Maurice J. Freedman Answers Your Questions
Mitch Freedman\'s answers to you questions from a
couple months ago have come in. You can read them
In case you missed the first two, or need to refresh
your memory before you send in your ballot:
Ken Haycock\'s answers.
Also, you can expect final words from all three
candidates, right here, towards the end of the week. Why should I continue to pay my dues and remain a
member of the ALA?
You should continue to pay your dues and remain a
member of the ALA because you can accomplish much
more in a number of areas through a national
association of 60,000 members than working on your
own. ALA lobbies Congress for legislation favorable to
libraries and library users. It can provide fine backup to
librarians and libraries who need help in any of a variety
of ways: such intellectual freedom issues as fighting
censorship mandates (e.g. the Children’s Internet
Protection Act), UCITA and its threat to fair use;
providing assistance with building programs, plus
volumes of information from each of the operating
divisions and the other ALA units and offices.
It provides wonderful opportunities, through its national
meetings, to meet with colleagues doing similar work
from all over the country.
Personally, I benefited from the professional meetings
far more than from the professional literature—I could
speak directly with or hear at meetings those people
who were doing things I was interested in, months, if
not years, before any of it reached publication, if it was
published at all. What I value most about my
membership in ALA is what I learned from the people I
met and the programs I attended at the ALA
conferences over the course of my career.
I also know that there are reasons people aren’t
members—they’re frustrated with the slowness with
which ALA can act—if it acts at all—on given member
concerns, or they’re angry because ALA acted on
matters that they felt were wholly inappropriate for a
library association in the U.S.
All I can say is that you can stand on the sidelines or
get into the fray. In significant part that’s what my career
has been about. The ALA has afforded me the
opportunity to express my views and work for what I
thought would be of greatest benefit to my colleagues,
the library community, and all of the people who should
be served by libraries (not just the ones who are
Like many, I’ve been frustrated, but I also know I never
would have accomplished the many things I did on the
various jobs I held, nor met the many wonderful friends
I’ve enjoyed over my professional lifetime, had I not
been a member of ALA.
At present, ALA throws the weight of its
considerable influence into absolute opposition of
filters in all libraries. Doesn\'t this make its claim to favor
a local library solution on this issue somewhat
disingenuous? In the upcoming battle to challenge
mandated filters for libraries receiving E-rate discounts,
wouldn\'t the ALA\'s position be stronger if it really did
promote a local solution by taking a more balanced
approach that recognizes the ethical complexities of the
I’m not sure I know what the ethical complexities are,
but I do know that there’s a lot of passion on the subject
of filters. The ALA policy states:
\"RESOLVED, That the American Library Association
affirms that the use of filtering software by libraries to
block access to constitutionally protected speech
violates the Library Bill of Rights.\"
Anybody opposed to filters is immediately labeled as
being in favor of pornography. I think that it is ALA’s
responsibility to provide leadership by setting the
standards for what is right. It isn’t just issues like
filtering that cause heated feeling and deep divisions:
charging fees for basic library services, privatizing
public-sector libraries, and other questions also raise
the rhetoric levels and the emotional heat.
But as with filters, ALA is a bully pulpit at best. It cannot
make a library do anything it chooses not to. Ultimately
the local library community, board, and library staff must
decide what is right for their community.
I am against filters because they deprive people of
access to information that comes under the heading of
protected speech. I invite the reader to go to
Peacefire.org and see just how bad a job the various
I support the ALA’s position. In my job I have to defend
it in a variety of library settings, as well as take calls
from irate parents.
My deepest concern is that if ALA’s positions all
reflected the various points of view on a subject, the
lowest common denominator would rule, instead of our
As to the e-rate, I will be part of the ACLU suit to
overturn the new filtering legislation that ties the use of
federal funds to the installation of filters.
