By Meredith Farkas | November 18, 2008
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine commented on the fact that I hadn’t written anything about the Annoyed Librarian being paid to blog for Library Journal. That was more a result of my having kidney stones and being in excruciating pain than my not wanting to comment on it. But also, I really didn’t have strong feelings about this other than the fact that I think Library Journal is a day late and a dollar short in capitalizing on the Annoyed Librarian. AL was big 12-20 months ago and since last winter has really lost her/his/their edge. It seemed to me that the AL had lost their motivation to blog and was doing it out of obligation more than out of inspiration. Perhaps that’s what happens when someone so “edgy” becomes mainstream. I think Library Journal is smart to capitalize on controversial or popular bloggers, but I can think of many blogs that would have been better to co-opt to secure long-term traffic increases. I’m sure they got a lot of traffic with the initial controversy (there’s no such thing as bad press if it gets you more traffic), but I think most people feel like AL is kind of 5 minutes ago and the gains will likely not be lasting.
Now there’s a new controversy regarding the AL and this one has gotten a lot of my very level-headed friends in a lather. I don’t blame them. Apparently, the Journal of Access Services has printed an entire issue written by the Annoyed Librarian. For someone who has gone through the onerous process of submitting material to peer-reviewed journals (and probably modifying it one or more times to meet their rigid criteria), it must be pretty aggravating to see a pseudonymous blogger get an entire issue to pontificate in the same way she/he/they do on their blog. People who’ve had their work rejected by a peer-reviewed journal must be seething over this and I can hardly blame them. I don’t write for peer reviewed journals since I’m not tenure-track and I actually want my work to be read. So this doesn’t make me particularly annoyed. To me, it’s just another reminder that peer-reviewed journals are completely irrelevant to me. So many peer-reviewed journals publish absolutely useless studies that were primarily done for the sake of getting the authors tenure. But at least I felt they had some sort of quality standards. I didn’t think they kowtowed to “celebrity” over substance. To pull a stunt like this reeks of desperation and while more people may look at that issue than have ever looked at all of the issues of the Journal of Access Services combined, I would guess that the net effect will be negative as people lose respect for this journal.
So, again, I am definitely not the Annoyed Librarian, but neither am I particularly annoyed about all this stuff. I was already well-aware of the fact that traditional media was becoming increasingly irrelevant and I’d say that there are few clearer signs of that than its co-optation of the Annoyed Librarian.
If you want to see a really amusing take on the whole Annoyed Librarian kerfuffle, check out Steve Lawson’s one-act play/post.