- Letters from the Editors
- SRRT Coordinator's Column
- Councilor's Report from ALA Annual Conference 2018
- Minutes from Action Council I & II
- Feminist Task Force News
- Hunger, Homelessness, & Poverty Task Force News
- International Responsibilities Task Force News
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) News
- Book Review: Sustainable Thinking: Ensuring Your Library's Future in an Uncertain World
- Book Review: Go Home!
- Book Review: Cruising the Library: Perversities in the Organization of Knowledge
- Essay: Libraries and Lost Housing
- Essay Library Book Clubs in Breweries: Inclusive for All?
- Essay: Considering Alternatives to Tolerating Ideas We Detest
- Essay: How and How Not to Fight Hate Speech
- Call for Submissions
- Publication Information
by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow and Julie Winkelstein
Greetings SRRT Newsletter readers!
This issue of the SRRT Newsletter provides information on the ALA Annual Conference that was held June 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana and looks forward to ALA Midwinter Meeting 2019 in Seattle, Washington.
Julie the Newsletter Co-Editor, the SRRT Editorial Board, and I are dedicating this issue to the matters of intellectual freedom, free speech, and inclusion as these pertain to work in library and information services. This past summer witnessed the coalescing of these issues into the ALA Council vote on the Resolution to Rescind Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. Recently released to ALA Council for review is a draft of new language on the Meeting Rooms interpretation from the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee. Meanwhile, this issue provides us with a sampling of socially responsible perspectives on the issues concerning intellectual freedom and inclusion. Many thanks to Elaine Harger and Tom Twiss for lending their time and voices to these core issues of our professional and organizational values. We hope their essays spark conversations at your various corners.
All the best,
Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow
SRRT Newsletter Co-Editor
Welcome to the fall 2018 SRRT newsletter! As Melissa mentioned, we're excited to present two views on what intellectual freedom means and how it can be applied to libraries. We're hoping you'll take advantage of our "Letters to the Editors" and share your own views on this topic. Or think about submitting a personal piece for publication in our next newsletter. This topic is complex and we look forward to presenting other opinions and ideas related to it.
We're also pleased to have some excellent book reviews to offer you -- our thanks to Madeline Veitch, our Reviews Editor, for her diligence and enthusiasm.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Julie Ann Winkelstein
SRRT Newsletter Co-Editor
by Charles Kratz, SRRT Coordinator & Dean, The University of Scranton Weinberg Library, Scranton, Pennsylvania
My name is Charles Kratz, and it is my honor to serve as the SRRT Coordinator for 2018-19. 2019 will be a milestone year for SRRT as the round table celebrates its 50th anniversary. More information about our 50th Anniversary social at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. will be forthcoming in future newsletter issues. Please visit the SRRT ALA website for other information on the round table.
SRRT will share news and information with members once a month through the SRRT Membership (SRRTAC-L) listserv. According to the July 2018 ALA Membership Report, SRRT has seen a 26.42% increase in membership since last year. We continue to be the largest round table in ALA. Thank you Al Kagan and the SRRT Membership Committee for all of your hard work!
|ALA Round Tables||Membership Numbers||Percentage of Growth|
|Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT)||1785||+26.42%|
|Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT)||1775||+6.80%|
|International Relations Round Table (IRRT)||1717||+4.89%|
|New Members Round Table (NMRT)||1483||+18.07%|
|Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT)||1397||+7.38%|
|Library Research Round Table (LRRT)||1341||+7.02%|
|Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT)||1253||+0.00%|
ALA has 57,000, +3.08%
As a reminder, international members of ALA can now join SRRT for $8.00 per year.
The SRRT Newsletter is always looking to add pieces on social issues, especially how these intersect with librarianship. Perhaps you read something in previous issues of the newsletter that you are interested in responding to or adding your voice? We welcome your submissions! The minutes for the Action Council meetings held during ALA Midwinter Meeting and ALA Annual are published in the Newsletter.
New!!! The Herb Biblo Conference Travel Grants
I am excited to announce the new Herb Biblo Conference Travel Grants sponsored by the Social Responsibilities Round Table that will help finance attendance at the ALA Annual Conference. SRRT is planning for a formal launch of this program during Fall 2018. The $1000 award covers limited fees related to airfare, lodging, and conference registration. Two grants will be given out on an annual basis. Deadline to apply is December 15 of each year. All applicants will be notified of the Ad Hoc Selection Committee's decision by January 15 each year. Look for more information in the near future.
Get Involved in SRRT
If you would like to become more involved in SRRT and/or its task forces, please let me know so I can direct you to a task force representative. The SRRT Task Forces are: the Feminist Task Force (FTF); the Hunger, Homelessness, & Poverty Task Force (HHPTF); the International Responsibilities Task Force (IRTF); and the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force (MLKTF is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019). For more information on our task forces, please also visit our ALA SRRT Task Forces pages.
SRRT Action Council is also always looking for SRRT members to run for open positions. If you plan on attending Midwinter and Annual, please join us at our Action Council meeting or attend the all task forces meeting.
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas on how to better support member engagement, please email me. I and the SRRT Action Council hope to hear from you!
Run for a Position
More official involvement is easier than you may think. You just need to do it and not wait for someone else to nominate or encourage you.
- SRRT Action Council: All ALA members may attend SRRT Action Council meetings but only Action Council members may vote. Do you want a vote? Then run to be a member of SRRT Action Council. The terms are 3-year terms. Those elected this spring will have terms starting at the end of the 2019 Annual Conference through the end of the 2022 Annual Conference. There are 3 Action Council terms expiring in 2019. To run for a position, you need to fill out the form. Register on the site and then go to the SRRT Action Council. The more information you provide the better it is for all of us when we are voting.
- ALA Council: SRRT has one official ALA Council member but it helps to promote our issues if there are even more SRRT members on ALA Council. Believe it or not, it is almost as easy to run for ALA Council as it is to run for SRRT Action Council. You just need to fill out an E-Petition and then let us know you are running so that we can sign your petition. The petition form for the 2019 election must be filed with the ALA Executive Director no later than December 5, 2018. To find out more information, please refer to the ALA Election Information page.
Finally, let us know what you are thinking and doing: Yes, post something about what you are doing in your library or in your state association that you think would be of interest to others in SRRT. Give us some inspiration about things that we can be doing in our own communities or within ALA. Start a discussion about a topic.
On behalf of the SRRT Action Council, we look forward to working with you.
SRRT Action Council Coordinator, 2018-2019
by Laura Koltutsky, SRRT Councilor, Social Sciences Librarian, University of Calgary Libraries and Cultural Resources
ALA Annual 2018 was my last conference as SRRT Councilor and I have enjoyed serving in this role for the past three years. Tara Brady is now the SRRT Councilor. Please make her feel welcome. My first ALA conference was in New Orleans in 2002 and this city is always amazing to visit.
Between Midwinter 2018 and Annual 2018 there was a discussion around changing the meeting times for Council Forums. Council Forums are additional Council meetings that are not mandatory. Two of the three forums were scheduled for early mornings before Council meetings began. At the morning forum on Monday, June 25th, representatives from IFC came with the latest draft of Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA CD#19.6_62617_act). In that draft, which was presented to Council III on Tuesday morning, there had been a language change including hate groups into a list of possible meeting room users: "then the library cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups." This language was a significant change that had been made the day before the IFC report was presented at Council III. As the SRRT Councilor, I did not catch this change nor were any of the interpretations presented as having been seriously revised. The Meeting Rooms Interpretation passed along with other Interpretations, all of which had been presented as mostly a housekeeping matter. I recently checked the Council voting record for these Interpretations and they were all passed unanimously. Council voting records are available online.
