- ALA Annual Conference Overview
- Supplement: Conference Goer's Guide (1.7 MB) - PDF
- Letter from the Editor
- Coordinator's Column
- Meet SRRT's Newly Elected Leaders
- Task Force News
- Alternative Media (AMTF)
- Environment (TFOE)
- Feminist (FTF)
- Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty (HHPTF)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (MLKTF)
- Fresh Food from Small Spaces
- Radical Cataloging
- Loose Girl
- Resistance Behind Bars
- Publication Information
by Myka Kennedy Stephens
SRRT activities abound at this year's ALA Annual Conference convening in Chicago, July 9-15. For your conference-going convenience, a special PDF guide to SRRT activities is available for download. This one-page guide includes a full schedule of SRRT events with dates, times and locations, along with a helpful map and directions to the 40th Anniversary Celebration. Please print it off (on recycled paper, of course) and add it to your conference program for easy reference and reminder of SRRT events in Chicago.
Among the events not to be missed are the Grassroots Greening session sponsored by TFOE, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Multi-Cultural Idea Exchange sponsored by MLKTF, and the Amelia Bloomer Project Breakfast sponsored by FTF. The climactic event of the conference will surely be the combined Alternative Media Reception and SRRT 40th Anniversary Celebration on Monday, July 13. SRRT Task Force, Action Council and Membership meetings will also be held in usual fashion. The Office for Literacy & Outreach Services is inviting SRRT members to the OLOS Outreach Community Assembly, Friday, July 10, 4:00-6:00 p.m., Palmer House Adams Ballroom. This event is an opportunity for SRRT members to visit with other OLOS community members and share what SRRT is all about. More specific information about these and other events can be found throughout this issue of the SRRT Newsletter.
Special offerings at this conference are SRRT T-shirts, for sale at all SRRT meetings and events. The design was created by Lincoln Cushing, graphic artist, librarian, archivist, lecturer, and author of numerous books on political posters. Most recently, with Timothy W. Drescher, he has coauthored the book Agitate! Educate! Organize!: American Labor Posters, Cornell University Press, 2009. The design is printed in white on your choice of a black or olive green t-shirt. We will have men's and women's shirts in small, medium, and large as well as men's shirts in XL and XXL sizes. The shirts are made by No Sweat, a U.S. factory that exclusively produces sweatshop-free, union-made garments. The cost is $20 each, with all proceeds going toward the SRRT general operating budget. Any questions may be directed to Thomas Twiss (ttwiss(at)pitt.edu), who with Jane Glasby and Elaine Harger has worked tirelessly to make these shirts a reality. If you are unable to attend the Annual Conference in Chicago but would like to purchase a t-shirt, please contact Tom as well.
There will be much to see and do at Annual Conference. Hope to see you in Chicago!
Downloadable SRRT Newsletter Supplement:
Conference Goer's Guide (1.7 MB) - PDF
It seems that our first electronic-only edition of the SRRT Newsletter was a huge success! The comments I received following its publication were all positive and encouraging. I would like to thank all of you for your support and flexibility as we embark on this new path of communication.
Our first electronic issue had a surprise impact beyond the reaches of SRRT and ALA that I never anticipated. The image we used in our contents, a photograph of the Denver Convention Center that was taken by Nancy Garmer, was picked up by Schmap, a website that produces guides for cities across the globe. Nancy's is one of several images of the Denver Convention Center found in the seventh edition of the Denver Schmap Guide. Her photograph was located through our Flickr account, where most images from the SRRT Newsletter are stored online. Congratulations, Nancy, and thank you for sharing your Midwinter Conference photographs with us!
Looking ahead to Annual Conference in Chicago, I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet many of you. This will be my first ALA conference after being a member for three years. For those of you also attending Annual Conference, please remember to take your cameras and share your photographs with us for our next issue. I also welcome essays, member updates, and other items of interest to SRRT members. The deadline for submissions is Friday, August 14.
