The Chronicle of Higher Education: Libraries

Anonymous Patron writes "The Subscription only The Chronicle of Higher Education: Libraries section is bursting at the seems this week. Steven J. Bell has one on print vs. digital, Richard W. Oram and Edward L. Bishop cover special collections, Elizabeth Breakstone writes one on technology, and W. Lee Hisle has one on reference librarians. There's even a few more."

Julie C. writes "This week's Chronicle of Higher Education includes two library-related topics in its Forum section:
Should Librarians Get Tenure?

Libraries: A Left-Wing Echo Chamber?".


It seems you can read the "Yes" on tenure article for free ( but the "No" article requires a subscription ( . What exactly are they trying to tell us here?

Should Librarians Get Tenure? No, It Can Hamper Their Roles

I think Durant is right about how left-wing librarians seem to be. But I don't think librarians are all that different from the general population. In my experience, school librarians are more likely to be conservative than public librarians or academic. Also, school librarians probably make less money, are less likely to get reimbursed to attend conference, and so might be under-represented at those events. Their lower salaries might also explain why they make fewer political contributions. It would be interesting to see stats on that.

One thing Durant doesn't consider about the ALA's antiwar stance has everything to do with libraries and nothing to do with politics. War is bad for libraries. I recall the stories on LISNews back in the summer of 2003 when details about the looting of Baghdad made clear how many precious holdings were stolen or destroyed - so war does impact libraries. Hurricanes also impact libraries, but hurricanes are not subject to direct policy choices by any government. To be fair, the ALA should oppose any war that the U.S. conducts that will damage libraries. Did they oppose Clinton's war in Bosnia? Was this war a subject of controversy because of its impact on libraries there?

As a liberal librarian, I go out of my way to make sure I select books and periodicals that represent the conservative side (Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, William Bennett, Sean Hannity, National Review, etc). I even read some of them. I listen to Al Franken on Air America and to Neil Boortz on local talk radio. I agree with Durant about our ultimate mission as librarians and am sorry that he has come to feel so unwelcome in our profession.

He may be right - the politicization of the broader culture has spilled over into ALA, but it just so happens that we lean left instead of right. I can sympathize with Durant because I've been a liberal living in a red state all my adult life. I know a lot about keeping quiet to get along and being made to feel unwelcome. If anyone can figure out how to depoliticize the culture, I'd like to hear about it.

School librarians don't necessarily make less money than public librarians. Where I live, school librarians with comparable years of experience made twice my salary when I worked in the PL in that school district.

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