After conference, there was a realization and recognition by many Councilors that we had made an error in approving this document. We bear responsibility for not catching the language change and I apologize to the SRRT membership. A petition coming from ALA membership and an appropriately angry social media conversation has led to an online Council vote where Council voted to rescind the 2018 Meeting Rooms Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. This will come back to Council in the future and I am certain that there will be a more thorough discussion.
From the original draft presented to Council before Annual Conference:
"If publicly funded libraries make their meeting rooms available to the general public for non-library sponsored events, the library may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or the ideas that the group advocates.
- If a library allows charities, non-profits, and sports organizations to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library cannot exclude partisan political, civic, social, or religious groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities. Public libraries have lost or have been forced to settle lawsuits filed on First Amendment grounds when the library tried to deny meeting room space to conservative religious groups or white supremacists.
- Religious organizations have the same right to use library meeting rooms as other community groups. Allowing religious groups to use the library's meeting rooms does not constitute a breach of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause."
Revised draft presented at Council III:
"Public libraries are bound by the First Amendment and the associated law governing access to a designated public forum. A publicly funded library is not obligated to provide meeting room space to the public, but if it chooses to do so, it cannot discriminate or deny access based upon the viewpoint of speakers or the content of their speech. This encompasses religious, political, and hate speech.
- If a library allows charities, non-profits, and sports organizations to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities. Allowing religious groups to use the library's meeting rooms and spaces does not constitute a breach of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause."
All 2018 resolutions as well as reports to Council can be found online.
Resolution to Honor African Americans Who Fought Library Segregation (ALA CD#41_7618-FINAL)
This resolution passed unanimously with many councilors standing at the microphones to affirm their own support of the resolution.
Resolution on Gender Inclusive Bathrooms at ALA Conferences and Meetings (ALA CD#42_7618_FINAL)
This resolution was referred to the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) because of potential financial implications. The Resolution was presented at Council III and passed with a large majority.
SRRT Resolution on Socially Responsible Investments for the ALA Endowment Fund (ALA CD#36_21118_REVISED (INF))
This resolution was also referred to BARC because of potential financial implications. The resolved clauses of the SRRT Resolution on Socially Responsible Investments for the ALA Endowment Fund were as follows:
Resolved, that the ALA Council strongly recommends the following to the ALA Endowment Trustees:
- Increase the percentage of Endowment funds invested in socially responsible portfolios in a practical manner every year for the foreseeable future;
- Exclude from the Environmental, Social and Governance/Socially Responsible Investments (ESG/SRI) portfolios all fossil fuel investments, notwithstanding any socially responsible designations by any company or organization; and
- Report on progress made towards these goals at least annually to the ALA Council and membership.
The SRRT Resolution on Socially Responsible Investments for the ALA Endowment Fund which originally had been presented at Midwinter 2018 received the following response from BARC in their report ALA CD#33.2-62418:
"Submitted by Rhea Lawson, Chair, BARC, Susan Hildreth, ALA Treasurer, Endowment Trustee and BARC member and BARC committee members.
During the Midwinter 2018 meeting, ALA Council referred the Resolution on Socially Responsible Investments for the ALA Endowment Fund to BARC. Since February, BARC, the Finance and Audit Committee, and the Endowment Trustees have researched the financial implications of the resolution and provide the following information for ALA Council and the Executive Board.
- Increase the percentage of Endowment funds invested in socially responsible portfolios in a practical manner every year for the foreseeable future.
- As of 4/30/18, 25.3% of the Endowment is invested in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) classified funds. Since 2002, the Endowment ESG ratio has steadily increased while maintaining a diversified portfolio to help the Endowment withstand market volatility. The Endowment Trustees continue to consider the mix of investments to provide the greatest return on investments while being socially responsible. The Endowment was $45.9 million at the end of 2017, funding critical services and initiatives advancing the association. Mandating an even larger investment in ESG during an unpredictable financial market will place the investment earnings at risk. The Endowment Trustees have been steadily increasing ESG investments and will continue to do so in a prudent manner as the market and options continue to evolve. BARC agrees with the Endowment Trustees that the proposed directive to the Endowment Trustees will negatively impact Endowment earnings affecting the availability of resources for the ALA budget.
- Exclude from the Environmental, Social and Governance/Socially Responsible Investments (ESG/SRI) portfolios all fossil fuel investments, notwithstanding any socially responsible designations by any company or organization.
- The Endowment Trustees work closely with their investment advisor Merrill Lynch to determine the mix of investments supporting the goals of ALA. Within the ESG investment sector, many energy companies in the portfolios include both renewable and fossil fuel energy, further complicating the ability to fully separate certain investments within mutual funds.
- Clearbridge Investments, the primary (20.5% as of 4/30/18) ESG vehicle held by the Endowment, developed its own definitions regarding fossil fuel investments that represent stricter criteria than most other ESG fund definitions, thus providing a greater confidence in companies included in the Clearbridge portfolio.
- The Resolution also suggests that customized client screens might be utilized to further separate fossil fuel holdings in Clearbridge. While this appears to be a simple way to address one of the key concerns expressed in the resolution, Clearbridge Investments and Merrill Lynch have shown this is not prudent. Removing specific stocks within mutual funds requires those assets be invested in cash only rather than rebalanced in other investments within the fund. This will result in a negligible return from the cash portion of the fund and will negatively affect the fund's performance. Finally, decreasing the performance of a portion of the Endowment's holding will result in a negative investment return for the ALA Endowment as a whole.
- Report on progress made towards these goals at least annually to the ALA Council and membership.
- The Endowment Trustees provide regular reports to the ALA Council, Executive Board, BARC and Finance and Audit Committee. These reports are posted on the ALA Treasurer's webpage. The reports already provide ESG investment details. BARC does not see the need for additional reporting since ESG details are already included within existing reports."
As SRRT Councilor, I spoke to the resolution and there was discussion in Council but when put to a vote, the resolution failed to pass at Council. It was promising to see that there has been an increase in the percentage of ESG/SRI funds again but questions about how this was defined by various funds was unsatisfactory.
Submitted by Laura Koltutsky
SRRT Councilor 2015-2018
Submitted by Jane Cothron, SRRT Secretary
- Social Responsibilities Round Table
- Action Council I & II Meetings
- ALA Annual Conference 2018, New Orleans, LA
- SRRT Action Council I
- Saturday, June 23, 2018
- Morial Convention Center, Room 230
- 8:30-11:30 a.m.
- SRRT Action Council II
- Sunday, June 24, 2018
- Morial Convention Center, Room 225
- 3:00-4:00 p.m.
- Welcome and Introductions
- Review of Agenda
- ALA Executive Committee Report
- Resolution to Honor African Americans Who Fought Library Segregation.
- Kenny moved to endorse. Laura seconded. Unanimous.
- Resolution on Socially Responsible Investments for the ALA Endowment Fund
- BARC response: refused to consider changes proposed.
- Resolution to go to ALA membership meeting (4:30-5:30, June 23, 2018, Morial Conference Center, La Nouvelle Orleans, Ballroom C).
- Moved to endorse, Laura Koltutsky; seconded, Charles Katz. Unanimous.
- Memorial Resolution in Honor of Herb Biblo
- Moved to endorse, Al Kagan. Seconded, Laura Koltutsky. Unanimous
- 7:00-9:00 p.m. party at Hilton Riverside, Magazine Room, in honor of Herb Biblio
- Resolution on Cessation of Family Separations for Refugees Arriving at the United States Borders (mover, Mario Ascencio).
