July 21, 2017

Feedback: Letters to LJ, March 1, 2017 Issue

“We need an [ALA executive director] who has a long view of the wider profession and the many complex ethical, legal, and technological issues involved.”

MLS for ALA’s ED

A fine piece by Steven Bell, but I’m very pleased that ALA Council voted to keep the [American Library Association’s executive director] position as requiring an MLS/MLIS (“ALA Goes Looking for a Leader”). I was one of the council members speaking in favor of maintaining the requirement. I am somewhat biased since I teach in a master’s program, but that also helps me know what our students learn about leadership, the profession, [and] legal and ethical issues.

It is not enough to like libraries or find someone who shares our values. It reminds me of the typical nonlibrarian keynote speaker at library conferences. Such a speech usually starts out with warm library experiences and a love of libraries but then goes on with little appreciation of what libraries do today and the complex issues we deal with. I am certainly not saying that all division directors or state library association EDs need such a degree, but I think this position is different…. ALA presidents serve for one year (plus two). We need an ED who has a long view of the wider profession and the many complex ethical, legal, and technological issues involved with our work.

I hope the person can also be a change agent and a good fundraiser but would rather see someone with a professional background and leadership experience…. There is a good search committee that is up to the task. I am confident they will receive some wonderful applications.

—Andrew Wertheimer, Assoc. Prof., LIS ­Program, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu

A library life

What a great story [on the 2017 Librarian of the Year] (John Berry, “Jill Bourne”) and editorial (Rebecca T. Miller, The Bourne Effect)…[coinciding] with my reading of Thomas Friedman’s new book, Thanks for Being Late…. I thought of how libraries are dealing with the amazingly fast pace of change in the past few years. Then I picked up LJ, and my heart began beating faster…. Libraries [will] survive and thrive because of the tremendous people in our profession.

I began my library career 50 years ago working in the Library for the Blind in the State Library in Lansing, MI. This led me to the directorship of the Willard Library in Battle Creek, then to Grand Rapids to direct the library for 25 years. I have worked as a consultant since retiring in 2004.

So I have lived a lot of library history…. I signed Willard Library up as one of the first public libraries to connect to what would become OCLC and eventually WorldCat, etc. I introduced video circulation in Battle Creek and Grand Rapids and got criticized. The Grand Rapids Press dubbed me “Captain Video” in a very negative editorial…. Somehow we all survived and thrived. And we have all been changed by technology.

The key for Grand Rapids…was connecting to the community and the opportunity to ask the citizens if they would support a new vision for the library. Fortunately, we had a City Charter that had created a separate library board in 1916. We used that as a launching pad to go for a charter change to increase support for the library. The work took many years as we increased the library support in perpetuity, completely renovated the main library…and built or renovated seven branches. Best of all, we loaded the libraries with new books, media, and new technology and emphasized service to children.

I lived through a great time for public libraries and was fortunate to be a small part of what was happening. To see this new generation doing such exciting things and bringing about these great innovations and changes is truly inspiring….

—Robert Raz, Lib. Consultant, Hartzell-Mika Consulting, Osceola, IN

Inspiring

I always read John Berry’s stories on the LJ Librarian of the Year (“Jill Bourne”). They are inspiring.

—Erin Shea, Branch Supervisor, Ferguson Lib., Stamford, CT

Clarification

The reviews of Matt Fraction & Christian Ward’s ODY-C: Cycle One and Robert Kirkman & others’ Outcast, Bk. 1 (Graphic Novels, Xpress Reviews 1/6/17), neglected to note that both titles contain previously released and reviewed paperback volumes in a newer hardcover edition. ODY-C. Vol. 1: Off to Far Ithaca ran in LJ 9/15/15, and Outcast. Vol. 1: Darkness Surrounds Him in Xpress Reviews 3/13/15.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 1, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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