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BPL--angry vids - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
BPL--angry vids
Check out the vids from this article. This was my old neighborhood, Oak Square in Brighton.

And I'll let Maria Rodrigues (video is in the article linked), Oak Square supporter, speak for the rest:


Anyone else feel an odd urge to say "Mayor Rodrigues," and the sooner the better? J/K, I have no idea what her other issues are, but for the length of this, I've been seeing her name everywhere, and I think she's just a brilliant, passionate advocate of her library and her neighborhood. City Councilwoman Rodrigues, maybe?

ETA,I finally figured out the perfect literary metaphor for Menino bringing Ryan to the BPL: Fudge sends Umbridge to Hogwarts. I think that more or less tells folks who haven't been following the story what's going on.
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Comments
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 10th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm furious, because going through the BPL website today and looking at the trustees, I noticed the link to the FY11 action plan. They voted on it LAST NOVEMBER, and then asked for public input to the library's "compass" in January.

And the section about the collection is truly scary. They're not only going over to centralized selection (and one of the children's librarians got a call from a woman who's going to "bid on" doing the children's books, so you know it's going to get outsourced), they're also talking about evaluating the offsite collections for "disposition." These are the people who want us to get rid of a third of the circulating collection without doing an inventory first.

AAAARRRGGGHHH!
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 10th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Its ridiculous that governments can consider minimising resources in libraries -- I could understand (though not sympathise with) a decision to stop expanding resources, but libraries, even in the era of the internet, remain an important way to share books, and information.

Children's sections, if nothing else, should not be compromised. I work as an English tutor, and can say with confidence that the biggest problem the kids I help face, is that they are not sufficiently addicted to the narrative. The importance of being read to frequently, and reading frequently yourself, from a wide range of good texts is vital for healthy development -- children shouldn't just be taught to read, they should be taught to love to read.
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 10th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Adults learning English read children's books too.

And print rich environments matter. The kids who come to my library see adults of all ages, genders, and races with their noses in books and magazines. It's hard for a smartmouthed twelve year old to tell me "boys don't like to read", when I can point out six counter-examples in thirty seconds.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 10th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like it's time for the pitchforks.

I'll have to start linking around to that budget now. I have a blog. I am going to use it. If Amy Ryan doesn't care about the BPL, then I will care about it for her.
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 10th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honest to God, I think that they really want to destroy the institution of the public library. They place no value whatsoever on its role as an archive for the community, and little to no value on its role as the university of the poor. The excuse that "it hasn't circulated in X years" is used to get rid of things that are more likely to be used in house than taken home, as if having an older book on the shelf is somehow damaging, but they won't give me money (or authority) to buy new books on the topic. They centralized purchasing print reference and now they say, "gosh, nobody uses print reference, we don't need it!" They centralized world languages and then said, "gosh, hardly anyone uses these languages and we don't want to spend the effort to get more of them" so they stopped buying in half the languages and handed the rest off to vendors. (Who send me stuff I already own.) Then, after a couple of years, they got rid of the books which we already had in a bunch of languages.

And the McKim building? It's full of rooms which once held collections and service points (that's adminspeak for librarians who could help you) and now have blank walls and chairs. They're using it as a frickin' function hall. Want to get married at the BPL? Sure! That's more important than having books!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 11th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, above was me; I forgot I wasn't logged in.

The coffee shop is lovely, I'm sure, and brings in money, but THAT WAS THE FREAKING SCIENCE DEPARTMENT, thank you very much. That wasn't even moved. It was disbanded. And microfilm moved for a meeting room? Subject departments consolidated and experts ditched?

As far as dumping the languages goes, that was an unforgivable act. That collection was a treasure. Maybe I don't speak Urdu (or whatever ones they dropped--I'm guessing Azerbaijani and ones like that that had small collections), but maybe someday, I'd want to learn it, and it was a comfort to know that there were books there I could have read. Besides... what about PRIDE? If you have a better collection than the next guy, you don't rush and rush to downgrade to his level. Boston is, as a friend of mine put it, "a city people go to on purpose." A big reason for this? The library and other cultural and educational institutions.