- Moved to endorse in principle, Charles Katz; seconded, Al Kagan. Unanimous.
- Discussed education requirement for ALA Director. ALA membership meeting 2:30 p.m. June 23 (Saturday), 2018
- Moved to endorse, Al Kagan. Seconded, Jane Cothron. Discussion. Passed, 5 aye, 2 nay.
- Resolution to honor Lois Ann Gregory-Wood for 50 years service.
- Resolution to Honor African Americans Who Fought Library Segregation.
- Treasurer's Report
- Report on proposed travel grants program. Set up 3-year pilot ad-hoc committee (Ad hoc Selection Committee): Violet Fox, Laura Koltutsky to work on committee with Charles Katz.
- Moved to approve travel grant: Kenny moved, Laura seconded. Unanimous.
- Vote to fund memorial party for Herb Biblio ($2400): moved Laura, seconded, Mark Hudson. Unanimous.
- Membership Committee Report
- See report. Include membership overlap report.
- Need to redo SRRT brochure. Laura Koltutsky working on it.
- Task Forces Reports
- Feminist Task Force
- Current projects, Amelia Bloom Project, Women in Library History Tumblr
- Need members.
- Will be responsiblefor 2019 Women in ALA discussion program.
- Amelia Bloomer Project wants to do a discussion program in 2019 (author panel).
- Planning anniversary for 2020.
- MLK Jr. Holiday Task Force
- Had to cancel program due to personal reasons.
- Need to increase membership. Discussion of combining with other groups.
- International Responsibilities Task Force
- Need SRRT members to attend membership meeting today to vote on resolution.
- Discussing program focusing on the U.S. and Russia interfering in other country's elections.
- Morial Rm 210. Program on Palestinian libraries.
- Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty Task Force
- Address inaccuracies in new ALA book on libraries and homelessness.
- Librarian's Guide to Homelessness / Ryan Dowd; Julie Winkelstein to speak with the social worker at Denver Public Library.
- SRRT Newsletter contact ALA Press to interview about the controversy about the book.
- Write to ALA publishing to request the errors be corrected.
- Laura Koltutsky to draft letter about inaccuracies in book to be sent by SRRT Action Council.
- Could do a book drive in Washington, D.C. to benefit homeless shelters; Tara Brady working on this.
- Need to do recruitment, bringing in students to become involved in SRRT
- SRRT Newsletter Editorial Board
- Need editorial board members. See duties in SRRT bylaws.
- Planning & Budget Assembly
- Legislative Assembly
- No report.
- Committee on Legislation
- No report.
- Round Table Coordinating Committee
- Kenny Garcia and Charles Katz attended.
- Feminist Task Force
- SRRT Programs at Future ALA Conferences
- Juried program submissions
- Census 2020 and social justice (co-sponsored with GODORT)
- Moved to allow $1500 for honoraria for the program: Moved Charles Katz, seconded, Diedre Conkling. Unanimous.
- Census 2020 and social justice (co-sponsored with GODORT)
- SRRT Coordinator's program
- Proposals due Spring 2019.
- International Responsibilities Task Force program on Election Interference by U.S. and Russia
- Discussion group submissions
- Amelia Bloomer program
- FTF to sponsor Women in ALA discussion program
- Juried program submissions
- Additional Items
- SRRT Conference Travel Grant proposal
- Named in honor of Herb Biblio
- Ad hoc selection committee (2 years duration): Violet Fox, Laura Koltutsky, to work with Charles Katz.
- SRRT website redesign
- Updating current Action Council (photos and email addresses needed).
- Need webmaster. One proposal was to have the SRRT coordinator do the job.
- One possibility is to have site hosted by ALA (a plus: ALA provides IT support) Would require having SRRT members trained to edit Drupal pages. Existing web redesign committee to develop job description.
- Web redesign committee to review and come up with a recommendation for web redesign by August 31, 2018.
- AC to set aside $500 for website improvement. Al Kagan moved. Diedre Conkling seconded. Unanimous.
- SRRT Statement of Appropriate Conduct/Community Guidelines
- SRRT liaison work
- To the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC): Ask Laura Koltutsky and Charles Katz, ask for volunteers.
- SRRT representative to the ODLOS Advisory Committee. Jane Cothron volunteered.
- SRRT Award in honor of Herb Biblo. Table for Midwinter 2019.
- SRRT 50th anniversary party planning: Charles Katz, Violet Fox (should be at the conference center or central hotel).
- Need to plan membership meeting at Midwinter; missed setting it up because the usual meeting at the social was superseded by Herb Biblio memorial.
- Elections: need to elect SRRT coordinator-elect (2018-2019) to serve as coordinator for 2019-2020.
- Does SRRT have past-chair position? Would require bylaws change. Discuss at Midwinter.
- Kenny Garcia volunteered to be new Treasurer. Elected by acclaim.
- Open Forum/Conclusion
- SRRT Conference Travel Grant proposal
- Treasurer's Report
Saturday, 10:30-11:30am - Mike Marlin, Executive Board Liaison
- ODLOS Report. Briana Jarnigan attended Action Council II. She said that SRRT needed to identify a person to update ALA Connect web content, helpful to know Drupal. Julie Marie Frye volunteered.
- Membership Meeting
Other SRRT Events:
Friday, June 22, 2018
- SRRT All Task Force Meeting, 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., Morial Convention Center, Rm. 201-202
- Feminist Task Force Meeting
- Hunger, Homelessness, & Poverty Task Force Meeting
- International Responsibilities Task Force Meeting
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force Meeting
Saturday, June 23, 2018
- Women of Library History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon I, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., Morial Convention Center, Rm. 264
- Women of Library History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon II, 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., Morial Convention Center, Rm. 264
- Memorial Reception and Celebration for Herb Biblo, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., Hilton Riverside, Magazine Room
Sunday, June 24, 2018
- Assisting Palestinian Libraries, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., Morial Convention Center, Rm. 210
- Progressive Librarians Guild Meeting (PLG), 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Morial Convention Center, Rm. 225
- Women of Library History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon III: Working Party, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., Milton H. Latter Memorial Library, 5120 Saint Charles, 504-596-2625
- Progressive Librarians Guild - Braverman Prize Dinner (PLG), 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Mulate's - The Original Cajun Restaurant, 201 Julia Street (11 minute walk from the Convention Center)
Text of resolutions, as well as those of committee reports, that were discussed during ALA Annual 2018 Council sessions may be viewed online.
Submitted by Julie Ann Winkelstein, SRRT Newsletter Co-Editor
To quote from the FTF website: "ALA's SRRT Feminist Task Force (FTF) was founded in 1970 by women determined to address sexism in libraries and librarianship. FTF was the first ALA group to focus on women's issues. Other ALA women's groups fostered by FTF include the standing ALA Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), the Committee on Pay Equity, the RASD Discussion Group on Women's Materials and Women Library Users, the ACRL Women's Studies Section, and the LLAMA Women Administrators Discussion Group. The Feminist Task Force continues to be one of SRRT's largest and most active groups, concerned with a broad, evolving set of feminist issues."
One way to find out more about the FTF is to attend their meetings at both Annual and Midwinter. These meetings are friendly and welcoming and there are always opportunities to be actively engaged.
Other ways to be involved:
- Sign up for: FTF's discussion list
- Join the FTF on Facebook: Feminist Task Force, Amelia Bloomer Project
- Join the FTF on MySpace: Amelia Bloomer Project
- Add to the FTF's wiki
We look forward to hearing from you!
by Julie Ann Winkelstein, SRRT HHPTF Co-Coordinator
The HHPTF continues to work on an updated version of the 2012 toolkit for libraries: "Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement." With this update, we will include more resources, as well as further examples of what libraries are doing. If you have suggestions for content for the Toolkit, please let us know by emailing either or both of us. We'd love to hear from you!