Myka Kennedy Stephens
by LaJuan Pringle
I've never been one to be intimidated by a task no matter how large. And while it's always easier for me to engage in routine duties, I've never shied away from taking on more arduous responsibilities. So when I became the coordinator of SRRT, I was aware of the challenges of leading this group - but perhaps there was a bit of naivet' on my part as to what I had taken on. However, as I begin to research the history of SRRT, I found myself a little overwhelmed by the scope of my position as the SRRT coordinator - especially this year. As I pondered what I could write in terms of celebrating SRRT's 40th anniversary, I found myself at a loss of words. I knew that I was coordinating one of the largest and most influential round tables in ALA. But it wasn't until I got a sense of how SRRT came into existence, did I realize just how influential SRRT has been in shaping the association as we know it today. It humbled me to understand the nature of SRRT and how its efforts during its first years played a profound role in fashioning the direction of modern day ALA organization.
When the Round Table for Social Responsibilities in Libraries was granted round table status in 1969, one of the first endeavors of the round table was to work on the Activities Committee on New Directions (ACONDA) committee. This group, that featured prominent members of SRRT, would go on to make recommendations that would eventually reorganize the structure of ALA, encourage ALA to look out for the interests of librarians as it related to wages and working conditions, develop organizational support for Intellectual Freedom, and recognize ALA as an interest group that would actively promote legislation to support libraries. This group also determined that ALA should take positions on social issues and encouraging practices that allowed library users to learn alternative views on the various issues of the day. And all of the changes that this group recommended are now active components of ALA governance. In essence, SRRT forever changed the way ALA did its business.
So now here we are 40 years later celebrating SRRT's birthday and it seems to be highly appropriate that we celebrate our existence in conjunction with the Alternative Media Reception - an event that has done much to promote the alternative viewpoints that so many of us espouse. This event will take place on Monday, June 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Experimental Station. We will also use our time in Chicago to sell t-shirts for SRRT as a fundraiser. We will sell them at our various programs and events throughout the conference. So make sure you pick up a shirt while you're there. But don't worry, if you can't make it to Chicago and you want to purchase one - we'll make accommodations for you as well.
I want to thank you all for your patience and support with me as your coordinator. I'm truly grateful to represent such a wonderful group of colleagues. I'd also like to thank Alison Lewis for working with me during our transition period. Her help was invaluable and everyone in SRRT should be thanking her for the work that she accomplished as our past coordinator. I'd also like to thank Myka Kennedy Stephens for her tireless work as our newsletter editor. Myka has been the epitome of graciousness as she has worked diligently to ensure that our newsletter is delivered to you all in a timely manner. She's been very patient and she deserves all of our gratitude as well.
Peace to all!
When the ALA on-line voting polls closed on April 24, SRRT elected three new leaders. Learn about them in this triple-edition of SRRT Member Profile.
Tiffani Conner, SRRT Representative to ALA Council
Where are you from? Knoxville, TN
Where did you get your MLS (or MLIS) and when? University of Tennessee, School of Information Sciences, 2004
What is your current position? Distance Education Librarian at Lincoln Memorial University
How long have you been a member of and involved in SRRT? Since 2002 - as a student member
What are your proudest SRRT achievements? I am proud to be a member a socially conscious part of ALA. I like the fact that SRRT is a democratically run round table where all points of view are embraced and welcomed. It is important to me that SRRT continue this tradition and as a new councilor I will focus on this work of SRRT.
How has your experience with SRRT helped you as a librarian? I use SRRT to keep me grounded in the social responsibilities of librarianship.
Where would you like to see SRRT go? I would like to see SRRT bring more issues to the forefront of our members attention, more outreach and education efforts are important to me.
Do you have any advice for new SRRT members? Get involved, get on the listserv and participate. Put your ideas out there and weather the storm, it will make you grow immeasurably.
Myntha Cuffy, SRRT Action Council Member At Large
Where are you from? I’m a Canadian, but I grew up north of Chicago.
Where did you get your MLS (or MLIS) and when? University of Denver, 2008
What is your current position? Reference and Instruction Librarian, University of Iowa
How long have you been a member of and involved in SRRT? 2 years
What are your proudest SRRT achievements? I am proud of the SRRT dedication to addressing issues beyond the traditional borders ALA, such as preserving the intellectual work of war ravaged countries, and reaching out to underrepresented and misrepresented groups.
How has your experience with SRRT helped you as a librarian? It has helped me to develop an appreciation for the scope of the profession, and given me opportunities to meet and work with librarians from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
Where would you like to see SRRT go? I would like to see SRRT chapters in state library associations, living out the adage of thinking globally and acting locally.