I was part of the ALA/ACLU lawsuit (the only librarian
who participated) that overturned the NY State \"harmful
to minors\" law, a variant on the so-called
Communications Decency Act that had been
I am inalterably opposed to the federal government—or
for that matter, anyone—telling people what information
they can access and what they can’t. And the notion of
threatening the denial of funds to libraries if they don’t
submit to the federal fiat—the Children’s Internet
Protection Act (CIPA)—is bullying, which I oppose now
and will oppose when I am elected ALA’s president.
Do the candidates support the ideas about the
need for a re-introduction of national public library
standards supported by the American Library
Association as I urged in my March 2000 article in
I didn’t see the article, but the idea of establishing
national standards is a good one. While it will take a
great deal of time, energy and patience to reach
consensus, we stand to gain much by agreeing upon
Since ALA standards, as with all of its other policies,
are unenforceable on local libraries, their value is
normative. They tell us what libraries should be doing.
Providing guidance is a fundamental responsibility of a
It will be an incredible challenge for ALA to take into
account the variability in size, budget, population
served, per capita support, etc., of America’s public
libraries and come up with national public library
standards that encompass our diversity.
Would they support the idea of a method for ALA to
identify and get the funding to provide for \"genius
grants\" for the libraries that can be identified as having
clearly superior best practices so that library students
and other libraries can learn from the best?
I could support it, but I’m not sure where it would fit in
my priorities for Association funding. I also would have
to know much more about how the program would work
and who would do the deciding.
Since the Federal State Cooperative Service is
indicating that it may put a halt to \"early release\" of
library statistics (thereby virtually assuring that the
numbers will be three to four years out of date when
published rather than the current 2 years) would they
support a program to have ALA collect and publish all
data from the 50 states? This would mean getting the
currency of the PLA Public Library Data Service dataset
with the comprehensiveness of the FSCS dataset.
Timely access to this information is critical. Whether
ALA is the best place for the data to be collected is a
separate question. There is a private company whose
software is being used, so I’m told, by 35 states at this
point, for the collection of the statewide library statistics
in those states. This is already in place and seems
like a good option to explore.
I couldn’t agree with you more: we must have this
What will you do as ALA president to fight for fair
use in an online world where content providers are
fighting to destroy fair use?
I will put my heart and soul into the fight, as well as the
fullness of my intellect and 35 years of experience as a
librarian. I have worked with technology. I have fought
for fair use of, and unfettered access to, information.
UCITA is monstrous and must be stopped. UCITA is a
major threat to fair use and I will use the full power of
the office of the president of ALA to fight UCITA and to
protect fair use. Following is the statement from my
official American Libraries position:
\"My pledge to you is that I will use the power of the ALA
presidency to fight for:
fair use of databases and software (NO to
UCITA! NO to excessive limitations on use in licensing
The ALA has for many years been a proponent for
libraries, but many members feel that the ALA has not
been a proponent for librarians. What will you do as
president, to demonstratively increase the status and
pay of America\'s professional librarians?
As ALA president, how would you address the issue of
the relatively low salaries paid to public librarians? Do
you believe there is a brain drain, and if so, what are the
I was chair of the ALA Pay Equity Committee and I’m on
the Committee on the Status of Women in
Librarianship. I’ve been an active member of SRRT
since its inception. I think ALA must take a strong role
in supporting better compensation for all library
workers, not just the professionals.
As president, I will bring to bear all of the power of my
office to address the outrageously low pay of librarians
and other library workers.
We don’t have enough children’s librarians because
the pay is better elsewhere. We don’t have enough
children’s librarians because in America, people who
work with children—primarily women--tend to get less
respect and less pay than those who don’t. It is part
and parcel of the overall discrimination against women
that has inspired the struggle for pay equity and
comparable worth compensation.
Raising the pay of all library workers will be one of the
chief goals of my presidency.
Many professional organizations provide liability
insurance coverage for their members, but the ALA
does not. With the increase in legal and personal
attacks on librarians, trustees and other advocates over
the censorship and filtering demands and other
situations, will ALA investigate the professional liability
coverage of all ALA members through their dues?
It certainly should be easy for ALA to investigate. Paying
for liability coverage with the dues seems okay as an
extra, but shouldn’t be included in the basic dues.
