Feedback: Letters to LJ, December 2017 Issue

In search of better policies for parents, working toward a democratic climate, welcoming Book Pulse, and more letters to the editor from the December 1, 2017 issue of Library Journal.

“I’m a woman in [my] child-rearing years...and don’t want to be forced to choose between adequately caring for my children and adequately performing my job.”

Job vs. family

Until there is mandated paid maternal and paternal leave of at least eight weeks for every employee in the [United States]; flexible scheduling arrangements in addition to paid sick and vacation leave, which often aren’t enough for dealing with all of the situations that come up when raising children; and acceptance of bringing children to work, particularly in an office-type environment, or on-site day care provided as a benefit of employment, this isn’t going to change (Rebecca T. Miller, “The Pipeline Problem”). I have been approached about considering a library directorship, but declined, because I’m a woman in the childbearing and child-rearing years of my life and don’t want to be forced to choose between adequately caring for my children and adequately performing my job. The benefits mentioned above aren’t usually offered to library staff, even to potential directors/CEOs.

—Angela Eck, Asst. Dir., Bartholomew Cty. P.L., Columbus, IN

Lack of leave

I’m a Canadian librarian working in the United States (Rebecca T. Miller, “The Pipeline Problem”). When I came to the United States, I was appalled by the lack of adequate maternity leave. In Canada, maternity leave of one year was also often a way for a new librarian to get a one-year contract, filling in for a new mother and gaining experience. Every other developed country offers decent maternity leave. (Eight weeks is nowhere near adequate.) I cannot fathom how people cope.

—Stephanie Walker, Dean of Libs. & Info Resources, Univ. of North Dakota, Grand Forks

A safe space

We recently had a community conversations program at our local branch with San José Public Library, CA (Jennifer A. Dixon, “Convening Community Conversations”). We felt it was genuinely productive, meaningful, and truly created a space for connection and ­understanding. We had a range of intergenerational people attend; it was great to see the age diversity and how each generation has a different perspective.

The roles of librarians as facilitators enables patrons’ voices to be heard in a new light, and we were glad our ­patrons felt comfortable vocalizing their thoughts on homelessness, green living, the housing market, and other topics of local, political, and social interest. I felt this type of program reiterated the value of a democratic, peaceful, and transparent climate. The tone was respectful, mindful, thoughtful, and civil, and our patrons offered consideration of each other’s views throughout.

One of the most rewarding outcomes was the change in the relationships after the program. The patrons who attended began visiting the library more frequently, greeting others in the library more frequently, and inquiring about our next community conversations regularly.

I am in awe of Nashville PL’s Civil Rights Rooms, Brooklyn PL’s bustling book club, and the Richland Library’s Let’s Talk Program as well as Social Awareness Task Force ­Facilitator Training. Thank you for sharing this article; it is wonderful to hear about this type of transformative programming and how it is positively shaping our library’s purpose as well as creating a deeper sense of ­community.

—Danielle Goynes, Libn., Rose Garden Branch, San José P.L., CA

LJ’s newest

Congrats on LJ’s new Book Pulse column by Neal Wyatt, giving librarians a convenient and enjoyable way to stay on top of all that is creating demand for specific books, including media coverage, awards, and movies.

From Monday’s “Run Your Week” column, covering the big books, LibraryReads and Indie Next titles about to hit shelves and weekend media coverage, to the daily updates, Book Pulse is sure to become every librarian’s first read.

Neal is the perfect person to write the column. She is alert to a wide range of events shaping reading trends and appreciates pop culture, the genres as well as literary titles.

Thanks for acknowledging as a predecessor. Since we discontinued our news coverage in July, I’ve felt out of touch. No longer, thanks to you. (Note: continues as the home for GalleyChat and various other resources, including library marketing contacts.)

—Nora Rawlinson, Cofounder & Ed., ­
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