Magazine article American Libraries

Reader Forum

Magazine article American Libraries

Reader Forum

Article excerpt

Defending Dana's Loafers

John Cotton Dana's complaint about "loafers" in public library newspaper reading rooms (Sept., p. 90) shows a monumental lack of awareness of current events of his time. The Panic of 1893 bad touched off the United States' worst economic depression up to that time; Coxey's Army of jobless men had set out for Washington in 1894 from Ohio. Dana's "loafers" were most likely reading the employment sections of their newspapers in the hope of finding new jobs. Happily, a higher socioeconomic consciousness leads some public librarians in economically depressed areas to separate out the employment sections of Sunday newspapers for the benefit of their unemployed patrons.


Abilene (Tex,) Public Library

Reading Unplugged

I thought that it was very appropriate that I read Leonard Kniffel's editorial, "For Some Things, Paper is Better" (Aug., p. 36), while sitting on a park bench, enjoying a warm summer evening. I began reading this particular issue at my kitchen table, and finished it outdoors. I read journals in bed, at lunch, and at long traffic lights.

I always carry my professional journals with me on trains, planes, and automobiles, and all other places where I may have to wait and therefore need a variety of things to read, For people who like to be divorced from their computer and electronic formats when not "at work" there is great pleasure and convenience in reading a paper journal away from electrical connections, with no batteries or recharging required.


West Hempstead, New York

Paper is on a Roll

I just read your editorial about the "paperless society" (Aug., p. 36). While my feet stand firmly planted in both camps, I liked your parting comments about Kleenex and Cottonelle. It reminded me of a quip from the wonderful wit of Jesse Shera, who said he could just as soon envision the paperless office as he could imagine the paperless bathroom. And that was back in the '60s!

As a librarian who believes that e-books are the prototype of the future, I nevertheless regret the overwhelming devotion to technology and the appalling abandonment of print sources. Just as we saw the shakedown in the technology stocks, we will also see a shakedown in the total reliance on electronic material. And yet, please note that it was easier for me to send this to you via e-mail than to take pen in hand.


Rodman Public Library Alliance, Ohio

Left-Out Libraries

In the July 31 story in the Los Angeles Times and the subsequent American Libraries article (Sept., p.16) regarding Laura Bush's announcement of a school library foundation and National Book Festival, there was no mention of ALA or any cooperation with a library organization. So as a longtime member of ALA, I am curious as to just what is going on. Laura may have been put on the cover of American Libraries (Feb. 2001), but it doesn't appear that such publicity resulted in much influence or connection.



Los Angeles, California

Boosting Borges

Triple hurrahs for American Libraries for publishing Paul S. Piper's marvelous homage to Jorge Luis Borges (Aug., p. 56-58). But AL missed the opportunity to affix the great Argentine's picture to its cover and to print this highly relevant and profound sentence from Piper's piece on the cover as well, in bold letters: "It is perhaps lucky for world literature that [Borges] was not micro-managed." Borges was actually allowed to do as he pleased after he completed his day's work, and it was his pleasure to read and write. It is probably a safe bet that Piper was not given time to work on his splendid piece on the job.


South Pasadena, California

Be Like Powell

Your obituary of Lawrence Clark Powell (May, p. 84) mentioned only three of his books. …

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