April 24, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ’s April 15, 2014 Issue

“Net neutrality rules stifle competition and promote inefficiency by…setting the rates that ISPs can charge content providers to zero”

Nice slogan, bad policy

Net neutrality is a nice slogan, but it is bad policy (Rebecca Miller, “A Commons at Risk,” Editorial, LJ 2/15/14, p. 8; Ian Chant, “Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality,” LJ 2/15/14, p. 12ff.). Net neutrality rules stifle competition and promote inefficiency by, in effect, setting the rates that [Internet service providers] can charge content providers to zero. Data providers have a proprietary interest in net neutrality because they don’t pay for the broadband they use, while end users pay more for premium access to ISPs. Amazon, Google, and other big content providers don’t care how much end users have to pay for Internet access, and they don’t mind sharing network bandwidth with low-content providers though they have much larger customer bases. In effect, net neutrality allows big content providers to discriminate against their best customers.

Would libraries buying in bulk be willing to pay book dealers the same prices as retail? I don’t see how libraries can support a policy that permits content providers to ignore the best interest of their customers. Net neutrality hasn’t lived up to its promise of an open Internet. Why should we mourn its passing?

—Dave Bair, Technical Svcs. Libn., Brookings Inst., Washington, DC

Across ALA silos

Daniel O’Connor and Phil Mulvaney made a mistake in “ALA and Reunifying Librarianship” (BackTalk, LJ 3/1/14, p. 50–51). At every [American Library Association] conference there is at least one program that reaches across academic librarian silos: any program sponsored by the Library Instruction Roundtable (LIRT). This roundtable is not housed within a specialized division, and its members include school and academic librarians. We make an effort to plan programming related to library instruction that will appeal to school and public librarians as well as our colleagues who work in K–12, community colleges, and ­universities.

—Stephanie Rosenblatt, Instruction Libn., Electronic Resources/Serials Coord.,Cerritos Coll., Norwalk, CA

Angry librarians

I want to give a shout-out to Michael Stephens for his “A Genius Idea” (Office Hours, LJ 3/15/14, p. 81). I think his first paragraph is right and completely sums it up. I worked at an Apple Retail Store for four years. It was possibly some of the most stressful times of my life, but I also found it the job I’ve had where I have learned the most. I am 26, in library school now, and working at a public library full-time. My thesis for my MLIS, something I have thought about for a long time, will be about customer service in the library.

I have encountered it many times…some librarians are just plain angry. It’s bad enough that the career suffers an image problem, but unnecessary rudeness and hints of annoyance should not be ­acceptable.

The Apple Store has a lot of things it needs to work on; however, I think the library industry could use a hint or two about how they approach people and what some of the better habits are that the stores teach their staff. “I don’t know” should never be an answer, but I hear librarians say it often, particularly older ones. At Apple we were taught, “I don’t know, let’s find out.”

Instead of always crouching behind a desk, come out and walk around a bit, have conversations with patrons face-to-face, standing with them rather than talking to them from behind a counter. At Apple we often poked fun at AT&T and Verizon stores because they did hide behind counters, creating a much colder experience for their customers.

I want to thank Stephens for the article. I may use it as a source for my thesis.

—Graham Brunk, West Palm Beach, FL

Tools, utensils, space

I want to offer an alternate opinion to Mark Norman’s views regarding libraries providing space for items such as tools, kitchen utensils, and Maker spaces (“High cost, few users,” Feedback, LJ 3/1/14, p. 12). I feel his view is from a more privileged user. In the first place, 300 borrows is nothing to sneeze at in many communities, no matter what item is loaned. In many communities there are people who could benefit from these services….

There are people who have a keen interest in interior decorating, scrapbooking, making their own repairs, growing their own food and cooking and yet can’t afford the tools needed for these projects. I was once one of them. Sometimes they have the tools, but no work space…. I got my desire to do these things at my library…. I am sure there are others who would love space to further their passions away from their home…and a library is the perfect place for that. There are always people who balk at adding anything new…to ­libraries….

—Rita D. Lyons, Circ. Specialist, McConnell Lib., Radford Univ., VA


The review of Joan Barthel’s American Saint: The Life of Elizabeth Seton (LJ 2/15/14, p. 114) misidentified Barthel. Maya Angelou is the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, NC, and provided the book’s foreword. We apologize for the error.

This article was published in Library Journal's April 15, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.