April 20, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, January 2015 Issue

“The story of library staff and volunteers is one that does need to be shared, not only with the politicians but with the communities they serve.”

Tell politicians

Thank you for sharing the importance of libraries (Rebecca Miller, “Focus on Relevance,” Editorial, LJ 11/15/14, p. 8). The story of library staff and volunteers is one that does need to be shared, not only with the politicians but with the communities they serve. When the people who elect the officials are informed, then we are seeing a whole new way that politicians will look to serve their communities, districts, and states. Once they know what is important to the people, it becomes a focus and point to engage. Thank you for taking the time to share this; I look forward to seeing more articles regarding the relevance of libraries and where we are going.

—Kristina Payne, Colville, WA

Awesome in Ferguson

Thank you, Scott Bonner (Ferguson Libraries, MO), for being an awesome librarian (Rebecca Miller, “It’s What We Do,” Editorial, LJ 9/15/14, p. 8; Cesar Bustamante Jr., “Ferguson Libraries Step Up,” p. 10ff.). You’re an inspiration to librarians around the country (and probably the world), in addition to holding the hands of your patrons. Good luck cataloging all those donated books!

—Stephanie Brown, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hil

Reviews needed

Thank you so much for posting Jodi Lew-Smith’s “Self-published!” (Feedback, LJ 11/15/14, p. 9) about the need for reviews by recognized journals of independently published books. This is such an important issue and one of the major hurdles small presses face.

I also want to thank [LJ Reviews editor] Henrietta Verma for her concise and considerate explanation of the problem from the point of view of review journals. The steps being taken by LJ to address this issue are laudatory. As an independent author I am greatly heartened to hear about the new SELF-e platform and will do my best to spread the word to other independent authors…. This is a greatly needed service, especially in the case of children’s books since libraries are one of the primary ways young readers find new books….

Regarding the four issues you mention (massive numbers of books, advance reading copies, library-quality bindings, and payment methods), I urge you to come up with creative solutions to what are ­really minor problems to libraries and reviewers in comparison with the immense loss of readership suffered by independent ­authors.

Thank you…for helping to end the stigma of self-publication and make it possible for new voices to be heard.

—Julie Krantz, Chapel Hill, NC

ALA divestment

This adds some details about divestment discussions by the American Library Association (ALA) Council and the defeat of divestment (John Berry, “Money Still Talks,” Blatant Berry, LJ 11/1/14, p. 10). As Berry says, “[Council] voted not to do so, because its endowment trustees see ‘increasing revenue’ as their only job.” As a member of Council, I listened to the extremely negative consequences of the proposed divestment. Later, I was curious about how the endowment trustees arrived at their figures.

After many emails to a member of the Executive Board and to the ALA treasurer, I learned that determining the potential losses was a two-step process. The first step was divesting the targeted energy stocks, the so-called “dirty dozen,” and calculating how those stocks would have performed over the test period. The second step was investing these funds in green energy stocks and calculating returns over the same period.

Divestment would not have produced losses as significant as those reported because the green energy stocks did very poorly during the trial period. The real financial problem was not divestment but rather the reinvestment strategy….

I strongly support this issue coming back to ALA Council with such revised figures.

—Robert P. Holley, Prof., SLIS, Wayne State Univ., Detroit

Test for ebooks

Digital rights management (DRM) has always been bad for me as a customer…(Wayne Bivens-Tatum, “What I Want from Library Ebooks,” Peer to Peer Review, ow.ly/EtOF5).

I buy many ebooks and have one basic requirement, whether an ebook is subject to DRM or not. Once I buy an ebook, I require that it will continue to work…. I’ve seen ebook after ebook fail that test. Once, my physical device died, and when I switched devices my ebooks no longer worked. Another time the seller went out of business so no one who bought ebooks from them could use them….

So, yes, I have an aversion to DRM on purchased books, and it is somewhat ideological. If I buy an ebook, I should be able to use it for the rest of my life (with the occasional need for a format conversion). I don’t believe that the format should break, just because the seller got bored with the format or went bankrupt.

With proper care, a record or book can last over 40 years. I want ebooks that will last that long if I care for them….

—Name withheld upon request