August 19, 2009
Letters To The Editor For August 19th
Whoo-Whee! Now, That's One Snotty Librarian!
In response to the Frazzled Librarian and POD books on the shelves, I'd like to inform her that Cincinnati Public Library contacted me asking me for my birth year so they could catalog my book in their system. Before this I didn't even know they were putting it on their shelves! It is also on the shelves in other libraries because I've had librarians call me referencing it. She is wrong.
Mary Beth Hall
I spent over a decade working in a regional library system, and the donation policy changes from location to location. The policy we had was "accept everything" and then send a thank-you card for tax purposes. There were no signatory releases, and that's a new one for me.
Now, keep in mind that "accepting" a book (used, new or POD) is entirely different from "keeping" that book, and whether you donated a new book or a box from your late father's library, they all went through the same process. A staff member sorted the books to remove damaged, outdated or titles already in the system. A librarian then looked at the book to see whether it fit in with the collection. If it did, it went to collection development, who checked academic and peer reviews of the title. Then, and only then did it get cataloged and processed. Most donations to the library end up in the local Friends Book Sale. My office was attached to the Friends storage room, and I saw some wonderful books go to the sale simply because they didn't fit our collection. (and a good chunk of my personal library was built by rescuing some of the titles).
In terms of purchasing material out of the increasingly limited funds, your snotty librarian is absolutely right. I handled acquisition of materials in specific areas and there are always more books than funds. If that book has no peer reviews or professional librarian publication feedback, it's not even a topic for debate. One tepid review from ALA College & Research Library News will get your book in a library collection faster than 1000 glowing reviews on Amazon. That's true of all books, POD or otherwise.
Whether or not ALA journals review POD, I don't know - I no longer read the publications. I would guess that POD reviews are few and far between because POD still has an stigma. As long as your certain of your competitors continue to publish material that is poorly written and badly researched, it's going to remain a challenge to get professional reviews.
Having said that, each of my books (non POD) has been donated to my hometown library's Special Collections as "local author" material, which bypasses the entire acquisition and collection development process. And the benefit, aside from having archived copies of my work, is that they are cataloged faster. The faster they are cataloged, the faster they arrive on WorldCat, making the book easier to find worldwide. And since Special Collection materials do not circulate, it also becomes easier to entice a potential reader into becoming a potential buyer (WorldCat links to Amazon and B&N).
Internship or Indentured Servitude? (Original article here.)
In addition to doing some occasional writing, I am in charge of a business program at a medium size State university. We sometimes place students in intern positions. Our position is that students must either be paid for the internship or the company must structure the internship according to our guidelines so that the student can receive academic credit for the internship. In other words, so that they learn useful skills worthy of University credit.
The bottom line is, you give something of value and you get something of value, in our case, either pay or academic credit. Anyone accepting an unpaid internship needs to be clear on what they are receiving in return and personally feel that it is of equal or greater value than the work they do.
Dr. Ronny Richardson
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