February 17, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, March 1, 2016 Issue

“Sensible people must reclaim their public libraries and restore them to the dignity of being ‘just quiet places to…find a book’ ”

No quiet places?

I understand that one of the rules for publication of comments is not to attack individuals but rather ideas (Lisa Peet, ALA Launches “Libraries Transform’ Campaign). This is difficult, if not impossible, when the idea under attack reflects great stupidity on the part of its advocates. Such is the idea that public libraries need to be transformed beyond their traditional purpose. The rhetoric of “serving the community” sounds lofty enough, but the reality is that the “transform libraries” movement trashes libraries.

Are we so close to omniscience that public libraries need no longer provide the public with “quiet places to do research, find a book, and read”? The “Transform Libraries” movement purports to turn the public library into a “community center” that offers “services.” “Community center” is a euphemism for an amusement park. “Services” is a euphemism for frivolity. Did the instigators of this movement major in sandbox and paper dolls in college? Clearly, they are not given to making intellectual demands upon themselves.

A branch of a certain urban public library offered rock concerts in 2015. I had the misfortune of walking into that library to use the Internet when one of them was in progress. The volume was so loud that my whole head throbbed…. I left three phone messages with a commissioner of that library to learn if this nonsense would continue in 2016. Said commissioner did not return my calls.

What kind of doctors, nurses, lawyers, and teachers will we have if this development continues? Sensible people must reclaim their public libraries and restore them to the dignity of being “just quiet places to do research, find a book, and read.” They need to do it yesterday!

—June Berveiler, Chicago

Think neutral

Librarians and the library profession should be neutral with regard to social or political issues while at work (John N. Berry III, The Gadfly Alerts)! Not all librarians use the term progressive to define themselves. We all believe that libraries should offer a wide variety of items in our collections that promote all points of view. This is how librarians should think, as well. Not everyone who walks in our library doors thinks the same way on social or political issues. Why then, should we be expected to have the “progressive” point of view just because we are librarians? We need to respect that there are two sides to every issue, not one. I cringe that there is an actual organization called the Progressive Librarians Guild!

—Carolyn Manning, Dir., Wimberley Lib., TX

Bringing understanding

I think librarians are required by the American Library Association (ALA) core values to ensure the public has the correct information on issues impacting world peace, environmental hazards, and rights to employees (John N. Berry III, The Gadfly Alerts). This is also in accordance with the ethics of intellectual freedom. Please consider the Idle No More Movement. When there is an Idle No More march blocking a road that someone must cross to go to work, people get mad. However they (we) must realize that the inconvenience that indigenous people had to endure when the oil companies encroached upon their land was far greater than our being late for work…. Librarians have a duty to ensure that the public has access to this information and a duty to be informed about it, to give accurate information to patrons to facilitate a community agency in bridging understandings between opposing factions so that we the people are idle no more!

—Anna Wilson, MLIS Candidate, SLIS, Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton

No information skills

It is interesting that students graduating from universities and colleges are not equipped with the information literacy skills they need once they graduate, but it is not surprising (Michael Stephens, The Livelong Day). When I took my searching classes in the Library Technician Program at Seneca College I had this aha moment when I finally learned how to find the information that I needed. I kept wondering, “Why didn’t someone teach me this ­before?”

The lack of information literacy skills in university and college graduates goes back to the K–12 level where the disconnect between the library and the classroom starts. Some teachers [assume] that students should just naturally know how to search and evaluate resources. This is not true!

Classroom teachers, university and college professors, and (school/academic/public) librarians need to start to bridge the gaps between the “traditional” teachers and the librarians who know how to teach the information literacy skills that will serve students for a lifetime.

—Andrea Meszaros, Intl. Christian Sch. of Budapest, Diosd, Hungary


The review of Joe Hill’s The Fireman (LJ 2/15/16, p. 80) states that it is the author’s sophomore effort; it is in fact Hill’s fourth thriller. In the same issue, the print version of the starred review of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway (p. 77) unintentionally omitted the star (*) symbol. LJ regrets the errors.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 1, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.