April 16, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, January 2013 Issue

The Potter ebook model

Michael Kelley is correct (“A Modest Ebook Proposal,” Editorial, LJ 11/1/12, p. 8) that time is a better “meter” than circulation. The five-year option for the ebook of Harry Potter is an excellent model. How many ebook copies of Fifty Shades of Grey will my library need in five years? I suspect it will be only one. As I would with a print book, I can evaluate collection needs and allocate resources appropriately. The HarperCollins model falls too short of the actual life span of a print book to make it attractive to our electronic collection. I encourage the Harry Potter model as a reasonable compromise.

—Paula S.W. Laurita, Dir.,
Athens-Limestone P.L., AL

At work on copyright

A note of appreciation for a bold and essential statement that reinforces our commitment, acknowledges our progress, and articulates our continuing challenges (John Berry, “The Fight for Free Information,” Blatant Berry, LJ 11/1/12, p. 10). Onward! The Library Copyright Alliance is hard at work and hosted a daylong strategy session in Washington in early November.

—James G. Neal, VP for Information Svcs.
and Univ. Libn., Columbia Univ., NY;
Treasurer, American Library Assn.

Neglected NY PAC

John Berry’s “A New Weapon for Budgets” (Blatant Berry, LJ 10/1/12, p. 8) neglects to mention a group that was established in New York at least nine years ago (2003) to do just the things highlighted in this column. New Yorkers for Better Libraries PAC was created by a group of library advocates, including former presidents of the New York Library Association (NYLA), activist trustees, and a number of members of the rank and file to provide a mechanism for political action that NYLA could not provide. Through the actions of this group, which initially raised funds through individual donations, funding was available to “buy” seats at political events and gain better access to political leaders. Important groups around the state have held additional fundraising events, such as golf outings, evening cruises to nowhere, bowling parties, etc., to support the PAC.

For the past two years, the PAC has issued a “report card” on our statewide legislators with respect to their votes and sponsorship of bills supporting library service. Legislators took notice of this report card when their grades were poor. Legislators who received positive grades made sure that their constituents knew that their work for libraries was ­recognized….

—Arthur Friedman, 2004 Pres., NYLA; Prof.,

Lib., Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, NY

Know what to ask

I’ve had…interviews, but I have yet to get a job, so I appreciate any interview advice (Cheryl LaGuardia, “Interviewing Across Generations | Not Dead Yet”). One piece of advice for interviewers is to think specifically about the kind of technological skills you seek in a candidate. Too often there is a mismatch between older and younger librarians about what counts as technological “skills.” I’ve answered the tech question by going into detail about my knowledge of a particular advanced technology relevant to the job description—e.g., library databases—only to find that the interviewer wanted to get at my skills in Microsoft Word or something. If interviewers don’t know what questions to ask, they might miss out on a candidate with the right skills….

—Name withheld upon request

To be a librarian

Sounds like “name withheld” (“Outreach now,” Feedback, LJ 11/1/12, p. 11) needs to speed up her reading of What Color Is Your Parachute? and get away from her reference desk. She’s the only librarian I’ve ever heard complain about computers, which allow us to expand both the scope of our jobs and the ways we’re able to serve our users. And if she thinks readers’ advisory is limited to telling readers what they must read to earn a librarian’s respect, she’s missed a fundamental change in what it means to be a librarian.

Without outreach and marketing, we wouldn’t be able to tell our users­—our taxpayers and supporters—all of the wonderful things that are happening in the modern library that professionals are working to make happen….

—Andrew Smith, Readers Svcs. Libn.,
Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA

Shame on LJ

I’m disheartened to see the number of letters on the LJ Feedback page submitted by “Name withheld upon request.” Since when have librarians been afraid of speaking their minds and taking credit for what they say? Is it a fear of retribution at work that does not enable folks to claim their opinions publicly? I cannot think of another reason. Shame on them for not taking a solid stance. Shame on their workplaces for not supporting diversity of opinions. Shame on LJ for publishing letters that take a coward’s way out.

—Proudly signed Leslie Pallotta,
Cranberry P.L., PA


LJ welcomes letters and will publish as many as possible. Those that exceed 250 words may be excerpted by the editors. Email ljfeedback@mediasourceinc.com; or write to: Feedback, LJ, 160 Varick Street, 11th floor, New York, NY 10013; FAX 646-380-0756/0757

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