February 17, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, February 15, 2015 Issue

“As we’ve seen…more guarantees and government moneyin the pot don’t mitigate the cost of education. In fact, they lead to an increase in the cost of education”

More spending

As we’ve seen with other venues for higher education, more guarantees and government money in the pot don’t mitigate the cost of education (Cathryne Kaufman, “America’s College Promise”). In fact, they lead to an increase in the cost of education. The more money available leads to more ways to spend that money. It’s why we are in a higher education bubble right now that’s almost worse than the housing bubble.

—Spencer Smith, Dir., Little Elm P.L., TX

The issue is debt

I understand completely the motivation behind Cathryne Kaufman’s opinion piece (“America’s College Promise,”), but I don’t really think it’s going to improve anything. The issue is not ­really access to college—let’s face it, with federal student loans everyone has access these days. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which you cannot get those loans, as you can get federal loans even after a bankruptcy or with poor credit.

The issue is the student loan balance after you graduate, and this isn’t going to solve that issue. People with two years of community college are not the ones with massive student loan debt. It’s the students who have $75,000, $100,000, $200,000 loans we should be worrying about. They are the ones who will likely never escape that debt and the ones who are creating the student loan “bubble” everyone is so worried about. This proposal isn’t going to help that problem.

—Name withheld upon request


I absolutely agree that calling marketing “raising awareness” and “educating the community” would make it far more palatable for many librarians (Cheryl ­LaGuardia, “Library Marketing…by Any Other Name,” Not Dead Yet). Actually, I’ll probably use that verbiage in my program description for my Library Marketing 101 proposal for a regional state conference. And it’s definitely descriptive of part of what needs to happen.

What still leaves me concerned with that spin, though, is that it smacks of the wholesome “hang up a flyer and they’ll come” outlook I’ve seen librarians have. Librarians love to be educated, love to have their awareness raised. Hey, I do!

So they assume everyone is the same way. But they aren’t. Writing copy that will appeal to people’s egos and ids instead of just their superegos is a necessary skill and not really a common one in the profession.

—Pam Matthews, Collection Mgr., Cleveland P.L.

Not a product

I couldn’t agree more with marketing guru Kathy Dempsey. And one of the longer responses in Cheryl LaGuardia’s Not Dead yet article (“Library Marketing…by Any Other Name,”) also states something really important: “If we’re marketing things that users neither need nor want, we are actually working against ourselves.” Marketing library services is completely different from marketing consumer products. The negative connotation of marketing comes from the feeling that as consumers we are being manipulated to buy products that we don’t really need. Library marketing should support and promote what we do, rather than decide what our library patrons should want.

—Marcela Dunham, Adult Programming Coord., Warren Twp. Lib., Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Raritan, NJ

Impressive, indeed!

As a librarian and as an active user and supporter of the Free Library of Philadelphia system, I was so pleased to see ­Siobhan Reardon’s selection [as LJ’s 2015 Librarian of the Year] (John Berry, “Siobhan Reardon,). She more than deserves this award for all that she’s done for this city in a short period of time and under such trying circumstances. On a personal note, I’ve also run into her on three separate occasions at my local branch library, which is just one of 61 locations in the sixth largest city in the United States. Impressive, indeed.

—Catherine Collins, Philadelphia

I heard silence

I applaud the leadership of Florida State University’s (FSU) Strozier Library for having prepared the staff for such an event (Lisa Peet, “FSU Shooting Highlights Library Security Needs,”). Sadly, my library, where I have worked for over 17 years, has no such plan in place. In addition to having great patrons, we have had our share of not-so-great patrons. We had a 15-year-old rape a 12-year-old in the restroom. We had a patron start a fire in the children’s section. The circulation staff regularly have to break up fistfights between teenagers. When I asked the management if we have an active shooter alert protocol for our library staff, silence was all I heard. It has been nearly two years since I asked the question, and the matter has never been addressed. I wonder if anyone in our management has read this article.

—Name withheld upon request

Words to live by

In response to Dorothea Salo’s column “Beaten Before We Start”, I work in the research library of a national laboratory. We have a saying with regards to innovation and doing different: Think Big, Start Small, and Move Fast.

—Name withheld upon request