November 24, 2014

Feedback: Letters and Comments to LJ, May 1, 2013 Issue

Age is not the problem

While I agree that managers in the position to make hires do their libraries a disservice by turning a blind eye to young, earnest applicants in favor of those with decades of experience, calling out midlife and old librarians specifically is a tenuous generalization (John Berry, “A Rebel Spring”). Age is not the problem; it’s indifference. The struggle to adapt to an ever-changing professional landscape amid the constant threat of budget cuts leaves seasoned librarians jaded. Meanwhile, new librarians are fatigued by job hunts, red tape, and managers who fear innovation. The gusto and energy Berry mentions are not products of a librarian’s age but of his or her attitude. Riding the cusp of his eighth decade does not, unfortunately, make Berry immune to the ageism all too prevalent in our profession. Hiring managers should seek out and foster applicants whose creativity and commitment helped assemble his “Rebel Spring.” Once they do this, I suspect it will lead to an invincible summer, no matter what age. Berry is, however, always welcome to party with us.

—Erin Shea, Head of Adult Programming, Darien Lib., CT

Older, experienced gusto

Some of us older, and experienced, librarians are full of gusto and energy and still advancing the revolution (John Berry, “A Rebel Spring”).

—James G. Neal, VP for Information Svcs. & Univ. Libn., Columbia Univ., New York

Well prepared online

As a current LIS master’s student who has taken exclusively online classes, I want to reassure those unfamiliar with online coursework that my classmates and I are being fully prepared for careers as information professionals (Krystal Taylor, “Lackluster LIS program,” Feedback). I feel neither disconnected from my classmates and professors, nor do I feel that there has been a lack of interactive discussion. Community is built through clubs (meetings are held online), connecting with classmates after class (my study partner lives in Colorado), and Skype meetings with professors (office hours for those who live far away).

Two weeks ago in one of my classes, several students got into a heated discussion about censorship of religious texts in libraries. Although my classmates and I have met only briefly during orientation (if at all), I have not felt there to be any issues with creating discussions through discussion boards, text chat, or verbally in and out of class….

Location is another factor…. As a Virginian, I would have needed to move to another state in order to take classes in a physical classroom…. Although LIS programs are not offered in Virginia, librarians are still needed, and we Virginians have to find a way to get the education that we need….

Most important, the digital age has forced librarians to reach out to their colleagues and communities in inventive ways. Social networking, webinars, and conferences are the ways that we learn about new technologies and partner with other individuals and organizations to help build better programs and services. Online classes have given me the skills sets that I need to be able to reach out to someone I have never met despite the possible awkwardness of such a first meeting.

My online master’s program has prepared me to be an information professional in an age where human inter­action has greatly lessened. I do not fear for LIS programs as long as they can learn to adapt to the current environment…in the way that online learning has for the 21st century.

—Laura Buell, Cataloging Assoc.,
Univ. of Richmond

Small but mighty movers

Congratulations to the 2013 class of “Movers & Shakers.” All deserve the recognition, but especially Todd Bol and Rick Brooks (“Large Need, Small Design”), who started the Little Free Library (LFL) movement. I am so glad they were included and recognized, even though they are not librarians.

Yes, the Little Free Libraries are not real libraries, they are just cute little dollhouses with a few books inside. They cannot and will not replace our traditional libraries. But as librarians, we should embrace and encourage any creative ideas that promote the love of books and reading, literacy, conversation, connection in the neighborhood and community, and peace around the world, whether they are done by librarians or not.

The LFL is such an innovative and wonderful idea. One single little library in the front yard of Bol’s house in Hudson, WI, has grown into almost 7,000 little libraries around the world within a few short years. They are small but mighty….

I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Todd and Rick for their contribution to the causes that are near and dear to our librarians’ hearts.

—Qin Tang, Technical Svcs. Libn.,
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Lib., St. Paul

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Comments

  1. Joneser says:

    Here’s an interesting link on the age question which I found on the AMERICAN LIBRARIES DIRECT e-newsletter:
    http://www.govtech.com/education/Do-Computer-Programmers-Improve-with-Age.html