April 19, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, November 15, 2016

“The 29 percent response rate gives me pause…especially since these results diverge from what I have personally observed ‘in the field’ ”

Divergent results

As a recent MLIS graduate who chose to “opt in” to receiving career surveys from my library school, the 29 percent response rate gives me pause when drawing conclusions from these studies, especially since these results diverge from what I have personally observed “in the field” (­Suzie ­Allard, Bouncing Back: Placements & Salaries 2016).

I suspect that those who have positive career developments to report are more likely to participate than those who will have to admit to having no job, or to finding only unfulfilling and/or part-time employment.

Personally, my first impulse when alumni updates are solicited is to avoid admitting to or reflecting on my current situation and job prospects and, thus, to avoid these surveys. I suspect that I am not the only struggling graduate to have this thought process upon seeing a request for updates in my email in-box.

—Name withheld

Using business

I appreciate that [John] Berry notes that while libraries are not businesses, and I agree with that, we do need to occasionally draw on business for ideas or practices that will benefit our staff and community members (We Are Not a Business, Blatant Berry). If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have services such as virtual reference chat or self-checkout machines, two innovations you can trace back to business. I agree less with his point that we are not competing in a marketplace. I think we do need to make it clear to our communities how the library is differentiated from the many other options they have for locating information, obtaining media, having a Maker experience, etc. If we want community members to support libraries, they need to be aware of what they can get from the library and librarians that is not available elsewhere in the community or from the Internet.

—Steven Bell, Assoc. Univ. Libn., Temple Univ., Philadelphia; author of the LJ column From the Bell Tower

Why government

Thank you for such a concise reason why good government matters so much (We Are Not a Business, Blatant Berry). Good government means offering necessary services on an equitable basis; otherwise, the disparities grow and grow.

—Name withheld

Embattled definitions

[John] Berry makes a great argument (We Are Not a Business, Blatant Berry). But his argument assumes that government—read: elected officials—agrees with funding libraries sufficiently to meet the need. Not happening. And competition from other knowledge and experience purveyors is real. No, libraries are not commercial or retail businesses, but their survival is not found in holding fast to definitions that are embattled.

—Matthew Poland, Dir., Russell Lib., Middletown, CT

Their own pace

We need to take pride in our profession, which, indeed, is not a business (John Berry, We Are Not a Business, Blatant Berry). Libraries empower people. We offer both entertainment and information to everyone who comes in the door; more, we let people seek out what they need and learn at their own pace. Our public libraries are perhaps the greatest democratic institution in this country. Long may they endure!

—Name withheld

Get a music pro

I recently read Robin Bradford’s “Keeping up with the Kids” (Music Matters, LJ 10/1/16, p. 59), and as a selector of music, I’m struggling to accept that these suggestions—listen to the radio and read Billboard—are legitimate pieces of advice from one collection development librarian to another. Just like reading professional journals is an absolute minimum for book selection, knowing what’s on the radio is the bare minimum for music selection, and it is plain common sense. Picking a Music Matters contributor who openly admits to not having any desire to listen to popular music is a strange [decision] at best, and an awful one at worst. The idea that this is the way to keep up with the “kids” is kind of insulting—who even are these kids? LJ is a professional journal, so we deserve professional help. This advice isn’t helpful to music selectors, especially when libraries want to have their fingers on the pulse, not show up when the body is cold.

—Jess Herzog, Multimedia & Adult ­Programming Libn., Spartanburg Cty. PL, SC


In the Librarians’ Picks section of LJ’s fall Library by Design (LBD) supplement (LBD 9/15/16, p. 21), the media tables attributed to 3M are actually from 3branch. In LJ’s romance genre spotlight “All’s Fair in Love” (LJ 10/15/16, p. 29), the globe-trotting nurse heroine of Emily Brett’s Found does not have a heart condition. LJ apologizes for the errors. And just to clarify, in the Audio section, the starred review of Delia Ephron’s Siracusa (LJ 11/1/16, p. 45) indicates four narrators, who, in real life, are married couples: Talia Balsam and John Slattery, Katie Finneran and Darren Goldstein.

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