Checking Out The Library

To the Editor,

As a UA Library employee who has had worked with James Sinski, I was disappointed that Margaret Regan did not take the time to do a more thorough reporting job regarding the UA Library's pop-up book exhibit ("How The Dean Stole Christmas," December 21).

To add some context: Regan called UA Library staff to ask for an interview regarding the pop-up book exhibit. This was agreed to. Regan canceled the interview she scheduled and then asked that it take place over e-mail. She did not inform staff of her deadline. When UA Library employee Bonnie Travers attempted to respond to Regan's inquiries (within a few hours of Regan's initial contact), she was informed the piece had already gone to press.

Regan claims that about 50,000 people see the exhibit each year. This number seems, well, ludicrous. Where did she come up with that number and how did she verify it? This doesn't make sense, especially if one examines our user statistics that are on the Web. December and January, the time of the exhibit, are our least populated times.

One of the guarantees we give librarians when they accept employment at the University of Arizona Library is working space and access to a computer. It was in this spirit that Sinski--a volunteer--was asked to be flexible regarding workspace. Sinski was asked to make room for the addition of five newly hired members of the Special Collections team. These staff members are working on projects associated with the mission of the University.

At the University Library, we appreciated and were impressed with Sinski's knowledge of pop-up books. Yet there were concerns about his solicitation practices. It is perhaps a sign of Sinski's passion that these concerns could not be discussed rationally.

Dean Stoffle is a woman managing a $17 million budget, over 200 staff and 4 million volumes, including the country's best collection of photography. I have a hard time imagining when she would have the time to plot the demise of a Mr. Sinsky or to micromanage his use of computers.

--Barbara Allen

Margaret Regan responds: Barbara Allen's account of my reporting is inaccurate. For the record, I called Bonnie Travers, Special Collections librarian, on a Tuesday to get comments from her. Since she was unable to speak on the phone, we agreed to a late-afternoon interview in person. I did not "cancel" this interview, as Allen states. Since I was pressed for time, I contacted Travers again and asked if instead we could do the interview via e-mail, a proposal to which Travers readily agreed. I sent along my questions and included a written caveat to Travers that I was on deadline. Travers acknowledged receipt of this e-mail, but then for reasons best known to herself did not send me her responses until Friday, a day after my story was published. It is simply not true that Travers attempted to respond "within a few hours of (my) initial contact."

When I called Dean Carla Stoffle, I was told she was out of town and unavailable for comment. That's the reason I called Travers in the first place. In any case, I myself had heard Dean Stoffle make her misleading remarks to the Friends of the Library about the absence of the pop-up show. And I had in hand Travers' two-page letter to James Sinksi outlining the library's new rules. I used both pieces of information to represent the library's point of view.

If the 50,000 attendance figure is inaccurate I regret the error.

As for Sinski's lack of "flexibility," I submit that the shoe ought to be on the other foot. Dean Stoffle and her staff ought to have shown flexibility to the needs of a 73-year-old man who has spent a lifetime in service to the University of Arizona, first as a professor and then as an unpaid library volunteer for some 16 years. The hard line they took with Sinski, at a time in his life when he should have been honored and accommodated, not only wounded him, it deprived the community of his popular exhibitions and future donations to the library.

That Allen takes the opportunity here to make insinuations about his "solicitation practices"--undocumented insinuations, I might add--is contemptible. And so is her final insult, in which she notes that the dean is far too important to take notice of "a Mr. Sinski." As dean, Stoffle is responsible for any and all actions the library takes. And as a public servant whose generous salary is paid by the taxpayers, she is accountable to the community.

Fact Finder

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's "Full Court Press" (December 7): Tucson High is the two-time defending 5A South champion, whether Danehy likes it or not. Granted, they did not win the regular season championship, but Tucson High happened to finish the season on top, and therefore they are rightfully the league champs. They are the ones that got the first-round bye in the state playoffs. Flowing Wells may have been the regular season champs, but the Badgers were the league champs, as recognized by the state tournament.

Danehy's insolence toward the Badgers is quite disgusting and trivial. Tucson High won the 5A South tournament on Amphi's and Flowing Wells' home courts, which means they had to not only play tough in the tournament, they had to play in front of the home crowds of the regular season champs. I covered both the Amphi game and the Flowing Wells game, and believe me, Tucson was the better team in both instances. Whether Danehy wants to believe that or not is his prerogative, but I stand by what I wrote in the story he so graciously put down.

In 1999, Amphi was the heavy favorite to win the 5A South, and the tournament was played on their home court. Tucson High beat Amphi 38-30, and, of course, I'm sure Danehy was very upset by those circumstances. Last season, Tucson High beat Amphi 42-29 in the semifinals of the 5A tournament. Basically, the Badgers dribbled Amphi to death in that game, which prompted quite a shouting tirade by Danehy afterwards. I won't mention some of the things Danehy said to the Panthers, but let's just say his nice-guy, nurturing image was nowhere to be seen. (And I cannot forget to mention that his daughter Darlene played on both Amphi squads that lost to the Badgers.)

Danehy cannot accept the fact that another team actually beat his beloved Panthers. Therefore, he uses his weekly space to put down those that don't deserve such mockery. Jerry Curtis and his staff at Tucson High have done an excellent job of molding a strong team the past two seasons, and they deserve praise instead of ridiculous put-downs.

No, I'm not a Tucson High alumnus, for I attended Salpointe Catholic, class of '96 (and no, I wasn't some BMW-driving kid that lived in Oro Valley, I was a southside kid that had to take the bus to school). I may not have been around as long as Danehy (I'm only 22), but I know enough about local sports. Danehy should get off his high horse. All he is is a homer, a guy that can't look past his own personal bias and write about pertinent issues regarding high school sports. I guess nothing is important in high schools sports unless it pertains to Amphi.

--Stephen Sharpton

King Of The Hill

To the Editor,

I was visiting my parents in Philadelphia recently, and happened to notice that they also have an alternative newspaper, analogous to the Tucson Weekly. It is called City Week. I picked up a copy, expecting to be entertained. Well, it was a dud. The Weekly is far superior to this "big city" paper. More articles, more features, more cartoons, better writing, the Skinny, and just more interesting. City Week cannot compete with the Weekly. Just thought you might like to know.

--Bob Snyder

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