February 17, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, November 1, 2012 Issue

Outreach now

My problem after 25-plus years as a professional is that I no longer get to do the things I got into this profession to do (Cheryl LaGuardia, “The Key to Long-Term Library Sanity,” Not Dead Yet, ow.ly/e0ZLL). I never gave a hoot about teaching someone to read quality literature, I just liked to read novels and histories and alphabetize and use indexes to answer questions. I liked to put things in order, and now computers do it all. Outside of cataloging, those original jobs that attracted me to librarianship no longer exist on the professional level. Ready-reference has been replaced by Google and Ask.com. Now it’s all outreach and market ing…. I guess it’s time to read What Color Is Your Parachute? and figure out where I can use my skills.

—Name withheld upon request

Little Free Libraries, NY

Thanks for Michael Stephens “Little Free Libraries” (Office Hours, ow.ly/e12A). In Syracuse, NY, we embarked on our own Little Free Library (LFL) project in August 2011, which started with a tweet. Quickly, we gathered a team of students and faculty from the Syracuse University LIS program, students and faculty from the Visual and Performing Arts program, staff from the Near Westside Initiative, and members from the Near Westside community where we planned to install [LFLs]….

The design students worked on the design, and the LIS students worked on defining the collection…. A number of community organizations participated, including the Onondaga County Library System and ProLiteracy.

Our first LFL, launched in February…went through over 150 books the first month. Since then, we have installed two more on the Near Westside and hosted a book drive for the LFLs that received more than 2000 books from the wider Syracuse community….

We know from the caretakers and others who interact with the LFLs that they have been well received. Books do get borrowed quickly, and we have learned that truly every book has its reader…. People in the community see these as an asset….

For more on our Library Free Libraries, please go to littlelibraries.syr.edu. Perhaps others can learn from what we have done—and from what others have done—and create their own!

—Jill Hurst-Wahl, Dir., Library & Information Science Program, SIS, Syracuse Univ., NY

It’s not 1969!

“We need a militant message tied to an aggressive media campaign” (John Berry. “Fix Library Advocacy,” Blatant Berry, LJ 9/1/12, p. 8). Really? No, we really don’t…. It’s not 1969. I know the American Library Association (ALA) supports the Occupy Wall Street morons…but shouldn’t we be a little brighter and more realistic than a bunch of children pretending to be homeless, tweeting about the evils of American corporate culture…? This is why ALA is becoming irrelevant: it’s supposed to a professional organization, but it seems to think it’s the [Service Employees International Union] or some other union or “community advocacy” group….

An idea for ALA: How about thinking about our profession, best practices, and things relevant to everyday people in their everyday jobs, rather than focusing on some ridiculous idea of “advocacy”? If libraries are so hard up for attention, then maybe—just maybe—libraries ­really have become passé and their golden years are behind them. Columns like Berry’s are why I cancelled my ALA membership. Thanks for confirming that I made the right decision!

—Rob Tambini, Asst. Dir., Randolph Twp. Free P.L., NJ

Act radically

I believe it is time for libraries and book vendors to act radically (Charlie Parker, “ALA’s ebook focus,” Feedback, LJ 9/1/12, p. 10). Committees began addressing ebook issues back in 2000, and we are no further ahead…. We need more libraries to replicate the Douglas County, CO, model. We need our book jobbers to join our cause—they have more clout with publishers…. ALA’s efforts haven’t impacted Hachette’s recent decision to raise ebook prices for libraries to a ridiculous level. I still say ALA or PLA…should approach Amazon and see about buying our ebooks from them at the $9.99–$12.99 rate. This would…shift…the library business model…from one that hasn’t changed in decades.

—Laura J. Isenstein, Pres., Providence Assocs. LLC, Transforming the Library Experience, Cottonwood, AZ

Swimming upstream

My deepest thanks to Francine Fialkoff for championing librarians and libraries, even when that meant swimming upstream against “public opinion” (ow.ly/edFdO). It was my great pleasure to know her for 18 of her 35 years at LJ. Thanks to her constant encouragement and support, you have made a lasting impact on librarians and librarianship. Thanks to her for reminding us all in so many ways that libraries are essential for a free and democratic society to succeed and that public service is noble and important work….

—Mary Dempsey, former Commissioner, Chicago P.L.

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