I've seen a few random posters going on about how, for a city Boston's size... yadda yadda... other cities of comparable size...

Boston is not a city of comparable size to Boston. Boston is Boston. There is no legitimate comparison to other cities of similar populations. The city has a soul and an identity, which are wrapped around books and letters. There is no comparison to, say, Hennepin County. (No offense to Minnesotans, who I'm sure read quite a lot and are just as bright as Bostonians, but as far the city's reputation and entire selling point goes, Boston is in a league of its own in America when it comes to educational culture. And I just picked on Hennepin County because that's where Amy Ryan did her last little "consolidation" project.)
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 11th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
And Hennepin county has reopened three of the branches she closed, at least that's what I gather from their FAQ about being closed Mondays.

I've got to figure out which academics around Boston to outrage about the possibility of losing the research library collections. Any ideas?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 11th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd say Simmons is the obvious choice, but they tend to be a little susceptible to trendy crap like this.

We'd want MIT folk involved, to help counter the Mayor's contention that it's "technology vs. books"--to point out that books are not, in fact, the opposite of technology. I'm going to go to my old teen council, who are in several of the colleges in town, and see if their schools can do anything.

Who, though...

David Elkind? He's a professor emeritus at Tufts, and an expert on child development. I've never read about his opinion of libraries, but he might be worth a try. Joel Rosenberg, from the German, Russian, and Asian languages department also might be someone to think about. (Sorry, went to Tufts, my mind goes there.) In fact, I think I'll write to him.

May I assume David McCullough has done everything he can, or has already refused to help because he agrees with them or whatnot?

The dumping of languages would probably be of interest to any of the universities' multicultural groups. Maybe Skip Gates has something to say about denying these materials to kids from underprivileged backgrounds who would never have other access. (I just remember taking the kids through and saying we had fifty languages, and their eyes would just go wide at the very thought of all of that being around. And these were teenagers.)

What about the New England Historical and Genealogical Society?

Edited at 2010-04-11 12:49 am (UTC)
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 11th, 2010 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty sure none of those people even know that the collections are endangered -- or that the library stopped buying for the research collections ten years ago.

And I guarantee you they don't know about the loss of the languages.
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 11th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I can try to find Maggie Bush's email. She's retired, but she's got lots of contacts.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 11th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)
LJ has a distinct agenda--they have a dog in the race as much as rabidsamfan and I do. They're our professional arbiter of what's oh-so-hip in the profession. Finding a gosh-wow LJ article about whatever the current trend is would be more or less de rigeur.

That's why I'd be hesitant to use the library science schools, and would be much more likely to go for the humanities departments. Sadly, they tend to care more about libraries.

I think that the people who study community would actually have a very different perspective than numbers people do. If you watch the videos above, you see the dynamic that's going on. The people are talking about the outright destruction of their community resources for the sake of an idea trendy among one tribe at the expense of another.

This isn't an argument about not having technology, after all. No one wants to not have technology. We want to own the content, so we can control whether or not it abruptly disappears, but all of us are connected to this sort of technology. Most of us use it in our spare time, and think it makes a dandy addition to world. I know I love the freedom to use our databases at two a.m. when I suddenly need the latest research on insomnia. ;p But it's Menino and Ryan who've created a dichotomy, deciding we're "too bricked and mortared" for all the REALLY COOL kids to want to hang out with us for this century, and we need to trade space for cyberspace. It's an absurd proposition, and of course everyone knows that the ultimate goal is the abolition of the physical library, kind of like the "academic" "library" of the University of Phoenix.

Edited at 2010-04-11 02:48 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 11th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)
What I'm saying is that it's easy to find numbers like that by choosing who to ask, and, more importantly, how to ask it. If you ask professors--or anyone else--"Do you think the addition of remote resources to the library is a good thing?" then of course, they're going to say, "Yeah, sure, it's great, look at all the advantages." And LJ will highlight that survey, because it supports the current trends.

