Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Welcome, library volunteers. Mr. LaFayette will be whipping you today.

I think California is missing the point with their attempt to legislate how libraries are run. They want to add all these requirements about accounting transparency and being open for bids, but they still don't get it.

This should be about the role of volunteers in for-profit companies.

If you are a not-for-profit entity, you can use all the volunteers you want. But if you make money off the labor of unpaid employees, then you're either:

A) a pimp
B) a restaurant owner
C) a library management company
D) a time-traveling plantation slave master

Although I think waitresses make some sort of hourly salary, around $3-$5 on average. So if you chose A, C) or D), you are correct.

So when a library makes a contract with a company to maintain its collection and manage its daily operations, that company should not be allowed to run the library with unpaid employees, or, as they say in the library management biz, volunteers.

When you have 3 or 4 paid employees managing 100 unpaid workers, you have slavery. Or a Girl Scout troupe selling cookies. No, wait, slavery.

Maybe not Olde Southe Slaverye with the beating and the rape and the human trafficking, but slavery, still.

Reportedly, here is what goes on at one of these privately managed libraries:

... there are less than four full-time employees of the Paso Robles Library. There are about 125 volunteers that do everything that full-time employees used to do.

Did you hear that? Beatings! No, that didn't say, "beatings." But I didn't hear anything about free coffee and donuts, neither.

Yes, you should argue that no one is forcing anyone to work in the library for free. But what other choice is there? Every day, our library is filled with folks in search of something to do. Playing FarmVille.

Walmart couldn't get away with paying Americans nothing to work. As much as you want to curse them for other abuses, this isn't one of them. Neither could Best Buy or McDonald's or any other company in America. But libraries are doing it right now. And if library management companies are allowed to get away with profiting from unpaid workers, and don't even get me started on how Facebook does this, how soon will other companies be allowed to follow?

So when your library is out of money and some bean counter suggests that a private management company can run the library more cheaply, ask how volunteers will fit into this plan. Because if this company is making a profit while using unpaid labor to perform most of the work, you'd best check your iPhone to make sure you didn't just download an app that you thought was going to make your photos look olde-timey, but actually made everything olde timey, like it's 1850. If so, head north.

No, your GPS won't work; it's 1850, idiot.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Learn to Fucking Search

You digital natives with your iPads
are masters of Facebook, it's true.
Yet you cannot locate a decent article for class.
You really suck at searching, Fuck you.

You use the Google toolbar to find Mapquest
and you use Bing to locate Yahoo!
Your password's the same as your birthday.
Your net skillz suck, so Fuck you.

You have the best tablet or smartphone.
You're always on Foursquare, GetGlue.
You share intimate details with everyone.
We're robbing your house now, Fuck you.

Your research technique is to Google.
And Google is all you can do.
You got an F on your last paper.
You can't find shit, so Fuck you.

Google-y Google-y Google-y Goo.
Google-y Google-y Google-y Goo.
Google-y Google-y Google-y Goo.
Google-y Google-y Google. Fuck you.

Use databases for peer-reviewed journals.
But use Google to find a tattoo.
If you can't learn to tell the difference
You're totally screwed, so Fuck you.

Put phrases inside quotations;
Learn to use minus signs, too.
Learn to search the fucking Internet.
An old fart like me can, so Fuck you.

If you get lost, ask a librarian
because searching is what we can do.
But if you're too cool to ask for assistance
you deserve to fail, asshole. Fuck you.

:: idea stolen from Shelf Check, Emily Lloyd's awesome toonblog... which she stole from Go the Fuck to Sleep and I adapted it to include research from What Students Don't Know ... if I get the time, I'll use some cartoon site to illustate it with lions and shit...

ok, here's a picture... but I'm too lazy to do the whole thing... but it would look pretty cool if I did.

Image Copyright © 2007 Jeremiah Blatz

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Internet, explained in language you can understand

Remember that PSA for HIV where they told you to wear a condom or make your partner wear a condom because when you sleep with someone, you are also sleeping with every other person he or she has ever slept with?

If you understand the necessity for wearing a rubber then you should be able to understand much of what I do at the library.

So let me apply your condom understanding to the Internet.

When you use the Internet, it's like you are sticking your penis into every orifice on the planet all at once. Or shoving every penis-shaped object in the world into every hole in your body. Whichever image best helps you to understand. So imagine that. Think of all the holes or pockets or indentations you can imagine: another person, a fish's mouth, a knot in an old tree, a rifle barrel, your car's tailpipe, whatever it is, you're jamming your prick into it. Of think of every monkey's paw or beer bottle or cucumber or every other object being crammed into you at once.

That is what happens to your computer when you look at stuff on the Internet. It is literally crawling over naked bodies in the most crowded, filthiest orgy in the world. And all the lights are out so you can't see a thing.

And this is by no means an exaggeration. This is the truth. This is really happening to your computer, but you can't see it.

"But my computer is not that kind of computer," you protest. No. Your computer is a whore. Just like every other computer. You might want to argue that your computer got raped when you went on the Internet, but you'd lose. The very nature of how your computer communicates with other computers means it was looking for it. A million dirty hands are all over it before your computer can even think to shout, Stop!

Now that you know what's going on, think about what you're really saying when you call me over in the library to tell me that your computer is "acting funny." Imagine what your doctor might say if you complained about your body feeling funny a few days after you rolled around naked with a few thousand of your friends of various species. "Yeah, it's possible my jaw hurts because I may have given a blowjob to a walrus," you'd have to admit just before your doctor sterilized the examination table with a whole lot of fire.

Sure, we have a firewall and antivirus software running to protect the computer, but doesn't mean you won't put your hand in something funky.