There are ALA members who wouldn’t want to have this
insurance for a variety of reasons. Vendor members
have totally different liability concerns and undoubtedly
are covered by their firms. Trustees and directors
frequently have liability coverage as part of directors
and officers insurance—those so covered possibly
wouldn’t need or want coverage from ALA. Library
workers who aren’t covered this way would certainly
wish to consider such coverage, but my guess is that a
lot of them do not feel threatened.
The larger point is that professional associations,
alumni organizations, AARP, and probably countless
others have offered various kinds of insurance plans in
conjunction with commercial firms. It would be fine with
me to explore the viability of a group rate for the liability
coverage and anything else that might be appropriate.
ALA has been slow in responding to the call for
contracting out of library services in all libraries.
Certainly, the preeminent professional organization for
libraries should address the issue more strongly, and
at least, provide a checklist of issues for libraries,
directors and trustees contemplating the contracting
out some or all of library services. Also, the publication
of a handbook outlining the pros and cons of
contracting out, and what to look for and look out for, are
a minimum response that has so far been lacking by
ALA. What will you do to make the ALA more active in
the issues of contracting out?
I am unalterably opposed to the privatization of libraries
and have serious reservations about outsourcing
library work and library services. I believe that there are
core library services which must be professionally
managed by library staff and not relegated to the lowest
There was a study done on outsourcing but its analysis
and conclusions were unsatisfactory. It didn’t
distinguish between outsourcing and privatization—the
latter means contracting out the management of the
entire library to a commercial vendor. Consequently,
outsourcing as a concept was too vague and
comprehensive to be meaningful.
As president, I will speak out against corporatization. I
will urge the ALA Council and Executive Board to adopt
a strong policy statement against privatization, a policy
that recognizes the core professional values that define
librarianship as a profession.
The growth of unions among libraries
and professional employees has increased greatly
over the past few years. ALA has often taken the
position of directors and managers, although most of
the members of ALA are not in management positions.
This is also a topic most often not covered in library
schools. A survey of the strength of unions, and the
issues that are raised among the libraries which have
become unionized has never been done. ALA should
take an active role in keeping track of this trend of the
unionization of library technical and professional
workers. What would you do to make sure the
members become aware of the issues raised by the
unionization of library staff?
How to handle a union election? What unions are active
My father was a union bus driver and truck driver. I am
pro-union. I will not stay at the Marriott in San Francisco
at the June conference because they do not treat their
employees fairly. I will support Association activities
that promote better pay and working conditions for
Since we are living in an increasingly globalized
world, what international initiatives or projects do you
envision the ALA initiating in the near future?
One of the most important commitments we must
make is to safeguard fair use and the encroachments
on copyright being made by international organizations.
ALA must oppose those international agreements
which excessively restrict fair use. We must keep rights
guaranteed by U.S. copyright law.
ALA, and America’s libraries and librarians, have great
resources and expertise to offer the world. As
someone who has been a consultant on four
continents for academic and public libraries, I know that
there is much that we can offer. There is also much
that we can learn.
Every candidate for ALA president this year is male,
which points to a larger underlying issue of men being
disproportionately represented in the higher ranks of
both professional associations and administrative
positions in what is still a female-dominated
profession. What do you intend to do to address this
First, my appointments to the ALA Nominating
Committee will be accompanied by the strong
recommendation that all nominees for ALA offices
reflect the diversity of the Association. I specifically will
request that females be represented in the
nominations, as well as the diversity of all ALA
members. I am committed to establishing a Diversity
Task Force that will assist me with appointments,
nominations, and policy matters.
I will use the power of the ALA presidency to advocate
for pay equity and better salaries for all library workers.
I share the questioner’s concerns, and will do my
utmost to speak out on this issue.
Because of my past performance and my current
platform, the ALA Feminist Task Force has endorsed
my candidacy, along with REFORMA, SRRT, GLBTRT,
and several past and present officers of the Black
Caucus of the American Library Association, including
its founder, Dr. E. J. Josey.