Do you have any advice for new SRRT members? Show up, speak up: we learn from each other.
Jaime Hammond, SRRT Action Council Member At Large
Where are you from? I grew up in Southern Connecticut and now live in the central area of the state, after several years living in New York, Rhode Island, California and Arizona.
Where did you get your MLS (or MLIS) and when? I received my MLS in 2005 from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.
What is your current position? I am the Reference/Serials Librarian at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, CT. I also serve as the liaison to the Math/Science and Allied Health Divisions.
How long have you been a member of and involved in SRRT? I joined the TFOE mailing list in 2007 out of an interest in the environment and then joined SRRT this past year.
What are your proudest SRRT achievements? So far, being elected to Action Council!
How has your experience with SRRT helped you as a librarian? Being a member of the TFOE listserv has been very helpful for learning about new resources for environmental resources, and I have used these resources often both in library instruction for related topics and for the creation of a campus wide “Team Green” at my institution.
Where would you like to see SRRT go? I'd definitely like to see as many opportunities for virtual participation as possible. As an Emerging Leader this year, my project was to work on ALA Connect, and I think that SRRT could utilize Connect to allow SRRT members to collaborate and discuss issues without requiring the expense of attending the conferences.
Do you have any advice for new SRRT members? Get involved- it's so easy! Everyone was so welcoming to me when I attended a meeting at Midwinter, and that's what led me to run for Action Council. I encourage anyone new to do the same, either by attending a meeting or introducing yourself via the listserv or Connect.
by Cathy Michael and Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Alternative Media Reception at Annual Conference
On Monday, July 13, from 7-10 pm, the Alternative Media Reception (ALA Annual, Chicago) will join forces with the SRRT 40th Anniversary Celebration in a not-to-be-missed event featuring great food, drink, and music as well as books, zines, and other materials from progressive publishers in Chicago and all over North America.
Special guest Paul Buhle, will speak at the event with brief words on the legacy of alternative media and underground papers rooted in the 1960s. Buhle edited the recently published Studs Terkel's Working: A Graphic Adaptation, and is founding editor of Radical America and co-author of The Encyclopedia of the American Left. We will also celebrate the 40th Anniversary of SRRT with our co-organizer, Alternative Press Center.
The location is at Experimental Station, in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Experimental Station takes its name from a 1901 Frank Lloyd Wright speech, "The Art and Craft of the Machine", and is occupied by various collaborative projects in independent publishing, contemporary art, experimental music, organic gardening, bulk food purchasing, ecological initiatives and youth education. The event is accessible via public transportation; the Metra Electric Line departing from Millennium Park Station (Michigan Ave. and Randolph St.) services the 59th Street (University of Chicago) Station, a quick walk from Experimental Station. The CTA bus #6 Jackson Park Express also runs from The Loop (via State St.) to Hyde Park.
The all-you-can eat buffet is a reasonable $20, payable at the door. See your old friends, make new friends, catch the latest in independent perspectives, and wish SRRT another 40 years of happy activism!
YALSA's First-Ever Small Press Open House at the Annual Conference
For the first time ever this year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) will be holding a program to feature small-press and diverse publishers that normally do not exhibit at ALA's Annual or Midwinter Conferences because of cost. The goal of this program is to provide information to YALSA members and other ALA attendees about how to purchase books for their library from small press, diverse, or independent publishers. Below is the program description with more information:
“Strengthen Your YA Collection with Small Press/Diverse Publishers,” Sunday, July 12, 2009, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., McCormick Place West Room W-196b. Come to this open house featuring publishers that focus on publishing for diverse YA populations but normally do not exhibit at ALA conferences. Tables will be set up around the room for publishers to display their current and backlist young adult titles, and representatives will be available to chat about their latest publications. For more information, contact Nichole Gilbert, ngilbert(at)ala.org.
by Fred Stoss
GreeNotes is information and resources of issues related to the environment, energy, sustainability, global warming and other global environmental change issues. Additional reviews and TFOE events and programs at ALA Midwinter and Annual Meetings will appear in other portions of the SRRT Newsletter.
Green Libraries Launched from ALA Connect
TFOE Co-Chair, Fred Stoss, created the ALA Community "Green Libraries," on Earth Day, April 22, 2009 to promote environmental stewardship within our profession and in the communities where we work, live, and play. To join, go to the ALA Connect site.
