October 4, 2015

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.

The Need To Be Anonymous: Empowering and liberating free expression | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

I’m always surprised when librarians who read LJ complain because we allow anonymous comments to be published or posted. In a message on our Feedback page, Andrea Segall, a retired librarian who worked at the Berkeley Public Library, CA, and is involved in a protest against that library’s current weeding practices and program, takes LJ to task for allowing anonymous comment.

A New Kind of Leader: Transition time at the Library of Congress | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

“I am not a librarian, but I am THE librarian!” Daniel Boorstin said to me several times when he was Librarian of Congress. It seemed to amuse him, and it only slightly annoyed me. There had been some controversy over President Gerald Ford, like so many before him, appointing a distinguished elder scholar to lead the Library of Congress (LC) rather than a credentialed, experienced librarian. Of the 13 Librarians of Congress, only two were really librarians.

Still Invisible: Despite decades of advocacy, libraries are… | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

Enjoying retirement, I was watching my second old flick on TCM when Lillian Gerhardt called. She is the former editor of School Library Journal, and we worked together for a decade or more many years ago. Both of us were totally engaged, maybe obsessed, with libraries and the profession and addicted American Library Association (ALA) critics. I was happy to hear that, like me, she was still watching the association. This time she urged me to comment on “The Advocacy Continuum” by ALA executive director Keith Fiels in the May issue of American Libraries (p. 6–7).

2015 Gale/LJ Library of the Year: Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO, Courage in Crisis

Photos by Sid Hastings

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL), MO, became a model for all libraries in the way it reacted to the crisis and the aftermath of riots brought on by the shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American man, by local police. FMPL was the one agency in town that stayed open to serve and support all the people of Ferguson. The library quickly became a safe haven and expressed a peaceful resolve, becoming a critical community anchor.

They Taught Us To Listen: Lessons from new generations of librarians | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

Recently I ENJOYED a long-postponed lunch with two of my closest and most beloved colleagues from these past few decades. My connection with Nora Rawlinson, now running the incredibly useful selection and acquisitions website EarlyWord, began in arguments over whether libraries, through their book and materials acquisitions, should “give ’em what they want”—that is, buy for popular demand—or “give ’em what they need” by trying to select and acquire those items that qualify as classics, or essential information sources. Nora and I also disputed centralized vs. distributed book selection. Seeing Nora again reminded me that debates over library book and materials selection have been with us since the beginnings of the public library movement.

Keys to Transformation: Community engagement and fiscal realism | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

Two keys to success become apparent when you review the transformations so many libraries have achieved in recent years. The most important is community involvement, and that means much more than simple publicity, marketing, and fundraising efforts. It has meant making community leaders and all residents an integral part of the planning and execution of the library’s whole turnabout—from early in the process until it is finished—which ensures their interest, satisfaction with the result, civic pride, and continued participation.

Transformed by the People | 2015 LibraryAware Community Award

Dothan, AL LibraryAware Award

In 2010, two young fathers, Forrest Register and Vince Edge, decided that a direct appeal to local government from citizens of the city of Dothan and its surrounding Houston County, AL, could help transform their community into one in which their children would grow up educated and happy and perhaps even want to stay as adults. Their first priority was to infuse new energy and relevance into the lethargic Houston County Library System (HCLS): at the time headquartered at a downtown branch that few people visited, although it was open seven days a week.

Watching the Future: New activism tells people what libraries offer | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

The future of the American public library is taking shape. I see it in all kinds of libraries. The public, politicians, and local and national media are now noticing the relevance and central role of these libraries. These institutions are delivering a trusted set of up-to-date programs and services and that has earned a far more positive public and political reaction than the one enjoyed by most other agencies of the local, state, and federal governments.

Paralibrarian of the Year 2015: Tamara Faulkner Kraus

Photo by Mitchell Kearney

In two decades (plus one year) she has moved from work with the very young, through young adults, to dynamically serving seniors at the Hickory Public Library (HPL), NC. Tamara Faulkner Kraus’s passion for providing library service to people in need more than sustains her energy and creativity. That unsinkable spirit is now being acknowledged with the 2015 LJ Paralibrarian of the Year Award, sponsored by DEMCO.

Public Management Is Tougher: Tech drives increased need for libraries | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

My optimistic aging memory had me waiting for the economy to do what it used to do and recover enough so that the public and private nonprofit sectors by which most libraries are funded would catch up with the already recovered private sector. So I was a bit taken aback when Siobhan Reardon, the president and director of the Free Library of Philadelphia and LJ’s 2015 Librarian of the Year, told me that wasn’t going to happen.