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.
That titular truism is even more accurate during hard times; the muzzling and corrupting impact of the almighty dollar on the flow of information is magnified in a weak economy. Those with an agenda use their money to influence our politics, our ideology, and our lifestyles and social interactions. We see this sway not only in election campaigns but in the media as they provide our entertainment and report our news. Even the once sacrosanct public media are afflicted with influences that tend to quiet their critique and discussion if it might affect their donors, funding agencies, trustees, and advertisers.
Early at the Annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) copies of a page from Illinois Lawyer Now, a publication of the Illinois State Bar Association, were quietly distributed to members of the press. The page reported the disbarment and suspension of 11 Illinois attorneys. Included was the disbarment of Mary Frances Wilkens, a lawyer since 2006, who was charged with misappropriating $174,300.53 from ALA for her own personal use between 2006 and 2012. Wilkens was employed in the offices of ALA Booklist, the Association’s book review publication.
“We deliver high-quality education for all ages,” says the simple, direct mission statement of the library system. Its position as an integral member of the county education system was coupled with the effort by CEO and president Valerie Gross to use “words that work” to describe the jobs of HCLS staffers, the services they provide, and the vision and mandate of the library. They all combine to provide a brand that has made HCLS a crucial county asset and a new model for libraries everywhere. This championing of community alignment, as well as many other impressive endeavors, makes HCLS the 2013 Gale/LJ Library of the Year—a well-supported, sustainable 21st-century library system from which others can and do take inspiration.
I’ve come to believe that translations from print to sound enhance access to a work. For library users and librarians, the movement of old works into new media presents new opportunities for bringing easy access to entertainment and education to people old and young. This is another tool to improve and expand library service.