Also available in EPUB format.
- Letter From the Editor
- Coordinator's Column
- Candise Branum Joins the SRRT Newsletter Team as Reviews Editor
- Elections Information
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force News
- International Responsibilities Task Force News
- Joint Conference of Librarians of Color - A Conference for Everyone
- Minutes from Midwinter Action Council
- Councilor's Report
- Who Is Protecting the People's Property?
- The Social Justice Impact of Ebooks
- Thoughts from an Occupy Wall Street Librarian
- Thoughts on Inclusion
- Media Review - Concrete, Steel & Paint
- Book Review - Library of Walls
- Press Releases – Oakland Museum of California Exhibitions
- Call for Submissions
- Publication Information
Letter From the Editor
by Amy Honisett
I hope those of you who were able to attend Midwinter had a fun and productive time in Dallas. Thanks to Susan Hayes for her minutes on what happened at the Action Council meeting. You will find those minutes in this issue of the newsletter, along with Al Kagan’s Councilor’s report.
ALA elections are coming up beginning March 19 (polls close April 27). You can find information about the election at the ALA site: http://www.ala.org/aboutala/governance/alaelection/. Thanks to everyone who helped summarize the Presidential candidates’ responses to questions at the SRRT Action Council meeting.
This issue also brings us four opinion pieces: Bernadine Hoduski writes about the Federal Depository Library Program, Laura Krier explains the social justice issues related to electronic material, Mandy Henke - an Occupy Wall Street librarian - shares her thoughts on librarianship, and Julie Winkelstein considers the word “inclusion.”
I also want to mention two important book lists:
The 2012 Amelia Bloomer Project book list is now available at: http://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/2012-bloomer-list/.
The 2012 Rainbow Book list is available at: http://glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/archives/953.
The Editorial Board and I would like to say a special thank you to Fred Stoss; if you are a regular reader you’ll notice that Fred has been a stalwart contributor to the SRRT Newsletter over the years. Fred has long track record of involvement in environmental education and raising awareness of environmental issues for librarians and the public. After three decades of being a key member of SRRT and the Task Force on the Environment, Fred has decided to take a less active role. Let’s all wish him well and let him know that he is always welcome to make guest contributions.
Finally, I want to say thank you to Jennifer Caldwell, who is stepping down as Reviews Editor for the newsletter after more than a year of hard work. Jennifer has done a wonderful job, she’s helped me enormously as I get used to my responsibilities, and she has handled her position with flexibility and grace. Candise Branum will be our new Reviews Editor, you can read more about her in this issue, as well.
As always, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions, comments, complaints, and contributions to the newsletter.
Have a great spring!
By Jane Glasby - Program Manager, Library for the Blind and Print Disabled - San Francisco Public Library
Midwinter is finished and we are looking forward to Annual; these are two of the events that punctuate our year. I wonder if such physical gatherings will survive the century. Will we be completely virtual by 2100? It is hard to imagine not meeting with colleagues and enjoying all the extra conversations over meals and drinks, fortuitous encounters on the exhibits floor or in the hallways, finding oneself in the top bunk to someone’s bottom bunk at the youth hostel. Keep an eye on the SRRT MEM listserv for details of possible virtual meetings in the coming months.
In the meantime, ALA elections are coming up. You may know that, due to rulings by the ALA attorney and the Executive Board of ALA (not the ALA Council, elected by all the members of ALA), the “One Voice” policy prevents us - as a Round Table - from endorsing any candidates. In the case of the election of the ALA President, we found that when we interviewed the candidates at Midwinter, the Action Council did not have a strong inclination to endorse either candidate. We did, however, agree that as individuals we were likely vote for one candidate rather than the other. You can read an account of the interview in this newsletter. I am not allowed to endorse anyone in my capacity as SRRT Coordinator, but I will tell you that I am running for ALA Council.
One exciting aspect of the Midwinter Meeting in Dallas was meeting and talking with librarians from Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Washington DC, and others. Herb Biblo, a long-time member of SRRT, suggested that we make badge ribbons saying “Libraries for the 99%,” with “SRRT” in smaller letters below. These proved to be extremely popular. At the panel talk given by OWS librarians, attendees were dismayed when I ran out of badge ribbons as I gave them away at the door. Even one conservative ALA councilor, proud of the length of his badge ribbon stack, was seen sporting a 99% ribbon. Who’d have imagined we’d ever see such a person wearing a SRRT ribbon? And yet, for us it is no gimmick; the 99% is really what - or rather who - we are about.
