. Our malfunctioning fax machine is not responding. The Out Of Order sign is taped to our non-working fax machine. Here is a copy of the sign to take with you."
  • (Y)-me? [Why me?] Because you're not the boss, that's why. Or maybe you are the boss, if you're one of those bosses that actually does stuff. Nah, you're not the boss.
  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Libraries, Chasing the 1%

WARNING: long ramble that didn't make me feel any better when I finished writing it.

The more I read about libraries, the more fear for their future. I keep reading about how libraries' days are numbered, but this is not why I fear for the future of libraries: it's all the solutions I read for non-existent problems. It's all these "visionary" librarians who reject all the useful things that libraries do and continually, perpetually chase after new things.

They get some idea that the library is in trouble and their first thought is, Well, then, let's do some new stuff!

FUCK YOU. Fuck your new stuff.

Oh, this is a new thing, they say. Everyone drop whatever it is I told you I liked 3 months ago, and do this new thing I just found now. And this new thing is: iPads, phablets, streaming video, downloadable songs, mastering Facebook privacy, on-demand publishing, digital magazines, 3-D genital printing, hacker spaces, book-themed games and social networks, location-based-reader-preference-app-sync-hyphen-something-something, mobile stalking, Google-search-history-scrubbing, reader-bullying, reader-hostility, nude chat, why manipulating metadata is like touching yourself, copywrong & private domain, global thermonuclear war,...

FUCK YOU.FUCK YOU.FUCK YOU.FUCK YOU.FUCK YOU.FUCK YOU.FUCK YOU.FUCK YOU.

Look, ASSHOLES, nobody knows what libraries do. They still think we have books and only books. Because we do a shitty job marketing our services. So stop thinking that new shit will attract new people BECAUSE THEY WON'T KNOW WE HAVE IT.

So stop buying new shit and do a better job of telling your community what you do for then now. Market your library before you waste money on new shit.

What is marketing? Watch TV: marketing is, hitting the customer over the head with images until they can't avoid buying your product. And that takes money. And time. And money.

So here is a fact: almost every decision you made about your library in the last 5 years was wrong. That is a fact. So stop. Stop making decisions. Your library is probably doing a bunch of really good stuff, right now. So stop changing everything.

How many of you have read that your library patrons don't use the computer catalog? All of you? so I hear all this discussion about getting rid of the catalog. "If people don't like it, get rid of it." You know what AMERICAN BUSINESS would say when someone doesn't like their product: MAKE THEM BUY IT, ANYWAY. Or, Get one of our legislators to pass a law that requires the government to buy it.

But librarians don't like to make people do anything. So they don't like Marketing their libraries. Because marketing is aggressive behavior, and librarians are passive. Until you take their parking spaces.

But if the catalog is your problem, the what should you do? What is the library catalog? It's the way people find books in the library.

 So what other ways can you get that job done?

I guess you could create a software program with voice recognition so people could just speak to a kiosk and get directions. Or an app for a mobile device. But then people would be yelling the software when it didn't work. And all that yelling would be going on in your library.

You could eliminate the public catalog completely and force everyone to ask for the book at the information desk. Which is a great solution if you can afford the staff.

You could shelve all the books in some sort of bookstore order, but I FUCKING HATE THAT. I can never find anything in the book stores. Unless it's an extremely finite area, like manga. Otherwise, I look and look and look. It the book with chapter books, or easy books or by author with the juvenile books? It is a general cookbook or in the Italian cooking section or maybe in the vegetarian cooking? So, yeah, I would fucking hate that.

And it doesn't matter what you choose, someone won't like it. So you need to choose the option that satisfies the most people or doesn't confuse the most people or doesn't get your library burned down by a hostile mob. But you can't just pick some solution that works on an iPad just because iPads are cool. This is the worst solution. But this is what libraries do.

Librarians often chase after the newest coolest things. Things that one percent of their users have. And they justify this on the "potential growth" for that thing. Again, based on that one percent of users. So, of course, they will seem to be right for about a year or two when that one percent grows to six or fourteen percent.

But what about the other 86 percent of your public? Did you abandon them for that new thing? No; you will force them to buy into that new thing. But in a typical passive-aggressive-librarian way. So you'll force your borrowers to buy ereaders, then buy tablets, then get brain implants... because YOU want to be part of that ever-changing 1%.

That's why your library has a published Mission, so that you don't make these stupid decisions.

Regarding ebooks, libraries are driving themselves out of business by paying for them. Instead of providing free ebooks or negotiating contracts with publishers who will allow us to host content and distribute from our own servers, you continue to pay 3X retail for ebooks LEASES and pay hosting services and maintenance to outside companies. You also encourage the big publishers to reduce print production thereby reducing the number of print books you can OWN. So the reduction of print will only reduce the number of physical libraries so that some point in the future, your library will just be someone who pays that Overdrive or Google Books or Amazon bill. Because you won't offer any services that require people.

So if you want to keep your library and your librarians, get back to your MISSION. Offer services that benefit the community and hire the people to provide those services. And build libraries to give the public a place to meet those librarians and receive those services.

And this might not be part of your Mission, but MARKET those services and the people who help your community. So you should probably add that to it: "Promote library services."

There is one fact I have never heard disproved: "more people would use your library, if more people knew about your library."

Try and prove that wrong. Seriously.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

HEY, ASSHOLE! It's the future of libraries.

