Hennepin County Library replaces catalog
Somone writes \"On March 5, 2002 Charles Brown, the director of
the Hennepin County Library System announced that
they are going to replace their innovative internationally
acclaimed catalog and use the Library of Congress Subject
So why is this important? As you know a library\'s catalog
is the first point of contact for everything in a library.
People can search the catalog themselves or ask us to
search it for them. If the catalog does not contain the
subjects that people are searching for neither they nor
we can find the information they need.
More...In January 1973, Sanford Berman was hired as the
head cataloger of the Hennepin County Library.
Sanford Berman is a progressive, innovative, visionary
librarian who knew that the biased, outdated,
and white middle class perspective of the Library
of Congress subject headings had to be challenged
and had to be changed.
Sanford Berman replaced outdated terminology
and biased subject heaings with new ones based
on his inspired assessment of the content and social,
political, ethnic or technological subjects.
Berman\'s catalog has always been instantly and
continuously responsive to the pulse of global culture,
it embraces and celebrates diversity, recognizes and
defines emerging trends. It is the true Peoples Catalog
for the 21st century.
Dynamic and ever evolving, not limited by bias or
outdated language or censorship, Berman\'s catalog
is NOT a relic of the past, it\'s NOT obsolete, it\'s NOT incompatible
with the internet.
It can, more than any other existing resource, be used to help
us find the information we need on the internet.
Berman\'s catalog anticipated the variety, diversity and
immediacy of the internet by providing a richly detailed map
of subjects directing us to inter-related information and
leading us not only to the epiphany of discovering the
answer, but of discovering ourselves.
Berman\'s catalog knows that we are not all the same,
we do not all conform to one standard, we do not all
\"speak the same language.\"
The Library of Congress Subject headings were written in the
19th century. Though they are still widely used in many library
catalogs they have not kept pace with the changes in society
or in technology.
Search for information using the Minneapolis
Public Library Catalog which uses the Library of Congress
Subject Headings and then search for information using
the Hennepin County Library catalog.
You will notice a remarkable difference. It is much more
difficult if not impossible to find information using the
Minneapolis Public Library catalog than it is to find
information in the Hennepin County Library
Here are a few examples of subjects that Sanford Berman\'s
Working Poor People
Employee Work Monitoring
Gay & Lesbian Rights
Black History Month
NONE of these headings are in a Library of Congress catalog.
Charles Brown\'s decision to remove Sanford Berman\'s
subjects from the existing Hennepin County Library Catalog
and to replace it with the Library of Congress Subject
headings is censorship.
Most troubling of all is that this decision is yet another
example of the attitude held by the Hennepin County Library
Administration, that they are not a publicly funded institution
accountable to the public. This decision was made and
announced without consulting or surveying the public or
A Library Board meeting held shortly after the replacement
of the existing catalog was announced was changed
from a public meeting to a private retreat for board
members and an assistant Hennepin County Attorney.
Though 10 observers were permitted to attend,
a statement was made that, \"no public comments will be allowed.\"
A group of concerned citizens and librarians are working
together to save a copy of the current Hennepin County
Library catalog and hope to make it accessible to
everyone on the web.
We also need to speak out against the decision to
replace the catalog because by doing this, the
library is failing to fulfill the most essential mission
a library has:
To Provide Information to the Public.
We hope you will join us in expressing your concerns to:
Charles Brown, Director
Hennepin County Library
12601 Ridgedale Drive
Minnetonka MN 55305
Carol Walsh, President
Hennepin County Library Board
4320 Highway 7, #1
St. Louis Park MN 55416
Hennepin County Library Board members:
Richard P. Johnson
Deputy County Administrator
Hennepin County Government Center
300 South 6th Street
Minneapolis MN 55487
Maurice (Mitch) J. Freedman, MLS, PhD
Director, Westchester (NY) Library System
410 Saw Mill River Road
Ardsley, NY 10502
Voice: 914-674-3600 x223; Fax: 914-674-4193
4400 Morningside Road
Edina MN 55416
Hennepin County Library Catalog
The Sanford Berman Website:
Copies of the HCL Press release and Berman\'s response are on the website.