Sanford Berman to present Coleman lecture, June 27, at Annual Conference

Contact: Satia Orange

Director, OLOS

For Immediate Release

June 16, 2005

Sanford Berman to present Coleman lecture, June 27, at Annual Conference

CHICAGO - The Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) Lecture Series pays tribute to Jean E. Coleman, first director of the American Library Association's (ALA) OLOS, for her work toward equity of access, particularly for Native Americans and adult learners in libraries. The lecture series will continue to teach library professionals more about their roles and responsibilities in the delivery of services to traditionally underserved populations. As in the past five years, tributes to Coleman will take place during the program.

The 2005 lecture theme is "Classism In The Stacks: Libraries And Poor People." Interspersed with the words and "voices" of poor people themselves, the lecture will examine the current library scene, citing failures to provide equal and deserved service to low-income persons, suggesting remedies that might tangibly implement ALA Policy 61 (Library Services to Poor People), and underscoring that the issue is not the patrons, but rather poverty itself and our unwillingness to combat it.

Evidence mounts that despite the ALA's own Policy 61 (Library Services to Poor People), barriers to library use by low-income people abound and the profession itself has largely ignored Policy 61's strictures to involve poor people and anti-poverty advocates in local decision-making; lobby for poverty-reducing legislation (like living wage laws, affordable housing, national health insurance, and adequate welfare payments); promote greater public awareness of poverty-related issues and relevant library resources; and eliminate economic obstacles like fines and fees. Worse, some institutions have actually imposed criminalizing restrictions on borrowing and even entering and remaining in buildings, measures that seem clearly targeted at poor, especially homeless, persons. Others, whether consciously or not, direct far more resources to affluent than to low-income areas.

Sanford Berman is an ALA 2004 honorary member and former head cataloger at Hennepin County Library (Minn.) from 1973 to 1999. He founded the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table Task Force on Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty, and co-authored the 1990 ALA Policy on "Library Services to Poor People," also helping lead to Karen Venturella's pioneering “Poor People and Library Services” (McFarland, 1998).

Now "unretired," Berman serves as an editorial advisor and/or contributor to
Unabashed Librarian, Journal of Information Ethics, Counterpoise, and
Multicultural Review. He also has guest-lectured at various colleges, including the University of Illinois distance-education program, and appeared on a number of public access cable shows.

The 2005 lecture text will be posted on the Coleman Lecture Web page at following annual conference. Previous lecturers have included Barbara J. Ford, Gary E. Strong, Lotsee Patterson, Thelma H. Tate and Richard Chibran. The OLOS Advisory Committee, chaired by Victor Schill, is sponsoring the program.