October 23, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, February 1, 2014 Issue

“Libraries’ commitment to protecting patron privacy is fading fast…. Trading patron privacy… to be like Amazon is a leap in the wrong direction”

Privacy duty fades

Unfortunately, libraries’ commitment to protecting patron privacy is fading fast (Rebecca Miller, “Protect Thy Patrons,” Editorial, LJ 10/1/13, p. 8). Many public libraries have signed contracts with companies such as BiblioCommons to administer their catalogs. Before readers can place a hold on a book, they are steered toward “registering” with these companies. Registering transfers all checkout records to the company, as well as comments, etc., made by the patron. Trading patron privacy for a chance to be like Amazon is a leap in the wrong direction.

—Tony Greiner, Faculty Libn., Portland Community Coll., OR

Keep starring libraries

I was pleased to learn that the library from the town where I grew up, and which nurtured my love of reading, earned four stars in Keith Curry Lance and Ray Lyons’s “America’s Star Libraries” (LJ 11/1/13, p. 30–41). Congratulations, Lakewood Public Library, OH. Now I live in Greenwich, CT (five stars), where I must be among the most frequent patrons, and I often visit the Westport library, CT (five stars), because I travel for work (teacher of the visually impaired, i.e., braille). Both of these libraries make it worth the price of living in Fairfield County. Now that I’m looking for a good place in which to retire, the existence of a good library is at the top of my list. So keep the lists coming!!! They are important resources for the general public as well as for librarians.

—Kathy Harsany, Greenwich, CT

Digital first sale

Thank you for a great summary of major issues surrounding first sale and digital files (Matt Enis, “Digital Firsts,” LJ 12/13, p. 46–48). I hope lots of librarians and others who support libraries have been contacting the Department of Commerce. And this may seem like shameless self-promotion, but Macalester College has an effort under way relevant to this topic—and gaining traction—that is to encourage ­libraries to give preference to publishers that support the right of first sale for ­ebooks (see www.macalester.edu/library/changingebooksforlibraries/).

Many libraries are discussing these issues and trying to figure out the best steps to take. I hope some kind of focused effort can help. Thanks.

—Aaron Albertson, Libn., Reference & Instruction, De Witt Wallace Lib., Macalester Coll., St. Paul

LIS data check

In response to comments about LIS programs that collect their own data (Stephanie L. Maatta, “The Emerging Data­brarian,” LJ 10/15/13, p. 26–33), it may be helpful to provide more detail to assure LJ readers that the data collected for the School of Library & Information Studies (SLIS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison matches that of LJ’s survey.

UW-Madison SLIS re-creates the LJ survey, using the exact wording that LJ uses for each question, and we include all the questions that LJ asks in its survey. We then send the survey results in an excel file to LJ, with each question and the reported numbers listed.

We send out the survey directly vs. having LJ send the survey for two reasons: 1) We include two to three additional questions at the end of the survey that LJ does not ask that we find helpful in our own continuing improvement of the program, and 2) we get a much better/higher response rate if the survey is sent directly to the student by staff from SLIS. Our response rate is consistently 70 percent or higher. A typical survey response rate is closer to 30 percent. Receiving more responses means more accurate data for our program and for our current and prospective students. Unfortunately, LJ doesn’t print response rates for each of the schools listed, which could be helpful to readers in determining how accurate the printed results are.

—Tanya Cobb, Student & Alumni Svcs. Coord., SLIS, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Librarian role in IL

I disagree that information literacy (IL) is nonsense (Wayne Bivens-Tatum, “Information Literacy as an Unnatural State,” Peer to Peer Review). I agree that IL (whatever label you put on those amorphous, unstructured sets of critical thinking skills…) is not the sole territory of librarians. Most instruction librarians know this…. Still, this doesn’t mean we have no part in helping students become reflective, critical thinkers and, by extension, succeed academically…. Information literacy is an attempt to fill in some very real gaps in the learning processes of many of our students. While content experts, faculty and student interaction with content, and learning activity play the major role, we still have a part to play. How students can effectively interact with and integrate information into their thinking practices is not something [to which] most faculty or course content devote class time…. I’d much rather have us contribute to the attempt to make students aware of some of these unnatural ways of thinking and interacting with the world around them, than continue leaving those gaps in our current system ignored altogether.

—Dana Longley, Asst. Dir. for Lib. Instruction, Empire State Coll., Saratoga Springs, NY

This article was published in Library Journal's February 1, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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