New Social Blog from the UK
Martyn Lowe: The thoughts & ideas of a radical pragmatist
Martyn Lowe made his presence known to SRRT at the 1998 International Responsibilities Task Force and SRRT-sponsored program at the ALA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, Social Responsibility Around the World. This program was held as part of ALA President Barbara Ford's 1998 theme, Local Touch, Global Reach. Martyn represented Information for Social Change for which he currently sits as a member of its Editorial Board. Martyn has been at the forefront of major and minor issues related to bringing peace to this world, including many issues related to ecology and the environment. His blog is just more than one-year old.
Special Serial Edition of Scientific American: Earth 3.0
In October 2008, the editors of Scientific American launched Earth 3.0. Editor, John Rennie, provided the following explanations: "Earth 1.0 was the world that persisted and evolved for billions of years, up until very recently," and further explained that things "changed two centuries ago with the arrival of Earth 2.0, when the industrial revolution gave the human race the leverage to achieve unprecedented health and prosperity but at the price of wanton consumption of natural resources." He concluded by stating the purpose of a new serial that provides us a new way of thinking: "Earth 3.0 is thus the new way forward that we need to establish, one with all the prosperity of 2.0 but also the sustainability of 1.0. And it is in that spirit that we present this issue, which explores and celebrates opportunities for both economic and environmental progress." Earth 3.0 is an extremely well-written, richly-illustrated, and thought provoking periodical that stimulates cross-disciplinary exchanges about living in a greenhouse gas-constrained world. Issues can be purchased in print or downloaded (~$7.95 per issue). Their website provides a treasure chest of resources, ideas, and experiences to further explore.
U.S. Congress Considers New Climate Service
The House Science and Technology Committee is drafting legislation that would establish a National Climate Service to gather and disseminate climate information to state and local governments and the private sector. A Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing on 5 May 2009 considered how existing climate services within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could be expanded. NOAA's Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, has been a vocal supporter of a National Climate Service within the agency. Witnesses representing a spectrum of climate data users expressed support for the new service. Structuring a National Climate Service as a stand-alone program within NOAA, rather than maintaining its current position under the National Weather Service, has been a point of disagreement. Despite lingering questions about how to structure a National Climate Service, some on the Committee have expressed a hope to report legislation out of the Committee by Memorial Day and to have the measure incorporated into climate change legislation being developed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Acclaimed author, David Steinman (a self-described "environmentalist, consumer health advocate, publisher and author: Diet for a Poisoned Planet (1990, 2007), The Safe Shopper's Bible (1995), Living Healthy in a Toxic World (1996), and Safe Trip to Eden: Ten Steps to Save the Planet Earth from the Global Warming Meltdown (2007), the book that introduces the concept of "Green Patriotism") created The GreenPatriot to teach Americans how to practice sustainability, and that all of our pro-environmental efforts will directly or indirectly strengthen our economy and national security, and build a safer and more secure future for our children. As stated in his welcoming message, Steinman says, "You're with other Green Patriot Americans now, satisfying your inner environmentalist, helping to make this land we all love stronger and more secure. Green Patriotism brings together people of all beliefs and affiliations: liberals, conservatives, Independents, Republicans, and Democrats." He continues, "I created this site to teach Americans how to practice sustainability, and that all of our pro-environmental efforts will directly or indirectly strengthen our economy and national security, and build a safer and more secure future for our children." Steinman also wants to connect Green Patriot environmentalists and shoppers with green consumer product resources so they can use their purchasing power to support businesses that have Green Patriot policies. Emphasizing the importance of our purchasing decisions is part of our mission-as is helping you to find great patriotic companies intent on being Green Patriot leaders themselves.
Green Patriot Radio Debuts
On Tuesday, February 03, 2009 at 5:00 AM Green Patriot Radio made its first broadcast on a featured program, "Green Patriot Radio with David Steinman." Steinman's first interviews were with 2009 Grammy-nominee and blues musician John Lee Hooker, Jr. and Grist Online's political reporter, Kate Sheppard, regarding President Obama's first week in office. You can download podcasts of Green Patriot radio.
by Diedre Conkling
The Feminst Task Force will have its Annual Conference opening and very informal gathering, Feminists' Night Out, on Friday, July 10 in the early evening. The exact place and time will be announced later.
