The mildly perturbed librarian

Some folks that I respect a lot now respect Library Journal a lot less, due to LJ’s decision to pick up The Annoyed Librarian. And, since people have asked me for my take via email (and, last week, in a live Q&A session), I figured I’d come out and say it:

I understand why LJ hired her. I’m going to keep reading LJ (well, at least the random bits and pieces I read before). I’m going to continue to write for LJ (well, at least the bits and pieces where they haven’t fired me).

OK, why?

  1. LJ is a business, and this is a business decision. Any uproar about the AL plays into their hands: They’re looking for clicks, so they can attract advertisers. They don’t care whether you check into the AL because you love her, or because she… annoys you.
  2. LJ is owned by Reed Elsevier, folks. (At least til they manage to unload it.) Reed Elsevier isn’t your librarian-next-door — they’re in this, again, to make money. If you didn’t stop reading LJ when Reed bought them and the budget skimping started to become more apparent, the AL probably shouldn’t push you over the edge.
  3. The AL’s posts have nothing to do with the content of the rest of the magazine. If it was useful to me before, it remains useful to me now.
  4. LJ has posted annoying, insulting, and downright stupid content before (*cough* “Revenge of the Blog People” *cough*). Although this excited comment, no one really dropped LJ because it lent legitimacy to these views by publishing them. I don’t see pseudonymity as the straw that makes the difference.
  5. LJ employs other bloggers whose work I respect; it seems to make just as much sense to read LJ because it’s lent legitimacy to these people, as to not read LJ because it’s lent legitimacy to the AL.

OK, are you saying that you respect the AL?

Nope, I’m simply saying that I respect LJ’s decision to pick up her blog. There’s a place for pseudonymous online expression, but this ain’t it — hiding behind a pseudonym in order to attack other people by name is both cowardly and lame. I’m saying that I respect LJ’s decision, but wouldn’t necessarily have made the same decision. And, for what it’s worth, the AL has gotten much less interesting since she joined LJ, I’m guessing because of the pressure to post regularly and not when the annoyed muse strikes; I haven’t bothered to click through from her feed for a while.


  1. Jeff:

    Excellent points! People getting angry about it plays right into their hands. It’s the Howard Stern effect.

  2. zjth:

    I am glad I was not the only one wondering why LJ picked up AL, but I do understand why it happened and agree that getting angry about it does not solve the problem that she is being read by so many people. I am glad you shared your opinion and I think others are happy to see you have spoken up.

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