March 19, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, February 15, 2017 Issue

“Emerging technology that improves and moves our services forward is integral. Technology that doesn’t is not”

Service driven

I like Michael Stephens’s approach to developing a mind-set to be open to new technologies and other new ideas that impact libraries, but I would say we should not view libraries as a tech-driven field (Michael Stephens, “Adopt or Adapt?”). Emerging technology that improves and moves our services forward is integral. Technology that doesn’t is not, especially technologies that have the practical effect of limiting services to vulnerable populations. Sometimes we have difficulty telling the difference. The perspective that we are a service-driven field can help with that.

—Karren Reish, Lib. Grants Coordinator, Lib. of Michigan, Lansing

Deeply troubling

The student’s commentary on general education courses reveals a tension that is all too familiar (Steven Bell, “Just One Student but He Sent a Message”). When university was only the dream of some, and you could get a decent job without it, there was more of a sense that gen ed would cultivate the mind, and that was seen as a good thing even if it didn’t immediately lead to a job.

Today, relevance is key, and the perceived irrelevance of gen ed by some is likely a product of the question, “How will this stuff get me a job?” I find this deeply troubling, because…. And there I pause. Is it because I am elitist and believe university should be left to students who are there to be students and to rule in the next generation’s hegemony? Is it because I see missed opportunity when students cultivate only that which makes them job-ready? Is it because foisting gen ed on such students may be a less than wise choice when they are not prepared to appreciate it and might do better in a technical school that is more hands-on? Lots to ponder.

—William Badke, Assoc. Libn. for Assoc. Canadian Theological Schs. & Info Literacy, Trinity Western Univ., Langley, BC

User for 35 years

Congratulations, Jill. I’ve been a library user in San José for 35 years (John Berry, “Jill Bourne: 2017 Librarian of the Year”). The first thing I do when I move is get a library card. I am also a librarian with experience in schools, local tech companies, and local public libraries.

I love the changes you’ve implemented in summer reading, including the “Golden Ticket,” children’s programming, reduction in fines, [and] the opportunity to volunteer and work off fines. Having nonlibrarians step in to assist at reference and everything else has made a huge difference in resource availability, along with the replacement of library hours.

I’m delighted to see the new libraries opened, all the partnerships, resources, interlibrary corporate affiliations, as well as the digital options. Expanding the use of volunteers to teach programs and the fun workshops available really [stretch] the scope previously unfounded at SJPL. Hopefully, these innovations will continue to lead us further on this journey technologically, especially in Silicon Valley and in concert with SJSU. So glad to have you here.

—Jane Wesley, Libn. Teacher, Santa Clara Unified, San José, CA

We burned it

Well, this is the end of that (Sponsored Content, “Publishing for Librarians’ Changing Needs”). Sponsored content in LJ? How soon until we see things like “What John N. Berry Looks Like Today Is Absolutely Jaw-Dropping” and “Fifty Weeding Secrets THEY Don’t Want You To Know About” on the bottom crawl? We had to burn the publication in order to save it.

—Ted Kane, Long Beach, CA

It’s a business

Wow, Burn It (Sponsored Content, “Publishing for Librarians’ Changing Needs”)? ­Really? Do you think there’s some magical benefactor out there who goes around giving magazines the money to keep publishing sponsor-free? It’s a business. I’m not a huge fan of “sponsored content,” but I’ll take it over even more banner ads, especially of the pop up, over, under, around variety. The ad that jumps up every time I visit the site sets my teeth onin p edge. At least this article was something I could read. Or not read, which is my prerogative. Are you mad they’re doing it? Or because you felt suckered into reading something you didn’t know was paid for? Because, spoiler alert, it’s all paid for by sponsors one way or another. And when it stops being, then you can sit around and remember when you had the luxury of complaining in the comments of a magazine that was still in business.

—Name withheld

This article was published in Library Journal's February 15, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Abby Reiter says:

    I disagree with “Can’t Eat It!” (LJ Feedback 2/1, p.11 – a Response to John Berry, “Inspired by Serving Others,” Blatant Berry, LJ 12/16, p.10). While dedicating ourselves to customer service won’t feed our families on its own – the pay raise we could secure from doing outstanding work can. If we always strive for excellent customer service our libraries will improve, followed by the budgets and then, in turn, our salaries. And in the process we are helping others: a win-win all around.

    Thank you,
    Abby Reiter
    Reference Librarian
    Northbrook Public Library