October 30, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, September 1, 2012 Issue

A rotten job

The government wants to focus on education and bring up reading proficiency for U.S. students. I know: let’s cut funding to school libraries and public libraries. After all, you can get anything you need on the Internet (“Louisiana Eliminates State Aid to Public Libraries”). Now what else can we cut? Technology funding! After all, why should all those tax dollars people send in from their salaries and purchases be wasted on educating them? If the government educates citizens, they just might realize what a rotten job its doing handling their money and vote them out of office!

—Meagan Bennett, Bloomer P.L., WI

We need clocks

I once worked in a library…and there were no clocks on the walls of our beautiful new building (Charles Mueller, “Reining in the Clutter of Library Signage”). The architect’s reasoning was that “everybody” has watches or personal devices nowadays and that our computers, which were placed throughout the building, provided the time. In real life, what we experienced (especially with younger and older patrons) was a constant barrage of people coming up to the circ desk to ask what time it was. As staff, we decided to hang a clock above the circ desk. The questions went way down. Then the architect came back for a visit and said the clock was not part of the vision and should be removed, so management removed it. In some cases, extra things are added to the vision of an architect by staff, not because we are out to destroy the aesthetic but because it is practical….

—Name withheld upon request

Fear & anger at Harvard

As someone who works at a Harvard Library and is part of those who may “nearly” (please note the use of quotations) have a job, the title of your article is misleading at best (“No Mass Layoffs at Harvard Libraries”). By stating “nearly all” staff will have positions, those running this transition have left themselves plenty of wiggle room to still lay off staff.

The implication that library jobs were saved as a result of the retirement package offered is a nice bit of spin, but I’m not sure it’s entirely true. Several people at my library were already planning to take retirement, or decided to do so due to the uncertainty of having a job in the future. I wanted to read the Harvard Crimson article that this information seems to have come from, but unfortunately the page won’t load.

On August 1, we [were] supposed to find…if we’re still employed. The reality is that all of us face the chopping block, both regular employees and managers; this is not a “staff vs. managers” type of deal, and the transition team has been stingy with details…. The environment…has gone from fear and anger to morbid joking. Morale is shot, people are looking for jobs, and despite the 26 jobs that appeared somewhere, we are still very much understaffed and working our behinds off to make it all work. The rosy implications of this article are not the reality.

—Name withheld upon request

Whine less

I do not believe you can “give” librarians equal status to teaching and research staff (“Sage Study: “Academic Libraries Have Yet To Prove Value”). First, that assignment just drives librarians into their own narrow path of specialty, since the way to evaluate and reward such status assigns no value to the community efforts required for librarians to provide value to the process but to individual achievement, grants, and publications. Second, the way to achieve partnership in the process is to be seen as contributing to it with energy and commitment, to bring your best efforts and make yourself indispensable to the teaching and research community. It is hard work, it is other-directed, and it tends to frustrate the organizational structure, since it means one’s loyalties are to the customers and their process, not necessarily to the library structure itself, or to personal professional advancement. To add value to the teaching and research process, a librarian does not [need] faculty rank, advanced subject degrees, or other trappings. A librarian has to make her/himself a working part of the educational machine, with zeal, dedication, and active engagement…. Work harder, whine less.

—Name withheld upon request

Corrections

Momentum Builds for DCL’s Ebook Model” (InfoTech, LJ 6/1/12, p. 18-20) incorrectly stated that eiNetwork Libraries in Pennsylvania are planning to adopt the library-owned ebook model pioneered by Douglas County Libraries (DCL). eiNetwork is working with the libraries mentioned in the story—DCL; Wake County Public Libraries, NC; Marmot Library Network, CO; and Anythink Libraries, CO—on a fork of the VuFind open source OPAC but is not currently planning to adopt the DCL ebook model.

The very much living Jerome Charyn’s Elsinore will be published by MysteriousPress.com (“From Magick to BBQ and Backlist,” LJ 7/12, p. 34–37) and is also distributed by Open Road.

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