Posts by J. Michael Jeffers


Maybe Digitization Isn't Always a Good Idea

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

Kate Marek writes about a story told by Paul Duguid, author of Social Life of Information, about his experience in a closed-stacks archive, where he was reviewing 250-year old primary documents for a research project. “Duguid, who suffers from asthma, was careful to cover his nose and mouth with a scarf while working with the dusty documents. One day, a fellow researcher in the study room (to Duguid’s horror, as he recalls it) spent his time with a box of letters not reading them, but instead holding each letter to his face, drawing deep breaths through his nose to capture its smell. Here is what Duguid writes about their conversation:

Choking behind my mask, I asked him what he was doing. He was, he told me, a medical              historian. (A...


LA Times Article Sparks Differing Views of Libraries’ Role

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

In an article entitled, “Libraries reinvent themselves as they struggle to remain relevant in the digital age,” one prominent librarian from a more traditionalist bent felt that libraries are not the place for game rooms and ping-pong tables. He and others worry that such changes will hurt rather than help libraries’ image and their service role in the community. We wanted to find out more so we informally polled some of our authors on their reaction to the traditional view of libraries and their feelings about how libraries are going about reinventing themselves. Here are some of their thoughts, quoted with permission:

All this talk about libraries not being real libraries anymore because there are more computers being used than books makes about as much sense as saying that paperback romances are edging out hardback classics on library shelves! Library services and collections...


The Community Library: A Great Success Story

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

Several months ago, I exchanged e-mails with Colleen Daly, the Executive Director of The Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho. I was taken by the fact that a library existed with absolutely no government support. I went to their site to find out more about who they are and what they offer to the community.

Frankly, I was inspired both by the humble origins of the library and their continuing success. I asked Ms. Daly for permission to share the history of The Community Library with our readers and bloggers.  I have copied the history from their site:

In 1955, a group of pioneering women decided that one important thing missing in the Wood River Valley was a free public library. The tax base at the time was too small to support a library, and although they had no money, no books, and no building, they were undaunted.

The founding members of the library each...


Brian Matthews on the Marketing Challenges Facing Today's Libraries

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

J. Michael Jeffers: Brian, you are working on a new book for ALA Editions that you are tentatively calling “Library DNA: Twenty Essential Qualities of an Inspiring Library.” Where are you going with this book?

Brian Matthews: Some people think we’re in the information business. Others insist we’re in the service business. For years I’ve been saying we’re in the “inspiration” business. This book gives me a chance to explain that a bit more. By stepping away from the components, from all the details like collections, computers, service points and instead diving into the heart of the matter—into what happens when patrons interact with their library—that’s what I am exploring.

I’m using the DNA framework to communicate the core experiences that...


Fighting Back Against the Crisis in School Libraries: An Interview with Hilda Weisburg

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

I had a chance to interview Hilda Weisburg, co-author of Being Indispensable: A School Librarian’s Guide to Becoming an Invaluable Leader.

J. Michael Jeffers: By some accounts, there is literally a crisis in school librarianship. What is happening and why?

Hilda Weisburg: Obviously the entire job market is hurting and has now heavily impacted school systems nationwide.  Faced with deep cuts in state support, districts must eliminate jobs.  The question is where.  Instead of eliminating teaching positions, which increases class size, school boards and superintendents are eliminating librarians, not realizing when they do so they jeopardize the whole library program.  For many reasons—good and bad—administrators, parents, and too often teachers think a library program at the elementary level is nothing more than reading...


Travelling Along in our Wacky World of Words

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

Traveling along in our wacky world of words, books, and publishing, you can find some of the oddest bits and pieces. Think of some of the expressions you use;   we all have favorites. One that comes to mind is “best thing since sliced bread.” As a person who is always clear (as mud) and never prone to oddities of speech, I wondered where this phrase came from and why we  use it? Lo and behold, I learned it was part of a marketing campaign to sell bread—selling two packs of wrapped bread at a bargain price. A cartoon figure extolled: “Greatest convenience since sliced bread!” What could be more convenient than sliced bread? Two packages, double the fun. Thus a great thing.

And speaking of great things, who would know that our confused world of e-books and publishing—well, this was not the first time the publishing world was messed up. It seems that in the 16th century world of publishing, no one knew...


Interview with Frances Jacobson Harris

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

I had a chance to interview Frances Jacobson Harris, Educator, school librarian, and author of I Found It on the Internet, Second Edition.

J. Michael Jeffers: Frances, you have been a high school librarian in a very special school for how many years? Tell us a little bit about your school and also what has changed the most in your tenure?

Frances Jacobson Harris: This is my 24th year at University Laboratory High School at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Uni is a public laboratory school that serves gifted students in grades 8 through 12. We're small - only about 60 students per class (300 total). The program is rigorous and students are held to high standards. At the...


So You Want to Write a Book...

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

If you want to publish your book, you need access to an editor—not just any editor, but an acquisitions editor. (Publishing has all kinds of editors--copy, developmental, photo--you name one, we have it.) For authors trying to break into publishing, the hardest thing to do is find an acquiring editor who will listen and read. This is especially true if you want to write fiction or a trade book. With tens of thousands of people convinced they are destined to be the next John Grisham, you can imagine the chaos if all their ideas, proposals, and final manuscripts were allowed to flow into publishing houses. Who would sort through it all?

There was a time when a neatly typed manuscript, with a stamped, self-addressed return envelope, was sufficient to send off to a publishing house. You might have received an acknowledgement—even a letter.  There was actually some human contact. Up until ten or fifteen years ago...


Welcome to!

Posted by J. Michael Jeffers

I would like to welcome you to and our open-forum blog. It is my privilege to be the Publisher of both TechSource (subscriptions, e-learning, webinars, and workshops) and Editions (professional and reference books, both print and electronic). My team is part of a larger unit at the American Library Association called Publishing.

The dirty little secret is that I am not a librarian, but I know a great deal about what librarians do, what they think about, and what they are concerned about.  But I never know enough; I will never be close enough to the action because I do not work in a library. So my colleagues and I depend on you tell us what is going on and what you need for your professional development. And here is a chance for you to do just that.

Something that we in publishing share with librarians of all kinds is high...

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