LJ Professional Media reviews


I was over on the Library Journal site today reading their “Professional Media” reviews. How many books this month? All of three. I’m disappointed in LJ, because they only review professional titles once a month or less often, and the columns have been getting shorter and shorter. Am I alone in wishing for more coverage of professional titles in the literature?

However, I was pleased to see a review of Nicole Engard’s Library Mashups today. (Yes, I edited it, but it is nonetheless fantastic.)

Psst… wanna buy a magazine, kid?

So LJ is for sale again. Who wants to go in with me? :)

Does anyone still work at LJ?

One wonders.

Among other changes taking place, the group will suspend publication of Críticas, the twice monthly online newsletter for reviews in English of Spanish-language titles. Plans are underway to continue coverage of Spanish books in the existing publications.

The moves were announced in the wake of staff layoffs at parent company Reed Business Information dictated by the declining advertising market, the company said in a statement. Among those leaving LJ are long-time, valued staffers Ann Burns, Book Review Associate Editor; Ann Kim, Special Projects Editor; Lynn Blumenstein, Senior Editor, Library Hotline; and Aida Bardales, Críticas Senior Editor.

I’m at a loss for words right now.


Top Editor at Publishers Weekly is Laid Off

Sara Nelson, the editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, the main trade magazine to the book industry, has been laid off in a restructuring by the publication’s parent company, Reed Business Information….According to a statement from Reed Business Information, the layoffs affect about 7 percent of the staff. Reed operates a broad range of a broad range of trade magazines. In publishing, the company owns School Library Journal, Library Journal and Criticas. As a result of the restructuring, Brian Kenney, editor in chief of School Library Journal, will now be editorial director of that magazine along with Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

Editorial director of all three? And we complain about doing more with less…

The mildly perturbed librarian

Some folks that I respect a lot now respect Library Journal a lot less, due to LJ’s decision to pick up The Annoyed Librarian. And, since people have asked me for my take via email (and, last week, in a live Q&A session), I figured I’d come out and say it:

I understand why LJ hired her. I’m going to keep reading LJ (well, at least the random bits and pieces I read before). I’m going to continue to write for LJ (well, at least the bits and pieces where they haven’t fired me).

OK, why?

  1. LJ is a business, and this is a business decision. Any uproar about the AL plays into their hands: They’re looking for clicks, so they can attract advertisers. They don’t care whether you check into the AL because you love her, or because she… annoys you.
  2. LJ is owned by Reed Elsevier, folks. (At least til they manage to unload it.) Reed Elsevier isn’t your librarian-next-door — they’re in this, again, to make money. If you didn’t stop reading LJ when Reed bought them and the budget skimping started to become more apparent, the AL probably shouldn’t push you over the edge.
  3. The AL’s posts have nothing to do with the content of the rest of the magazine. If it was useful to me before, it remains useful to me now.
  4. LJ has posted annoying, insulting, and downright stupid content before (*cough* “Revenge of the Blog People” *cough*). Although this excited comment, no one really dropped LJ because it lent legitimacy to these views by publishing them. I don’t see pseudonymity as the straw that makes the difference.
  5. LJ employs other bloggers whose work I respect; it seems to make just as much sense to read LJ because it’s lent legitimacy to these people, as to not read LJ because it’s lent legitimacy to the AL.

OK, are you saying that you respect the AL?

Nope, I’m simply saying that I respect LJ’s decision to pick up her blog. There’s a place for pseudonymous online expression, but this ain’t it — hiding behind a pseudonym in order to attack other people by name is both cowardly and lame. I’m saying that I respect LJ’s decision, but wouldn’t necessarily have made the same decision. And, for what it’s worth, the AL has gotten much less interesting since she joined LJ, I’m guessing because of the pressure to post regularly and not when the annoyed muse strikes; I haven’t bothered to click through from her feed for a while.

Shake it shake it shake it girl

You’ve probably seen this around already, but LJ’s “Movers & Shakers” deadline is fast approaching. And this, is cool — for those of you who have in the past complained about this not being open for international nominations:

Now accepting international nominees! If your nominee is international, or if you prefer email over submitting the form below, please email Ann Kim at akim@reedbusiness.com the below information attached as a Word document. Thank you very much for your contribution!

Nominate early, nominate often!

The crotchety librarian

Smart? I don't THINK so

I’ve been meaning to post more lately, but it all wants to come out crotchety. (Maybe I should roll with it so LJ could hire me back as the “Even-more-annoyed-librarian” — but who can sustain that, really.) Besides, LJ itself is annoying me with its new “BookSmack” business, but maybe that’s because I don’t read enough “Books for Dudes.”

The Chicago Trib's revamped automotive section
But, I guess this is the way we’re going. Not only did LJ revamp itself, but The Chicago Tribune launched its own redesign a couple of weeks ago. In addition to lots o’ pictures, less actual content, and hardly any margins, it now features sections called “Smart” (ya THINK?), and “Rides” (AKA, the automotive section). Maybe I’m not the target audience, but I’m almost ready to jump on that “dumbing down of America” bandwagon. It’ll be interesting to see if the cost savings and change in focus will help or hurt both LJ and the Trib.

Anyway. I’ve been working on the long-neglected LISjobs.com redesign, and plan to launch, if all goes well, on Friday. I’ll keep you all posted, and hopefully the changes won’t be as… well… annoying!

Alas, poor computer media…

LJ is cutting my “Computer Media” book review column; October’s will be the last. So long, and thanks for reading! :)

Since this leaves a gaping hole in the review literature, I’m thinking of starting a new computer book review blog for librarians. To this end, if you purchase computer books for your patrons, please do me a favor and take this short survey on whether this sort of thing might be useful to you, and what you’d like to see there. (This is a little free SurveyMonkey survey limited to 100 respondents.)

Another take on the MLS

I was reading LJ the other day and came across this article on “Diversity and the MLS,” which states in part that:

One possible solution to the diversity problem in libraries would be to put the entry-level library degree at its proper level: the bachelor’s. Removing the MLS requirement could not only ease the financial burden that contributes to racial imbalance but many of the profession’s other problems as well, such as proper training given at the proper level, salaries commensurate with education, and greater accessibility to the profession for the population at large. The MLS would still be available for people interested in management or advanced study.

As the author notes, this doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, but the article’s worth a read.

2008 Computer book giveaway recipients

I’m pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 computer book giveaway:

  • The Imperial County Free Library (El Centro, CA)
  • Turkeyfoot Lending Library (Confluence, PA)
  • Wausaukee Branch Library ( Wausaukee, WI)
  • Mountain Regional Library System (Young Harris, GA)

Thanks, all — I wish I had enough books on the basics to send everyone who applied, but please watch for a similar announcement next year.