Everyone is trying to come up with some solution to the non-existent problem of what should we do with our libraries. It's a non-existent problem, imo, because I think libraries do a great job of taking a bunch of money and hiring great people and buying lots of cool, useful shit.

But as much as we do great stuff with all that money, there are people outside and WITHIN the profession who claim it isn't enough and that libraries don't fit into our speedy groovy shiny new world.

Fuck you, is what I say.

Because I can fix libraries with two simple words: Hey, Asshole.

You might have noticed that the modern world is a tiny bit ruder and coarser than it was when those imaginary people in those 1950's television shows were kids. In reality, when I was 5 my friends were already smoking cigarettes, and when we were 6 or 7, we got drunk once in while and about the time I was 8, I was stealing from grocery stores and even stealing from my neighbors. And I felt like I was one of the good kids.

But the world is probably a little more adult now than it once was.  Every TV show is loaded with sexual dialog and boobies and lots more blood than when Barney Miller was on. I hear people say "shit" on TV all the time. And on popular shows.

So the masses have spoken. People want to read romance novels that include ben wa balls and they want suspense novels with torture and eye-gouging. And I guess they want cooking manuals that include some ass-play; I haven't seen one yet, but I guess there's got to be some recipe where you're told to keep a carrot in your ass until the oil is sizzling. Or something.

So my solution is to just be rude to people. Add, Hey Asshole to your signage. "Hey, Asshole, the Library is CLOSED on Martin Luther King Day." Or, Hey, Asshole, this email is to remind you to return you overdue materials."

Some people might be annoyed by it, at first, but they'll get used to it. And talk about publicity! Some library already announced being the first bookless library. And some other library is the first maker space library. So what's left? Be the first "New York Style" library!

Take my advice, and just add Hey, Asshole to everything. But if it doesn't work for you, you might have to get nastier and try Hey, Shit-for-brains.

But don't use Hey, Fucknuts. We already use that at our library.


Monday, January 14, 2013

time's up

not very many people downloaded I Came in Peece, so it's no longer available for free.  I hope the people who got it will read it.  and after reading it, weep from its genius. but the rest of you can go fuck yourselves.

kidding. but it sounds cool to say that. I would never say that all of you should go fuck yourselves.

some of you can go fuck yourselves.

What They Shoulda Done: Downton Abbey

SPOILERS.

So Matthew inherits some money that could save Downton since Lord Grantham was suckered into investing in some bogus Canadian railway... but because it's money from the father of his dead fiance whom he had betrayed by kissing another woman, he felt he didn't deserve it.

So this goes on for much much too long... until Matthew receives another letter stating that the dead girl had written a letter on her death bed which somehow said something or other, that I swear, if I tried to sort out in my head, would make my brain hurt.  It's all become very much like a bad, very bad, extremely bad soap opera.

But then the money issue is resolved and Downton is saved.  But Poor Edith (that's her official character's name from now on) is left at the alter when Sir Anthony takes everyone's advice and runs off.

But what they shoulda done is: cut to Edith's wedding.

Sir Anthony and Edith are about to take their wedding vows, when.. Lavinia appears. The formerly dead Lavinia Swire appears at the church and approaches Matthew and Mary as women faint and the priest blesses himself.

She says to the wedding party, "You thought I was dead.  But my illness only made me appear to be dead.  Isn't that correct, doctor?"

"Yes, it's possible," the good, well, bad Dr. Clarkson agrees.  "She could have only appeared to be dead. To someone with a nineteenth century medical education, I mean.  This sort of thing happens."

And then the doctor addresses the crowd. "Sometimes someone appears to be be dead when it is just a slowing of the heartbeat.  And other times, someone appears to be alive, when they have in fact, been dead for several days.  Sir Anthony suffered a heart attack just last week and was dead, but I declared him fit to attend this wedding."

Just then, Sir Anthony's eyes become white and foam appears on his lips and he moans like a zombie.  And he grabs Edith and bites her as she screams and he begins to eat her brains.

At seeing this zombie attack, the doctor adds, "This happens more often than one would like."

That's what they shoulda done.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

#1 cause of librarian stress: NO CLEAR GUIDELINES TO SHOOT

Everyone has stress. I can't get the package of Pepperidge Farm Milanos open without tearing the fuck out of it, so that creates stress. A soldier in Iraq hears an explosion and that creates stress. A police officer hear gunshots and that creates stress. A firefighter see huge fireballs erupt from an auto parts store and that creates stress.

Stress arises from fear or frustration or uncertainty, or even certainty.

So don't tell me librarians don't suffer from stressful work environments. No, the cause for the stress isn't fire or bombs or bullets, so you can say librarians are being pussies if you want. But the one advantage that soldiers and police and firefighters have over librarians is that they know when they can say, "Fuck It."

Firefighters aren't required to fight every fire. If it's unsafe, they don't go in.

If the environment isn't safe, soldiers and police have guns to shoot you.

Librarians have nothing. We can't turn you away unless you are truly awful; and we can't shoot you.

So don't say we don't have legitimate stress.

If the librarian could shoot you, we would shoot your ass every day. Not all of you, but a few of you. Every fucking day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

read I Came in Peece (please)

yes, there are typos aplenty and sections that need complete rewrites, but I don't write the way most people do (should); I write to get funny gags out of my head an on paper so I don't forget them.  Because I have a terrible memory.  So if the funny stuff comes across as funny, then hurray me.  And if the story makes sense, then that's good, too.

get free epub here
 or scan the code to get to the download page.