February 16, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, June 15, 2016 Issue

“I see libraries that are nurturing local authors, kids discovering Maker spaces, citizenship classes, and even gardens being planted”

Doing our job

In an era when libraries have been fighting for relevancy…it is more important than ever to promote the many dynamic resources that can be found in libraries (Lisa Peet, ALA Launches “Libraries Transform” Campaign). Yes, the public can go to the library for a quiet space, for research, and to read a good book. The traditional aspects of the American library aren’t going away nor should they. However, I believe the purpose of this campaign is to enlighten the public (who already know they can go to the library for a quiet space, for research, and to read a good book) [about] the vast number of other resources that are ­available. Having taken a look at the #librariestransform hashtag, I see libraries that are nurturing local authors, kids discovering Maker spaces, citizenship classes, and even gardens being planted. If these things entertain our patrons, I say we’ve done our job.

—Name withheld

An important piece

As a budding instructional design professional currently working in a public library, I agree wholeheartedly with Steven Bell’s What Do You Know About Instructional Designers?. Within my own organization I often receive puzzled looks when I tell people that I’m in instructional design. Even in a public setting, there are opportunities for librarians to use an instructional designer to assist in the way programs are delivered or classes are taught. There are many opportunities for intersection between designers and librarians especially in this increasingly digital world. While it’s not currently my role… I see instructional design as a very important piece of the library experience, whether for staff or patron use, and I hope someday to be a part of that process.

— Mykal Duffy, Pittsburgh

Not ALA’s business

Is providing a public restroom typically something we talk about as “library services”? (Lisa Peet, North Carolina Librarians, Library Associations React to HB2). No, it’s a function of having a public building. There are a lot of things that affect our staff and patrons that aren’t library services issues and the American Library Association shouldn’t get involved in. Does your library pay people—or help unemployed people? Sure sounds like minimum wage is a library service issue. Does your library use electricity and does your staff breathe air? Sure sounds like environmental issues are library service issues. Do your people eat? Sure sounds like food safety is a library service issue…. Of course these things aren’t library services, but they all impact the daily environment of our libraries. That doesn’t mean our professional organization should be making proclamations about laws regarding them.

—Anonymous Coward

Use common sense

A commenter writes, “What is a librarian supposed to do when a female patron comes screaming out of the ladies’ room that there’s a man in there?” (Rebecca T. Miller, Defending Inclusion). That may be a tough moment for all involved, but this is not a new phenomenon. I remember a distant cousin transitioning in rural Mississippi in the early 1980s. When anyone comes screaming out of a bathroom, you handle it with as much calm as you can muster, sit the parties down together if they will sit together, and work it out with generosity of spirit and good humor…. Transgendered patrons have been using the ­restroom of their choice all this time, are doing so now, and will continue to do so in future. If someone is upset and wants to change policy, then you and your team have to talk about that, with your eyes on the common good. It may be that the screamer shouldn’t have been peeking at her fellow restroom [user]. But if the screamer was treated indiscreetly, the offender has to be taken to task. Most grown people are going to be chill and use common sense.

[The commenter] also writes, “The only real solution is to make all ­restrooms single occupancy with locks on the door. Short of that, keep the biological women and men in the rooms designated for them.” I agree that single-occupancy, unisex restrooms may be a good way to go, but it is expensive. I disagree that we should make it our business to keep “biological women and men” separate. People should be free to do as they wish so long as they don’t harm others. I don’t think I am any more harmed by a woman using the men’s restroom [than] I am by other men using the men’s restroom, [or] that a transgendered woman or man harms me by using the restroom I’m using.

—Woody Evans, Ref. Libn., Texas Woman’s Univ., Denton


The bibliographic header of the review of the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World (LJ 5/1/16, p. 92) incorrectly lists the page count as 820 instead of the massive 1,353. The review of E.J. ­Copperman’s Written Off: A Mysterious Detective Mystery (LJ 6/1/16, p. 72) refers to this book as the first in “her” new series. ­Copperman is the pseudonym of crime writer Jeffrey Cohen. We apologize for the errors.

This article was published in Library Journal's June 15, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.