October 28, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, February 15, 2012 Issue

A new ebook model

Librarians are having at least as much trouble as publishers coming up with a new business model in response to ­ebooks (“ALA Midwinter 2012: ALA To Meet with Top Executives of Macmillan, ­Simon & Schuster, and Penguin on Ebook Lending,” ow.ly/8Ge5E). With the entry of ebooks onto the landscape, a queer feature of printed books has taken on salience. Their intellectual property content has been sold to libraries and loaned to patrons for its availability, not its use. The content creators get compensated even if the content is never accessed. Unread books. Ebooks don’t need to take on this unfortunate attribute. Patron’s having possession of ebooks they aren’t reading? Why do we want that? They could be distributed through a public library server in a way that compensates authors whenever their work is actually being read. Why compensate availability when you can compensate actual use?

How could such a system function? Make all works in the system available all the time, as many copies as necessary to meet demand. Put a by-the-minute simultaneous lease/lend transaction on the patron’s device that kicks in whenever the work is actually being read. (Amazon already knows exactly when its ebooks are being read because they need the information to sync devices.) Patrons’ free daily usage of a work could be limited, with an option to pay for extensions beyond the daily limit at a rate higher than the library pays, generating cash flow to the library’s leasing budget. The real demand for a work is known. Pricing, budgets, and limits can be established. Free market. Free libraries.

—John Cady, Trustee,
Roeliff Jansen Community Lib., Hillsdale, NY

Older librarians insulted

Based on the conversations I’ve had recently over John Berry’s “Enlist the New Librarians” (Blatant Berry, LJ 9/1/11, p. 11), I think you may have insulted and deflated the aspirations of more “older” librarians….

“These future librarians are exceedingly more receptive to…competition, opposition…than our profession has demonstrated in past decades. After all, they have grown up in a crowd….” Receptive? And what is a “crowd” as you describe? There is more to debate in the piece, but are new librarians really better than “newer, but older in age” librarians? Right now, there are thousands of men and women between 35 and 55 in graduate school pursuing a master’s in library science because they want to contribute and they “get it,” with regard to the technology, the need for change, etc.

I’m sure Berry didn’t intend to alienate the new but older professionals, but I felt the piece was championing youth for the wrong reasons. We all know we need to replace aging workers, but to remind those people to hurry up or else is not the answer….

Based on your photograph, the argument could be made for recruiting new editors to build a more robust future….

—Russ Riendeau, Sr. Partner,
East Wing Group, Inc., Barrington, IL

Professional excellence

I enjoyed reading Nicole Brown’s “Advice for Career Builders,” Deborah Lilton’s “There Is Work To Be done,” Dalena Hunter’s “With Advocacy and Collaboration,” and Kristin Centanni’s “Making the Most of It” (all in John Berry’s “Career Tips from the Trenches,” LJ 10/15/11, p. 28–31)…. I worked with Brown at the American University in Cairo (Egypt), and she is the consummate information specialist. She is also the personification of professional excellence in the field of information science and a great example for all who wish to pursue this vocation.

—Murle E. Kenerson, Assoc. Prof. & Asst. Dir. for Pub. Svcs., Brown-Daniel Lib.,
Tennessee State Univ., Nashville

Why knock Dallas?

As a Dallas-area librarian, I wish “Occupy ALA” (John Berry, LJ 12/11, p. 67–68) had been a bit more positive in tone. Why exactly is “Dallas not every librarian’s favorite destination”? And how will a sentence like that attract attendees to Midwinter? I can guess what Berry means. What a shame that he feels as he apparently does!

—Name withheld upon request

Fort Atkinson’s jewel

The newly expanded and renovated Dwight Foster Public Library is one of Fort Atkinson’s crown jewels (“Design of the Times,” LJ 12/11, p. 30–46). In all three of its building programs throughout the past century, the library has retained its historical charm while being updated to meet the ever-changing needs of patrons. The youth department is bright, airy, and a big draw.

—Christine Spangler, Managing Ed.,
Daily Jefferson County Union, Fort Atkinson, WI

It’s in West Tisbury

Thanks so much for again awarding the West Tisbury Free Public Library a five-star rating (Keith Curry Lance & Ray ­Lyons, “America’s Star Libraries,” LJ 11/1/11, p. 26–35). Everyone here is thrilled! The library actually is in the town of West Tisbury (not Vineyard Haven, our mailing, rural-delivery address).

—Beth Kramer, Dir., West Tisbury Free P.L., MA

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