November 23, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, December 1, 2012 Issue

For the Harper model

I agree with Michael Kelley (“A Modest Ebook Proposal,” Editorial, LJ 11/1/12, p. 8). If there must be limits on ebooks for libraries, I would much rather have the HarperCollins model with its reasonable (for library ebooks) prices and their immediate availability. We are using the 3M platform, and we just gained access to Penguin books with prices from $9.99 to $23.99 per title. Their prices help offset [our having] to re-purchase the books every year, and they are all backlist titles. I am uncertain how many Penguin books we will buy once they become available to all 3M customers. The public does want the ebooks at the same time the physical books become available. I’m not sure how many people will wait six months just to avoid spending $10–$12 for a book they really want to read, especially since they don’t know if we will buy it or not.

—Vicky Hagemeister, Asst. Dir.,
East Albemarle Regional Lib.,
Currituck Cty. P.L., Barco, NC

Awe-inspiring

Thank you for such an eye-opening statement (Michael Kelley, “First Words,” Editorial, LJ 10/15/12, p. 8). We as librarians, being caught in the day-to-day activities, often forget what an awe-­inspiring job we actually have. We know this in the back of our minds, but sometimes that thought is left there…. So thanks for bringing it to the front once again. We have a monthly library journal of our own, and I plan to run the editorial (giving LJ full credit, of course) in our next issue as a full-page ad for the enjoyment of the public and our staff.

—Jennifer Brax, Adult Svcs. Libn.,
Perry Memorial Lib., Henderson, NC

Make it easier, Roy

In many debates, I find it interesting to look for a variable to change that would benefit both sides (Roy Tennant, “Fostering Female Technology Leadership in Libraries,” ow.ly/fhE60). Yes, we need more women in library tech. Yes, women can do the work. Yes, the culture can be alienating. And, yes, the hours one devotes to it are outrageous, and this is undoubtedly a factor in some people’s decision-making process. So if we made it easier to get started in the field of library technology and easier to participate in it, wouldn’t that solve a lot of problems? Specifically, I’m talking about providing on-the-job learning opportunities and reasonable hours.

I know I’m not the only one who has trouble recruiting for a skill set I need, because we really do have a skill shortage in some areas. And yet in other parts of librarianship I hear that people have trouble finding work, or would like to transition to higher-paying, more in-demand skills areas but don’t know how. What paths can we build from one group to the other? Can we make it a little more enticing than, “After you get home, and get dinner on the table, and get the kids to bed, then study some more.” Because that is our current talent recruitment pitch.

From the other side, I have trouble recruiting among the Silicon Valley set because I can’t offer stock options. So as a hiring manager, as long as I’m competing with money, I can’t compete. But what if I compete on happiness? Right now it’s pretty commonplace in Silicon Valley to force IT staff to work long days, seven days per week. This is where the “I work any hours as long as you pay me more” mentality takes you, and it isn’t a great situation for anyone. I think employers who focus on quality of life issues, like being home for dinner every night, in lieu of outrageous salaries, might improve their talent recruitment odds on all fronts, and employers who focus on creating more opportunities for on-the-job learning, instead of fighting over already-skilled staff, might find themselves solving all kinds of problems.

—Bess Sadler, Mgr. for Application
Development, Digital Lib. Systs. & Svcs.,
Stanford Univ. Lib., CA

Librarians evolve

In response to “Outreach now” (Name Withheld, Feedback, LJ 11/1/12, p. 11), I’m not sure that reading novels and histories, alphabetizing, and using indexes is the epitome of being a professional librarian. I’ve been a degreed librarian for 42 years (and still on the job at age 72!)…. I recognize that the library of my childhood in the 1940s was different from…the library of today. Libraries evolve, and so do librarians. Being professional…means recognizing and accepting the challenge of a changing institution and a willingness to learn new skills and to apply both old and new skills in new and different ways. Rather than read What Color Is Your Parachute? I would suggest that Name Withheld look for a few (online) refresher courses in newer aspects of ­librarianship.

—George C. Brown, Asst. Dir.,
Shrewsbury P.L., MA

Correction

In “Access Should Be Blind” (Editorial, LJ 11/15/12, p. 8), Baltimore is the correct location of the Brown Goldstein Levy law firm; the conference in question was held at New York Law School.

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