April 23, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, February 1, 2018 Issue

“The degree-granting programs for the MLIS often do not include classes teaching critical race theory and other such [studies]”

Highly classist

The hypothesis [by a fellow commenter using the pseudonym “anonymous coward”] that libraries with a higher ratio of non-MLIS degree holders have a higher percentage of discriminatory practices [is] highly classist and problematic (responding to “Do Librarians Discriminate?”).

A degree is a piece of paper. It does not bestow knowledge of critical race theory and antiracist praxis…. The degree-granting programs for the MLIS often do not include classes teaching critical race theory and other such [studies]. And if these programs do teach it, the information is often isolated to a single elective. So, your hypothesis incorrectly assumes two things—that those with the degree have been taught antiracist praxis and that those without the degree (like many staff members) don’t learn that information elsewhere.

Secondly, many people of color (POC) in librarianship tend to be concentrated in staff positions. So, in actuality, could it not be argued that libraries with more staff have less racial disparity since they, too, would have “ethnic” sounding names?

—Fobazi M. Ettarh, Student Success Libn., Univ. Lib., Cal State Dominguez Hills, ­Carson, CA

Open to all

Please, examine the cliché that the degree is a “piece of paper” (reply to above comment to “Do Librarians Discriminate”). The American Library Association (ALA) accredits the degrees with great attention to diversity concerns. Many of us teaching include weeks on library service to diverse populations. This term I am teaching a course on “Libraries and Human Rights.” The enrollment includes people of all backgrounds and support staff—some SPECTRUM scholars. The “piece of paper” gives the opportunity to take courses in “Multi­cultural Children’s Services” (always fully enrolled). Perhaps the support staff I teach are inclined to be open and nondiscriminatory since so many are themselves new Americans or international students, but rather I think it is because the staffs of our libraries work assiduously to be welcome to all.

I have rural students who have been rural support staff. Rural areas in Florida include many diverse people especially migrant workers and people leaving their homes because of disasters or fleeing intolerable governments. In my long experience, support staff have worked seamlessly with [degree-holders] to provide open and kind service.

—Kathleen McCook, Sch. of Information, an ALA-accredited program, Univ. of South Florida, Tampa

Stop the blame game

I adamantly disagree with the quote by Neeraj Mehta: “The ugly truth is that race, white supremacy, and racial hierarchy, is robbing every single individual person in our country of their humanity,” posted by Rebecca Miller (“All In”)…. Look around you, and tell me how every single person in America is being robbed. Sure, we have inequality and inequity, but that is a part of life….

The racial divide continues to grow because of people like Mehta…who feel someone has to be held accountable for all the bad things that ever happened to anyone who wasn’t white in this country…. The ills of America are not going to be solved overnight. Can you not see the progress we’ve made and are making?… Too many Americans…have been duped into believing that we need to “remake America” so we can have racial equality, social justice, and a redistribution of wealth.

That is not the answer…. If liberal politicians and professors would stop making statements like the one Mehta made, we would do so much better…. We become more divided by the blamers.

No, not everyone is being robbed as Mehta claims; he is robbing all people of their dignity by [saying as much]. As librarians, we should be doing everything we can to stop the “blame game” and help our patrons realize the goodness of America, promote programs that recognize progress…and support our inspired American Constitution….

—Steve Parrott, Checkout Libn., Richland Lib., Columbia, SC

CORRECTIONS

The review of Will Mackin’s debut short story collection, Bring Out the Dog (LJ 1/18, p. 94), misidentified the author, a retired Navy SEAL team member, as Macklin. In the same issue, SF/Fantasy columnist Kristi Chadwick’s byline placed her in South Deerfield, MA. Chadwick has been with the Massachusetts Library System in Northampton for over a year. LJ apologizes for the errors.

This article was published in Library Journal's February 1, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. anonymous coward says:

    Umm… no follow up to that? The comment was included as a direct reply to someone miscategorizing my hypothesis as classist.

    “I was unclear. My NON-MLS staff member, I meant as the director/manager in charge. Most libraries have non mls staff members. I meant, and failed miserably at clearly expressing this, that those who have no MLS librarians on staff at all.

    My comment was, based on the study information, libraries showed less bias than other professions included. It wasn’t an assumption- it was a conclusion of the data. As to my hypothesis, it’s just a hypothesis. I wasn’t presenting it as fact and, like any hypothesis, needs to be checked against the data to test it’s veracity.”

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