GregS*'s blog

My Gripe

Why are books about libraries and library science so expensive? Is there a book out there under $40? Does a book on booktalks really have as much information as a book on learning a programming language? Wouldn't they sell more if they were cheaper? Print on demand should make publishing costs almost non-existent. Its a crime I tell ya, a crime!

pumpernickel

Ignorance is truly bliss. A favorite sandwich bread has been ruined by too much curiosity.

Twit List II

...is up

Why ALA

    David Durant of Heretical Librarian fame and also writer
of the now infamous article "The
Loneliness of a Conservative Librarian
" is responding to my STOP post. He also

endorses
me, which I sincerely appreciate (and a hat tip and 'thank-you' to
his service as well).

    Why ALA? Well, 2 reasons: influence and money. ALA,
unfortunately,
has clout in the form of accreditation of library schools. Its unlikely we'd be able to
create anything comparable anytime soon. There's also issues like certification. Right now
that little monster created through ALA-APA isn't considered a requirement but really,
does anyone think this isn't a long-term goal? Otherwise why bother. And again,
unfortunately,
ALA has enough influence so that over the long haul a certification requirement is
inevitable unless its killed from within. This issue and future issues like it are
why there needs to be serious conservative input on the influence that is ALA.

    The second reason is money. As David points out it isn't cheap
to be part of ALA, on top of which are the various special organizations plus state and
regional ones. Adding another organization to the alphabet soup is cost prohibitive to
most of us. And remember, there's 64,000 members of ALA but only a small percentage are
actually active. Can we assume that the rest became members for access to publications,
conferences, and some sense of professional obligation? Seems a safe guess, it is the
American Library Association after all. It certainly sounds important. So the
likelihood of people having to financially choose
between ALA and some unknown organization with few benefits is high. The
likelihood they'll choose ALA is equally high.

    But there is hope in those numbers too. Of 64,000 members only
10,000 voted. 64,000 members but ALA
says
there are almost 140,000 librarians out there and  400,000
library workers total. I don't pretend to think that its a slam dunk on issues like
the Patriot Act. But the current active crop is praising Michael Moore, calling Bush
a liar, and demanding we immediately withdraw from Iraq. Pretend just for a second
that all 400,000 joined up and voted on some of these things. What do you think
would happen? I'm pretty sure you'd see a sea change in how ALA behaves. Let's find
out for sure.

Banned Books Week pt. IV

    Ban these Books

    Rainbow
Party

I first talked about this book
here with a
quick follow-up and a link to Michelle Malkin
here.
Much like Where Willy Went this is a book that is completely inappropriate for the
age group its intended for. Willy might sail past the heads of its young readers
but nobody picking this up is going to have trouble understanding the subject.
It differs from the many challenged books I mentioned in Pt. II because where
small passages need to be dug out from a whole book, the problem here is right in
the title and is the premise for the entire book.

Now read this out loud to yourself, in your next staff meeting, trustees meeting,
and town meeting:

"A Rainbow Party is when a group of women put on various colors of lipstick and
proceed to give a man, or group of men, oral sex, regularly changing partners in
order to create a rainbow pattern on the penis(es) of the man or men."

Then
explain to everyone that it is important to keep such books in order that
teenagers have materials available to deal with such difficult issues. Think you
can you do that? Me neither.

According to OCLC WorldCat "Total Libraries" owning this book is 99 but that's not
exactly true. A consortium is considered a library because all the libraries
share the same catalog. One system in Massachusetts has 2 libraries that own a
copy, a neighboring system has 3 libraries owning a copy, 4 out of 5 copies are
checked out. 1 system in Florida as 12 copies. I bet these libraries couldn't do
the Read-Aloud either, hopefully they'll understand why and toss the book.

    Arming
America

A very detailed account of this book's history is available
here. The
bottom line is the author went in with certain preconceived ideas and came out
with a book that matched those ideas exactly right even if he had to make up
evidence to make it work. The book received rave reviews from everyone who agreed
with his ideas and he even won the Bancroft Prize for it. And then people started
checking his work.

Heretical Librarian wrote a
post
concerning my Banned Book bleg and mentioned this book in particular:

Works like Arno Mayer's Why Did the Heavens not
Darken, or Michael Bellesiles' Arming America are of great interest in
historiographical research precisely because they are prime examples of how not
to write about history.

