October 24, 2014

Feedback: Letters to LJ, June 15, 2014 Issue

“When did librarians…become advocates for gun control? I resent…Berry advocating for ALA members to…boycott the next convention in Florida”

We’re not nutty!

When did librarians, as a whole, become advocates for gun control? I resent the fact that John Berry is advocating for [American Library Association] members to basically boycott the next convention in Florida because “gun nuts” are running amok there due to the Stand Your Ground law (John Berry, “Trapped in Orlando,” Blatant Berry, LJ 5/1/14, p. 10). I also resent that the Black Caucus is making ALA’s decision to not move the conference a political and racial issue (which it is not). Not all librarians think Stand Your Ground is bad. There are probably a lot of librarians out there who hunt and therefore own guns. We aren’t all crazy or nutty!

—Carolyn T. Manning, Dir., Wimberley Village Lib., TX

Nothing new to Florida

Enjoyed John Berry’s provocative column about Orlando not deserving an ALA conference because of its Stand Your Ground law (“Trapped in Orlando,” Blatant Berry, LJ 5/1/14, p. 10). I agree that this is worthy of the Black Caucus’s concern and even outrage. Sadly, nothing new here….

I recommend that all those concerned read Gilbert King’s masterly Devil in the Grove, this year’s recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. King’s gripping story tells about four young African American men, of Groveland, FL, who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1951…. The young men were represented by Thurgood Marshall, a young attorney simultaneously working on what would become the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Marshall was almost murdered by Klan members during his time in Florida. As King reveals, Florida had more lynchings and Klan members than any state in the nation, including Mississippi and Alabama, but the Florida powers were able to keep this under wraps….

—Karl Helicher, Dir., Upper Merion Twp. Lib., PA

Don’t categorize users

A letter from Graham Brunk concerning customer service stated, “ ‘I don’t know’ should never be an answer, but I hear librarians say it, particularly older ones” (“Angry librarians,” Feedback, LJ 4/15/14, p. 9). Now, substitute a racial, ethnic, or gender category for the term older and consider if LJ would have even published such a letter. If it’s looked for, we can…come up with something we don’t…approve of in any category of humans. One aspect of good customer service is not to think of people in such terms…. Brunk, as someone starting out in our profession, needs to regard all customers and colleagues with more respect, irrespective of age or other category.

—Bruce J. Belknap, Supervisory Libn., U.S. Army Lib., Ansbach, Germany

Net neutrality essential

Net neutrality underpins the free and equal flow of information for which the worldwide web was designed, and it deserves the support of the library community. Real estate developer James Hirschy suggests [Internet service providers] should respond to data-heavy websites like ­Netflix with tiered pricing for high- and low-speed access (“Netflix neutrality,” Feedback, LJ 4/1/14, p. 12). But abandoning net neutrality does not solve the problem of inadequate bandwidth, it merely monetizes it.

Instead, ISPs need to expand network capacity…. ISPs like Comcast, which enjoyed fourth-quarter profits of $1.9 billion in 2013, continue to raise broadband prices while neglecting investment in network infrastructure. OECD data show that U.S. network speeds are falling behind those of other developed economies.

Abandoning net neutrality and allowing discriminatory pricing would marginalize the websites of small businesses and nonprofits (and their users), dampen innovation, and create a two-speed web dominated by established corporations. Net neutrality…is an essential foundation for the information society of today and tomorrow.

—Graham Sherriff, Pub. Svcs. Libn.,Lyndon State Coll., Lyndonville, VT

Not “privileged”

Just to clarify, my community and view (Mark Norman, “High cost, few users,” Feedback, LJ 3/1/14, p. 12) is not that of “a more privileged user,” as stated by Rita D. Lyons (“Tools, utensils, space,” Feedback, LJ 4/15/14, p. 9). Rockdale has 39 percent of the population from countries where English is not the first language and 54 percent speak another language at home…; 34 percent are not in the labor force; 28 percent have household income less than $100 (Australian) per day…. Gardening tools, cake pans, and fishing rods are far from the majority of our community’s minds. Literacy, numeracy, IT skills, help with job applications, and social inclusion are the key services in Rockdale’s libraries. Community consultations…showed that books, study rooms, children and youth spaces, collections in languages other than English, meeting rooms, study pods, IT training rooms…were priorities. We don’t balk at introducing new services, but [we]must…know how many will benefit and at what cost….

—Mark Norman, Coord. Lib. & Community Info Svcs., Rockdale, NSW, Australia

Correction

Editorial oversight led to information about Recorded Books’ OneClickDigital program being omitted from the feature Audio Everywhere (LJ 5/15/14). The complete article can be found online here.

This article was published in Library Journal's June 15, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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