April 15, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, October 15, 2013 Issue

“I also believe that one doesn’t delight the customer by saying ‘no,’ but by arranging matters to be able to say ‘yes’ “

Say “no” to bad rules

Well, there are two sets of people who need to hear us say, “no” (Dorothea Salo, “Seizing Inopportune Moments,” Peer to Peer Review). There’s a duty to say “no” to people who are about to get themselves in trouble by breaking the rules as they exist today. I’d rather hear “Aw, nuts!” than “Why didn’t you warn me?!” But there’s also a duty to say “no” to rules that don’t serve the community to which they apply and to deals that don’t deliver what the buyer wants. And to say “no longer” to inappropriate rules already implemented and unrewarding deals already closed.

How to get administrators to buy in, I don’t know. I do believe that to accept something that doesn’t do what you need, just because it’s cheap, is not saving resources; it’s wasting resources. I also believe that one doesn’t delight customers by saying “no” but by arranging matters to be able to say “yes.”

There’s also a duty to remind people that anyone can say “no.” One-sided “agreements” imposed without any attempt at agreement should be uprooted and replaced, when they are onerous enough to make the effort. Sometimes change requires a lot of people all saying, “No, we will forgo these too-costly benefits until the price comes down.”

—Mark Wood, Indianapolis

“Generous” ALA

There needs to be a greater accountability toward the students who are paying for these degrees and expecting to be able to enjoy a professional career afterward (Dan O’Connor & Phil Mulvaney, “LIS Accountability & Accreditation,” LJ 9/1/13). I graduated with my MLIS in 1999 and had so many job offers and opportunities that it was overwhelming. Now these online programs are cranking out an irresponsible number of graduates simply to collect the tuition money, with no market analysis about whether or not there is sufficient job availability….

I do not wish to single out library science as being more predatory than any other academic discipline because I have seen virtually all manner of programs going after free-flowing student loan dollars, but as a librarian I feel the need to fight for the integrity of the profession. I think [the American Library Association] should be less generous when offering its approval to these puppy mills and instead be protecting the reputation of the profession.

One unfortunate outcome of the massive number of LIS grads flooding the market is that the already low salaries are dropping even further. When I have had positions open in my library these newly graduated applicants ask for less money than I did when I graduated almost 15 years ago, which only serves to devalue the profession. The unemployment statistics of recent graduates must be examined by ALA when accrediting LIS programs.

—Leslie Holland, Memphis

The value of the MLS

I enjoyed and agree with John Berry’s “From Amateur to Professional” (Blatant Berry, LJ 8/13). The MLS degree and studies certainly get their share of derogatory comments, articles, and diatribes, but those of us who earned the MLS realize the value ­provided. Over the years, some who have not appreciated the degree did not take full advantage of the study and resources offered and may not feel the degree worthwhile. That says more about them than about the educational process….

—Joseph J. Mika, Prof. Emeritus, Wayne State Univ., Detroit

Protect values

John Berry’s “Money Talks” is excellent (Blatant Berry, LJ 7/13)…. Commercial, profiteering values are invasive. We have to be very conscientious to follow and protect values other than money in today’s culture. I really hope ALA will “keep its own compass,” as they say. I think it takes…courage…to do so.

—Kathy Kleckner, Children’s Libn., Robert Trail Lib., Rosemount, MN

Against ALA’s support

I have to agree with Richard Gagnier regarding the partnership of libraries and the Department of Health and Human Services (“Pushing one viewpoint,” Feedback, LJ 9/15/13). When I first read that ALA agreed to partner with the federal government on providing information on the [Affordable Care Act], I felt disappointed that we were being required to take an active role in providing information on an agenda that many people in the United States are against. Gagnier was correct in pointing out that if we provide information on ACA, we should also be providing information on other insurance plans available to the public.

—Carolyn Manning, Wimberley Village Lib., TX

Working past 65

Steven Bell’s column (“Hey Boomer Academic Librarians: Let’s Talk About Retirement,”) somehow jumps from librarians to faculty as if the reasons for working after the traditional retirement age have elements in common. I wonder. In a study I am currently working on, based on BLS data, more librarians are working after 65 than in the past. Perhaps five times as many than in the previous decade. They will, however, retire at some point due to many factors including health and the retirement of the significant other. Let’s hope it is gradual or LJ will have another column about how the LIS schools didn’t see it coming.

—James Matarazzo, Simmons Coll., Boston

This article was published in Library Journal's October 15, 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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