Other news related to hunger, homelessness, poverty and libraries was the first offering of a new library school class, "The Role of Libraries in Addressing Homelessness and Poverty." This summer 2018 online synchronous class was taught through the School of Library and Information Sciences (SIS), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, by lecturer and HHPTF Co-Coordinator Julie Winkelstein. An overview of the class, with specific examples of readings, videos and assignments - including the final Action Plan - will be presented at ALA Midwinter 2019, as part of the Symposium on the Future of Libraries. Instructor Julie Winkelstein, as well as at least one of the students, will be there to answer questions and provide insight into how a class like this can contribute to the ongoing conversations about libraries as active participants in addressing homelessness and poverty in their communities.
Don't forget the HHPTF has a website with current stories and resources, maintained by Lisa Gieskes. Check it out!
And please be in touch if you have any comments, questions, suggestions or simply want to reach out. We're always looking for more members! Julie Winkelstein and Lisa Gieskes, the HHPTF Co-Coordinators, are always glad to receive emails.
by Tom Twiss, Co-Coordinator of International Responsibilities Task Force and Librarian Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
At the 2016 ALA conference in the program "Palestinian Libraries Under Occupation," co-sponsored by SRRT and Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP), librarians Randa Kamal and Diana Sayej-Naser described in detail some of the challenges that confront libraries in Palestine. (See the informative article and video in the June 27, 2016 issue of American Libraries and the interview with Randa and Diana in the Winter 2016/2017 issue of Progressive Librarian.) As a follow-up, this year's IRTF discussion group in New Orleans on Sunday June 24 was devoted to various efforts to help Palestinian libraries. Speakers for "Assisting Palestinian Libraries" were John Cassel, Co-chair & Treasurer of the Seraj Library Project; Melissa Morrone from LAP; and myself.
John began by reviewing the difficulties that Palestinians face daily, including limitations on their freedom of movement, restricted access to water and electricity, high unemployment, home and school demolitions, the illegal detainment of children, and the risk of injury and death in military conflicts. In this context, he explained, communities desperately need safe and beautiful places that nurture hope and help create a sense of normalcy. It was for that reason that the Seraj Library Project was created in Chicago in 2005 with the goal of establishing and enriching libraries for Palestinian children and their families. Within the libraries each community implements ongoing activities such as after-school tutoring, reading competitions, and storytelling hours. Working with communities and fifty volunteers in Palestine, Seraj has helped create eight (soon ten!) libraries. Additionally, it provides twenty full and partial scholarships to university students who volunteer in Seraj libraries. For more information about the great work of Seraj and to find out how you can help, please visit the Seraj Library Project website.
Melissa Morrone explained that LAP is a network of self-defined librarians, archivists, and information workers in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Its past activities have included delegations to Palestine in 2013 and 2015 that visited libraries, archives, research centers, publishers & distributors, and activist groups. It has done presentations at various conferences; created an archival box set of materials related to Palestinian libraries; and developed a book group project, "One Book, Many Communities," designed to introduce readers to Palestinian literature and to create a broader understanding of Palestinian history and the struggle for self-determination. LAP's newest project, developed in collaboration with the Tamer Institute for Community Education, is Matloub/ Wanted, which seeks to raise awareness about issues facing libraries in Palestine and the political context in which they operate, while offering material support for libraries. Visitors to the Matloub/ Wanted website will be able to purchase and pay shipping costs for books requested by eleven libraries in the West Bank. Then LAP and the Tamer Institute will coordinate delivery to the requesting library. A copy of Melissa's notes for the discussion group is available. For more information about Librarians and Archivists with Palestine, visit the LAP website and the LAP Facebook page. And for information on the Matloub/ Wanted project, see LAP's Matloub/ Wanted page.
One initiative I spoke about was the Edward Said Public Library in Gaza. In a message from the founder of the library I read to the discussion group, Mosab Mostafa described how the Israeli destruction of the English Department of the Islamic University and its small library in 2014 inspired him to create a public library. Despite the blockade, he explained, the Edward Said Public Library offers "a kind of limited freedom where traveling through the pages of a book is possible." In addition to books the library provides a variety of services to its community, including hosting lectures and concerts and helping students with research. The library has been supported by book and financial contributions from all over the world, and its work has been praised and supported by such prominent figures as Noam Chomsky, Katha Pollitt, and Michael Moore. For more information and to make contributions, you can contact Mosab Mostafa through the library's Facebook page or by email.
A second project I discussed was an effort to provide e-books to Palestinian libraries. In 2016 Diana and Randa explained that their libraries welcomed especially the contribution of scholarly e-resources. This suggested the idea of approaching publishers for contributions of e-books. Haymarket Books, a radical book publisher based in Chicago, immediately responded positively and one of its editors, John McDonald, subsequently helped enormously in outreach to other publishers of high quality progressive books. So far, as an act of solidarity with Palestine, six progressive publishers -- AK Press, Fernwood Publishing, Haymarket Books, Pluto Press, PM Books, and Verso Books -- have offered Palestinian libraries free access to all their e-books for which they have full distribution rights. And since the ALA conference McFarland Books, one of the leading publishers of academic nonfiction in the United States, has made the same generous offer as a gesture of support for the Palestinian people. To date, the Edward Said Public Library and six libraries in the PALICO academic library consortium have selected e-book titles from these publishers. People can write to me for more information about this project.
In conclusion, I want to mention the program "Subverting Other People's Elections: History and Resources" that IRTF is currently working on for the ALA Annual Conference in 2019. We are excited to announce that the author, journalist, and scholar Stephen Kinzer has just confirmed that he will speak. A few of Stephen Kinzer's books include Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, with Stephen Schlesinger (1982), All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (2003); Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (2006), The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (2013), and The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire (2017). And for several interviews with Stephen Kinzer, people can visit Democracy Now's "Stephen Kinzer" page.
Submitted by Julie Winkelstein, Co-Editor SRRT Newsletter and GLBTRT member
For those of you who don't know the history of the GLBTRT, it first met in 1970 as the Task Force on Gay Liberation, as a part of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT). After 29 years as a SRRT task force, it was promoted to a round table in 1999. A brief history of the round table is available online.
GLBTRT offers news, opportunities for being involved, and book lists, including the Rainbow book list, GLBTQ books for children and teens, and the Over the Rainbow book list, books for 18+. Both of these lists are great resources for building or adding to collections.
Currently, GLBTRT is part of a committee working on a brochure for convention staff for ALA conferences. Following the June 26, 2018 passage by ALA Council of a resolution asserting the need for all-genders/gender inclusive bathrooms at all ALA conferences, this group of interested folks came together to work on the wording for an informational brochure so conference staff can be clearer on the intent and reasoning behind the regendering of bathrooms. It's exciting to finally have a formal commitment and documentation related to creating an environment where everyone feels safe using bathrooms at our conferences.
More information about GLBTRT can be found online. If you haven't yet become involved in this round table, take a look!
Reviewed by Jennifer Ferriss, Head of Circulation and Technical Services, Saratoga Springs Public Library, New York
Sustainable Thinking: Ensuring Your Library's Future in an Uncertain World. 2018. Rebekkah Smith Aldrich. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions. ISBN 9780838916889. xviii, 194 pages. $49.99. See book description from the ALA Store.
Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder how so much disruption can happen while you were sleeping? It's enough to make me want to close off from the world and live out in the wilderness - but I can't because I want to be part of the solution. I want to engage with my library community, work through the hard stuff, and be an active role model and facilitator. Instead of being reactive to the daily news or trends, librarians need to try and be ahead of the fray. Sustainable Thinking provides a great starting point for learning how to be intentional with our decisions and contemplating how to endure when there is disruption. We have to be relevant and hold true to the core values of librarianship. Our communities have the right to endure.
Library staff from all types of institutions will find value in this well-researched book about systems thinking, economics, and leadership. Aldrich is able to weave both personal and professional stories in each of her chapters to provide relatable examples. From her "ah-ha" moment at a conference on resilient building design to the co-creation of the New York Library Association's Sustainability Initiative, humor and self-reflection make this academic guidebook read like narrative non-fiction at times.
The book is divided into four parts; each chapter ends with an opportunity to self-reflect and write down your thoughts based on guided questions. Aldrich intertwines concepts from Simon Sinek's Golden Circle (Sinek, Simon. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. New York, N.Y.: Portfolio, 2009.) with her own thinking throughout the book -- explaining her motivation and then influencing the reader to consider their "why" before ending the book with practical steps to take action and highlighting some exemplar case studies.
A companion book, Resilience (2018. Rebekkah Smith Aldrich. Chicago, IL: ALA Neal-Schuman. 2018.), takes excerpts from Sustainable Thinking but dives deeper into research that supports the theory that "social equity and community contribute to resilience." Libraries of all types are best suited to be the catalysts and conveners which help alleviate disruption and create resilient communities. As stated in the ALA Special Task Force on Sustainability report to the ALA Executive Board this past summer, "sustainability" is not an end point but a mindset, a lens through which operational and outreach decisions should be made."
Jennifer Ferriss is an ALA Chapter Councilor representing New York State, a SustainRT member and co-creator of the New York Library Association's Sustainability Initiative (NYLA-SI). She is the point person for the Saratoga Springs Public Library's NYLA Sustainable Library Certification Program. She can be reached via email.
Reviewed by Valerie Mittenberg, Collection Management Librarian, Sojourner Truth Library, New Paltz, New York
Go Home! Edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. Forward by Viet Thanh Nguyen. 2018. New York, NY: Feminist Press. ISBN: 9781936932016. xviii, 291 pages. $15.16. See book description from Feminist Press.
Go Home! is a mosaic of short pieces composed by contemporary Asian authors living throughout the US, UK, and Canada. Although the stories, poems, and essays vary tremendously in subject and vision, each one depicts an individual experience of being on the outside. The characters who populate these fast pieces rarely voice a longing for the past or for the homeland of their families. Rather, they demonstrate a hunger for self-realization and for affiliations that bolster both personal identity and a sense of belonging.
Alexander Chee opens with "Release," a haunting tale about the brief period of time during which he shared a tiny apartment in the West Village with a former model who was working as an erotic masseur. Chee and his roommate are both gay Amerasians who shared literary aspirations. Chee wrote that each time he met a hapa gay man, "it was like we were from a homeland that never existed."
In Alice Sola Kim's "Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying," the narrator chronicles her uncomfortable teenage exploits with Mini, Caroline, and Ronnie, Korean adoptees who didn't particularly like each other, but were "happy mis-fitting with one another." What they shared was an obsession with their birth mothers, the one "who had to love you because she grew you from her own body, the one who hates you so much she dumped you in the garbage for white people to pick up and dust off."
Reproached by women upset at the sight of her bathing her feet in the Sears bathroom, a grandmother from Aleppo proclaimed to her granddaughter in Arabic, "My feet are cleaner than their sink. Worried about their sink, are they? I should worry about my feet!" Grandmother and granddaughter had interrupted their shopping for mandatory prayer, which necessitated the ritual foot bath. In her poem, "My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears," Mohja Kahf conveys respect for her grandmother's cultural conviction but also expresses an amused understanding of the Midwestern women's reaction to a practice that seems to them foreign and unclean. This small masterpiece vibrates with Kahf"s epiphany that living between two cultures has allowed her to look at people from different perspectives.
In "Love Poems for the Border Patron," Amitava Kumar wrote that his feelings of being out of place diminished once he realized that India no longer felt like home to him. Having left India for graduate study, Kumar replaced his past with selective memories, immersed himself in the literature of immigrants, and constructed a new identity for himself as a "writer of immigritude." Kumar's detachment from his homeland and his lack of connection to "any particular locale" provided passage for him to observe dispassionately, focus on literary style, and to cultivate a home "in literature."
In "Sit Bones," Sharlene Teo's irresistible story of Singaporean teenage girlhood, 18 year old Chloe doesn't analyze why she fell into a random romantic relationship with a 38-year-old heroin dealer, someone far outside of her parent's affluent social milieu. Chloe's parents discover the relationship when Alvin is busted for drug trafficking, an offense punishable in Singapore by hanging. They quickly send Chloe to London for a few months to escape the scandal and trauma of Alvin's trial and sentencing. While the retreat was meant to be therapeutic, to Chloe it felt like exile and punishment. Her time spent between yoga classes and mandatory therapy was lonely and boring. In yoga class she observed an immaculate Asian woman "who always held perfect poses." One day in the reception room of her therapist, Chloe spotted the same woman from the yoga studio sobbing on the floor. By the time Chloe's time in exile was up, she had grown used to being alone. Although she looked forward to returning home, she felt "newly afraid. Like there were little pinpricks in her awareness of herself and the world and like things might rupture anytime."
These are but five intimate glimpses into the imaginations of the 24 authors whose families originated from the Asia Pacific region. This anthology reveals the cultural diversity and subjective nature of Asian diasporic literature.
Review by Jonathan Tuttle, Special Formats Cataloging Librarian, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia
Cruising the Library: Perversities in the Organization of Knowledge. 2017. Melissa Adler. New York, NY: Fordham University Press. ISBN: 9780823276363. xvii, 223 pages. $28.00 See book description from Fordham University Press.
In 2009, Melissa Adler searched the University of Wisconsin library catalog for works on homosexuality. She came across a 1934 edition of Bi-Sexual Love: A Homosexual Neurosis, but found that the set of subject headings in its catalog record included neither "Bisexuality" nor "Homosexuality" but the unfamiliar heading "Paraphilias." "Paraphilias," Adler discovered later, had replaced the heading "Sexual deviation" in 2007, and the Library of Congress defined the concept, quoting a 1994 encyclopedia, as a "recurrent responsiveness to an obsessive dependence on an unusual or socially unacceptable stimulus." Had Adler been searching with the subject heading "Bisexuality" the work Bi-Sexual Love would not have been found.
Whenever readers engage with a library, they draw connections between books. Through list making, citation, and serendipitous browsing, they make links. Librarians, too, through systems of classification, labeling, and subject terminology, draw connections between books. These in-house systems, commonly systems created by the Library of Congress, may aid the reader in their arranging of ideas, but they may also impede that same attempt at re-organization, as Adler discovered firsthand.
The experience was the germ of her book, Cruising the Library: Perversities in the Organization of Knowledge (Fordham, 2017). In it, Adler, a cataloger and professor of library science, demonstrates how Library of Congress systems work to maintain certain norms. Attempts to seek pleasure in the library outside of these norms, that is, to draw new connections and to be what Adler calls "a perverse reader," are blocked by a rigid and knowing apparatus.
