November 24, 2014

John N. Berry III

About John N. Berry III

John N. Berry III (jberry@mediasourceinc.com) is Editor-at-Large, LJ. Berry joined the magazine in 1964 as Assistant Editor, becoming editor-in-Chief in 1969 and serving in that role until 2006.

Money Still Talks!: ALA’s endowment must support its values | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

A few weeks ago several events converged to drive home to me the realization that problems of climate change, global warming, carbon emissions, and a fouled environment, already urgent and dangerous, were accelerating so fast that it’s already too late to correct them.

Careers for Info Utopia: The optimism of a new semester | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

The beginning of each semester always rejuvenates me. There is nothing more stimulating than those first few sessions with a class of expectant students, arriving with their high energy, curiosity, and desire to participate and impress. My new class at Pratt Institute’s SILS came to New York from all over America and the world. The students range in age from their 20s to their 60s, which has so often been typical of my LIS classes. It is a great privilege and honor to work with them to try to answer the accursed questions that continue to plague our profession.

Uniquely Hospitable | Charleston Conference Preview 2014

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The Charleston Conference is unique! Since its founding by Katina Strauch in 1980 it has provided professional enrichment, knowledge, and open discussion to thousands of librarians, information specialists, and vendors primarily focused on academic and research libraries. There is a huge array of programs, panels, and speakers, plus days of informal inter­actions in which librarians at all levels and vendors talk about their work, problems, innovations, and best practices in a charming setting, redolent with Southern hospitality.

Politics & Libraries: Every great librarian is a politician | Blatant Berry

In a collection of old political campaign buttons I found a pink one with the number “321.8” across it in dark blue. The discovery triggered memories of activist times in librarianship four to five decades ago. In our view then, the Dewey number 321.8 was the classification for “participatory democracy,” the system of government in which our small cadre of librarians believed. We were one of dozens of groups that formed within the new Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA). We believed, as I still do, that good librarians are politically enmeshed in the larger national and international issues of war, peace, social justice, and the vital role of good government in human affairs. We even tried to convince our professional organizations publicly to support our positions and amplify our voice on these issues. Sometimes we were successful.

Library Freedom Fighter Zoia Horn Remembered

Zoia Horn

Activist librarian Zoia Markovna Horn died on July 12 at the age 96. She was famous for being the first U.S. librarian to be jailed for refusing to divulge information that violated professional principles of privacy and intellectual freedom. An activist member of the American Library Association (ALA) and a member and chair of its Intellectual Freedom Committee, Horn was jailed for 20 days for contempt after refusing to testify in the 1972 conspiracy trial of the “Harrisburg Seven.”

It Is My Library! The public can change your mind | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

Although it is often perceived as interference, or “meddling,” the presumption of ownership by people who live in the jurisdiction of a local public library and their resulting strong opinions about how the place should operate are assets to be nurtured and treasured. Yes, the phenomenon regularly causes disputes about library policies and purposes and makes for controversial community debate. Indeed, library professionals and managers are frequently forced by public opinion, bolstered by media coverage, to operate libraries in ways quite different from their preferred practices.

Vive la différence! | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

Every library is unique. Despite all the decades of work trying to standardize library operations, systems, collection organization, buildings, human resource management, governance, and even collection development, each library still differs from every other library. While few librarians would argue that point, it is obvious that a great deal of effort has been expended to make the practice of librarianship more homogeneous.

2014 Gale/LJ Library of the Year: Edmonton Public Library, Transformed by Teamwork

A WINNING TEAM (top row, l.-r.): Edmonton Public Library Deputy CEO Pilar Martinez (l.) and CEO Linda Cook are proud 
of their approach to service and their team, which includes (l.–r.) director of marketing and fund development 
Tina Thomas, director of library services Linda Garvin, director of collections and technology Pam Ryan, director of library 
services Louise Reimer, and facilities director Kevin Kramer. Bottom row, l.-r.: EPL touts its free library card promotion, and Martinez 
and Cook stand behind EPL’s “Spread the Words” slogan with director of human resources services 
Mike Lewis (l.) and EPL CFO Gastone Monai (r.). Photos by Phil Chin/AP Images for Library Journal

For 101 years, Alberta’s Edmonton Public Library (EPL) has galvanized its ever-growing city. From its beginnings above a meat and liquor store in 1913 to its current configuration as a massive, team-driven enterprise, EPL has served as a pioneering gathering place, connecting people and expanding minds. In the process, it changed the parameters of what it means to be a public library and transformed itself. Having the spirit and creativity to do that meant taking risks, innovating, and embracing change. It made EPL a model for all public libraries and the winner of the 2014 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year Award.

Trapped in Orlando | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

There are lots of reasons I don’t want to go to Orlando, FL, again to attend a conference of the American Library Association (ALA). Most are matters of personal comfort, cost, and convenience, so the good things I’d get from the conference outweigh those annoyances. In 2016, however, there is a compelling reason to stay away from Orlando, especially if you are a young African American.

Leadership Is Not Command | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

It took me decades TRULY to understand the qualities that make for great leadership. I am still surprised at how slowly I realized that the key strengths of great leaders are not command, control, or management skills. A great leader must have the ability to spot and hire excellent people; build a passionate, committed team; liberate everyone on that team; and then trust them with the autonomy and authority to make decisions, innovate, and test their inspirations and ideas in practice.