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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An outbreak of the "I" disease in New Haven.

If you receive a letter from anyone asking you for anything watch how many times that person uses the word "I" in their letter to you. The letter below uses the word "I" an amazing EIGHT times. No matter what the letter seems to SAY, it actually illustrates someone whose agenda is clearly overwhelmingly self centered and needy and possibly demonstrative of hostility and anger.

It is simple - there is never a reason to use the word "I" in any letter requesting or explaning anything. Work on using the word "you" and even more "we" and "us." As this society gets more and more crowded and our standard of living declines, toning down ones ego is the key to harmonious survival. This is not to say that we need to go as far as the Japanese or the Chinese, but letters like the one below need to be avoided at all costs.

It follows:


Dear Graham,

I am sorry to have offended you. Given the generosity of the offer you extended through Margit I felt I owed you the courtesy of a direct conversation to explain why we couldn't accept your proposal.

In the wake of the Johnson and Smiley thefts at Beinecke, the thefts that Smiley admitted committing at the Map Collection, and the additional unexplained missing maps at the Map Department, the University and its principal fine arts insurer agreed to have an independent party review security procedures on campus. Over the last five years, the Beinecke, the Map Collection, indeed all units of the Library System as well as other locations on campus have significantly revised their standard policies and procedures. It is not possible at this time to place $100,000 worth of rare maps on the walls of a building intended to serve as academic office and classroom space, no matter how elaborate the installation might be.

The obstacles to accepting your generous proposal in no way diminish my appreciation of your support for the University. As the still "wet-behind-the-ears" administrator who is providing oversight for the operations of the Map Collection, I especially appreciate the valuable gift of reference books you made to Margit and Abe Parrish during their recent visit to your New York offices. I asked Margit to forward a list of those books to me and to the University Library's Director of Development, Amanda Patrick, so that we could formally acknowledge your donation.

I've known and respected your passion for maps at Yale for the nearly 30 years I've worked at Beinecke. I'm confidant that you will continue to think about ways to benefit the Map Collection no matter what issues you may have with me. The Collection, the Yale Library, and the University are bigger than both of us.

Best wishes,

George

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