First, are you going to stick a giant label on the cover explaining the history of
the book? Second, this wasn't badly written, it was falsely written with the
intention of misleading the audience and creating false arguments against a
conservative gun culture. A telling bit from the detailed account I linked to
earlier:

National Review’s October monthly magazine republished
Melissa Seckora’s original September 11 article, "Disarming America." Ms Seckora
pulls no punches in her analysis of the book. Not only does she call his book
"one of the worst cases of academic irresponsibility in memory," she calls him to
task for continually citing probate records from San Francisco, when, "according
to everyone who should know, all the probate records that Bellesiles allegedly
reviewed were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire." She even
recounts an interview with Bellesiles where he contradicts himself.

If it wasn't for the award and all the high praise a lot of libraries who own the book may never
have bought it to begin with. Now that the praise has turned to jeers the
automatic response should be to pull it. But because that goes against everything
that ALA has preached for so long it goes against the grain of a lot of
librarians to do what should be obvious.

WorldCat: 1,940 libraries own this book. 1 library system in Massachusetts, 14
copies.

    Natural
Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About

Weeding saves lives. Well, maybe not literally but when I was first learning
about it in college the first reason given for weeding a book was to remove items
that were dated and possibly offered misleading information on a topic,
especially medical related books.

To say there are a lot of crackpot books on our shelves concerning health remedies
and diets and mental feel goodness is to say the sky is blue. We're not
qualified to to rate them. If they are popular or are well-reviewed we tend to
get them. But when information about a book comes to light you have to weigh that
even if you've already bought the book. This is from an
interview by Bill O'Reilly of the author's lawyer (from BigChalk eLibrary):

O'Reilly: Let me ask you one thing, and this is personal to me, and I have to ask
you, Mr. Bradford. He says in the book, and this really threw me, the sun does
not cause cancer.

Now, my father died from melanoma. My father was a sun worshiper and did not use
sun block back then. And every doctor I know, every dermatologist I know, I have
to douse myself with SPF-30. And all Irish guys and Scandinavian guys and German
people should, as well.

And this guy, Trudeau, says the sun doesn't cause cancer, going against every
single study I'd ever seen. When I read that that's when I knew I had a book of
stories, sir, because I think that's fallacious and dangerous.

That's a pretty big error don't you think?

We also know a lot more about the author then normal. From an article discussing
the censorship of this book on television:

According to published reports, the 42-year-old Californian served two years in
federal prison for credit-card fraud in the early 1990s. He also was sued by the
Illinois attorney general over an alleged pyramid marketing scheme, according to
reports.

Even the FTC banned
him
from running anymore of his infomercials selling medicinal products and
Australia banned him from doing business there period.

The only reason he's allowed to do the infomercial for this book? Get this from the
previous link:

Trudeau has been able to remain on the air because he's pitching a book, not
specific medicinal products. Prohibiting an author from talking and marketing his
work brings up all sorts of First Amendment and censorship issues that the FTC
left alone.

Fine. But that's no reason we have to buy the book. Whose rights are more important
his or our patrons? Your free speech absolutism or their safety?

To add insult to injury the book isn't even a book. Its an infomercial itself.
Commenter, mdoneil, on LISNews described
it
as "not much more than an advertisement for a fee based website." This was
confirmed by another librarian in a PUBLIB email. So not only are we making false
medical information available we are acting as a middle man to further expand
Trudeau's wallet.

This book is a con.

WorldCat: 2 separate editions 479 and 467. 1 large system in New York had over a
hundred copies. And that's a lot of marks.

    If you haven't bought these books, good for you. If you have
because you weren't
aware of their background and you've just read this you should remove them. If
someone asks for them you should explain that one is not appropriate for your
collection and two are flat out false, intentionally so. If you don't have a policy that justifies
that statement you should write one.

    If we're really professional librarians... If we're really
serious about what we do... If we're not just a warehouse... If we are trying to
have a positive impact on the patrons we serve... Then no library should own these
books.

Ban them.

Banned Books Week pt. III

    Honorable Mentions

    Should you own these? Probably not. If you do I'm sure
you'll live but there should be a little voice in the back of your head reminding
you of the money wasted.

