Revolting Librarians Redux A review by Steve Fesenmaier
Steve Fesenmaier writes \"A great book came out recently – one I have to put up there with Michael
Moore’s STUPID WHITE MEN – I have to tell you about. It’s called
“Revolting Librarians Redux” edited by Katia Roberto and Jessamyn West.
It is called “redux” because 30 years ago “Revolting Librarians” was
published. That tome was one of the reasons why I stayed in my
lowest-paid, demeaning profession since 1978. I discovered that there
were many other victims of American anti-intellectualism, and they
somehow found their way to library school, and somehow fought back
against The Matrix of the 1970s.
I think that anyone who has a desire to read exposes like Moore’s, or Greg
Palast’s “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” will also greatly enjoy
this one. I have a belief that I call “Fez’ Axiom”- “In the information
age, everyone will become a librarian.” I don’t know if there are publications
about revolting teachers, or revolting lawyers, or revolting filmmakers,
but if there are, they should be as good as this.
A lot of the smartest people who have ever lived have been librarians –
starting with Borges. Casanova ended his days as a librarian. Sandy
Berman, the greatest American librarian ever in my opinion, is one of
the greatest activists I have ever known. He has two contributions including an excellent short analysis of public libraries in our age of Martha Stewart and Wal-Mars –
and there is even a piece about how he was forced out of his job- like I
was at the same time. The editors did not include my piece, “Fez the
Barbarian Librarian Fights the Biblio-Nazis” but it’s a great
anyway. I really love the cover graphic – a pile of thick,
leather-bound books with a slightly rusty hammer in front of them,
looking like some revolting librarian is about ready to grab it and
start smashing computers or moronic cannibalistic bureaucrats. (See the
current teenage slasher movie “Wrong Turn” – but think instead of
cannibalistic, inbred West Virginians, think insane Dilbert-type bosses
eating and cutting up their poor little employees….)
Two things about the editors. Katia Roberto posted an excellent
Festschrift about Sandy Berman that is the best I have seen – great
short pieces, and graphics. Jessamyn West has the single best website
for librarians with a sense of excitement – Naked Librarians.
http://www.jessamyn.com/naked/index.html. The worst stereotype about
librarians is that they are asexual. After you check out her site, you
will forever change your mind.
Unfortunately RLR is a bit pricier than the other two books
mentioned - $35 as compared to $17.47 for WHITE MEN and $9.80 for
DEMOCRACY. But it is as good. Indeed, it is better than either one
because it has many different voices, all expressing revolt against the
Matrix. I don’t think that you will go wrong.