February 17, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, December 2015 Issue

“[M]y heart cries out every time I hear of another senseless gun death. But I believe education, not legislation, is the key”

Libraries and guns

I totally agree that libraries could make a difference on this issue (Rebecca T. Miller, “It’s Time To Talk About Guns,” Editorial, LJ 11/1/15, p. 8), but I believe from a totally different standpoint. Like all of our other touchy subjects, the key is education. My husband is a certified hunter and gun safety educator. He teaches two hunter education classes and two gun safety classes a year. He works closely with the local sheriff and the [Department of Natural Resources] and has someone from both departments come to his classes. By teaching students how to handle guns safely, accidental shootings could be eliminated. Yet our local library will not let him hold classes in its conference rooms. I am a librarian at a rural school, and our superintendent will not let me hold gun safety classes in my library. We, as librarians, don’t have to take on the issues, but we can support those trying to make a difference through education.

The editorial stated that “60 percent of [gun deaths from firearms in 2013] were suicides.” If someone is suicidal, then it doesn’t take a gun. How many overdose? How many hang themselves? How about libraries working with the mental health agencies in the area? How about using the libraries to educate families on the warning signs before it happens, not until it is too late? Our local library will also not allow support groups to meet in its con­ference rooms.

As a teacher, librarian, mother, and gun owner, my heart cries out every time I hear of another senseless gun death. But I believe education, not legislation, is the key.

—Donna Dennison, Selbyville, IN

Help us find jobs!

As a 2010 graduate of [California’s] San Jose State MLIS program, I looked eagerly to the Placements & Salaries 2015 survey (Suzie Allard, “The Expanding Info Sphere,” LJ 10/15/15, p. 24–30) for some hints, clues, statistical indicators to assist me in my ongoing search for full-time employment. I was disappointed, however, for the emphasis instead rested heavily on the high number of recent graduates who have found employment and how much earned by region. This is interesting, yes, but I would also like to see information on…those of us still looking.

There are many recent graduates stuck in part-time positions because these are simply all that is offered. Post Affordable Care Act and in synchronicity with the adjunctification of academic professorship, many states, counties, and localities primarily offer positions that run 20–28 hours, supply no benefits, and demand a flexible schedule. I hold multiple graduate degrees and have been advised to omit these from my résumé/cv due to the notion that they might prevent, rather than assist, me in my search for full-time entry-level ­employment. Yes, a positive attitude definitely helps, but a background in waitressing has helped me just as much…

—Jenny Rogers, Lib. Asst., John Tyler Coll., Midlothian, VA


John Berry makes some great points in his column “More Than Information” (Blatant Berry, LJ 11/1/15, p. 10). I would add that since “information” is now ubiquitous (as in “I get everything I need off the Internet”), “Master of Library Science” may convey greater value to those outside the profession. Might I suggest that this traditional degree title also aligns with the game changing “Libraries=Education” vision, which includes information and everything Berry describes and has been adopted by a growing number of libraries across the country. The strategy: 1) Repositions libraries as educational institutions and librarians as educators; 2) Categorizes all that libraries do under three, easy-to-remember “pillars” (Self-Directed Education, Research Assistance & Instruction, and Instructive and Enlightening Experiences); and 3) Replaces traditional terminology and jargon with strategic language that people outside of the field understand (e.g., education, instruction, and research replace words like information and ­reference).

If you are interested in learning more, I’ll be presenting the approach at the Public Library Association meeting in Denver: “Libraries=Education: Reclaiming Our Purpose for the 21st Century” (Apr. 7, 2016, 2–3 p.m.). This strategy is also set forth in the book Transforming Our Image, Building Our Brand: The Education ­Advantage (Libraries Unlimited).

—Valerie J. Gross, Pres. & CEO, Howard Cty. Lib. Syst., Ellicott City, MD

Finding short fiction

Short fiction may appear on library shelves if it’s published in a print anthology, but today many short stories are published in online journals. Perhaps Canadian and American libraries should cooperate with online journals to create a database of short fiction that can be accessed by library patrons. It’s a two-edged sword. My short story, “The Poodle and the Golfer,” was recently published in Issue #20 of the Maple Tree Literary Supplement (www.mtls.ca). My story is available to anyone who happens to visit that website, but the patrons who frequent the Calgary Public Library won’t find it on the shelves. I’m sure that American short fiction writers find themselves in the same dilemma.

—J. Paul Cooper, Calgary, Alta.

This article was published in Library Journal's December 1, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Robin Brandt says:

    Not all library programs need to take place at the library. Libraries sent representatives to community events all the time. If the library partnered with an outside group, LW’s husband could present his program there, under the library’s auspices. The library could handle the publicity.