Two programs are being sponsored by the Feminist Task Force:
Amelia Bloomer Project Breakfast
Sunday, July 12, 8:00-10:00 a.m., Hilton Boulevard C
Amelia Bloomer Author and multiple award winning author Laurie Halse Anderson will be joining the CWLU History Project in speaking at the Amelia Bloomer Breakfast at ALA Annual!
This year, Anderson made the Bloomer list for Independent Dames, won the O'Dell Historical Fiction award for Chains, and is the Margaret A. Edwards award for significant and lasting achievement and contribution to young adult literature. We're excited to have her speaking in Chicago.
Joining Laurie will be speakers from the Chicago Women's Liberation Union to talk about their Herstory project. Between 1969-1977, the CWLU touched the lives of many women in and around the Chicago area, developing many programs from scratch to help women while still building the foundation that feminists use to further their efforts.
The Amelia Bloomer Breakfast will be held during ALA Annual in Chicago on Sunday, July 12, starting at 8 a.m. Tickets are $30 and include a continental breakfast. Information on purchasing tickets is available through the ALA conference registration website.
Feminists' Night at the Movies
Sunday, July 12, 8:00-10:00 p.m., Palmer House Chicago Room
Movies, Movies, Movies. Come and have an entertaining and educational night at the movies with the Feminist Task Force and Women Make Movies.
This year we will be showing three movies from the Women Make Movies catalog.
"The Women's Kingdom" a film by Xiaoli Zhou and produced by Xiaoli Zhou & Brent E. Huffman.
With breathtaking imagery shot in a remote area of southwest China, this short documentary offers a rare glimpse into Mosuo culture, one of the last matriarchal societies in the world, virtually unheard of until 10 years ago. Mosuo women enjoy great freedoms and carry great responsibilities. As the outside world encroaches, bringing 21st century conveniences, tourism, pollution, and mainstream ideas about femininity, these extraordinary women must meet complex new challenges to preserve their extraordinary culture.
Guerillas in Our Midst a film by Amy Harrison.
Through interviews and art-world footage, this film presents a savvy exploration of the machinations of the commercial art-world during its boom in the 1980s, and brings the Guerrilla Girls to the screen. This anonymous group of art terrorists has succeeded in putting racism and sexism on the agenda in the art-world since 1985, and their witty and creative tactics have changed the face of political and cultural activism.
To See If I'm Smiling (Lir'ot Im Ani Mehayechet) a film by Tamar Yarom.
In this award-winning documentary, the frank testimonials of six female Israeli soldiers stationed in Gaza and the West Bank pack a powerful emotional punch. The young women revisit their tours of duty with surprising honesty and strip bare the stereotypes of gender differences in the military. With archival footage, personal material, and compelling testimonies, the documentary explores the ways that gender, ethics, and moral responsibility intersect during wartime.
The first business meeting for the Feminist Task Force will be held during the SRRT All Task Force Meeting, Saturday, July 11, 8:00-10:00 a.m., Palmer House Wabash Parlor. The second business meeting will be held Sunday, July 12, 1:30-3:00 p.m., Palmer House Sandburg 4.
by Lisa Gieskes
HHPTF is still looking for people to help create a toolkit on hunger, homeless and poverty. Interested people can contact Lisa Gieskes, Coordinator, at lisagieskes(at)yahoo.com.
HHPTF also participated in the Florida Library Association's 2009 Annual Conference (Libraries: connecting people, information and knowledge). The HHPTF was part of the program titled, "The Homeless & Public Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities for Providing Services in an Era of Budgetary Constraint." Lisa Gieskes shared success stories about library services for the poor.
News from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force by Virginia B. Moore
Since the 2000 ALA Annual Conference, the SRRT Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force has presented the Multi-Cultural Idea Exchange to advance the observance of the holiday as an American celebration. In this effort, a forum is provided to salute high achievement, to share practical experience, and to unite in vigorous advocacy that will “Keep the Dream Alive” throughout our libraries and communities. Accordingly, this year's distinguished panel will present highlights of highly acclaimed 2009 King Holiday observances by: Ghada Kanafani Elturk, Community & Multi-Cultural Outreach Librarian, City of Boulder Public Library, Boulder, CO; Steven M. Adams, Biological and Life Sciences Librarian, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; Silvia M. Lloyd, Instructional Director of School Library System and Media Services, Rochester City School Library System, Rochester, NY; and Jim Kuhn, Head of Collection Information Services, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC.
