March 16, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, November 15, 2013 Issue

“The free lessons given to the customers of bookstores by librarians should be beneficial to both parties instead of just putting money in the revenue stream of the stores”

Librarians & bookstores

Ian Chant’s “Libraries, Airports Partner” (LJ 9/1/13, p. 16ff.) triggers another example of an often overlooked opportunity. Libraries have to form partnerships with major book retailers. Though the time of the large chain bookstore appears to be in decline, patron traffic in libraries is on the rise, and online library resources are more plentiful than ever.

Librarians are frequently asked by patrons what material should be read next (often with the aim of purchasing that item)…. A huge amount of ebook instruction takes place in libraries, knowledge that can easily be used to search a bookstore website to buy its content….

The free lessons given to the customers of bookstores by librarians should be beneficial to both parties instead of just putting money in the revenue stream of the stores. Regional book retailers could allow a library staff member to be present in their stores to promote local library services and register patrons for library cards.

A library presence on a bookstore’s website to promote the library can help spread knowledge about e-collections and resources accessible to and needed by almost everyone. Major providers of information to the public should work ­together….

—Andrew Beman-Cavallaro, Assoc. Lib. Dir., Pasco-Hernando Community Coll., Spring Hill, FL

Privacy unprotected

According to Rebecca Miller, “This ethic encouraged the small but excellent Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport, NY, where I serve as a trustee, to introduce a self-check station. The clerks could have handled the traffic, but the self-check ­kiosk introduced an option for those who might not want to be observed in their reading choices. It also illustrated the library’s commitment to confidentiality” (Rebecca Miller, “Protect Thy Patrons,” Editorial, LJ 10/1/13, p. 8).

How, exactly, does the introduction of a self-checkout kiosk “protect patron privacy”? Are books checked out using the station not placed on the patron’s card record, where they could be looked up by anyone with access to the library’s ILS?

This is a cynical expression of “librarians’ commitment to patron privacy,” meant to give a false sense of confidence and security to patrons.

There is, in fact, no patron privacy, at least insofar as librarians and library workers are concerned. We can see what they have, while they have it, any time we want.

If patrons knew just how insecure the personal information they provide to the library is, they would be surprised. I don’t know if they’d really care, just as they don’t care about the lack of privacy they enjoy on the Internet.

The fact that patrons don’t seem to care is not justification for librarians to put themselves forward as…gatekeepers of patrons’ personal information. We certainly are not. We’re not even particularly good at pretending to be so.

—Rob Tambini, Randolph P.L., NJ

LJ review rejected

In the LJ review of my latest book, The Poison Patriarch: How the Betrayals of Joseph P. Kennedy Caused the Assassination of JFK (LJ 9/15/13, p. 88), the reviewer concludes with the following: “It would be ‘hearsay’ in a court of law, but Shaw quotes someone who quotes someone who quotes JFK that it was his father who told him to appoint brother Robert as attorney general. RFK’s expanded mob prosecutions then made the mob feel betrayed. RFK thought he might be putting himself at risk in pursuing racketeers….”

With all due respect, these statements are a complete fabrication of the facts clearly presented in the book. At pages 226 and 227, for instance, not one but two reputable eyewitnesses to history confirm that Joseph Kennedy forced JFK to appoint Bobby attorney general, one of the most important decisions in American history since it led to the senseless death of the president. Furthermore, neither JFK nor RFK is quoted in the book regarding the reviewer’s summations since they never said any such thing in any publication, including mine.

In addition, the reviewer concluded that there is no fresh information in the book when in fact, through more than 40 eyewitnesses to history, fresh facts abound [that were] never before published. Included is the focus, for the first time, on why RFK was not killed instead of why JFK was a fresh perspective leading to Joe Kennedy’s doorstep. Other fresh information includes a focus on the fact that the Jack Ruby trial was “fixed” by his attorney, mob-connected Melvin Belli, to silence Ruby through a ludicrous insanity ­defense.

The reviewer’s reckless review is most unfortunate since The Poison Patriarch is an important book contributing to the historical truth of what occurred in Dallas 50 years ago. I trust librarians will read the book for themselves with an open mind, something the reviewer obviously failed to do….

—Mark Shaw, author, Burlingame, CA


The review of Nathaniel Popkin’s Lion and Leopard (LJ 11/1/13, p. 81) listed the book as available in hardcover; the publisher is instead releasing it as a trade paperback for $18.

This article was published in Library Journal's November 15, 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.