July 22, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, April 1, 2013 Issue

American Indians, too

Thank you for your editorial on diversity in the library profession (Michael Kelley, “Diversity Never Happens,” LJ 2/15/13, p. 8). As a non-Indian member of the American Indian Library Association and acutely aware of the lack of visibility given to the most neglected minority in this country (although at one point in time the majority on the American continent), namely American Indians and Native Alaskans, I would like to point out that you cannot speak of diversity and continually exclude this group of people. American Indian people exist and some of them are librarians or manage and work in libraries, e.g., at tribal colleges and universities, reservation schools, and archives and museums that highlight the histories and cultures of American Indians. Taking into consideration the detrimental policies of this country’s government toward American Indian tribes, I feel that we have a special responsibility to lift these people up every time we can. Their resilience and continuing efforts to overcome enormous challenges to preserve their cultures, languages, and ways of life need to be recognized.

—Ramona Kohrs, Libn.,
Dag Hammarskjöld Lib.,
United Nations, New York

Difficult situations

I don’t know if this qualifies as a “soft skill,” but I think that library schools need to do a much better job of preparing students to work in the actual library environment—especially for those wanting to work in public libraries (Michael Stephens, “Essential Soft Skills,” Office Hours, LJ 2/15/13, p. 39). How many classes do library schools offer in working with patrons? Do they teach skills used to enforce the patron behavior policy? Do students learn how to provide customer service even for difficult patrons? Just this month, I have asked an inebriated patron to leave the library, called 911 for a patron going into a diabetic coma, broken up a verbal fight between two teenagers, soothed multiple patrons who were angry about the late tax forms, managed several patrons who didn’t want to pay for their computer printouts, talked to a patron about his offensive body odor, and asked a plethora of patrons to keep their voices/music down in the quiet area. Library school did not provide any training in dealing with these difficult situations. I developed my skills by volunteering on the local crisis line and learning from more experienced staff. Providing a safe, supportive environment in which all of our patrons feel welcome is easily as important as having the latest technology. I would like to see library schools put more emphasis on these essential people skills.

—Susie McIntyre, Great Falls P.L., MT

Pushing erotica

Purchase, “market,” and display erotica, right? This is what Katie Dunneback would have public librarians do (“Erotica’s Full-Frontal Shelving,” LJ 2/15/13, p. 20–24)? If a man had written Fifty Shades of Grey…every woman in the country would be screaming “pornography,” but since a woman wrote it, the book is considered “feminist literature.” Yeah! I see how this works.

She would have us stick our necks out pushing mainly feminist erotica while she publishes this stuff using a pseudonym. Sounds like a case of do as I say but not as I do!

In a state like Pennsylvania, where public libraries are going begging financially, she would have us use scarce resources to purchase marginal materials instead of meeting more legitimate collection development needs? I don’t think so. If users want access to this genre they can utilize interlibrary loan while our collection development money will be used for other, more important uses.

—Harold N. Boyer,
Springfield Twp. Lib., PA

No place for guns

What is Donna Clark thinking (“Certainly pro-gun,” Feedback, LJ 2/15/13, p. 11)? She works in a library right? She should try using her tech savvy to do some research regarding the truth about our armed populace. The Second Amendment has been hijacked by the NRA and lobbyists…. Does Clark even have a definition for the amendment’s “well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”?

The writers of the Constitution did not add the Second Amendment for individuals to own guns for their personal use; they added it to protect the new country from internal insurrection and/or foreign invasion. This has been proven over and over by scholars, yet the idea of an armed populace being somehow safer has been spread by purveyors of junk science and lobbyists. The gun industry is a billion-dollar industry, and they want to keep it that way.

I defend the First Amendment, but I do not think you should be able to say, “I have a bomb at the airport.” No Amendment can be 100 percent enforceable, and guns have no place in the library!…

—Jeremy Kitchen, Chicago P.L.

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