So when the computer starts doing something weird, don't expect me to know what it is. It's the Internet. Just be thankful you can't see everything that's going on out there in it. Did you ever see that movie, The Ring? Where there's a video that's so horrible that if you watch it, 7 days later you die? And did you ever see TRON? Where cyberspace is all neon lit cities and hot chicks in skin-tight body suits? Take a guess which movie is closest to what the Internet is like. Hint: it's not the one about computers.

So when I don't know what's wrong with your computer after I've just looked at it for all of 3 seconds, try to not be such an asshole about it. Think about all that stuff that just happened to your computer. All that terrifying and gross stuff. And try not to throw up on my shoes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Libraries: making you feel like shit all over again

It's pretty much ever other day since I became a librarian that I hear, "It's been so long since I've been to the library."

And since computers have existed since before I went to library school, it's been every other other day that I've heard, "I've never used a computer."

And by next year I'll need to find new days to squeeze in for all the times I'll hear, "This fucking iPad can suck my dick."

So it seems like forever that libraries have been making people feel stupid or guilty or unsuccessful or lazy. We're constantly changing to add new technologies to make our patrons feel like shit.

Remember that many of your patrons learned to use the library by borrowing printed books. And that technology didn't change very much from year to year. Except the collection changed. New books arrived and found homes on the shelves next to the older books. So there was an actual, tangible history on the shelves. One could hold an old book that was once enjoyed in childhood in one hand right along with the latest bestseller in the other. And it inspired reflection, reflection on the years that have passed, on life, marriage, children, work, health, death. And all that reflection sucks.

People don't want to remember their lives. Or rather, they want to remember but only when they are guaranteed to not remember the next morning. And that's why we drink. To remember how much our lives suck and how much promise was wasted but to be able to forget it all tomorrow.

That's why shopping is awesome. Everything is new. You don't have to compare your life to some old diet book you tried to apply to your live 15 years ago that didn't work. Or to remember how much you loved reading Dean Koontz and how you met someone else who loved Koontz but then that person turned out to be such an asshole. Everything is wonderful in the Macy's Juniors department.

But libraries always remind you that you don't know shit. If you read books and love them, the next the books will be stamped on gold foil that you read by rubbing them against your teeth. Or worse, the books will require some special hardware to read and some overly complicated process for getting them out of the sky and onto the device. A process that makes you lose control of your bowels, just a little.

So let me apologize to all the library users who just want things to be the way they were way back when they first visited the library. I'm sorry. From all the libraries everywhere, I'm deeply sorry.

Libraries keep changing. But yet we keep all the old stuff to keep you off balance and fuck up your day. Just when you got used to borrowing The Sound of Music on VHS, we dumped that copy and bought it on DVD. And now that you've learned to love your DVD player, we're switching to blu-ray. And next April we're going full streaming HD video. Won't that just make you lose your shit?

But it's not our fault.

Your one bit of satisfaction should come from knowing that all the smug assholes stroking and caressing their iPads now will be the old codgers later when the idea of manipulating a device with one's hands will seem prehistoric because all the world's data will just shoot out from our asses.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it.

So fewer schools are teaching kids cursive writing. And many of you probably don't care. Click this link for what I said about this a couple of years ago.

But think about all the places where a kid needs to know cursive, like signing yearbooks. Oh, wait, I guess in the future, all school yearbooks will be a Facebook page and kids will pay $75 for the app to be able to view it and leave messages. Duh.

But, really? Didn't you love seeing everyone's handwriting? Didn't you compare the cute curves of most girls' notes to the awkward blocky text of the boys? Didn't that make you laugh? I always wondered how the girls learned to write so cute. Look at this example [reading from my 19** middle school yearbook] "U R the sweetest. Yum! I hope to C U this summer."

See? That's awesome. And that was written by, oh, um... Stephen. Yeah, I remember now. That was a good summer, our secret summer. What ever happened to Stephen?

And what about our serial killers? How will we be able to identify the tell-tale signs of their future horrors without being able to analyze their handwriting after they kill all those people? "Oh, look at this letter 'a,'" we'll say, "this was a clue that he was a ticking time bomb." Isn't it funny how we all do that? After some terrible action like a mass killing, we look back to see if we could have predicted it and stopped it before it happened. Like solving a maze from the end going backwards. Which is easy as hell. But try to solve the maze going in the right direction and you get blindsided by dead ends or traps. So now we'll without the "Monday morning quarterback" wisdom of the handwriting analysts.

And speaking of evil, how can you strike a deal with the Devil if you only know how to text? You can't sign your name to become a billionaire or a movie star! You can bet Tom Cruise is teaching his kids how to write in cursive. Maybe the Devil has a BlackBerry, I don't know. I just think he does business that way. Don't ask how I know. But when my birthday rolls around, I always know whose card is in the singed red envelope.

So some day when kids can't write in longhand and we've had a century of texting and interweb lingo and our civilization has fallen due to that meteor that the government keeps saying will totally miss us and we have to create a new government, I'm guessing that we won't have these words to help guide us:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

But we'll have this because this is what our schools will be teaching in 5 years:

we hld thz trootz 2B slf-Fident, dat ll men r cr8d eql, dat thyre Ndowd by ther cre8r W certN Nalienabl ryts, dat mong deez r lyf, lberty n d prsuit of ^^.

But maybe cursive writing isn't such a big deal. I've never had a purchase rejected because my signature didn't match something that I don't know what it should match when I check out at Best Buy and pay by credit card. I move the pen in circular motions on the screen of the scanner and it makes some line on the cashier's screen and she presses a key and I get my receipt. It's an obsolete action that is probably just a carry-over from days of the Old West when the local feed store refused to take Discover.

So kids won't be able to compose beautiful notes to each other or write flower love poems with pretty penmanship. They'll have emoticons. And I think the right one for that feeling is <3. That's either a heart or a witch with big tits. But either way, Love.