Library responds to accusations that Human Rights Film Festival distorts conditions in Cuba

I'm sure I don't need to tell you who sent in this Princeton Packet article. The Princeton Public Library has inadvertently set off a firestorm of criticism involving Cuba, health care and human rights.
According to some critics, two of the 15 films shown during the library's annual Human Rights Film Festival last weekend are "propaganda" and do not accurately reflect life in Cuba.
"I think it's outrageous to have a film festival at a public library that leaves out all the realities of Cuba, especially when you have thousands of witnesses to the human rights violations," said Maria C. Werlau, executive director of Cuba Archive, an organization that collects information about the country.

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Leave out the eye rolling

Blake, I think you could have left off the "I'm sure I don't need to tell you who sent in this Princton [sic] Packet article."It sounds an awful lot like "oh, there he goes again" editorializing. Even if that isn't your intention, it reminds me that I am still wondering: when it was that librarians stopped caring about balance, presenting all sides, and professional objectivity? When did people in this profession start becoming Michael Moore cartoons (cartoons of cartoons, I guess)?

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

. . . I am still wondering: when it was that librarians stopped caring about balance, presenting all sides, and professional objectivity?

Librarians are only as human as anyone else; of course they all have their individual opinions and viewpoints. Working in a milieu that panders to balance, objectivity, and presenting all viewpoints doesn't prevent one from having and airing one's own. If I'm a 9/11 conspiracy theorist at the reference desk and you come into my library looking for books on engineering and WTC architecture, I can help you find that material and still tell you that the towers were brought down by implosions rigged by the Bush admin. It's if I refuse to help you find what you need where I violate the ethics of the profession.

(N.B.: just to clarify, I'm not a librarian at all, but the analogy stands.)

your premise

When did we stop? I wasn't aware we had. If you want to cherry-pick examples from non-representative samples I could decry the lack of material about Wicca in the public libraries of rural Oklahoma or the dearth of Al Franken books at Regent University library.

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

Point taken.It was "oh, there he goes again" editorializing. I'm all about balance, presenting all sides, and that's why it's not a one person show here. I never stopped caring, but I ocaisionally take a jab or two. As far as I can remember I've never had a Cuba story come in from anyone else. It looks to me like this is a one man issue (maybe I'm wrong on that). That's why I editorialized there. And it's not that I stopped caring about Cuba, I just never cared. It's just not something I care about because I simply don't have any interest in this. It's nothing personal, and I've had this discussion with him before. I have nothing against him, it's just not an issue that's on my radar. I'm not pro or anti anything on this issue, not sure why, it just doesn't catch my eye. Your story is WAY more interesting than anything I've ever heard about Cuba.As far as I can tell, many people in this profession were always Michael Moore cartoons. I've always hoped that I'm not one of them though.But anyways, you're right, I could've left that off.

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

As far as you and Fang Face promoting your views to patrons unasked...even if I agreed with you (or with Truther Fang - God forbid), as a patron I would avoid you. I'm really not interested in being served a stranger-bureaucrat's political opinions - or served with opinionated zeal - along with my information needs.Promoting my views unasked? First off, where did I say that? And second off, I rarely present my own views even when they do ask. I just took another look at my comment and nope, I don't see that statement or anything like it anywhere. I said I get involved in patron questions and problems, in other words I try and see things from their point of view. I try and be more than just a fetcher of books and websites. I talk with them and see what they're on about and my opinions have changed here and there because of listening to others and judging their views.On the contrary, it does help if the message board administrators don't get in the way of the message that someone has asked them to post - it's not a sin, but it is "poisoning the well." Blake could have added his own comment...in the "comments" section. He has made the gentlemanly effort to acknowledge this.I'm not going to speak for Blake. I will say one thing though, based on my own experiences of running an online forum: Last I checked, I'm a library nerd, a historian, and a Doctor of Divinity. I don't see any qualifications on my resume listing me as a journalist. So when I last ran an online forum, I wasn't interested in, nor was I obligated to, withhold my opinion from a story. This is Blake's board and we're all living in it. If you're looking for fairly non-biased news, I suggest you try the BBC or Guardian UK.

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

"As far as librarians presenting all sides in balanced ways, well, screw that if that means I lose the right to my opinion on a public message board."On the contrary, it does help if the message board administrators don't get in the way of the message that someone has asked them to post - it's not a sin, but it is "poisoning the well." Blake could have added his own comment...in the "comments" section. He has made the gentlemanly effort to acknowledge this.As far as you and Fang Face promoting your views to patrons unasked...even if I agreed with you (or with Truther Fang - God forbid), as a patron I would avoid you. I'm really not interested in being served a stranger-bureaucrat's political opinions - or served with opinionated zeal - along with my information needs.Actually I was connecting Blake's intro to the Princeton Packet article itself, and the quoted clueless librarian director who can't understand what all the fuss is about: "What we were trying to do is focus on things that we think are the rights of human beings versus the human rights violations in the world," Ms. Burger said. Well...pro-Cuba films that champion Cuba as a victim of Capitalist aggression would obviously lend themselves to being countered - at a "Human Rights Film Festival" - with films depicting Cuba as a human rights black hole - and there are many such films.

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

It looks to me like this is a one man issue (maybe I'm wrong on that).

You are; it's just that most of those involved don't post here; Nat Hentoff, Andrei Codrescu, Madeleine Albright, Ray Bradbury, Amnesty International, the Organization of American States. I try to not belabor one issue or stick to one incident or movement. The FREADOM group, however, is quite focused on the matter of the jailing of private Cuban citizens for lending out books out of the privacy of their own homes, the burning of six of the collections seized, the now deliberate and wilfull conspiracy of silence by the ALA.

Ms. Burger is simply taking heat primarily because she is not in good odour. Unfortunately, she is not in good odour largely because she has made of herself an apologist for Cuban book burning and a propagandist for the Castro regime.

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

If you want to be passionate about your profession, the first thing you better dump is that whole "objectivity" crap.I'm about as subjective as I can get about what I do. And, from what I've been told by most of my patrons, that subjectivity is what makes me different than others in this field. I get involved with patron questions, problems, and requests. Objectivity is for science, and take it from a scientist, public library work isn't a science.As far as librarians presenting all sides in balanced ways, well, screw that if that means I lose the right to my opinion on a public message board.

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

I was invited to a Progressive Pinellas meeting by 3 different people. Bet they don't get a lot of Fascists at those.

When I was a public librarian last year I collected what I thought people wanted, and what they specifically asked for. Sure I collected what I wanted to read personally as well, but not to the exclusion of what others wanted to read.

Balance, sure it can be done. I think I did it.

Re:Leave out the eye rolling

My mistake - I thought you were adding to Fang's comment about giving his views unasked. You never said or implied that. I'm sorry I didn't read your reply more closely.And I do still think that moderators should moderate. If I were to ask people to suggest stories, and an individual forwarded their story/link to an article, I hope I would refrain from framing the story in such a way as to cause readers to prejudge the person who volunteered the information. That seems pretty basic to fair play -- on an online forum or anywhere else.

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