Feedback: Letters to LJ, January 15, 2011"I am an excellent employee and have rave reviews from my bosses. It's not me, it's my age. Ageism is alive and well in our profession." Jan 15, 2011
Ageism in libraries
I am responding to Stephanie L. Maatta’s “Stagnant Salaries, Rising Unemployment” (LJ 10/15/10, p. 22–29), which tells about new librarians struggling for jobs. I have worked in public libraries for over 14 years in both circulation and reference, and I have a solid administrative background. Attending library school was a labor of love for me. I know that I won’t be able to retire any time soon, so I plan to do something I love. I was told I needed a degree.... I returned to school. Now I am too “old” to be considered for most positions.
I graduated with my MLIS in 2009 and have not been able to find a full-time job. I have seen 20-year-olds with very little experience and three men get promoted and hired when I have far more experience than any of them. I am an excellent employee and have rave reviews from my bosses. It’s not me, it’s my age. Ageism is alive and well in our profession.
Please don’t tell me it’s the young graduates who can’t get jobs. The reality is that anyone graduating right now is having a hard time finding a full-time job. I am discouraged by the ads featuring library schools and how easy it is to enroll and get a job. Where do these people live? —Clara Strom, Reference Libn., South Hill, Spokane P.L.
Not the library’s job
I both like and dislike the closing statement in Dean Marney’s “The Internet Is Not All or Nothing” (BackTalk, LJ 11/1/10, p. 32), as I said in my blog post on his essay (bit.ly/bf2raA). Marney says, “Finally, as we migrate our collections and our entire libraries onto the Internet, we must be responsible to the communities we serve and make our mark as the profession that intelligently manages and makes usable the vast stores of information available online. Content matters.”
I like it because I agree that libraries should be a reflection of the communities that they serve and the collection should be a reflection of the taste and values of the population. It should be authentic to the local person, a place that resonates with the vibe of the community. I dislike it because I don’t think managing the entirety of the Internet should be our job. One can find great fault with this idea, but I am in favor of rules and guidelines along with the necessary enforcement. I am well aware of the horror stories that accompany unfiltered access to the Internet at the public library, but I think it ignores the lawful use of computers that make up a regular day in the life of the library.
If access to illegal online content becomes an issue at a library, steps can be taken to curb it. But there is a flex point at which the enforcement passes other duties to the point of being disruptive to staff. How the library proceeds from there is...a fine balance of staff time and patron need.
While I can appreciate the ideas behind the policy of evaluating requests for website access as opposed to blanket unfiltering, I can’t divorce myself from my information libertarian views. It is not the job of the library to place itself in such a position, any more than it is the role of the government to tell me what to watch, read, or what I can do with my body. I can accept filtering as a necessary evil of the federal E-rate and as something to curb the most egregious of Internet actions, but I cannot accept the role of being a site-by-site administrator. It is the right of individuals to make their own decisions and to live with the consequences. This is one area where libraries can get the hell out of the way.—Andy Woodworth, Libn., Library Advocate, & Blogger at Agnostic, Maybe
We [at HarperCollins] have been reaching out ourselves to librarians and other key stakeholders recently to try and determine how the ebook format and business model may evolve in this important channel (Francine Fialkoff & Brian Kenney, “Dear Publisher,” Editorial, LJ 10/15/10, p. 8). We value our library relationships and the patrons they serve in their communities. We count on these constituents to find our books, experience our titles, and spread the word about our authors’ good works. This need not change with the advent of ebooks.
That said, as underscored by your recent [Virtual Ebook Summit], our industry is going through very rapid change. Ebooks have not only altered the reading experience for the public forever but also present very real challenges to the ways we have been doing business for decades as publishers, booksellers, and librarians alike. We need to respond to these challenges in a thoughtful way that reflects both the heady excitement of this new world balanced by a cautious analysis of what it could mean for the future.
The common goal in the end should be to find a balance that serves all parties involved—consumers of books, libraries and booksellers, and publishers and our authors. HarperCollins’s objective is to continue, as we have for almost two centuries, to run a successful enterprise that publishes books of distinction and merit—both commercial and literary—reaching the American public in various channels of distribution.—Josh Marwell, Pres., Sales, HarperCollins Publishers, New York