What will you do as ALA president to fight for fair
use in an online world where content providers are
fighting to destroy fair use?
I will use the full power of the presidency to speak out
against UCITA and other efforts to destroy fair use. I
will mobilize the Association to fight even harder to
prevent UCITA and similar efforts from being enacted.
My position on fair use will complement my deep
commitment to filter-free access to the Internet. I see
these two issues—the efforts to excessively limit fair
use, and the efforts, such as CIPA, to externally impose
filters on libraries—as major threats to intellectual
freedom and library service in a democratic society. In
that light my commitment will be strong and my
opposition will be vigorous.
What do you see as the most worrisome provision
The most worrisome provision of UCITA is the overall
attempt by its sponsors to excessively limit fair use by
circumventing copyright and other legal protections we
Would you support proposed amendments to
exempt public libraries, or would you favor solidarity
among libraries of all types?
I would oppose UCITA’s passage. UCITA is a threat to
all libraries and it must be opposed on that basis. We
cannot say that UCITA is okay in one kind of library and
not in another. I am firmly convinced that the authors of
UCITA want to exercise control of access to, and
dissemination of, information for all libraries.
Please relate your opinion about paying exorbitant
fees ($20,000 - $70,000) for keynote speakers at the
annual conference to the very high cost of membership
in ALA and its divisions.
(If it would help, you can compare Jimmy Carter and his
fee to Colin Powell and his fee, and tell us which had
the most value to us as librarians?)
I think that the $70,000 paid to Colin Powell was
exorbitant, and will oppose such payments in the future.
Note that I was the one who initiated the issue of
Powell’s fee. I knew what he was paid for a speech he
gave to a business group in Westchester County. That
is what prodded me into opening the issue of Powell’s
fee on the ALA Council listserv.
Even though the lion’s share of the fee was
underwritten by a vendor, ALA should use better
judgment and better manage its contributions from
vendors. That $50,000 from Library Corporation would
have been far better utilized in any of a number of ways
in the service of libraries and the Association—not to
mention the $20,000 portion paid by ALA.
Over 2 million people are imprisoned in the U.S.
Library services to these individuals is varied from
locale to locale. Would you consider a national initiative
to develop awareness and service provision to these
\"Least of our Brethren,\" as Larry Sullivan, in AMERICAN
LIBRARIES, May 2000, characterized them?
I would be happy to consider a national intiative along
these lines. As head of a public library system in New
York State charged with serving Sing Sing, the Bedford
Hills Correctional Facility (a women’s prison) and one
other, the Westchester Library System has worked
closely with the prison librarians to develop innovative
and valuable services.
There is the larger issue, of course, that there are far
too many people in U.S. prisons because of the
dreadful mandatory drug sentencing laws. Library
services could be improved immediately if there were
significantly fewer prisoners—assuming of course that
funding was not decreased along with the prison
A number of graduate programs in the field have
removed the word \"library\" from their name within the
past several years. How do you feel about this change,
and what implications do you believe it has for the
profession as a whole, and ALA in particular?
I am unhappy with the change. I wasn’t thrilled in the
1970s when libraries began changing their institutional
names so that the word ‘library’ had the name ‘and
information center’ appended to it. The library schools
are free to call themselves anything they want and
teach whatever they want. But as I stated in my
…I will use the power of the ALA presidency to fight for
keeping the L in Library Education by requiring ALA
accredited schools to teach library administration,
services, and principles.
I think that the profession as a whole must focus clearly
on a message of what libraries offer. Part of their
standing in the community is because of what they
have offered for the last 150 years. Changing the
‘name’ will lose some of that positive identification.
Libraries should be innovative and let people know
about the new services they continually have introduced
since they began.
They don’t have to change their name to let people
know that they now offer computers, CDs, the Internet,
on-line databases, power tools, etc., in addition to
books, periodicals, story hours and the other materials
and services that helped them gain the respect and
acceptance they have achieved over the last century
When is ALA going to catch up with the rest of the
information profession and take the word \"library\" out of
its name? (Should be asked with a ;-) voice)
Please see the previous answer.