November 21, 2017

Feedback: Letters to LJ, July 2016 Issue

“[Y]ou have managed to insult Florida librarians, the City of Orlando, and the largest single-site employer in the United States”

LJ’s Orlando cover

The [LJ] June 1 cover art and theme “Getting Real in Orlando” features a representation of Disney’s Magic Kingdom castle as a false front propped up with some two-by-fours. In one fell blow you have managed to insult Florida librarians, the City of Orlando, and the largest single-site employer in the United States (­Rebecca T. Miller, Reality Check). Nice work.

I understand there’s disagreement over Orlando as a location for [the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference], and I have no desire to get into the politics of guns and the “stand your ground” issue, or itemize troubling aspects of other ALA venues. There will always be plenty of things to disagree about, but shouldn’t we agree on the important role of libraries? Isn’t that the mission of ALA? Isn’t that why we go to considerable expense to convene? Anyone can be divisive; it takes real heart to find common ground.

Regarding the cover art that mocks Walt Disney World, let me say this: it’s been estimated that WDW’s annual economic impact in Florida is $18.2 billion. Sure, it’s a business, but thanks to that healthy bottom line, Disney can and does make a significant impact here, including $1 million to the OneOrlando fund to support victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy. These are real dollars that make a real difference in our community.

Let’s not forget our amazing Florida librarian colleagues who’ve been “keeping it real” while dealing with tight budgets for a very, very long time. We’re happy to be the host city for ALA, and we hope everyone has a great experience. But that cover? I’m disappointed…. Yes, really.

—Peggy L. Nuhn, Libn., Univ. of Central Florida, Orlando

Hostile culture

A discussion about “racial equity and diversity” does little to make people who feel physically unsafe in a state that enshrines the right to kill others in law able to attend confidently (Rebecca T. Miller, Reality Check). Florida’s near miss on a bill similar to North Carolina’s HB2 almost stood between me and attending. A hostile legal or cultural climate makes certain members shoulder an extra burden when attending conferences held in locales that our colleagues in the affected communities suggest are problematic.

—Loren Klein, Head Lib. Assistant & MLIS Candidate, Bergen County, NJ

Art creates

An art professor once taught me that the purpose of public art is to let the people who pass through the space know that they matter (Meredith Schwartz, The Art of the Matter). While this article focuses on larger pieces of art, even a small library with limited resources can make an impact through the thoughtful use of art in its spaces. Art can create a unifying element in an eclectic space or create interest in an otherwise uniform space. It can create mood and invite thought. It can be a means for participation. Public art doesn’t have to be a gigantic lawn sculpture…. It can be a quilt designed especially for your space by local artisans [or] an installation of tiles painted by community members. Thanks for addressing this important and sometimes overlooked avenue for…helping everyone feel welcome in our spaces.

—Mary Jo Finch, Dir., Westbank Community Lib. Dist., Austin, TX

Obsolete profession

The obsolescence of librarianship is the elephant in the room (Steven Bell, Promise and Peril of AI for Academic Librarians). We as librarians refuse to address the eminent demise of our beloved profession. Isn’t it our duty to examine the ugly truth and share it with those hoping to enter a career for life?

The level of denial within our profession has reached frantic proportions. The professional literature is awash with articles on ways to keep librarians employed and remain relevant to stakeholders. A review of recent library job descriptions illustrates we will do anything, or become anybody, to stay relevant: patent and copyright attorneys (copyright and scholarly librarians), in-house statisticians (data librarians, chem­informaticists), and data managers of electronic health records (medical informaticists). In a real stretch, librarians at the San Diego Public Library are trained to identify victims of sex trafficking. I didn’t go into librarianship to become a social worker or statistician. This denial of our true professional core [is] very sad….

—Barbara A. Wood, Grad. Libn., Health & Human Svcs., Kennesaw State Univ., GA

Corrections

The review of Alan Tardi’s Champagne, Uncorked: The House of Krug and the Timeless Allure of the World’s Most Celebrated Drink (LJ 4/1/16, p. 115) situates the Charles Krug Winery in the Napa Valley; its actual location is Reims, France. In the bibliographic header of the review of Ambra Watkins’s Escape from Dark Places: Guideposts to Hope in an Age of Anxiety and Depression (LJ 5/1/16, p. 60), the subtitle included Despair rather than Depression. The review of Regina McBride’s Ghost Songs: A Memoir (LJ 6/15/16, p. 83) listed an early publication date of August; the book is coming out in October. LJ apologizes for the errors.

This article was published in Library Journal's July 1, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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  1. David Genesis says:

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