February 16, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, October 15, 2012 Issue

Service vs. servant

I very much appreciate the difference Wayne Bivens-Tatum makes between service and servant (Wayne Bivens-­Tatum, “Assisting Research Versus Research Assistance | Peer to Peer Review,” ow.ly/dPEKy). It is an important distinction. Librarians need to be more involved in faculty research at all levels but as partners, not grunts. However, the distinction is misplaced in the case of tenure.

There is no decision more consequential in the academy than tenure. A virtual lifelong appointment will impact the budget, the teaching, the reputation, and the culture of a school. This is why it is not an administrative procedure but really a faculty referendum. Promotion and Tenure (P&T) committees are composed of faculty. Decisions involve deans, provosts, presidents, and trustees. To be included in this process is not about research assistance, it is about the life of the university itself.

Bivens-Tatum mentions the teaching function of the librarian…. By raising the teaching function, he also implies the research and service functions…. In terms of research, by being in the tenure process we get to see the shape, changes and trends in scientific communications across disciplines. Do blogs matter, do conference papers? How many are there? Is the library capturing that information? Imagine how much better we can support and teach the academy with a holistic view of the most productive years of faculty output….

The bottom line is that I agree whole- heartedly that librarians must be more than servants of the faculty, but we must also adopt the obligations they find important. We teach, but we must contextualize that teaching. We simply do not, and in my opinion should not, serve the freshman, the grad student, and the faculty member alike. If we want to be respected, we must be a part of processes that are respected…. I appreciate Bivens-Tatum furthering the conversation.

—R. David Lankes, Prof. and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship, SIS, Syracuse Univ., NY

Lack of action

John Berry is absolutely right (“Fix Library Advocacy,” Blatant Berry, LJ 9/1/12, p. 8). And our advocacy efforts started two decades ago, not one–when Dick Dougherty and I launched the Library Champions, the Libraries Are Worth It, and the Say Yes to Your Right To Know campaigns during our [American Library Association] presidential terms. These successful campaigns (i.e., budgets were restored) was followed by major initiatives like the LAN (LibraryAdvocacy Now!) Initiative and the
@ your library campaign. While there has been lip service to advocacy ever since and we now even have a small ALA Advocacy Office, there have been no national media campaigns to counteract the budget cuts nor the public image of who we are and what we do. I am mystified as to why ALA has not launched a major, well-funded public awareness effort, in conjunction with state and local groups, in more than a decade. Frankly, I don’t understand the lack of action when we know what works. By now it shouldn’t just be up to the ALA president to push—it should be a major part of our budgetary and staff commitment.

—Pat Schuman, New York; ALA President, 1991–92, ALA Treasurer, 1984–85

It’s relationships

The message is not the issue (John Berry, “Fix Library Advocacy,” Blatant Berry, LJ 9/1/12, p. 8). Relationships are the issue. For whatever reason, library leaders seem not to have relationships with decision-makers and funders. And the relationship is the message. Successful efforts in other not-for-profit sectors point to the importance of reciprocity (tit-for-tat), consistency and commitment (appealing to values), liking (they need to know you to like you), social proof or validation (what are my colleagues doing), scarcity (difficult when you are positioning yourself to be “free”), and authority (what does my leader or respected experts say). Same old, same old, but louder and snappier won’t cut it.

—Ken Haycock, Research Prof. of
Management and Organization,
Director of Graduate
Programs in Lib. & Info Mgt.,
Marshall Sch. of Business,
Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles

No one hears

Bravo to John Berry’s “Fix Library Advocacy” (Blatant Berry, LJ 9/1/12, p. 8)! It is a song that has been sung so many times and no one seems to hear at the American Library Association or even the Urban Libraries Council. We could not pass much of anything here if we did not enter the political fray and advocate, advocate, advocate, strongly!

Clyde S. Scoles, Dir./Fiscal Officer,
Toledo–Lucas Cty. P.L.


studio­trope Design Collective is the architect of the Ross-Cherry Creek Branch of the Denver Public Library, “Denver by Design” box, p. 5, of LJ’s Fall 2012 Library by Design supplement. We apologize for the error.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.