    Lose
50 Pounds in 50 Days

emailer: I don't know who the author is but it just came through to be processed.
I can't imagine why it isn't only one page long with the following advice: Cut
off your head. Even if you starve yourself I don't think you can lose 50 lbs. in
50 days.

    'Nuff said...

    Fortunate
Son

A pre-Election hit piece that started off the rumors about W. cocaine use. The
writer was an "ex-con
who once tried to hire a hit man to knock off a former boss"
and the original
publisher actually pulled the book prior to publishing. I'm sure some of you will
be yelling about Unfit
For Command
but the same respect liberals were demanding for Kerry's service
has to be applied to the man who wrote the book and the men who supported it. It
also didn't come out of left field. The author had debated Kerry in the past and
been consistent in his disdain of Kerry's rewriting of history.

    Full Screen Movies

We buy abridged audio books because we can buy 3-4 for the price of 1 unabridged
and the commuters who use them don't seem to mind. But come on people! Show some
backbone! Widescreen is the same price as Full and it shows the whole movie!

    Sex

During one of Madonna's reinventions she created a spiral bound, overpriced,
'book' with metal covers (!) showing us nude photos of her with accompanying poetry
(you can see examples here
(though I can't guarantee how long the ebay listing will last, my Chinese is rusty). $50 is a
high price for something she seems provide pretty easily and with Google you can
find some of it for free.

    The
Anarchist Cookbook

If you really need to blow something up then you should probably scratch the money
together and buy the book.

    Where
Willy Went

Willy is a sperm who is bad at math but a real fast swimmer. I'm going to spoil
the ending here and tell you he wins a race with 300 million other sperm and
becomes a human girl who is, yup, bad at math but a real fast runner. Got that? To
say this picture book is completely inappropriate for its age group doesn't even
begin to describe it. Possibly a great gag gift at wedding and baby showers but
that's about it.

Tomorrow Night: Ban These Books!

Banned Books Week Pt. II

     Don't Ban These Books

     I got a lot of good replies on my Banned Book Bleg,
some obvious frustrations concerning certain book types, and a few less serious
suggestions.

     One kind of book that seems to eat away at
librarians are the political talking head books that have become so pervasive.
More then one person said they'd like to see them go and that applied to both the
Ann Coulters and the Al Frankens of the genre. At times I'm tempted to agree but
we all know that's not going to happen. We live in a time where news has become
entertainment. There are certain drawbacks and benefits to that. The drawbacks
being the plethora of junk being printed, the benefits being a large selection of
good reading plus a new kind of audience visiting the library. We shouldn't scoff
at that anymore then we scoffed at Harlequin or comic book readers. We should
simply try harder to be more aware of the good stuff. And if you still think there
are way too many talking head books, go grab a ruler and measure your cookbook
section.

     And no, to all the smart alecks out there, the Bible
isn't getting banned. Jonah Goldberg of NRO has a good statement on that,
actually its on
a
coffee cup
, go figure: "Everywhere, unthinking mobs of 'independent thinkers' wield
tired clichés like cudgels...". The rest of the quote is at the link. And speaking of
clichés, banning cannot and does not make the unpopular popular. It makes the
all-too-popular less available, like its supposed to. So no banning of unpopular Homer
or Aristotle to try and increase their fanbase, it would simply guarantee their path
to oblivion.

     Overshooting and Earned Reading

     I received a link to
this
site
. It contains a lot of information on the various titles involved with
a recent
challenge
.

     Its hard to argue over books like
Fade
by Robert Cormier. Cormier writes for YA and the excerpts given by WPAAG are
pretty damning. Its an example of the worst kind of YA fiction that focuses on
the worst behaviors in society. So of course its exactly what we should give a
teenager to read. Society has turned an entire section of the population into a
fictional everyman strictly to entertain ourselves. And in order to keep everyman
interesting to us we are constantly throwing challenge after challenge at him,
admiring his triumphs and sharing in his misery, a living soap opera. My peers
say we should supply these books because these are the issues teens deal with. I
say they're dealing with it because we're pushing it. Nobody's actually trying to
fix the problems of teen pregnancy, drug use, and sexual abuse they just want to
hand out manuals to teens telling them how to cope when it happens.

