Our Debts

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nd, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors . .

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The American Library Association (ALA) provides data regarding Student Loan Forgiveness. The ALA’s introduction to the process of getting student loans forgiven, however, begins with this message:

  • Public libraries and schools across the nation are experiencing a dire shortage of librarians, as an alarming number of librarians are reaching the age of retirement.

Genthe-LibrarianOf course, there is no dire shortage in public libraries or schools. Public libraries have closed branches, reduced hours, and even outsourced management. School librarian positions have been eliminated with a movement towards automated learning centers.   The fact that many librarians are reaching the age of retirement does not mean that they can afford to retire – many have spouses who lost employment during the economic downturn and retirement portfolios have suffered losses and retirement benefits have been reduced. There are librarians who have had no pay increases for years and are just trying to get by.

The ALA’s misleading statement  creates an expectation of new graduates that employment opportunities are plentiful. Is it wishful thinking? An attempt at self-fulfilling prophesy? A marketing strategy to emphasize the value of the profession? A marketing strategy to continue to fill library graduate schools? It is hard to understand how a professional organization that supports non-biased critical information analysis would publish and maintain such a misleading representation of employment prospects. However, the result of creating an oversupply of MLS graduates has pitted new librarian vs old. It has led to an expectation that librarians should simply step aside because they are old and *should* retire - completely devaluing lifetime learning and cumulative wisdom.

The 2012 United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports :

  • Employment of librarians is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all occupations.

  • Most librarians need a master’s degree in library science.

  • 2010 Median Pay – $54,500 per year

Bureau-of-Labor-Statistics

Contrary to what ALA says, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth at half the rate of *all other occupations* and less that half the rate of Education, Training and Library Occupations overall. Note that the anticipated growth in employment opportunities is 7% over ten years – less than 1% per year.  As a statistical estimate with a margin for error this means that there, in fact, could be negative growth.

Yet, even though the Master’s Degree is required for *most* to be a librarian – without the Master’s Degree in library science the job outlook is even bleaker.

The ALA APA adopted a resolution in 2008 that full-time professional librarians minimum salaries would be set at $41,680.  Many full-time librarians still make significantly less.   In fact, even the minimum full-time professional salary is less than the living wage estimate required for a household with one adult and one child in Rhode Island.

Unfortunately, in order to complete a master’s degree that may lead to a $41,680 a year professional job, most students will also have to go into substantial debt.  According to FinAid.org  in 2012  71% of graduate students will complete their degrees with a cumulative average of $53,727 in undergraduate and graduate student debt.

A twenty year fix rate loan for $53,727 requires a monthly payment  of $354.57 for a total of $85,097.86.   The take home pay at the minimum full-time professional salary level without state tax or dependent deductions is: $34,970.58.   So, repayment of the loan to complete a master’s degree in library science could represent over 2 1/2 years of full-time work.  That burden of debt means that it may take at least twenty years before being able to begin to save for any sort of retirement.

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aying Down Your Debt – You can be forgiven!

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The graduate student debt problem in Library Science was brought home by Library Director Michelle Mears of the Public Library of Enid & Garfield County in Oklahoma with her posting on Publib December 12, 2012. Ms. Mears also provided an option for loan forgiveness that every new librarian with federal loans should adopt as soon as they find full-time employment.  Your debts can be forgiven for the valuable public service you provide in ten years instead of 20 or more :

I wanted to get the word out to those who may be unaware of their eligibility for student loan forgiveness through the federal government.  Working full time in a public library makes you eligible for this program. http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service  If you are eligible, you need to get certification documents turned in right away, even if you are still working for the same employer or have only had one employer, and get one from each qualified employer since October 2007.  Your loan will likely transfer to a different servicing company who will keep track of qualifying payments.
I just certified my first five years, which leaves me only 5 to go (120 payments total), but this will likely forgive the balance of my loan when I get there.  Remember, with interest you end up paying back more than what you originally borrowed, but this program will probably save me about 5 years worth of payments.  Ten years seems like a long time to be in repayment, but any forgiveness is better than none.  I just wish they would have back-dated it because I have already been paying for 14 years (which means I have paid nearly $58,000 on a $38,000 loan and have yet to make a significant dent in the principal-only recently have my payments been gnawing away at it).
Hope this helps someone, or at least gives them hope that someday a month will come with no student loan payment! ~ Michelle

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Happy Holidays to All from Best of Publib!