The Library of Congress makes several claims for how it organizes books, and Adler finds each one contradicted by actual practice. The classification scheme is divided into academic disciplines, but "the LoC is selective in determining how to reflect and reproduce the disciplines." It claims to reflect the literature's own terminology (a principle known as literary warrant), "but it reflects a particular reading and interpretation of select literatures." It strives also to represent a reader's language in the catalog (user warrant), but then chooses words like "paraphilias" over words like "bisexuality." It wants to marry like with like, but intersections between race and sexuality are largely severed. It claims to be adaptable, but often its adaptations aren't meaningful: "Homosexuality" may have been taken out of class HQ71, then "Sexual deviation," and placed on the same hierarchical level in the Library of Congress classification schedule, but a patron would never know as books on homosexuality still sit on the shelves just where they used to, beside books on sexual deviation. And often there isn't even the semblance of change. The consensual practice of masochism still belongs under the umbrella of the medicalized subject heading "Paraphilias."
So if it isn't disciplines, literary warrant, user warrant, collocation, or adaptability organizing the Library of Congress, and thus all the libraries in the world that use its systems, what is? "I suggest," writes Adler, "that the subjects were not only arranged in relation to one another but in relation to an imagined nation and its interests." For Adler, every systematic connection between books serves an imagined American citizen who will read these books, a citizen who is not outwardly perverse, but who must be constantly shielded from perversion without and within. It's a project that requires a great deal of effort as well as an obsession with sex.
From possibly as early as the 1880s until 1964, the Library of Congress restricted what it called the "Delta" collection. Books labelled with the delta symbol were contested literary works, pornography, rare books, and books on homo- and heterosexuality that the library believed "either to pose or be subject to a threat of harm." By keeping the collection out of the catalog, the library protected cultural objects from thieving patrons while at the same time protecting innocent patrons from obscene objects. Fascinatingly, Adler wonders if the Delta books were given that symbol as a nod to Daedalus, architect of the Cretan labyrinth, an idea that allows her to launch an extended metaphor -- following Borges, Eco, and Foucault -- for libraries and knowledge.
Daedalus built his labyrinth for Minos, king of Crete, who wanted to hide the monstrous offspring of his wife's affair with a bull. The Minotaur, a living symbol of perversion, was, like the Delta books, concealed in a structure very few had the knowledge to crack. And like the library, the labyrinth operated paradoxically, concealing the monster but also protecting it.
In the story, the labyrinth that was built to hide the monster soon becomes monstrous itself and far more dangerous than any affair, as King Minos regularly threw 14 beautiful, young Athenians into it. This too mirrors the library. Reading Foucault, Adler recognizes the Library of Congress alongside other late 19th century institutions that organized themselves along lines of normal and abnormal. Law, medicine, and academia, rather than forcing the monstrous out, began to map themselves over it so as to control and understand it. "The fear and loathing surrounding [the Delta] collection," writes Adler, "provides a glimpse into the centrality of sexuality as an organizing principle upon which all else is based."
What then is a reader to do? How does the seeker of queer books survive in a sadistic labyrinth built to remind her she is not normal? After detailing the problems, Adler offers hints of solutions to float in the mind: libraries can better facilitate interdisciplinary work as well as reconfigure relations not according to the nation but to "local and personal vantage points." Meanwhile, the reader may find perverse and ironic pleasure in playfully submitting: "it is first by submitting to the rules and cruising the lines of shelves, and then through defiance, curiosity, perseverance, and mockery of the laws of classification, that perverse readings and pleasures become possible."
Adler does not call for a library without order. She even acknowledges that cataloging brings "a degree of satisfaction, a sense that I am protecting, conveying books to their readers, and bringing them to life through control." Adler does however call for a library in which ever more bodies of literature are allowed to be born by the drawing of new and perverse connections. Cruising the Library is a useful reminder to librarians that the environment they work in is alive.
By Linda Tashbook, Esq.
As of today, I know two people who are losing their housing. They don't know each other, but for years they have both been regular visitors at the university law library where I'm a reference librarian. They come to me with questions about rights and liabilities or to talk about their views on current events. Neither of them mentioned housing troubles until the crisis point.
The First Visitor
The first one primarily comes to the library to look for old court cases. Although he doesn't yet have any experience making films, his dream is to make award-winning documentaries about these cases. Over the years, he has printed thousands of court documents and news reports on the library's copy machine and we have heard about his purchases of hundreds of suits from thrift stores so that he will have enough nice things to wear when he becomes famous. Nevertheless, when he told us last week that his landlord was evicting him for hoarding, we were taken by surprise. None of us in the library had ever thought much about how much of a collector he was.
I wish he had felt comfortable sharing this information with me earlier. It's challenging to create a library environment that would help my library users, like this visitor, be able to talk about difficult situations. Had he felt safe doing this, there's so much a librarian like me could have done to try to help make the situation better. I could have shown him how to investigate the dockets from his landlord's past eviction cases to get clues about the landlord's tactics and the judge's practices. I could also have shown him appellate cases in our state in which people successfully fought eviction. I could have shown him continuing education materials that train lawyers to fight evictions. And I certainly would have given him a copy of the article Advocacy Strategies to Fight Eviction in Cases of Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering that was published by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and has step-by-step guidance for these kinds of situations.
The Second Visitor
The second library user who is about to become homeless lost his house to a sheriff's sale, because he hadn't paid his property taxes or school taxes for years. Both of those taxing bodies sent him multiple bills and warnings. Year after year, they filed tax liens in court, but didn't actually evict him. But this year, they went all the way and acted to enforce their liens. Recently, the sheriff sold his house for $8,800. One week ago, our long-time library user came to the law library under the impression that thieves had stolen some of his best possessions and changed his locks. In fact, the new owner had changed the locks and begun to clear the place for renovations.
Because all of this information is available online for free through our court system, I was able to show him the deed record, the list of tax liens, and the sheriff sale documentation. He found it difficult to believe all of this is true and he's unable to accept he is no longer the owner of the house. The new owner is evicting him as a squatter.
I worry about him. If he is evicted, where will he go? I think he will probably come to the law library, but again, it's too late for my particular expertise. There are services out there that could help him and I hope he is able to take advantage of them. For example, a social worker could help him find replacement housing and I've offered him the contact information for one. Given his age and disabilities and the fact he collected disability benefits for years before reaching retirement age, means he does have housing options. I've let him know I can provide him with court documents that may help and I was able to identify four housing facilities that are possibilities for housing applications.
There are limits to how much I can do when a library visitor's mental health challenges may prevent them from being able to respond to a legal problem. I can only introduce resources and help identify legal concepts that apply to their circumstances and I can't advise them about what action to take. As a librarian, it can be frustrating to have pertinent information that can make a difference in someone's life. The best we can do is to make it clear we have the expertise and the willingness to help, then hope our library users will consider us as one of their sources when they're addressing all of their options.
A New Idea
Inspired by my experiences with these two library users, I am thinking of designing a research guide for judges. It will summarize sources that explain how mental health symptoms can compromise people's housing arrangements. For example, anxiety can influence tenants who lack the money to pay their taxes or one month's rent or depression can prevent people from participating in conversations and hearings. It would show how daunting and pointless eviction hearings can seem to intimidated tenants who assume leases and judges favor landlords.
Judges have options. They can work with people like my library patrons to negotiate payment plans or designate a payment intermediary such as a representative payee for disability benefits or a power-of-attorney when a tenant or homeowner has mental health symptoms that affect money management. They can provide clear choices for someone to work with social services or other professionals toward understanding the effects of their mental health symptoms. Instead of further aggravating tenants' and homeowners' symptoms with the insult of eviction or a sheriff sale and the upheaval of moving, courts can steer people toward treatment that help them comply with their housing terms. If folks like my library patrons aren't able to research housing law, but their judge has read about mental health challenges, maybe more people will get to keep their homes.