In addition, Author/Publisher/Educator Willie E. Box, University Park, IL will honor Dr. King's life and legacy by relating parts of his book, The Official African-American Museums and Cultural Galleries Directory: Redefining African-American Museums and Collecting for the Future (Chicago, IL: Willie E. Box, Jr. and Associates, 1991). Also, Mr. Box will describe his specialization in African American history and art, his forthcoming publications, and his activities in the Illinois literary community.
Continuing our tradition with the Audience Exchange, participants will be invited to briefly spotlight their applauded library events. Then for the closing Materials Exchange, both past and present panelists provide brochures, flyers, programs, reading lists, and other examples for distribution. Moreover, all attendees are welcome share by bringing at least 25 copies of each handout from their 2009 King Holiday observances. “On the King Holiday - REMEMBER … SERVE … PRESERVE THE LEGACY. LIBRARIES LEAD THE WAY!” Come and share with us on Saturday, July 11 at 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Palmer House Monroe Ballroom
Ruppenthal, R. J. Fresh Food from Small Spaces : the Square Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting, White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2008.
Reviewed by Nancy Churchill, Librarian, Clarence Public Library
I’m grateful that I again came across Fresh Food from Small Spaces, which Sara Nelson of Publishers Weekly described as “Tiny but politically mighty.” “I'm too busy for gardening now,” I'd originally thought. Shortly after finally opening its cover, I decided differently.
This small book with 178 pages (and lots of white space) is much more than its author, a lawyer and professor, initially describes: “a practical guide to growing food for city residents with small spaces.” Its main mission is to help individuals “survive and thrive in tough times, while also doing [their] part to help humankind live more sustainably on the earth.”
The author gives specific directives and advice for growing food in containers, for using vertical space, for growing food in low or no light, for making fermented foods, for raising chickens and honeybees, and for vermiculture. Ruppenthal has extensive experience in producing food in urban environments. He suggests strategies for deciding what to grow or produce. He includes many low-cost and practical ideas. He expertly encourages readers to adapt his directions to their particular climates, weather, and materials on hand.
The bibliographic record for this work lists Square foot gardening (one that I never even realized existed!), Container gardening, and Small gardens as LC subject headings, which, in total, provide adequate access to the contents of Chapters 1 through 11. Although not an experienced cataloger, I believe this book ALSO deserves the LC subject heading Agricultural sustainability. Ruppenthal's Introduction as well his last two chapters, “Survival During Resource Shortages” and “Helping to Build a Sustainable Future,” all focus on the need for and the importance of practicing agricultural sustainability on our planet. (These sections also provide for a very sobering ‘read!’) To counter the possibility that this aspect of the work might be overlooked if this thin trade paperback was relegated exclusively to the gardening section of a library, this book could be given some extra prominence within ‘green,’ ‘how-to,’ and other kinds of displays.
Although Fresh Food from Small Spaces contains no index, its well-described chapter titles are displayed boldly at the top of every page. It has more than one-hundred footnotes and many annotated resources. Its black and white illustrations are informative, down-to earth, and useful. It nicely echoes its publisher’s commitment to preserving ancient forests and natural resources.
Reviewed by Seth Kershner, M.S. Candidate, Simmons College, Graduate School of Library and Information Science
In his Introduction to Radical Cataloging: Essays at the Front, Sandy Berman cites a letter he received from a colleague, writing about the need to resist the Library of Congress power structure: “I do wish librarians, and catalogers in particular, were less passive, prone to accept authority, and more willing to do what they know is right.” Of course, this attitude reflects a longstanding view of librarianship - a field that Frances Clarke Sayers once described as “the belligerent profession.” At the same time, it also captures the spirit of radical cataloging. According to K.R. Roberto, editor of the volume under review, radical catalogers are those who know their discipline inside and out, yet are not afraid of resisting or subverting traditional models in order to make cataloging “more inclusive and helpful to library users.” Roberto has divided this collection of critical and scholarly essays into three sections: theoretical-historical reflections, critiques of the status quo, and finally a section where the focus shifts from resisting authority to implementing innovative practices on the front lines of librarianship.