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The Publib archives from the former Webjunction listserve and the current OCLC service are available here: Archives

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Run, Hide, Fight

Surviving Workplace Violence

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On December 13th Library Director Susan Pieper with the Paulding County Library in Ohio offered this timely post on Publib:

I shared this short video with my staff during a staff meeting this fall.
Homeland Security released it and in light of the recent tragic shootings,
I think every library staff and every citizen should watch it.:
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The video was produced with a Department of Homeland Security Grant by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. It includes three key concepts ~

RUN – When an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape if possible.
  • Prevent others from entering the area.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

HIDE – When Escape is not possible:

  • Lock and / or blockade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Hide behind large objects.
  • Remain very quiet.

FIGHT – As a last resort, and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Commit to your actions.

In addition to those key concepts of Run, Hide, and Fight – the video also discusses how to interact with law enforcement.

911 – When Law Enforcement Arrives:

  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Keep you hands visible at all times.
  • Avoid pointing or yelling.
  • Know that help for the injured is on the way.

The information provided in the video has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement agencies.

Libraries are certainly not exempt from workplace violence. Many have disaster plans in place and policies and procedures that are meant to reduce the likelihood of violence. However, they are open to the public and certainly permeable to people with ill-intent.  Many are also open to an increasing population of concealed carry permit holders – including patrons and staff.

American Nut and Arms

American Nut and Arms

The discussion of concealed carry by staff and patrons played out as a major meme and theme on Publib at the end of 2011.  Many library staff members came out as staunch proponents of concealed carry.  Others could not see the point.  However, gunfire, gun-accidents, and gun related incidents all have one thing in common – the presence of guns.  With each act of random violence that plays out in the media, the reaction from a fearful public includes the purchase of more guns.  So, there is an ongoing expectation of gun violence and an ongoing increase of people armed with guns.

In addition to guns, the United States has another crisis of sorts – something that law enforcement and public libraries experience every day.  Psychiatric hospitals closed throughout the US in response to the 1975 Supreme Court decision in O’Connor v Donaldson that non-dangerous individuals cannot be confined and Addington v Texas requiring convincing evidence for involuntary commitment.  It was hoped that many of the abuses experienced by people involuntarily committed – as dramatized in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest  would be remedied. The number of beds for psychiatric patients in 1955 was one for every 300 Americans.  By 2005, that number was reduced to one in every 3000 with over 90% of those committed to forensic cases.  So, the reality is psychiatric beds are no longer available in the US and other institutions without specialized training - including public libraries - must cope with the repercussions.

Drugs such as Thorazine (chlorpromazine) have helped many people cope with mental health issues.  But, many people go untreated and the prison and jail populations have become the de facto mental health facilities – providing incapacitation often without any truly effective rehabilitative treatment options.  Many may come out worse than they were when they went in – maxing out their sentences in Supermax facilities in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

The State of Rhode Island has the highest rate of severely mentally ill people in the US – at around 7.4% – almost twice the average of other States*.  In addition, it has some of the highest rates of illegal drug use and highest rates of untreated drug and alcohol addictions. So, most public library directors in Rhode Island will interact with people with severe mental illness problems and drug and alcohol abuse problems.  Rhode Island also has some of the strongest gun control measures in the US – although that does not stop gun violence from occurring.  When you look at the big picture and consider the likelihood that you will interact with people who have guns, who have mental illness and may have ill intent – it is always best to be prepared.

I highly recommend that libraries partner with their police departments and look at the training offered by the Memphis CIT  program. Their de-escalation training works.  Community partnerships can save lives and help redirect people from jail and prison to appropriate mental health resources.

