While I heartily agree with John Owens’s “Soapbox” column, “Not as We Remember It” (Sept. 2013, p. 20), I have to point out that librarians, whether school, public, or academic, have no one but themselves to blame for the demise of libraries. The unquestioning embrace by librarians of every technology that comes down the road has led us to this unfortunate situation. In my home school district, all high school students are receiving an iPad at taxpayer expense. What does this tell students? It tells them that the school library is unnecessary and don’t waste your time there. In another local school district, professional librarians are a thing of the past as a cost-cutting and technological measure. What does this say to students about the library?
For public libraries, both the latest ALA State of the Library Report and the Pew Foundation report on public libraries state emphatically that users overwhelmingly want books on their library’s shelves. So why the rush to spend exorbitant amounts of scarce money on ebooks, laptops, iPads, and iPods for users when the vast majority want books? Why provide database access from home? Why push services and technologies that are a disincentive for using both the school and the public library? Part of the reason is because this profession has allowed itself to be overrun with techies who walk around with a device in each hand and another stuck in their ear!
Keep this up, librarians, and you will find yourselves marginalized and relegated to the ashbin of history…and you will have no one to blame but yourselves.
Harold N. Boyer
Springfield Township Library, PA
Top 100 Kids’ Books
When SLJ published The New York Public Library’s “100 Great Children’s Books” list, it elicited a lot of comments about other titles that could have been included.
Anyone with enough patience and thought to assemble such a list gets kudos. Thanks to librarians for keeping books alive in our world. Here are some additions to consider. From the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, start with Little House in the Big Woods. I’m partial to Marguerite Henry’s Justin Morgan Had a Horse because it is such a fine piece of Americana. Kids love Robert Lawson’s Ben and Me. And you simply have to include the first novel with an animal narrator, Black Beauty. Anna Sewell’s novel was responsible for the creation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And from a child’s perspective, it’s just a great book and a must-read.
There are a lot of great books on this list—ones that I loved as a child and ones that I never read until adulthood. That said, I’m surprised by how the books are predominantly from 1950 until now, with special reference to books published since the 1980s, and only a few from 1913 to the 1940s. I have some other favorites, but since those were from just around the turn of the century or before, I’m not surprised that they aren’t here.
I also wonder how this list would be different if it was created by either Canadian or British librarians, since I know that many of the books that I grew up with aren’t represented at all here. It’s possible that they were never published in the U.S.; I know that American kids would’ve loved them, too.
Marketing Manager, YA Bookself
Ebook Directory Correction
The MackinVIA entry in “SLJ’s School Ebook Market Directory” (Sept. 2013, pp. 34–37) incorrectly stated that content can’t be downloaded. The content can be downloaded for offline reading on multiple devices.
The revised entry, also featured in an updated version of the directory on our Digital Shift website, is as follows:
This free portal facilitates access and management of PreK–12 ebooks, databases, and other digital content purchased through Mackin Educational Resources as well as some other publishers. MackinVIA offers nearly 200,000 nonfiction, fiction, popular fiction, and interactive ebook and database titles. Pricing and licensing terms vary by publisher and resource, but perpetual licenses for many titles are $30 to $50. While most content allows unlimited simultaneous use, some stipulate a one-ebook, one-user model. TumbleBooks and some other publishers require annual subscriptions. MackinVIA’s main appeal is that it presents a single interface for searching and accessing digital content purchased from a variety of publishers and database providers. Content can be downloaded for offline reading on multiple devices. The “My Backpack” feature lets students collect titles in one place. Teachers and librarians can also make custom lists of ebooks and databases. A new suite of nine free proprietary ereader apps for Apple and Android devices include various features, from bookmarking, highlighting and note-taking to an integrated dictionary, text-to-speech functionality, EasyBib citations, and linking to Accelerated Reader quizzes.