“And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations”
—David Bowie

I have vague memories of getting points taken off on my math homework for not showing my work, and even worse, being marked down for coming up with the right answer, but doing so by not using the proper method. More recently, in the early days of the web, I recall struggling to write code up to spec that also rendered properly in browsers with a variety of quirks. …


Lettuce for Days by Tim Mossholder

“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”
—Abraham Lincoln (January 27, 1838)

“Our LibGuides are a mess.”
—Every single librarian I’ve ever talked to

I’m still coming to grips with how boring librarianship can be. More of my workday than I’d care to admit, not to mention my life in general, is taken up by mundane upkeep, routine maintenance, and basic troubleshooting. “Have you tried restarting?” sorts of things.

Library technology sure ain’t perfect. When you link out to hundreds of databases and thousands of other content hosts, having a totally operational system is…


“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche

[Although it should go without saying, I feel the need to explicitly state this: “expressed opinions are solely my own” certainly applies here.]

Dear Professor Figment,

I’m writing back about your recent inquiry that was sent to our Ask a Librarian service of, “Should I use Sci-Hub to obtain articles for my research?”

This is a tricky issue, and ultimately the answer is something for you to determine, yet I can give you a bit of background information which should help you make a…


“Scholastic sanctuary is just another way of protecting bloated privilege.”
His Dark Materials

Tig Notaro joined the cast of the new zombie film Army of the Dead rather late: after principal photography was completed. Her scenes were shot so that she could digitally replace an actor accused of statutory rape. A similar thing was previously done with Christopher Plummer taking over Kevin Spacey’s role in All the Money.

The movie studios making these business decisions to bear extra production expenses did so as an effort to ultimately reduce costs and generate revenue. This is akin to how publishers may cancel…


“Do you think God stays in Heaven because he too lives in fear of what he’s created?”
Spy Kids 2

What’s the speed limit? If you’re a Tesla, you think it’s 85. Now does that make you want to get behind the wheel of one and engage its so-called autopilot function? This is no laughing matter. People are dead because these flawed features have been both over-sold and rushed to market.

One case involved a driver who, against the owner’s manual recommendations, was possibly watching a movie on a portable DVD player while their car sped down a highway, and…


“And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again.”
Mad Max 2

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought to light many institutional deficiencies, some of which have to do with not properly placing the authority for decision-making with the most knowledgeable people, while others illustrate our over-reliance on historical precedents in not taking full advantage of available technology. Due to a policy change by my administration, I am now telecommuting full time. Several online content providers are lifting their paywalls. …


“Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.”
—Mary Elizabeth Frye

One of these days, hopefully a long time from now, the sun will rise, but I won’t be around to see it. And at some point, most likely, even the sun will set for its final time. As much as I’ve started to ruminate on such inevitabilities, as someone well in to middle age, I don’t think anyone, or at least anyone all that healthy, truly understands the significance of our mortality.

Death is part of life. Our eventual demise impacts…


Photo by Jerry Zhang

“If you’re still using an OPAC, I’m sorry.”
—Andrew Pace, LITA 2014 Forum

Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-two hour marathon is not recognized as a world record because, among other things, he grabbed water bottles from a pace scooter rather than marginally slowing down to pick them up from a non-moving source. Compare to how the cycling “hour record” stood unchanged for decades, until in 2014 the governing body revised its regulations regarding the type of equipment allowed, causing the record to be broken a half-dozen times since.

Another athletic controversy is brewing over the Nike shoes worn by Kipchoge and other…


“If you want those who come after you to jump through the same hoops you had to (instead of making their lives easier), please seek therapy. They shouldn’t have to go through whatever hardship you went through, and *you* shouldn’t have had to go through that either.”
—Chelsea Misquith

The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, an icon of opulent French nobility, was so decorated largely because, as Wikipedia explains, “In the 17th century, mirrors were among the most expensive items to possess.” Compared to palace visitors at that time, people noticing a bathroom mirror from the hardware store in my…


Photo by Lorraine Kisselburgh

“Don’t ever invite a vampire into your house, you silly boy. It renders you powerless.”
The Lost Boys

“We just want to make sure he wasn’t looking at child pornography,” one of the uniformed police officers told me. I was the evening reference librarian on duty and the cops had shown up because a drunk patron (not one of our regulars, like the “sunglasses man” or “baseball cap guy” who frequent many public libraries), bottle in hand, was causing a commotion.

Even though I was just a year or two out of library school, where we had gone over patron…

John Hubbard

Librarian at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

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