Linda Tashbook, Esq. is a law librarian at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a lawyer in private practice. She is the author of Family Guide to Mental Illness and the Law: A Practical Handbook (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Submitted by Kayla Kuni, Librarian, SRRT member
Some libraries offer book club meetings at local establishments, such as breweries. Book clubs in breweries can be a great way to attract millennials to library services. On top of engaging this specific demographic, the club attendees are also supporting a local business. I considered inquiring about my former library hosting a book club meeting in a brewery, but then I started thinking about our patrons who are in recovery from alcohol use disorder.
In 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General announced that "nearly 21 million people are grappling with substance use disorder, with only one in 10 getting treatment for the condition" (Mohney, 2016). In 2015, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that 15.1 million adults reported having AUD, or Alcohol Use Disorder. The NIAAA further reported that alcohol related deaths (of which there are 88,000 estimated annually) are "the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States" (Alcohol Facts and Statistics, 2018). For those who are trying to directly address their alcohol use, having a book club at a brewery could potentially be a difficult experience.
Some people in recovery may see themselves as burdening others with their life experiences. "Please have your book club where you see fit. I need to be accountable for my actions." And while that may ultimately be true, there should be a discussion about being all-inclusive and taking a "universal design" approach to our library events. Are we really including those who are in recovery from alcohol abuse by having an event in a location where they could feel uncomfortable enough to not enter at all? To be clear, there are people in recovery who work in bars and other establishments that serve alcohol. Scott is a bar manager, but also in recovery from alcohol abuse; it took a mindset change (and meditation) to get him on his road to recovery (Ramanathan, 2015). Would someone like Scott attend a book club at a brewery? Maybe, or maybe not.
This is not to suggest that all book clubs in breweries should be curtailed, but perhaps libraries can look to the establishments to host such programs. Several book clubs run themselves out of restaurants, bars, and other locations. The library is not a promoter, nor a facilitator, for these events, but those who participate know they can get their materials from the library. Some libraries offer "book club in a bag." With "book club in a bag," the leader of the book club checks out the bag with multiple copies of the same book, and maybe even a discussion guide included. The whole book club has to be returned at the same time. The "book club in a bag" workaround is something libraries can consider offering to establishment owners that appreciate having book clubs at their locations. For libraries in large towns, it might present a problem to have a book club meeting at one brewery when there are several other similar establishments in the area. The "book club in a bag" option offers an even playing field; any establishment can get involved with having a book club at their location without needing to ask the library to do anything for them.
Book clubs in breweries can be fabulous idea for some. I know several people who have attended such meetings and find them enjoyable and relaxing. My thought is that we consider what group of people we are potentially excluding from these events simply due to the location choice. Librarians strive to be as inclusive as possible with programming choices. Libraries themselves are buildings in which we, as library staff, hope many people feel safe and comfortable. Programming beyond the library walls, and supporting local business, is a great idea and one I support. I am simply asking for everyone to really consider who gets excluded from our programming when we move it to other locations. Book clubs at breweries should continue to function and will likely thrive. Perhaps libraries should consider not marketing such clubs as library programs and shift the ownership of such programs where they belong: the establishments that are profiting from the book club's presence.
Alcohol facts and statistics. (2018, August). Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol- health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
Mohney, G. (2016, November 17). Nearly 21 million in US have substance use disorder: Surgeon General's Report. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/21-million-us-substance-disorder-surgeon-generals-report/story?id=43587900
Ramanthan, L. (2015, April 16). When you're an addict but serving alcohol is in your job description. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/when-youre-an-addict-but-serving-alcohol-is-in-your-job-description/2015/04/16/1fefd1fc-de12-11e4-a500-1c5bb1d8ff6a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.388b31483a93
Submitted by Elaine Harger, SRRT member
The following essay has been invited by the editors to highlight the important issue of freedom of speech in libraries.
For at least the past 40 years, ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom has taken the position that librarians must tolerate detestable ideas. Flowing from that mindset is the belief that, when dealing with hate speech in the library, First Amendment rights trump the profession's commitment to creating a welcoming environment for all. This approach was articulated within librarianship on the heels of a long history of complicity with racist segregation. Articulated most infamously in the history of librarianship in the U.S. with a 1978 film called "The Speaker."
Hate speech in the library destroys the welcoming environment libraries seek to foster for members of groups targeted by the hate speech. A meeting of neo-Nazis in the library will make Jewish members of the community feel unsafe. A meeting of racist, anti-immigrant, misogynist, homophobic organizations in the library will make blacks, immigrants, women, and members of the LGBTQ communities feel unsafe. At a time when hate crimes against all these groups is on the rise, one must ask for how much longer the profession is willing to tolerate the harm suffered when we give first priority to the free speech rights of hate groups.
I doubt that I'm alone in believing that the time has come for librarianship to begin to advocate that libraries simply refuse to host hate groups, defend that decision in court, and take steps toward restrictions on hate speech. Of course, such restrictions are some distance in the future and might never materialize. But I believe that librarianship must abandon the "tolerate speech we detest" attitude and take steps to keep hatred out of the library.
First, I ask readers to consider that libraries (and schools) have no obligation under the First Amendment to make meeting rooms available to hate groups for the purpose of spreading ideas that dehumanize others.
Some argue that the library can't "discriminate" between who it does and doesn't allow to use meeting room space. However, when the person demanding the meeting space wants it for the sole purpose of broadcasting ideas that in themselves not only oppose those very anti-discrimination policies and laws, but explicitly seek to rob targeted groups of their rights and livelihoods, then it seems to me we get stuck in a vicious cycle, a trap, where relief from the harm of hatred has no outlet.
I have often wondered if the notion touted within the profession that we must "tolerate speech we detest" arose (either purposefully or unconsciously) as an argument to protect the power status quo and white, middle class privilege. Laws, legal arguments, and their interpretations are usually made by people who are already in power. So it seems reasonable to suggest that any argument protecting hate speech also protects the white power structure. Indeed, I work in a school district where laws are used in this fashion. Educated, white people established laws in the post-Civil Rights era that result today in racial segregation within my school, laws that give lifelong academic advantage to an already privileged group. When what is "legal" is a mechanism that reproduces racism, then ought it not be challenged?
Second, I ask readers to consider the following hypothetical scenario, not a meeting of a hate group, but of a group that could cause concern even in the hearts of individuals and groups who are not subjected to hate speech. I offer it to make a point.
The scenario: A faded organization seeking revival, the North American Man/boy Love Association, is granted a meeting room in the library after insisting on free speech rights. Only a couple people attend the program, but a mother notices the meeting announcement. How might that mother feel about bringing her children to the library, about allowing her middle school son to go to the library after school by himself?
NAMBLA never played a role in society like the KKK or the Nazis. They were certainly not a hate group, and the concern this hypothetical meeting might generate is nothing like that experienced by members of minorities targeted by hate groups. However, the ill-ease, trepidation, upset, anger, and fear generated by the simple knowledge that a pedophilia advocacy group was hosted in the library, that its members might be hanging out in the library, could certainly make community members, especially those with children, think twice about using the library and feel uncomfortable, ever cautious, when they do.
Readers might argue that pedophilia is a crime, and so justifies a library's refusal to host NAMBLA. But, cross-burnings, assaults, and, murders are also crimes. Crimes begin as thoughts and sometimes those thoughts are articulated via speech before the criminal act. Sometimes one person's speech engenders another person's crime.