     On the flip side Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni
Morrison aren't writing books that teens pick up for beach reading. These are
adult books for adult audiences. Is a 16 year old an adult? Could be. Some are,
some aren't. Let me repeat something from a discussion I had late last year on
Conservativelib:

"The reason we tend to be liberal about what is or always has been available on a
library shelf to anyone, regardless of age, is the fact that in order to access
it you had to be intelligent enough to actually read it. A thick novel with
detailed sex scenes and such is harmless in the hands of a 6 year old. Its
harmless in the hands of a 14 year old because the simple fact he would have to
invest in serious reading time is a major turnoff. If he is patient enough to
sit down and read such a book then chances are he is intelligent enough to, if
not always comprehend, at least not act out a skit of Beavis and Butthead while
he's reading it. He can get beyond the 'fun' parts and appreciate the book as a
whole."

     This is the earned reading principle and it has to
be applied to both YA collections in public libraries and school libraries. Like
it or not a graphic sex scene is not enough of a reason to pull a book. You can
argue that it shouldn't be assigned by a teacher but trying to get it pulled is
drawing attention to something most kids wouldn't notice to begin with. The kids
that do notice the harder books, those that attempt to read them, pay attention
to them. They're the smart ones and they need to be encouraged and challenged not
put in straightjackets.

     Back to the easy reader misery books. There are more
then a few out there and I'm not going to just argue they all need to be thrown
out across the board. There would be plenty more just like them Xeroxed out by
somebody trying to make a name for themselves. The idea that you can be a big
success by 'pushing the limits' isn't unique to YA Fiction or ever just books. It
would be better to fight the thinking behind this kind of crap then making stars
out of those who write it. A positive message needs to be created for YA reading.
I don't know where its going to come from but you might want to start by finding
what books you agree with, and try and find some published this decade.

     Now this doesn't mean parents can't challenge books.
My advice to parents is to try and find the Lexile
rating
of a book you find offensive. Compare the grade level to what you feel
the content is and use that for your arguments for why it needs to be removed. A
low reading level combined with a high level of adult content is a legitimate
reason to pull a book. I'm sure there are cases to be made out there but you do
still have to find a balance.

     A message to Librarians: If anything here does need
to be banned its your whining every time a YA book gets challenged. If you were
doing your jobs instead of always hopping on the nearest soapbox this wouldn't be
an issue. A little balance won't kill you either.

     Coming Thursday: The Honorable Mentions

Banned Book Week

Banned Books Week started yesterday. I know you're all
excited. This is what I had to say last
year
. Early on I used the phrase "Free Uncle Remus!". This is the
intro and a
few related posts
here,
here,
here, and
here.

     Not much has changed in
Saudia Arabia.
Castro's Cuba
still rots but God bless those Estonians.
And let's not forget places like
Zimbabwe run
by tyrant Robert Mugabe. With 70% poverty, life expectancy of 36-7
years of age, and almost 25% of the population with AIDs or HIV, books, banned or
otherwise, aren't much of an issue (though someone's going to have to explain to me
the literacy rate of 90%, either someone's lying, someone's priorities are off,
or literacy ain't what it used to be).

     Its places like these that make our attempts at a national
discussion over so-called 'banned books' seem less then urgent. There should,
however, always be
an ongoing discussion about banning books amongst our profession. A great
quote popped up over at LISnews, thanks to Tomeboy: "In public we preach full
access; in private we censor. We get away with this because we call our censorship
"selection"". It's from a Will Manley
column
and its worth re-reading on this of all weeks. The problem with our fanatical obsession with
reading reviews is lack of correctives later on. It's rare
that a book should be banned but there are books that shouldn't be bought and in some cases
there are even books that, once bought, need to be removed and discarded. This is more
then simple weeding. To ban a book is to remove it in the face of popularity and demand.
When a patron requests the book we have to say we won't buy it. Then we have to be
able to explain why.

     How professional can we be if, once a book is bought, we
are forced to defend it for as long as it remains on a bestseller list? No doctor
sticks to the same prescription in the face of ill-effects to the patient and even a
common laborer knows enough to not dig a hole he can't get out of. Yet we stand
steadfast behind the absurd and the ridiculous out of some liberal fear that if one
book is on the block every other book on our shelves must be as well. But isn't it
our responsibility as professionals (ancient profession that we are) to create the
guidelines that would prevent such a slippery slope from happening?

