Sanford Berman writes to Castro

Steve Fesenmaier sends us a copy of Sanford Berman's letter to Fidel Castro about Cuban libraries.

I oppose the American embargo against Cuba and last week, at the American Library Association Conference in Toronto, Canada, publicly declared both the blockage and Helms-Burton Act to be “stupid,” stating that they must immediately end.

However, although I respect and defend Cuba’s national sovereignty and integrity, I cannot remain silent about the severe human rights abuses represented by the mid-March arrest and conviction of some 75 dissidents, including independent journalists and librarians. Not only were their “trials” suspect – conducted summarily in remote locations – but there appears to be no evidence that these persons truly posed a threat to Cuba’s security....

Read the full letter by following the "Read Some More of this Story" link below.

Steve also asks us to sign a petition against the arrests at

It's Always 1984 In Cuba

One More Story on Cuban libraries, this one is from The LATimes, so you'll need to register to read it.
They say Seventy-five economists, poets and democracy advocates are serving sentences of up to 26 years apiece after hasty trials for violating Cuba's harsh and vaguely worded national security laws. Among those being held are 10 directors of independent, nongovernment-affiliated lending libraries specializing in books that were either hard to find in Cuba or offensive to the Castro regime.

Hardback haven in the heart of Bangkok

Charles Davis writes "From the story at

If the film-making team of Merchant Ivory is ever
looking for a charming old colonial style library for a backdrop to one of their famous period movies, they should board the next flight to Bangkok and not stop until they arrive at the Neilson Hays Library.
The library, situated downtown next to the British
Club, is considered by many to be an oasis in the
heart of the congested Thai capital. "

Libraries in the Sky

Today, Morning Edition had a short item about the Airbus company's newest model, the A-380. This will be the largest passenger plane in the world, with two full-length decks. According to NPR, one of the mockups at a recent trade show included a bar and a library in the luxurious upper-deck lounge. I couldn't see the library in this QuickTime tour, nor did I find a mention on the product page. Sydney is already planning to remodel its airport to accomodate the beast.

Cuban Libraries Make Headlines

Cuban libraries have been making headlines latey.Stories on the Cuba libraries topic have appeared in The Associated Press,, and FrontPageMag.

Cuban accuses U.S. of funding dissidents

Steve Fesenmaier writes "Cuba's national libraries director accused the United States on Saturday of bankrolling small, independent book lenders in the island nation to undermine its communist government.
Full Story. "

Beyond borders and books

Steve Fesenmaier points us to The Toronto Star where Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman and Wendy Newman have an article. They say the decision to move forward with the world's largest library conference and exhibition, despite the SARS outbreaks, was based on information and reason, two core values of our profession.

U.S. and Canadian librarians are united in our concerns for 21st century libraries. Library use continues to rise on both sides of the border, especially among newcomers.

Nat Hentoff Blasts ALA on Persecution of Librarians in Cuba

Robert Kent writes: "In a stinging rebuke to the American Library Association,
one of the nation's foremost defenders of civil liberties, Nat Hentoff, has
criticized the ALA for failing to take action to defend volunteer librarians in
Cuba who are being subjected to a brutal crackdown.

French librarian left out of UNESCO visit to Iraq libraries

Jean-Marie Arnoult from the Bibliotheque National de France was denied a visa which would have allowed him to travel with a UNESCO (United nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation) team that visited Baghdad earlier this month. An anonymous source alleged that Arnoult was denied the visa because he is French and was vocal in his opposition to the Iraq War.

Ross Shimon, general secretary of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) condemned the U.S. decision. Shimon has requested that members of the international library and information community speak out and expose this ”scandalous state of affairs”. More here. That\'s the only news story to date, but the story is making the rounds on lists, and support for an ALA resolution is strong.

Central Asia libraries in a bind

CrowGirl writes "An excellent story on the problems faced by libraries in the former soviet republics in central asia. They say many of the libraries that the now independent states of Central Asia inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union have -- over the past 12 years -- fallen victim to neglect, theft, and inadequate funding.


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