13 July 2019


Most of these sausages are related to my natural habitat: Libraries. Directly or indirectly.

  • The ALA has finally recognized that continuing to name its top professionalism award after a bigot is probably not a good plan. And that's even before considering the cultural insensitivity and imperialism, scientific ignorance, disdain for both law and literature, and a reading public that was entirely upper-middle-class white men (with an occasional nod to upper-middle-class white women) born and living east of the Hudson, that is inherent in the disease that he has imposed on American libraries: The Dewey Decimal System. Now if we can just get the ALA to deaccession that monstrosity…
  • I can't help smiling at this one. The very concept of drag-queen story hours is mind-boggling to someone who grew up in the 60s and 70s. On the other tentacle, that was in one of the more repressive enclaves in the Seattle area — which I like to think I largely outgrew (even before high school, let alone adulthood) — so…
  • (I'm using this source only because it's not behind a paywall — and the better, more-nuanced ones are.) Libraries — including my local library — are beginning to push back against publisher discrimination against libraries. The irony of publishers claiming unilaterally (and, one might add, inconsistent with both copyright law and the relevant parts of the UCC) that those who "purchase" an e-book or downloadable audio file are "only" getting a license becomes most apparent when comparing it to publishers' uniform refusal to accept that, as a matter of law, they've only gotten a license from authors (and, therefore, that licensor/licensee law, not seller/purchaser law, regulates the contracts, transactions, and rights) is too much to handle on a Saturday morning before the caffeine kicks in. The nicest descriptor I can find this early is "disingenuous," although my immediate impulse is more toward "inherently and intellectually dishonest."
  • Speaking of paywalls and publisher dishonesty, there's almost nothing more inherently and intellectually dishonest than for-profit publishers locking publicly funded scientific research up behind paywalls. Well, maybe the default demand of law reviews to claim copyright in law journal articles written by people not on faculty at the journal's sponsoring law school is moreso — but not by much. News bulletin: The (US) 1909 Act was abrogated over forty years ago, and it never had validity outside the US.
  • At the other end of the age spectrum — and still a huge impact on libraries — consider the YA wars being waged by and on behalf of those who haven't read the books. That's the most intellectually dishonest aspect of the whole thing: It's not just those criticizing and defending particular books who haven't read them; it's many of the people charged with marketing them, who selected "YA" as appropriate in the first place. Exhibit 22,978: this forthcoming book, which will be marketed as YA in the US and has not a damned thing to do with YA; indeed, it subverts just about everything "related to" YA because its subtext and context presume familiarity with Paradise Lost.
  • Then there's an unexamined issue: The relationship between bookstores and libraries, especially as bookstores disappear. This is another east-of-the-Hudson problem: The general conceptions of "the proper place and role" of both bookstores and libraries presume that every literate individual (regardless of age or economic circumstances) has easy walking, or at least short-public-transit-trip, access to both large, comprehensive, well-stocked public libraries and large, comprehensive, well-stocked bookstores staffed by employees and managers who really know their respective inventories. Umm, not so much… especially as real-estate speculation continues to force bookstores to close (and, frankly, was one of the two major causes of both Borders' demise and the still-probable-if-perhaps-a-little-delayed failure of B&N). The reality is that a healthy culture needs both, but that has been increasingly difficult since the mid-1970s.
  • We all need to remember that libraries are the best defense against misinformation in general, cultural imperialism in particular, and information that's relevant and not just from an ill-formed search result. Although they're not a defense of or for abused adjunct professors, the real problem there being that anti-tax maroons have convinced themselves (and others) that money paid to people who develop resources — like, say, people — is a pure sunk cost and not an investment with a difficult-to-quantify return.