To Council and Executive Board Members,
I've been on the SRRT listserv for a whole two weeks and have sent a whopping four emails to this list and already they are circling the wagons. What some of us are being accused of pales in comparison to the responses we've received. From "go dunk your frozen heart in a bucket of warm water" to "your ignorant, moonbat ass" the attitude of this group is less than welcoming. While the second comment strains the limits of civility the idea that many in SRRT are closed to opposing viewpoints completely is fine. As long as all discussion is open and above the table, as long as an open dialog exists then I believe it is an individual's choice whether they attempt to engage. At this point, however, you may want to read the email forwarded below.
Either SRRT is part of ALA or its not. Either they are discussing and debating the social responsibilities of libraries and what best approach to take on related issues or they already have a preconceived agenda that is not open to discussion and what little debate there is goes to enforcing said agenda. If its the latter then SRRT is a political party within ALA and needs to be separated from the body as a whole. They should not have a vote on the Council and they should not be allowed to offer resolutions to the Council unless ALA is willing to create an alternative Round Table with equal footing and wave the requirements for number of members. Otherwise this is simply the majority silencing the minority.
If it is actually the former, then they should not be allowed the option of closing off debate by limiting where and when it takes place. I realize ALA cannot control what people choose to filter on their own computers, however I'm aware of ALA's trial run of an online messageboard which at least would limit such filtering and offer an equal footing in open debate.
Thank you for your time and I apologize for having to involve you in this situation.
SHUSH - for the conservative librarian
www.shush.ws / firstname.lastname@example.org
"I choose free libraries as the best
agencies for improving the masses of
the people, because they give nothing
for nothing. They only help those who
- Andrew Carnegie
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2005 5:38 PM
To: SRRT Action Council
Subject: [SRRTAC-L:15903] Time for some serious thinking about SRRTAC-L
I want to ask list members to do some serious thinking about the list.
The list has a much different character than it had a year ago.
It seems to me that SRRTAC-L is deteriorating in much the same way that the ALAOIF list deteriorated a few years ago. The ALAOIF list began as a space for intellectual freedom advocates to discuss news and ideas, under the auspices of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. Following contemporary interpretations of the value of intellectual freedom, it was open to anyone to join. Rather quickly, filtering advocates and advocates of censorship in libraries along conservative Christian lines joined the list, and it became the site of constant and rather ugly and
fiery debate between polarized camps that it is today. So ALA's OIF listserv is no longer FOR intellectual freedom so much as it is ABOUT intellectual freedom - for and against. For the Office of Intellectual Freedom this is not a terrible problem, because it is not a membership
group and sets its agenda and manages its work internally. The ALAOIF list is external to it.
For SRRT, the situation is both not as bad and more dangerous. The SRRT list is still primarily made up of SRRT's active members. There are
only a few people onboard who are challenging SRRT's historical mission and purpose. But it seems to me that a synergy has emerged between
McClay, Zyroff and Stephens, with John D. Berry and Stephen Denney potentially contributing to it, that has the capacity to divert the list
completely, regardless of their proportional numbers. So I think we are in a situation where we could soon lose (or perhaps already have lost)
our list as a meeting place for our community.
So I want to ask members of SRRT to think seriously and realistically about this resource. To what extent can it be saved for productive use, and how can we save it? In what ways does SRRT do its work independent of the discussion on this listserv? (TF's and Action Council come to
SRRT has been around since 1969. I don't know in what year SRRTAC-L was introduced, but SRRT was certainly productive prior to that. Many of us
were active members of SRRT prior to the list's coming into existence and have experience working in older ways. Others have been involved in
organizations that have worked through difficulties posed by electronic communication and may have solutions to offer.
One of the solutions that's been offered is list moderation. I can see that it has its advantages, but it only claims to solve certain
problems, mainly to cool off flame wars before they start and to weed out "off topic" discussions where a group wants to. They don't resolve any of the deeper problems of email list communication - for instance, the undemocratic phenomenon of monopolization of discussions by small minorities in the organization. The IF problems associated with list moderation have already been discussed and should certainly be raised again if people want to explore this as a possibility.
I'm not necessarily asking for a new discussion of our list beginning now. I mainly want to ask people to think about it.