But I find it highly unlikely that any academic outside of the economics department would look at cutting out half the foreign language collection and threatening to dispose of a good amount of material from the stored collections and cutting out neighborhood branches, especially in poor neighborhoods that need them, and say, "Oh, yeah. We're certainly going to support that." And as rabidsamfan mentioned, a rich print environment is important to children's reading development, which means that child development folks aren't going to be very supportive of it.

You've latched onto the techno aspect of it, which is a very small part of what's happened. I've told you, and the speakers on the videos have been clear, that there is no crusade against technology. It's quite the other way around. No one minds the addition. What they're objecting to is the priorities of subtraction, and, even more, the attitude coming from the more rabid technophiles out there. Not wanting your library to turn into an internet cafe is not the same thing as saying "I don't like those newfangled computer things." It's rejecting a vision of a bookless library.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 11th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Er... yeah.

All righty, then.

I guess if those guys are the peers, the peer review wouldn't count for much.
(Deleted comment)
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 11th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I love computers. I use computers. I was an early adopter of computers. But I don't want to be dependent on them, especially not when it means being dependent on a for-profit company to continue to provide me data. Been there, done that, had the Geocities website.

What do you need to make a book work? Enough training in how to read the language it was written in and sunlight. (As long as the book is available to you.)

Computers? Database? The list starts with cheap energy and it only gets longer...

Libraries should own the information, not rent it. And they sure as hell shouldn't use the number of website hits they get on a site which is available to the entire frickin' planet without a library card and put them on the same axis as my little branch circulation stats and act as if the two things are somehow comparable.
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rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: April 11th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)
*wry grin* I'm a children's librarian in a branch. Not sure what you mean by STM. And I do like the "ownership" model, which at least one of the vendors at ALA described to me. But I'm not sure the BPL has the sense to go that route. Considering that I'm locked into not being able to buy something if it doesn't come from Baker and Taylor or Midwest Tapes (because we don't have anyone to process it here anymore.)

But remember, someone looking at an article doesn't mean someone using that article. Website or database hit stats treat "glanced over and said no thanks" exactly the same as "found and read in depth." And they're not the same animal. If my book circ has to compete against that I want a "hit" for every person who pulled a book off the shelf, checked the index, didn't find what they wanted, and put it back.
(Deleted comment)
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 12th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Aside from the issue of funds to buy new print resources, online resources just aren't as satisfying. I read a lot of stuff online, but when I do, I tend to skim, rather than read in much detail. It takes so much work to keep on track when you're just staring at a computer screen.

One of my major areas of interest is Victorian literature. I love the stuff -- read it like I used to read detective thrillers, after a hard day, for hours at a time. Yet recently, when I tried to read an out of print text online I couldn't do it. Two weeks later I'm barely 10 pages into this novel. Reading is so much easier when you have the physical pages in front of you. There's a certain sense of satisfaction in feeling the pages in your hands, watching the weight flip from your right hand to your left.

That said, reading all these posts, I am massively jealous of Boston libraries -- even in their sadly reduced state. If any of the public libraries in my city wanted to put a cafe in, it would have to replace the entire non-fiction section, the libraries are so small. The second hand bookshop I frequent is larger than both of the public libraries within cooee.

bookaholic_au
Brisbane, Australia
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 12th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
The main library downtown is three stories high and a full city block in size. It had about 7.5M volumes when I worked there, though God knows what the current administration has reduced it to.

I agree about the difference between pages and screens. It's not that I refuse to read anything on a screen--I write for the computer screen!--but if it's something long or even a little bit complex, I tend to print it out. I find that I have a much harder time remembering the screen, since the letters are the only sensory input. You can make a hand-held look like a book, but you can't make the machine feel any different in your hand, so you lose tactile memories, scent memories, kinetic memories (sure, you change pages by running your finger across, but that's different from the kinetic memories of keeping the book open, thumbing through pages, etc)... basically, everything except visual input is gone, which makes the memory markers harder to find.
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