March 21, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, July 2017 Issue

“We cannot tolerate diversity, we must embrace it, promote it, defend it, and make the new understanding part of our current vocabulary”

Tolerance updated

Thank you for this definition of tolerance (Nicole A. Cooke, “Tolerance Is Not Good Enough”). Yes, the word has a long and historic meaning, but this is 2017, and old definitions, however exalted, are no longer good enough. They fail to speak to the society in which we live. And [Cooke] has done the update for us. We cannot tolerate diversity, we must embrace it, promote it, defend it, and make the new understanding part of our current vocabulary, demonstrating how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in our profession and in the world of the 21st century.

—Betty Turock, Prof. & Dean Emeritus, Rutgers Univ. LIS, Highland Park, NJ

Hostile cultures

Diversity and tolerance in general, yes, but there are some cultures, ideologies, and value systems which are so corrosively—even criminally—hostile that even just tolerating them, let alone embracing them, betrays the very values of libraries and is highly self-­destructive—indeed, suicidal (Nicole A. Cooke, “Tolerance Is Not Good Enough). Book-burning Nazism was one example, and we see others in places like Malmö, Sweden.

Judgments must be made, usually at the community level, [provided] it itself has not succumbed to evil.

—Lou Coatney, retired libn., Flateby, Norway

Library funding saved!

As one of the many, many people who contributed in some small way to this campaign to make it the success it was (Bob Warburton, “Public Outcry Saves Saskatchewan Library Funds), there is no way to say a big enough thanks to the organizers and all the participants. I live in one of the small and remote Saskatchewan communities that probably would have lost its library due to the cuts shortly after having lost access to resources we deserve as much as any larger community. I’m so grateful I didn’t have to find out in reality what a blow it would have been. Thanks also to Library Journal for recording this campaign for posterity and the rest of the English-speaking world.

—Laureen Marchand, Artist, Val Marie, Sask.; former Dir., Saskatoon Theological Union Libs., Sask.

Win in Saskatchewan

My mother used to tell me about the importance of the Travelling Library, forerunner of the interlibrary loan system (Bob Warburton, “Public Outcry Saves Saskatchewan Library Funds”). She worked there when it operated out of the Legislative Library in the 1920s. Good for you, Saskatchewan, for rising up against the slash-and-burn library-cutting government!

—Elaine Wood, Vancouver, BC; formerly of Regina, Sask.

False dichotomy

“Either/or and a false dichotomy” (Michael Stephens, “Libraries in Balance”). “Basic needs” vs. “technology.” Um, where does content, including print content, literacy, and reading fit in here? In 2016, print sales were higher than ebook sales. There is a return to print and a digital backlash occurring.

Are these “basic” and fundamental needs being met? They aren’t “emerging,” they are here and have been for years. [They] continue to be popular and necessary, yet somehow 3-D printers and “spaces” and “whole person librarianship” must be at the top of our lists.

In the “noughts” we wrote off physical spaces and print in order to be “relevant” and “cutting edge” and “change-y” and just like bookstores. It was to our great disadvantage. Now, with even greater needs and fewer resources, we have to stop our dichotomous thinking.

—Sarah Nagle, Libn., Carver County Lib., Chaska, MN

Missing the many

I think a problem that often comes into play when thinking about [meeting patrons’ basic needs vs. providing access to emerging technologies] is missing the forest for the trees (Michael Stephens, “Libraries in Balance”). People remember [offerings] that need more help (or cause more problems). They don’t think about the thousands of people who use them with limited or no interaction at all, due to technology, proper selection, etc. If we are constantly trying to solve the problems of the exception we can lose focus on serving the majority of those who continue to use [libraries] without problems.

—Anonymous Coward

This article was published in Library Journal's July 1, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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