A good chapter to kick things off, Brian Hasenstab's annotated bibliography—“This Subfield Kills Fascists”—illuminates the history behind the approach. The author looks at more than 30 years of theory and practice through the lens of fourteen sources. Although he sometimes lapses into a form of address more suitable for marketing (“Read it today,” is one unfortunate example), Hasenstab's bibliography is a commendable work of scholarship. Standing out among the sources he covers is Berman's Prejudices and Antipathies, a work which—when published in 1981—provoked one approving critic to call it “an earthquake of a book.” Within its pages, Berman assiduously locates and then lists offensive or discriminatory headings from LCSH, “explaining the problems with each, citing copious sources for his arguments ... and suggesting solutions in every case.” Berman's ongoing efforts to get the LCSH to reflect “right language” have had a profound influence on radical cataloging.
In a chapter that will be of particular interest to SRRT Newsletter readers, Carol Reid critiques LC's subject heading for PROHIBITED BOOKS, advocating instead for the more commonly used BANNED BOOKS. Reid's brief essay is clearly modeled on the Berman approach, as it highlights how the holdings in a library can be made more accessible by using common parlance in LCSH.
Also sharing this perspective is Tracy Nectoux. In her essay, “Cults, New Religious Movements, and Bias in LC Subject Headings,” she makes a case for supplementing the subject heading for CULTS with a pair of related and less pejorative subheadings: “New Movements” and “Sects.”
Other articles explore how catalogers can benefit from stepping out of their professional roles. In “Cataloging Heresy,” A. Arro Smith argues that traditional catalogers need a change of perspective. “Huddled in the back rooms of their libraries, they rarely have much contact with the public who use their bibliographic surrogates.” The takeaway here is that Smith only noticed how standard cataloging methods (e.g. adding multiple subject headings to a title) might cause confusion for patrons once he started taking shifts at his library's reference desk and had the opportunity to help patrons find what they were looking for. Summing up with a maxim, Smith says: “To be a good cataloger, you must also be a good reference librarian.”
In her provocative and insightful chapter, Emily Drabinski argues for a wholesale reorientation of the radical cataloging project. In so doing, she takes aim at the Berman model. While reformist, Berman's quest to get LCSH to use more inclusive and up-to-date language is “fundamentally limited” by its lack of attention to structural critiques of classification. Shoehorning more inclusive terminology into LCSH will still fail to take account of the fact that “[w]e cannot do a classification scheme objectively; it is the nature of subject analysis to be subjective.” Given the rootedness of intentional or unintentional bias in any scheme of classification, the more promising path to change, she suggests, would have to come through “Teaching the Radical Catalog” (the title of her essay). Drawing from the pedagogy of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, Drabinski proposes “a critical library instruction program” that would “teach students to engage critically with the classifications as text” while “encouraging critical thought.” Playing foil to Berman and other authors in this volume, Drabinski's analysis problematizes the prevailing conception of radical cataloging while offering a fresh way forward.
With Radical Cataloging, K.R. Roberto—who also co-edited Revolting Librarians Redux (2003)—has compiled another engrossing anthology.
Recommended for academic libraries and to all members of “the belligerent profession.”
Reviewed by Jane Ingold, Assistant Librarian, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
In the Introduction to her memoir, Loose Girl, Kerry Cohen touches on the basic themes that will emerge in the telling of her story:
Using my sexual appeal was default behavior. To not do so would have required more effort. Add to this the fact that I was desperate for attention—any attention—and men's interest in my body was the easiest avenue to being noticed. Of course, I confused their base interest with love. I needed to believe it meant something. Don't get me wrong, I don't see myself as entirely innocent. My story is also about addiction. Addiction to power, to the attempt to control others through my body. It is about how desperate I was to feel loved, less alone, and how, misguided by all those cultural mixed messages, I tried to fill my need with male attention and sex. How, as with most addictions, I managed to push almost everyone away, foiling my greatest intentions. And finally, how I learned to stop. (p. 3)
In the end she fulfills her promises to cover most of these topics, especially the ones you would expect in a memoir of this sort: double standards for men and women when it comes to promiscuity, the use of sex to replace (or hopefully, lead to) love, and the risks surrounding sexually-transmitted diseases. “How [she] learned to stop”, however, isn't really clearly delineated, although she does discuss seeking professional help and finds a creative outlet in her writing which has more pull for her than further sexual encounters. Cohen eventually marries and has children and works as both a writer and a therapist, although it felt as if you find out as much about that part of her life in the author's note as you do in the book itself.
