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Stupid: The Extreme Sport version - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stupid: The Extreme Sport version
Okay, take a major urban research library.

And remove the microtext and newspapers.

This would be after getting rid of the science and humanities departments (the former replaced by a coffee shop, no less), and creating a single "service point" for fine arts, music, and prints research, and alongside the effort to weed 15% of the circulating collection because "there's no room"--despite a plethora of meeting rooms, space used for private events, and of course, restaurants. There's a whole floor that's out of sight in McKim.

No, seriously, this is going on.

Even if you love databases and find them easier to search--and they are--there are two major problems here.

The first is that not everything on microtext is digitized yet. You'll be losing a couple of CENTURIES of newspaper reports, thereby forcing people to use secondary sources instead of primary ones.

The second is that database articles do not generally have the contextual information that you can get from the microfilm. Was an issue important enough to have a big headline on the front page, or was it just a little notice? What ads were surrounding it? These are important questions for serious historical researchers. The only reason to remove microtext is to say that the library is no longer a place for the serious researcher.

I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about this from me, but the BPL is worth saving. It's insane that it has to be saved from its own management, but apparently, it does.
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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2010 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)

is there anything useful the rest of us CAN do????

honestly this is eating me up inside. it's so Unfair.

is there ANYTHING that Can be done?? At all? or all it's lost and done with?

~A
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: is there anything useful the rest of us CAN do????

Spread it around. They seem to be trying to do this under the radar. You can always make your opinion known to the administration, or write to the newspapers. Do you live in Boston? If so, contact your city councilman. If you live in Massachusetts but outside Boston, contact your state rep about the state budget, to put pressure on it. After all, the library belongs to the whole Commonwealth.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2010 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)

DONE! *on my part*

posted it on my blog, my facebook page.
And send a message to my public librarian *who is not in boston or massachussetts, but she knows about stuff like this so she probably knows people*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: DONE! *on my part*

Excellent. :D
sonetka From: sonetka Date: April 21st, 2010 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I've never been to Mass in my life, so I doubt my expressing an opinion to them would do much, but good LORD. I'm at best a dilettante researcher (sell the occasional essay into a random, fairly trivial but interesting historical side story and that's about it) and even I have some inkling of the boggling amount of material that ISN'T online in any form.

At least they're not destroying the films. Yet.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)
No, but they may become seriously inaccessible, which is equivalent.
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: April 21st, 2010 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
No, keep posting! At the very least, it's an early warning for everyone else!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
It is--it definitely won't stop in Boston.
mcgonagalls_cat From: mcgonagalls_cat Date: April 21st, 2010 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
If there are actual research libraries available how will the Tea Party-ers be able to continue with their non-info based claims?
Surely you don't want Beck and Limbaugh to be shown for the lying, lack-of-facts based miscreants they are, do you?

What can you be thinking?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
This definitely not a partisan issue. I mean, from the left, you're denying access to great sources to anyone who can't afford a private subscription library, and from the right, you're cutting down a great historical institution. Libraries are one of those oddball things that everyone pretty much agrees are a good. Except Mayor Menino and library President Umbridge.

Edited at 2010-04-21 06:47 am (UTC)
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ladyelaine From: ladyelaine Date: April 21st, 2010 10:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Is there an actual paying job for digitizing information, or is that just folded into the other librarian duties--or worse yet, is it a spare-time, volunteer thing?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, I'm not sure, as I've never been involved directly. It's conceivable that they outsource it, but I just don't know.
sreya From: sreya Date: April 21st, 2010 11:24 am (UTC) (Link)
That doesn't sound like a library anymore at all, more like a conference center with a reading room.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
And a coffee bar. Don't forget the coffee bar.
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: April 21st, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have never been to Massachusetts, but as a lover of history I am horrified at the restricted access to primary source documents! Sreya is right. It's not a library anymore, but "a conference center with a reading room." *feels sick*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's crazy. And it's not like we're talking about putting a moratorium on purchases until the budget crisis blows over--they're talking about getting rid of materials already owned in order to fit some "transformation" plan.
From: maxzook Date: April 21st, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Is there a reason you can't tell us ...

... which library we're talking about?

If there is I can respect that, otherwise it would give us ex-New Englanders a handle on who to complain to.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 21st, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Is there a reason you can't tell us ...

Oh, sorry, I thought I had! It's the Boston Public Library, Copley Square location. Main branch. GRRR.
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: April 21st, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Out of curiosity I checked the Boston Public Library mission statement:

"The Boston Public Library's mission is to preserve and provide access to historical records of our society, and to serve the cultural, educational, and informational needs of the people of the City and the Commonwealth."

Except apparently this first part is optional.

Obviously it's challenging to prioritize when money and space is tight. Everything a library does is important to some of its patrons (yes, even serving coffee). This is why you craft a mission statement - so that when hard choices come along, you can look at it and ask, are we still doing what we set out to do? Are we acting or reacting?

I don't expect every member of an organization to go around with the five-year plan tattooed somewhere prominent on their bodies. But there is a reason people write these things down, and it's not to make ourselves feel better!
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to tell them that I completely get where they're coming from. Ignorance is like a delicate fruit. Touch it, and the bloom is gone.

But I'm afraid they wouldn't get either the reference or the sarcasm.

Ellen
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