March 21, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, April 1, 2017 Issue

“Giving people who have opposing views the right to exchange their opinions ‘without risk of retribution’ is part of what has made this nation great”

A safe, open forum

I appreciated Rebecca T. Miller’s words about “defending a culture that celebrates and benefits from the robust discourse possible only when information and ideas can be shared openly” (“A Unified Voice”). Yes, I agree that the past several years have limited, on several issues, diverse viewpoints, even silencing many. Take for example the issue of same-sex marriage. A greater majority of states had voted against it, leaving one to deduce that millions of Americans did not support it. Yet these very Americans—representing both genders, many races, and a wide diversity of religious beliefs—have not been granted a voice for their views. Any attempt to express them has been met with name-calling and ­censorship.

When I entered the library world, I was taught that librarians are about information, not about taking sides. Libraries are a wonderful place where thinkers and writers from both sides [of a question] can be given opportunity for “robust discourse” without shaming and labeling. As Miller says, “our work to protect freedom of inquiry and expression is never done,” and giving people who have opposing views the right to exchange their opinions “without risk of retribution” is part of what has made this nation great.

As the magazine generally presents one perspective, I look forward to seeing other viewpoints on a variety of issues expressed and libraries across the country offering a safe, open forum for free exchange of ideas. Thank you for being so broad-minded.

—Name withheld

Library drones

I just finished reading “10 Ways Drones Are Changing Your World” in Consumer Reports (Jan. 2017). It is only recently that I have shifted my view of drones as irritating toys or cartoon-ish Jetsons futurist dreams to universal practical tools. Seeing on news reports, in agriculture, and photography what they can do has opened my eyes. Drones will be used everywhere within ten years, and people won’t look and point when they see one on the job, taking care of business….

One particular line in the article caught my eye: “Walmart is examining ways to deploy drones inside its warehouses to photograph and catalog inventory.” This got me thinking about how libraries will take advantage of drones in the future. Could large institutions use them to inventory/shelf-read their collections after hours when users wouldn’t be ­bothered? Will there be drones so quiet and unobtrusive that they could provide security inside of a large university library? Drones will definitely be used by campus security to help patrol the many isolated locations on campus to protect the university community.

Another quote from the article, “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said about 86 percent of the orders the online retailer ships weigh less than five pounds. That’s lightweight enough to be delivered by drone. Amazon is now testing autonomous aircraft that can drop a book or pair of shoes at your home within 30 minutes of receiving the order.” Wow! What if public libraries could deliver books, CDs, DVDs, etc., to shut-in users in such a manner? Or move items from branch to branch quickly and efficiently? I urge librarians to read this article and begin to dream of the ways that drones will change libraries.

—Jeff Siddons, Libn., St. Petersburg P.L., FL

Thanks for LJ help

It isn’t often that a supplement to a periodical moves me to write a thank-you note, but I found as I was reading the Reference Supplement 2017 that you had saved me so much time that I could take a moment to send a thank-you. What a great job! The supplement…included titles from all subject areas and all price ranges, meaning my medium-sized library could keep its collection up-to-date within budget. Just another reminder of…how essential [LJ] is to my work.

—Michele Raine, Asst. Dir., Wood Cty. Dist. P.L., Bowling Green, OH

No help wanted

Thanks, Steven Bell (“Librarians Are Not Worth Waiting For”)…. I don’t understand why many students (and some faculty) don’t value reference assistance. Most librarians want students to excel and succeed in their studies!

—Jane Reiter, Research & Instruction Libn., Davenport Univ., Lansing, MI


Benjamin Ludwig’s The Original Ginny Moon (LJ 3/15/17, p. 110) was published by Harlequin’s new literary imprint Park Row and is not one of the publisher’s Mira titles. LJ regrets the error.



  1. It is a big mistake to characterize viewpoints as being from “both sides” – that’s a false equivalency. While basic generalizations can be made, we are seeing more and more “single issue” and splinter opinions these days. And hate doesn’t belong on any “side”.

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