August 20, 2017

Feedback: Letters to LJ, May 15, 2017 Issue

“Unconscious bias is a real thing, and too many [library workers] are, unfortunately, too embarrassed to acknowledge it or take action”

Diversity needed

Thank you, Rebecca Miller, for writing about “A Better Ladder” and especially for providing the “Next Step” pathways for consideration…. I am new(ish) to libraries, having started working here in September 2014. I am currently in library school at Wayne State University. While I shifted career paths from casino marketing, I have found a lot of similarities between the fields and vast differences when it comes to the lack of internal diversity.

To see that the American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholar program will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in June at the ALA annual conference is both perplexing and inspiring. I would have expected to see greater impacts on the talent pool in that span of time, but there are barriers that need to be addressed before that can happen. As Miller mentioned, unconscious bias is a real thing, and too many [library workers] are unfortunately too embarrassed to acknowledge it or take action. The risk to the status quo is exactly why this work needs to be ­escalated!

I was hired as [a] customer experience manager, and since this is a fairly new position within libraries, I still have not met many library professionals with my job title. I have great expectations for how I can help move diversity in the field forward, and I do my best to uphold our core values. This field has an abundance of seasoned professionals who will be exiting the workforce in the next five years, which leaves tremendous opportunities to strengthen succession plans, provide active mentorships, and elevate legacies. There has never been a better time to work in libraries!

—Cindy Hohl, Customer Experience Mgr., ­Topeka & Shawnee Cty. P.L., KS

Library family

A dad and daughters stop by my office to stay hi—and have [done] so for several years. This might make for a neat new American tradition where public libraries choose a few families each year to receive a “Lease to the Library” document. This particular family is from West Africa. The girls have a twinkle in their eye. There is no place in the world they’d rather be than at the library. I mentioned to the older one, “You might grow up to be a librarian.” Her response: “That’s just fine by me.”

What’s fascinating for me to observe is that the dad is not “hauling” his kids to the library. These kids definitely want to be at the library. It’s their family tradition. And I don’t see those girls doing too much homework at the library, either. They’re here to read the books they love to read. The very sight of this family makes my heart sing with joy.

—Phil Shapiro, Public Geek, Takoma Park Maryland Lib.

No politics!

I agree with letter writer David ­Tulanian (“Leftist librarians) that no one should be surprised about librarians marching for leftist causes and May Day/#Resist events, failed and misguided as they may be. I’ve been reading lately about snowflake librarians turning their libraries into “safe spaces,” serving cocoa, and generally [providing] havens for people they believe are shattered and destroyed by a duly elected president. Read “Chaos & Caring” by Michael Stephens. His withering, self-­indulgent screed is indistinguishable from ­parody.

Does anyone suppose people visit libraries to seek shelter from reality? How presumptuous to think tax­payers want or need this, even the left-leaning ones. Your job is to serve the public, not to hijack the place for your own personal therapy. It’s time for political balance among librarians, so they can focus on their actual jobs—like running better libraries—not ­politics.

Keep letting your extremist colleagues politicize your workplaces, and you may destroy your own noble profession by becoming irrelevant or, worse, odious to the public. You’ll have no one to blame but yourselves.

—Paul Klenk, New York City

CORRECTION

The review of Dan ­Méndez Moore’s graphic novel Six Days in Cincinnati: A Graphic Account of the Riots That Shook the Nation a Decade Before Black Lives Matter (Xpress Reviews 4/14/17) called this volume a follow-up to rather than the second edition of the author’s earlier work, Mark Twain Was Right. The following is the current bibliographic information for Rob Reid’s new novel (LJ 4/15/17, p. 74): After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley. Aug. 2017. ISBN 9781524798055. LJ apologizes for the errors.

This article was published in Library Journal's May 15, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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