     Why should a book be banned? Well, we haven't established
that have we? But in looking at some titles that I knew should be banned I at least
found some starting points: Age, Accuracy, and Intent.

     Age is obviously going to be
something that applies to minors (though not necessarily, feel free to ban books
meant for senior citizens that are published in pt. 8 font). If material is written
on a certain level and intended for a certain audience but the subject matter is clearly
beyond anything that group should be dealing with then that material needs to be removed.
This is the primary reason why there should be filters on children's computers. We are 'banning'
porn from the Children's area in the library. The public understands this one, my profession
doesn't. Go figure. But there are books too and we will get to those.

     Accuracy is very difficult to define. I think its fair to
say that there are plenty of books on our shelves that are inaccurate in
some way. The idea
has to be that the work as a whole is inaccurate. And even then that's not always enough.
Do Holocaust deniers get banned or is the fact they are Holocaust deniers enough of safety
valve? Something so absurd it becomes valuable in its own way? Most of the medical
community has scoffed at Dr. Atkins for decades, is that enough to claim a book is
inaccurate? I think Accuracy can stand on its own as a reason but more often then not
it will have to be combined with the third category of Intent.

     Intent. Much like accuracy there's more then one hatchet
job on our shelves, people with an ax to grind whether personal or political. Considering
what gets published I'd hate to see the volume of manuscripts that get rejected. But intent
should not be applied to how the writer sees the subject but how the writer sees their
audience. Does the writer expect the reader to do something? Not just to follow a certain
train of thought but to act on it. Again, Intent can stand on its own but if you have both
Accuracy and Intent you have a much stronger case for banning a book.

     I have 3 books that should be banned in all libraries and
a possible fourth. They each fall into at least one of the three categories above. I'll
list them with my reasons at the end of the week. Tomorrow or Tuesday I'm going to discuss
some books that shouldn't be banned

Librarian Fantasies

Her's and ours (the guys anyway). Apparently Cheryl Tiegs wanted to be a librarian before she became a supermodel. Check out the lastest issue of MORE magazine, the very last page. hubba hubba...

Google

The comment I made a few days ago has been bugging me because like our very profession its sometimes difficult explain the 'why' in a simple direct fashion.

Here's 2 reasons why Google is not providing better service then librarians (and libraries by default).

1. In the eyes of God and the law all men are created equal but that's just not the case anywhere else. Even intelligent successful people are not always capable of finding what they are looking for based on any number of reasons let alone the below average intelligence people we deal with. Sometimes they just aren't sure what they are looking for, sometimes they don't know enough about it, sometimes they can't remember the details. It takes human interaction to coax out the details they do have and a lifetime of research experience to be able to delve into any topic at anytime. Google isn't AI, until it is don't worry and when it is still don't worry because...

2. A library takes money from many people and invests it in information resources that fill the needs of the vast majority of those people. We're a free service but we paid for the resources we have. And these resources are not available on the internet and are not searchable by Google. And Google isn't in the philanthropy business either. They want to make money. There's going to come a point where they may have to start charging if their product becomes advanced to where demand is higher then they can supply.

Obviously Google is cool and awesome but a lot of what I'm getting off the internet in general is stuff I could never get in a public library anyway. TV info, episode guides, detailed movie info, comic reviews, and on and on. Life is better but we are from being an either or scenario.

banned book bleg

As I'm sure many of you know Banned Book Week is coming up at the end of the month. I think its only right that we celebrate it properly by coming up with a list of books that should be banned.

Now let's clarify. There is no censorship in this
country. Just because schools and public libraries don't have it doesn't make it unavailable. We're not going to go bookstore to bookstore rounding up books. So when I say 'banned' I mean books that no public library or school library should waste money or shelf space on. What books should any honest librarian just say no to, no matter how many requests for it? Is it depraved? false? useless? What? There are hundreds of books published each year. Most aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Which ones are worth less then even that?

