“Four blind patrons…filed suit against the library…because of a program that loans Nook Simple Touch to patrons over 50. Unlike some other ereaders, the Nook is inaccessible to blind readers.” (“Philadelphia Library Sued Over Nooks,” LJ 6/1/12, p. 13). Give me a break!
The National Federation of the Blind is taking advantage of the plaintiffs and exploiting them. If there is a cash settlement, who do you think will get the money? Audiobooks came into being to serve the sight-impaired community. If there is any justice at all, the judge will point out that these four plaintiffs are not in any way harmed—the same books are available in audio.
This is shameful and disrespectful to all people who are sight-impaired—including my stepdaughter, who has two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s and is working on another master’s in Special Ed. She did it all on her own and never felt the need to sue anybody.
—Rae Wooten, Lib. Acquisitions, Weatherford Coll., TX
What a bunch of balloon juice (Francine Fialkoff, “Owning Up to the Future,” Editorial, LJ 6/1/12, p. 8)! Here we go again, hopping onto the next big thing. I’m sorry. Give the people what they want, and you become an enabler of fat for the brain, the equivalent of a McDonald’s for the intellect. No substance, no nutrition, just pulp and passing fads. I will always maintain that if free public libraries follow the prime directive—to make freely available to the public all the best that’s been recorded—they will always have a place in society because nobody else is providing that service. Yeah, yeah, so what do you say is “the best,” mister smartypants? Stuff written by dead white men? You know what makes the grade, that which has stood the test of time. The technology is irrelevant, whatever the preservation/-delivery medium that provides the widest access. Now what would that look like?
—Name withheld upon request
Those HOME clinics are a perfect example of the mission/support crisis we face (John Berry, “Empowering the Public: San Diego County Library; Library of the Year,” LJ 6/15/12, p. 22–25). We’re morphing the mission of libraries so much to keep them relevant that we risk undermining people supporting them. Those may be great programs, but why are they happening at a library? Is it appropriate to turn a library into a community center without explicitly asking voters to approve that change?
—Steve Wilson, Louisville, KY
It’s not censorship
A library selection policy that results in a given book not being purchased or even being removed from the shelves does not constitute censorship (“FL County Pulls Fifty Shades of Grey from Shelves,” LJ 6/1/12, p. 12). Censorship refers only to government’s preventing the publication and/or distribution/sale of a publication, not the decision of librarians in public or private libraries to add or not to add a publication to its collection. If the book is in the market, it’s clearly not being censored. Most of the time when we hear the alarmist charge of censorship, censorship is not involved. But it’s such an easy bit of rhetorical demagoguery—that is, it works in gaining public attention—that people who should know better wave this bloody shirt anyway.
—Mark E. Roberts, Dir., Holy Spirit Research Ctr., Oral Roberts Univ., Tulsa
We, too, had a beautiful new library building, with visually lovely signage integrated with the design—and the signage, though attractive, was functionally useless (Charles Mueller, “Reining in the Clutter of Library Signage,” BackTalk, ow.ly/ckC4K). The library didn’t get a say in it. We could have told them, for instance, that putting the signage for the washrooms up near the top of the ceiling, over the top of the doors, at about a 12′ height, and making it clear, would mean that it was nearly invisible. We could have told them that hanging the sign for the reference desk at a height of about 18′ and again doing it in nearly clear letters also meant that no one could see it. Sigh. The architects loved the signage. The library staff and users hate it.
—S.R. Walker, New York
Act like a pro
In reference to Rick Anderson’s “Authentic Librarianship and the Importance of Eating One’s Peas” (Peer to Peer Review, ow.ly/ckoHJ), I think it depends on what the skill is. Obviously, driving is something that most adults need to be able to do. Using databases, not so much. Do you go to a lawyer and ask to be taught what you need in order to represent yourself in court? No, you engage one to do that for you. S/he is the professional, not you…. We fret about not being treated like professionals when we refuse to act like one. Doing research is not rocket science, but doing it well requires lots of training and experience.
—Carol Goodson, Head, Lib. Access Svcs., Univ. of West Georgia, Carrollton