In such a situation, do we tell caregivers of children simply to develop a thick skin when NAMBLA uses the library for organizing purposes? That's essentially what we ask of blacks when the KKK comes to town, and of Jews when neo-Nazis appear. Laws always follow in the wake of changes in thinking and morality. Some people began to believe that slavery was immoral long before it was legislated against. Well, some people believe that hate speech is immoral, should not be given platforms, and perhaps ought to be legislated against.
No one is forced to give hate speech a stage. Libraries are not obliged to expose our communities to speech that harms. Let the hate speech stand silently on shelves, but we have no obligation to host the author.
Lastly, I recommend a text to inform this conversation, and thank SRRT member Jason Villani for bringing it to my attention-- The Harm in Hate Speech by Jeremy Waldron (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2012). Waldron very clearly presents the reasoning behind hate speech regulation and I think his arguments could help take our consideration of hate speech in the library to a new level.
I look forward to continuing the conversation.
Submitted by Tom Twiss, SRRT member
The following essay has been invited by the editors to highlight the important issue of freedom of speech in libraries.
The recent growth in the number and visibility of hate groups and the increased prevalence of hate crime and hate speech have revived debates dating back at least to the 1930s over how best to respond to the threat of the far right. Inevitably, these disagreements have found an echo within our profession.
This past summer, reacting to attempts by a few libraries to block hate groups from using their meeting rooms, ALA's Intellectual Freedom Committee inserted the words "hate groups" into a draft of its new "Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights" document immediately prior to submitting it to Council. The resulting interpretation -- hastily revised and approved -- read like an invitation to hate groups to use library meeting rooms.
This provoked a justifiable explosion of protests from librarians demanding a reversal. One expression of this was the "Petition to Revise ALA's Statement on Hate Speech & Hate Crime," by We Here, a supportive community for library and archive workers and LIS students of color. Another was the "SRRT Action Council Statement on Hate Speech and Libraries," which endorsed the petition's demand for the temporary removal and radical revision of both the interpretation of meeting room policy and the Office of Intellectual Freedom's (OIF's) recent "Hate Speech and Hate Crimes" web page, which provides a lengthy explanation of the constitutional protections enjoyed by hate speech.
Commendably, ALA Council subsequently voted to rescind the new "Meeting Rooms" interpretation. Also commendably, the Intellectual Freedom Committee formed a broad working group, including representatives from the diversity community, to revise the "Meeting Rooms" interpretation and is currently inviting library community feedback to a draft revision. No revision has been made yet to OIF's "Hate Speech and Hate Crimes" page, which also reads uncomfortably like an invitation to hate groups. This still needs to be corrected.
However, one important respect in which SRRT Action Council did not support the perspective of the We Here "Petition" was its clearly implied endorsement of legislative and regulatory bans on hate speech within libraries and in society at large. Action Council believes that any attempt to fight hate groups and hate speech by laws and regulations is doomed to be ineffective and dangerously counterproductive. It is worth reviewing our thinking.
SRRT Action Council Statement on Hate Speech and Libraries. Dated: August 14, 2018.
First, we are convinced that existing states and their agencies --including libraries -- simply cannot be relied upon to enforce these laws and regulations in the interests of working people and the most oppressed. The experience of other countries is instructive. Examining the application of hate speech laws throughout the world, Nadine Strossen, a former president of the ACLU, has concluded in Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship (2018) that "laws censoring 'hate speech' have predictably been enforced against those that lack political power, including government critics and members of the very minority groups these laws are intended to protect." On the basis of a similar review, the noted journalist Glenn Greenwald also has recently observed that "in Europe, hate speech laws are often used to suppress and punish left-wing viewpoints."
Could the same -- or worse -- happen here? Experience assures us that it would. As our statement suggests, virtually every restriction of civil liberties in the U.S. since the beginning of the twentieth century has been employed primarily against movements and organizations of the left, the working class, and the most oppressed. Regarding "hate speech" legislation, important bills now before Congress are the "Anti-Semitism Awareness Act" and the "Israel Anti-Boycott Act," which are allegedly directed against anti-Semitism but that would target pro-Palestinian activists who support a boycott of Israel. And can there be any doubt that the first people that the Trump administration would prosecute if free speech protections were weakened would be activists in Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement -- all of which are condemned as "hate groups" by Trump's supporters?
Of course, it is true that rightist hate groups try to employ the First Amendment as a shield for their organizing efforts. But how will this be affected by efforts to restrict hate speech by legislative or regulatory means? Again, Glenn Greenwald provides an answer: "When I represented the free speech rights of such groups as a lawyer, they loved nothing more than when censorship attempts were directed at them, because they knew that nothing would more effectively strengthen their cause." Attempts to ban hate speech in libraries or in society at large will allow hate groups to present themselves more plausibly as persecuted defenders of free speech, increase the size of their audience and its receptivity to their message, and provide evidence that the true enemies of free speech and democracy are their "persecutors" on the left. In the discussion within SRRT, it has been suggested that the arguments of Action Council's statement "passively play" to the narrative of hate groups and that the statement fails to meet the need for action. That is simply false. Our conviction is that the only effective way to combat the right is through a mass movement of working people and the most oppressed. In our statement we propose various steps that ALA could take to promote such a movement and that information workers could take to actively participate in it. In contrast, the passive approach entrusts the struggle against hate speech to the benevolence and wisdom of government officials, courts, and library administrators.
The discussion we are having is an important one that can seriously affect library professionals and staff, library users, and the communities of the working class and oppressed in which most of us work. It needs to continue, engaging more library workers, and soliciting the input of diverse perspectives. As one more step in that direction, SRRT is currently working on a panel discussion on the topic of hate speech in libraries that will be held at the ALA annual conference in 2019.
The SRRT Newsletter is always looking for relevant articles, essays, and letters to the editors. The next submission deadline is November 30, 2018.
Any current member of SRRT or its affiliates are welcome to submit articles and letters. We also welcome relevant submissions from others and encourage guests to write for us. Please send your submissions electronically in one of the following formats: MS Word, RTF, PDF, or plain text pasted into the body of an email. Submissions should be 500 to 1,000 words. Graphics are encouraged. If using images that are already on the Internet, the URL of the image and a caption or description may be added to the text of the submission.
Please send original submissions and inquiries to SRRT Newsletter Co-Editor Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow at micd.srrt.newsletter [at] gmail.com and Co-Editor Julie Ann Winkelstein email@example.com, indicating "SRRT Newsletter" within the subject line of your email. A confirmation of receipt will be sent in a timely manner.
Submissions for book or media reviews should be sent to Madeline Veitch, the SRRT Newsletter Reviews Editor at micd.srrt.newsletter [at] gmail.com, indicating "Reviews" in the subject line of your e-mail.
Submissions to SRRT Newsletter Letters to the Editors
The Newsletter invites readers to submit letters to the editors relating to social responsibilities and libraries. The letters should be respectful and thoughtful, either respond to specific content in the newsletter or include suggestions for topics of interest to SRRT members to be addressed in future issues. We will only publish letters of more than 200 words in exceptional circumstances.
Letters may be edited for length, grammar, and accuracy. You will be notified if your letter will to be published.
Submit your letters to Michael Gorman, member of the SRRT Newsletter Editorial Board, at michaelg [at] mail.fresnostate.edu. You may submit your letter as an attachment in one of these formats: .doc, docx; or in the body of your email message.
Letters must include your full name, address, a telephone number and email address if you have one. This is for us only -- we don't share this information.
SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright © 2018 by the Social Responsibilities Round Table. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without permission.
Reviews Editor: Madeline Veitch
Editorial Board Members: Michael Gorman, Laura Koltutsky, and Rebecca Martin.
Views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of ALA/SRRT. The editors reserve the right to edit submitted material as necessary or as whimsy strikes.