I have a few in mind but I'd like to get some input before they get posted. Any help would be appreciated.

hollaback girl

This is the most in-depth analysis of a pop song I think I've ever seen: "I ain't no hollaback girl"

the chickenhawk arguement

Rich Lowry at NRO breaks it down here.

Why I Love ALA: Reason #4829

Its contains quotes that make LISNews uncomfortable (not complaining, just explaining) so here ya go.

a funny

"I had a terrible vision: I saw an encyclopedia
walk up to a polymath and open him up."

Karl Kraus (1874–1936)

endangered resolution

A little longwinded for re-editing. Here ya go.

Open Borders Resolution

If a reporter wants to spin a story they put a title favorable to their view on it and all the facts important to them in the beginning of the
article. Any inconvenient facts wind up down near the end. What you get from an article can change radically the farther you read into.

Continuing on its trail of disinformation the ALA
Council passed a resolution in Chicago called

Resolution in Support of Immigrants’ Rights to Free Public Library Access
. Personally
I wasn't aware that there was a problem with immigrants using the library. After all
that's one of the prime reasons for our existence is the assimilation of the immigrant
population isn't it? Teach them to read English, make good citizens out of them? Of
course legal immigrants are usually good citizens to begin with. They came here
knowing they would have a better life then what they could get anywhere else. Of course
this isn't about legal immigrants at all. You can ignore the title of the resolution
entirely, not mention all the whereas and whatfors. You have to go down to the first
'Resolved' before you see:

That the American Library Association affirms the right of individuals, regardless
of their legal status
, to library services;

Emphasis mine. Funny how they didn't name the resolution:
"Resolution in Support of Illegal Immigrants’ Rights to Free Public Library Access".
Do you think ALA Council was trying to disinform the public on its real intentions?
That wouldn't be very nice now would it?

More interesting is that after over 2 years
of ALA's wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth over the Patriot Act and its supposed
abuses of human rights and the rule of law, ALA itself chooses to ignore the rule of law
entirely. Apparently integrity is on a switch that ALA turns off when its inconvenient.
Click click. Click click.

well that was fast

The Rosenzweig letter was yanked, which is fine. Like I said it will be on my site. For the record, you email me I own what you wrote. Sue me if you think otherwise. Threaten me and I'll staple it to telephone poles if I have to.

There were at least 2 comments on the yanked entry that I didn't see so feel free to comment on this one if you want.

Edit: That's up by the way.

bridge to almost nowhere

I'm going to pick on Daniel a little but this is too funny not to pass up on considering a recent discussion on government funding and libraries:

The group found that Young helped to secure $231 million for a bridge in Anchorage to be named Don Young's Way; $223 million for a bridge to Ketchikan, an island with 50 residents; and $15 million for a Juneau access road, dubbed the Black Ice Highway by group analyst Erich Zimmermann because "that's all you'll see in the winter if this project is built."

Here's the article, its on the Transportation Bill just passed.

I live in Big Dig country so please know I consider pork a national problem.

Sex Resolution

Another resolution passed in Chicago was the

Resolution on Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or
Sexual Orientation
. In light of their other resolution on Disinformation
(which I will talk about later) this is quite the little piece of propaganda.

The assumption is that this is in direct response to
the actions of the
Oklahoma Legislature
in trying to make sure that gay materials are kept out of the children's book
collections,
Louisiana
too. However if you read the resolution you won't see anything about children other then a
throw away line about parent's responsibility deep into the whereas's and whatfors. The
impression you get is that government is trying to ban gay materials all together.
As usual the liberal side (the side always demanding honest discussion) completely
ignores the current culture war on gay marriage (side note: I once was in a
face-to-face discussion with a lesbian who took the view that gay marriage was
inevitable so there was no real need to address the fact people disagreed with her).

This is Karen Schneider's
post on
the subject after she got back from Chicago. Good to know she has her profession in mind.
I'll be interested to see if she voted for or against the Disinformation Resolution.

What's creepy is that after
Conference was over, resident snake-in-the-grass,
Mark
Rosenzweig
felt the need to post the following email to the Council listserv:

Aren't we glad Council, after a debate which was shocking in what it revealed,
stood by the profession's commitments and passed the resolution we did opposing
(ongoing and escalating) discrimination against library materials based on gender
Identity or sexual orientation content and the legislation which would encourage
or mandate such discrimination?