The book chronologically details her sexual history (she believes she slept with over forty men before she married, many of them one-night stands or men she sees casually for a few trysts). The first of her sexual encounters occurs when she is twelve and has snuck away with friends to meet boys in the city. For the reader the list starts to become rather long and monotonous, though that feeling actually mirrors Cohen's own experience. Eventually, she becomes so adept at using sexual experiences to numb herself that when she is raped, she is so far out of her touch with her body and her relationship to it that she doesn't name it as such for many years. She eventually betrays one of her best friends by sleeping with her boyfriend, an episode that leads to one of those “how can you do that to another woman” moments.
As a child of a rather bitter divorce, Cohen believes that she is following the familiar pattern of innumerable adolescent girls who are looking for emotional intimacy by way of sexual intimacy and who have never been taught about the importance of boundaries. Finally, in college, she wearies of her whole way of life and spends several days in bed fighting the flu: “I am sick, but more, I am sick of myself. Sick of my desperation and emptiness. Sick of the constant defeat. I am convinced if someone will just love me I will be able to focus on something else. I'll feel whole and real…” It wasn't too long after that episode when she declared what she called “a moratorium on my vagina. But it's actually quite serious. I've crossed a threshold somewhere. We all have the opportunity to find that place where awareness trumps our actions. And I've reached that place. I can't go back.”
This book would fit well into either a memoir or sexuality section of a Women's Studies collection.
Law, Victoria. Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2009.
Reviewed by Alison M. Lewis, Drexel University, College of Information Science and Technology
According to the latest available statistics (mid-year 2008, from Bureau of Justice website), there are almost 116,000 women held in state and federal prisons in the United States, about 7.2% of the prison population. The rate of incarceration in our country, particularly of women, has risen steadily in past decades, fueled by the so-called “War on Drugs,” mandatory minimum sentencing, and other public policies that target the poor and most vulnerable in our society. The prison “industry” is one of the few growth sectors in our failing economy.
For anyone on the outside who has looked at the state of our justice system or the overwhelming issues of violence, exploitation, and isolation within the prison system, it is hard not to react with despair. Victoria Law’s Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women manages to both convey the difficulties of life for women prisoners and provide a sense of hope based on these women's own voices and actions. She shatters some of the myths of feminine passivity by providing examples of both active and subtle resistance on the part of incarcerated women, from bringing charges against abusive guards in spite of the threat of reprisals to fighting for transportation for visits from prisoners’ family members.
Law’s book provides chapters devoted to health care issues, mothers and children, sexual abuse, education, and prison labor. In addition to describing the oppressive and inhumane conditions that incarcerated women face, she shares examples of how women cope in this environment, empowering both themselves and others. One woman, earning sixty-four cents a day in her job as a prison GED tutor, described her work as “rewarding ” as she shares in the happiness of her students’ steps forward in their literacy and education. Mothers in prison, aided by advocacy groups on the outside, have successfully lobbied for greater access to their children. Even the smallest positive steps forward can have far-ranging affects on women’s sense of dignity and personal empowerment.
There have been a number of excellent books written in recent years regarding the United States’ prison system (Christian Parenti’s Lockdown America and Sasha Abramsky’s Hard Time Blues come to mind). Resistance Behind Bars is different because it is self-consciously written from an activist standpoint. Law is not a journalist nor an academic, but rather a “writer, photographer, and mother” who helped start the Books Through Bars—New York City organization, which sends reading materials to the incarcerated. She includes in the book a list of “Recommended Readings” from activist and prisoner perspectives, as well as a list of resources consisting mainly of organizations focused on prisoner advocacy and services. This book will fill a gap on the shelves of all libraries which strive to fulfill the Library Bill of Rights’ directive to “provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.”
SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. It is sent to members of SRRT as part of their membership and is available to others by subscription for $15.00 per year. Subscription is open to both members and non-members of ALA. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright : 2009 by the Social Responsibilities Round Table. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without permission. Editor: Myka Kennedy Stephens, mykaks(at)gmail.com. Book Reviews Editor: Jane Ingold, jli4(at)psulias.psu.edu. 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 the whimsy strikes.
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