It took me a FEW years in a public library to acknowledge that I had entered a career and wasn’t just doing a job. It was a long time ago. I had finished college with an AB and what we called a “gut” major in history. I applied for and won a job in the small Reading Public Library, MA. Despite my lack of credentials, I was given the title of Youth/Reference Librarian. Relieved to be employed, I started to learn what a public library does, or did in those predigital times.
“Lots of libraries are there for the community, but here in Bayfield, the community built the library,” says Amy Dodson, director of the Pine River Library (PRL), CO, selected as LJ’s Best Small Library in America, 2014, cosponsored by Library Journal and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and recipient of the award’s accompanying $20,000 prize. Hired by the PRL trustees in May 2013, Dodson was awed by not only the support for PRL in the very diverse Bayfield community but also the community’s willingness to donate hours of volunteer work as well as lots of important gifts in kind and then vote the funds to pay for a strong staff and an experienced and innovative director.
We knew Corinne Hill was destined to be a star back in 2004, when she was named an LJ Mover & Shaker. She had been a librarian for only eight years. A decade later, as executive director of the Chattanooga Public Library (CPL), she is the 2014 LJ Librarian of the Year, an award sponsored by Baker & Taylor. Hill’s career has climaxed in Chattanooga, where she has transformed what consultants June Garcia and Susan Kent called the “ugly, irrelevant, and mismanaged” public libraries of Hamilton County, TN, into the new and vibrant CPL. “She has fostered a culture of change and innovation that has affected nearly every aspect of the library,” says an August report in the Chattanooga Times/Free Press.
According to the American Library Association (ALA), 50 percent of those attending the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia will be top managers in libraries; 92 percent will have “buying influence” for products or services exhibited; and 62 percent will find new companies with which to do business during their time in the exhibits. The pitch emphasizes that the Midwinter Meeting has been redesigned to include programs and special events to “become the place where librarians from across the country discuss and explore the future of libraries and librarianship.” More than 8,000 librarians are expected in the City of Brotherly Love, and according to ALA’s message to exhibitors, “These are the decision makers you need to meet!”
I will NEVER FORGET that evening in 1975 when a group of librarians gathered to hear Major R. Owens, an African American librarian from Brooklyn, as he began his first campaign for public office. We all came together at the loft where I lived on New York’s Upper West Side. I was devastated when I heard of his death in late October.
For the past decade, Suzie Allard has worked to build a specialty in science information and science data management. In the process, she has expanded the range of jobs available for the new librarians graduating from her programs. Allard, associate professor and associate director of the School of Information Sciences (SIS) in the College of Communication and Information (CCI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), now has been named the winner of the 2013 LJ Teaching Award, sponsored by ProQuest.
“We have to weed the collection!” Every librarian will tell you that, but a great many library users, including many of those unpredictable “Friends of the Library,” along with a lot of other citizens, simply don’t understand why it is necessary to throw away “good books.” As a result, careless weeding of library collections has been the source of tremendous misunderstanding, disruption, bad publicity, and, all-too-frequently, the departure of library directors.
I return once or twice a year to the first statement of our mission in Upon the Objects to be Attained by the Establishment of a Public Library, the 1852 Report of the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston. Possibly the most important document in the history of the free public library in the United States, the report spells out the justifications for the establishment of such a library in that city.
At first, I was offended when Gretchen Whitney recently posted to the JESSE list, which she moderates, a simplistic estimation of the differences between the teaching of part-time faculty and adjuncts and that of tenured and full-time faculty in LIS programs. I took her comments personally, I suppose, because I have been a part-time and adjunct faculty member at more than a half dozen LIS programs for more than 50 years.
I was sad and angry when Mike Kelley’s editorial triggered a host of attacks on the credential with which I began my career. I already worked at the Reading Public Library, MA, when I enrolled in the MLS program at the School of Library Science at Simmons College. It was just before I turned 30, more than five decades ago. The studies for the MLS at Simmons made me a far better practicing librarian than I expected they would. Most important, they converted me from an amateur librarian to a professional.