You might even upgrade some office supplies.

Thanks to Susan Pieper for sharing!

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The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins -  A Book Review

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The Woman in White - Cover from 1890

The Woman in White – Cover from 1890

Walter Hartwright, a young drawing master, takes a late evening walk along a London bound road.  Suddenly a young woman dressed in white approaches behind him. Despite the late hour, she asks if she can still get transport into London. This is done. Before she goes, the young woman asks Hartwright not to tell anyone about seeing her.  Later on, Hartwright learns who she is and how she came to be on the road at such a late hour…It is this story of the woman in white which made Wilkie Collins famous.

The Woman in White appeared as a serial in “All the Year Round” magazine in November 1859 and was published in 40 installments. It was published in three volumes in 1860; a single volume edition followed the next year. The story was widely read by British society and related promotional products were sold. (Quite like what we see for popular book or TV series today!)

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Wilkie Collins – caricature by Frederick Waddy, 1872

The story is told by a few different narrators. We hear from Marion Halcombe in her diary, the Fairlie family attorney Vincent Gilmore, Count Fosco, household servants among others. With each character’s narrative, the reader sees how events unfold. Murder, greed, deception, romance, and marriage–these are just a few elements in the story. The investigation of Anne Catherick’s (the name of the young woman attired in white whom Hartwright met on the road) past is an early example of the mystery solving element Collins would later further develop in his 1868 novel The Moonstone. Once I started reading the novel, I didn’t want to put it down! The narrations flow well from one character to the next.

Each character tells their respective part without restrictions so there are times you may doubt the veracity of the individual’s account.  I read the novel in two days on the bus ride during my vacation in France.

I was introduced to the novel watching an adaptation of it on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” on Sunday evening years ago.  It featured Tara Fitzgerald as Marion Fairlie and Simon Callow as Count Fosco. I watched with interest–the story line was great. One of the scenes I remember best is Sir Percival Glyde demanding his young wife Laura to sign a document and refuses to answer what are its contents. When Sir Percival presses her, Count Fosco interrupts by saying he refuses to be a witness. Later Marion discovers Count Fosco isn’t someone to be trusted after all.

The_Woman_In_White_-_Illustration

I bought a Penguin Classics edition of the novel at Gibert Jeune, a French bookstore chain, in Paris during my group travel tour last month.  (There was a floor for foreign language books)  The edition I own includes notes and introduction by Matthew Sweet, appendixes, chronology of Collins’s life, and reprints of prefaces Collins wrote to the 1860 and 1861 editions. Penguin’s version was published in 1999 followed by a 2003 update.

Because of the success with The Woman in White, it has been performed on stage and screen. Collins wrote the stage version that was first performed on October 9, 1871 at the Olympic Theater. Today it can be seen as a musical.

Several TV adaptations have been made. The most recent was in 1997 by the BBC and was broadcasted on “Masterpiece Theater” for US audiences in March 1998.  Then host Russell Baker provided the commentary.  (Scroll down to see a short biography of him)

The novel is still available in print and online.

I wish PUBLIB readers a wonderful holiday season and plenty of reading!

Link of Interest

Wilkie Collins Information Pages: website about Collins and his works

Frederick Waddy

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American Experience : New York

American Experience: New York : A Documentary Film by Ric Burns – A Video Revue

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1848 New York Mitchell Map

1848 New York Mitchell Map

Although David Faulkner is still compiling his Favorite Books for 2012 – Library Inspired Selections I am taking the liberty of endorsing one of the best video documentaries I have ever seen.

Ric Burns American Experience: New York should be required viewing for every student of United States history.  The delivery is excellent. The subject matter is superb.

It is well worth the investment of $89.99 with PBS ~

http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=1863460

However, those of you with Amazon Prime can view the entire series for free and a Prime Account is available free for one month ~

http://www.amazon.com/New-York-Country-City-1609-1825/dp/B006CCOIZI

What a deal!

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The Publib archives from the Webjunction listserve are available here: Archives  (Wait – they really aren’t anymore).

Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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