Outside of Council few will know that it did not pass without opposition and the
opposition was neither casual nor random. It was an organized and orchestrated
effort by Chapter Councilors from the South and West (not all of them by any
means, and not exclusively there, but a real bloc) who claimed they couldn't
go back to their communities and legislatures with a resolution taking a stand
in defence of this principle in opposition to discrimination against "GLBT:
materials in their libraries..

Expressing a "state's rights" position reminiscent of the days when Southern
chapters defended segregation and Jim Crow, these Councilors bridled at ALA
reemphasizing for all of librarianship--from Florida to Washington to Alaska
and from Hawaii to California to Maine,-- a principle they knew to be basic to
librarianship but which , to their profound irritation, was raised in reference
to one of those hot-button "social" issues their local politicians are making
hay with ("gay rights"), and therefore inconvenient to be seen defending in
that context.

Yes, Chapter Councilor after Chapter Councilor got up and opposed or tried to
alter the resolution because -- and this was explicitly their reason --it was
not going to be popular with their right-wing legislators. It seems they think
librarianship's, despite all the lip-service paid to 'diversity', basic
commitments should be tailored to the prejudices of local politicians in the
'practical' interests, of course, of getting a few miserable crumbs from the
pies on the tables of local power, something we're all supposed to understand
as reason enough to compromise oneself and one's profession.

To my mind the bloc of Chapter Councilors which formed around this opposition
to the dictates of the "big govamint' of ALA is not only reactionary on its face
but points to the undemocratic principle of power which is granted to Chapter
Councilors, some of whom are self-selected, appointed or voted in by a tiny group
of local library leaders. Perhaps it is time to reconsider again the role of
Chapter Councilors and how they are selected. If this be a 'divisive' issue, so
be it. The campaign which Chapter Councilors waged against this resolution,
completely consonant with the Association's overarching commitment to diversity,
was also divisive.

Knowing that it will be met by indignation and horror , and that I will be called
every name in the book for this undoubtedly egregious breach of the etiquette
which dictates quietly burying and denying these conflicts and their
significance, I cannot refrain from speaking the plain truth as I see it :
their behavior in Council on this issue (and not this alone) makes them the
functional equivalent of forbears who, not so long ago, stood up and justified
Jim Crow in libraries where segregation was the "community standard".

It is not a pretty reminiscence for many of us, most of us, I would like to think.
And, indeed, it should be noted for the historians of librarianship that several
veteran African-American librarians, Councilors, rose to the floor to forcefully
and with full recognition of the parallels express their disgust that bigotry was
raising its head from the same quarters, this time aimed at homosexuals as once it
was aimed at black people.

So, I'm writing here for the record which will otherwise obscure this significant
conflict in Chicago unless it is explicitly pointed out by one of us in
print/on-line , while drawing your attention to the well-aimed article below which
should be chastening to some Councilors and a lesson to us all.

Mark Rosenzweig
ALA Councilor at large

What followed was some bashing of Chapter Councilors
who were trying to look out for their states interests. Keep in mind the resolution
didn't even deal with the issues in question. It just tried to setup a straw man
to give the likes of Rosenzweig to whoop and holler about. Chilling isn't
it? And people complain about Bush. God help the fence sitters on Council or
Rosenzweig's jackboots will be all over you.

Rosenzweig complains that the Councilors who spoke
out didn't even speak to the resolution but worried about how it would look. Well
let me spell it out to you. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Myself and a
large part of the American population believe it to be so and will do what we can
to keep it so. We're not interested in banning gay literature. There's millions of
books sitting in libraries coast to coast dealing with anything you can imagine.
But they sit in the adult shelves where adults can deal with them. We don't want
highly charged materials in the children's collection especially material dealing
with explicitly with sex, whether its King and King or
Where
Willy Went
, it doesn't belong somewhere where a child can get it without
parent oversight. Its no different then the issue of filtering, another failure
of ALA's.

That's the issue. And it wasn't the Councilors who
voted against it who were cowards for not speaking to the issue. Its Rosenzweig and
those who wrote a Resolution that lied about what it
was talking about. Let's hear ALA's case for promoting gay books to kids if its
such a sound one.

Originally posted here

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