March 19, 2018

Apple Leads to Librarianship, Hiring and Letting Go, and More Letters to LJ’s May 15 Issue

“I already felt like a librarian when I worked on the localization of employee training manuals into multiple languages for Apple Stores around the world”

Call me “librarian”

Managing digital content for Apple Retail is what made me realize that I should work toward my master’s degree in library and information science (Michael Stephens, “A Genius Idea?” Office Hours, LJ 3/15/14). I already felt like a librarian when I worked on the localization of employee training manuals into multiple languages for Apple Stores around the world.

I think we need to be more flexible about letting people call themselves librarians, especially if they have cool jobs in high-tech.

—Sylvia Spiva, MLIS student, San José State Univ., CA

Hire the passionate

Over my past 30 years in the library profession, I have come to realize that the people who inspire are the ones who allow others to shine (John Berry, “Leadership Is Not Command,” Blatant Berry, LJ 4/1/14). When I became a director of a rural public library in 1997, I had no idea what my philosophy of management would be. I had never been in a “hiring” position. So, I had to think about the types of folks I would want on my team.

Being a creative person, I wanted to make sure I hired people who were creative and could think outside the box. I wanted them to be driven because I certainly did not want to micromanage….

For almost 17 years I have hired team members with creativity, initiative, great personalities, and those who had a tendency to march to a different drummer. I knew I could teach them library skills. The results have been phenomenal. We have a team that consistently surprises me with innovative programs and unsurpassed customer service.

Our rural library system serves a total population of less than 20,000, yet 80 percent of our population have library cards. Over 8,600 people attended programs in 2013. We offered programs that not only inspired (Forgive but Never Forget: The Last Known Holocaust Survivor in Indiana) but also entertained (Return to Never­land). We have three vibrant branches and one Bookmobile and our historic Carnegie library….

So, thank Berry for stating something that I have known for years: hire friendly, passionate, enthusiastic, and talented people; give them the training and tools to do their jobs; and get out of their way!

—Susan Hill Pieper, Dir., Paulding Cty. Carnegie Lib., OH

Hire good people

I just wanted to thank LJ for John Berry’s terrific “Leadership Is Not Command” (Blatant Berry, LJ 4/1/14). He hit the nail precisely on the head! In my previous position as the director of a small town library who was hired as a part-time employee, I quickly learned that I had to hire good people and trust them to have my back. That made the burden of being the person responsible for everything much lighter.

My motto for myself and my staff was to err on the side of being too lenient rather than too strict, and I never meted out punishment when a mistake was made but simply used it as a valuable lesson learned for everyone and moved on. The folks I hired during my stint there (I moved on to an academic library that offered a full-time, benefited position) are all very good friends with whom I keep in touch because I so value their friendship, and I am happy to be able to say that they have said they feel the same about me.

I hope/believe your wise words will be received and taken on board by leaders who have the sense to recognize their value and put them into practice.

—Diana Tallent, Lib. Technician, St. Paul Coll.

Proud of Pine River

I have lived in Bayfield for over 20 years now and am so proud to see the kind of recognition our little local Pine River Library has received (John Berry, “Building a Living Library: The Best Small Library in America,” LJ 2/1/14). It is well deserved….

Bayfield has managed…to maintain so many of the positive aspects that seemed lost to me as I matured in Southern California. I truly hope that the people here will always keep in mind that a library like ours that brings a community together is so much more important than so many other things that can be imported from bigger, “more progressive” cities…. Thank you to all of our hardworking library staff, volunteers, and community members and patrons for their contributions to this great small town.

—Lori Allenbaugh, Bayfield, CO

Gay “slurs” omitted

In her review of the gay male erotic title Straight Shooter, Ashleigh Williams wrote, “…though the gay stated throughout the book might be a turn-off for some readers” (Erotica, LJ 3/15/14). As a gay male librarian, I was happy to see this sub-genre featured…but the disclaimer was not only unnecessary but insulting.

—Philip Bahr, Ref. Libn., Fairfield P.L., CT

Ed. Note: LJ is responsible for incorrect wording of the offending sentence, not Williams. A key word, “slurs,” was inadvertently omitted. It should have read, “…though the gay slurs stated throughout the book might be a turn-off for some readers.” We apologize for the error.

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



  1. Frumious Bandersnatch says:

    No, we do not in fact need to be more flexible about allowing people to call themselves librarians, any more than we need to be more flexible about allowing people to call themselves doctors or lawyers. A librarian is someone with an MLS degree. Unless we start investing some respect in that, we can forget about our patrons doing so.