We will have some more badge ribbons available at Annual, in Anaheim, where I’m hoping to see many of you this year. We are planning a social and Membership Meeting for Saturday evening. We are always happy to see new members at Action Council meetings and Task Force meetings, too. Note that the Task Force Meeting will be on Friday evening instead of Saturday morning. We keep changing the schedule, and this is a big departure.
We are looking for a SRRT Coordinator for next year. Action Council appoints the Coordinator, so you don’t have to run for election, but you would need to let us know something about yourself. The Coordinator makes sure things run smoothly throughout the year: takes responsibility for booking rooms for Annual and Midwinter, sets agendas, organizes elections, liaises with the ALA OLOS Office representatives, the Newsletter editor, the Treasurer, the Membership Secretary, and other officers as necessary. The position lasts a nominal three years: one year as Coordinator Elect, one year as Coordinator, and one year as Past Coordinator. This time the first year will be very truncated, since we are halfway through that year already. Please email me at jglasby at sfpl dot org if you are interested in discussing this. If anyone is interested in being Treasurer, we’d like to hear from you, too! And finally, if you would like others to write you in as a candidate on the upcoming ballot for SRRT Action Council member at large, or as SRRT Representative to ALA Council (SRRT Councilor), tell everyone on the SRRTAC-L listserv.
Candise Branum Joins the SRRT Newsletter Team as Reviews Editor
by Candise Branum - College Librarian, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
As the new Book Reviews Editor, I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself. I graduated from Emporia State University’s Oregon cohort in 2009, where I had originally intended to explore public/young adult librarianship. As a former sociologist-turned-social services worker, I had extensive experience working with adults with disabilities and believed that the public library would be the perfect place to meld my passion for books with my dedication to public service. But as I progressed through the graduate program, I realized that many of the areas I was really passionate about – information literacy, copyright, intellectual property, and technology – were areas I felt I could explore more fully in the academic setting. A combination of hard work and happenstance made me the faculty librarian/library director at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, an institution that has overwhelmingly supported me in pursuing both my passions and my whims. In addition to gearing up for a huge campus relocation project, I am currently working as the principal investigator in a research study on acupuncture student attitudes towards research. In the past, I have worked with Portland’s Radical Reference collective, leading discussions on copyright at the Portland Anarchist Bookfair and at Radical Reference skillshares. I have primarily written about the intersections of social justice, pop culture and librarianship, but have also been a contributor at sites such as Gay League; I currently write about music at PLAY/START (playstart.wordpress.com).
As both constructors and consumers in a participatory culture, we have drastically changed the way social responsibility plays out in the public sphere. One thing that I love about participatory culture is that we all have the potential to be authors. We are our own call-to-arms: we create choruses and cacophonies about things as trivial as an ephemeral meme (Double Rainbow Auto-Tune) or as substantial as a global human rights movement (Kony 2012). But even in those seemingly inconsequential moments, we are using the power of our own collective voices to engage in our culture – engagement that has the potential to create change – and this is should not be easily dismissed. There are reasons why certain governments lock down the public’s access to information on the web. Even though He-Man singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” may seem ridiculous, by creating dialogue around media that we create, we are setting up a structure that allows us to be vocal and spread information quickly. Those who were once voiceless now have the power to alter the mainstream media. And when those critical moments arise, we have a system in place to affect change.
So I call on you all to be those voices. Participate in the creation of our culture – a culture of social responsibility. We don’t always make time to read full books and articles; instead, we rely on one another to distill those ideas into an easily digestible form so we can quickly sift through the garbage and find what is important to us. Share your thoughts and enrich this community by sending me your book reviews!
Jane Glasby has provided a summary of interviews given by the two ALA presidential candidates.
There is a motion at this 2012 Midwinter Meeting that would dissolve the ALA-APA Council. The members of this body are the same as ALA Council, although the ALA-APA Council is a separate body. The motion is to give decision-making control over to the ALA Executive, which is a much smaller body not directly elected by the ALA membership at large, unlike the ALA Council itself. Our feeling is that this would be an undemocratic move. What do you think?
Barbara Stripling said that she would have to investigate further, but that she has concerns we will lose some of the diversity of viewpoints offered by the larger body.
Gina Millsap said she has not been involved in this directly, and although she knows the history of APA, she would need to know more before expressing an opinion.
Last year, there was a motion brought to ALA Council requiring that, when members come to the ALA website to book hotel rooms for ALA Annual and Midwinter, they would be given a link to current information about which hotels are subject to union disputes. This would be so members could make an informed decision when booking their hotels. The wording was crafted with the help of the ALA lawyer. ALA Council voted against such availability of information on the website. What do you think about this issue?
Barbara Stripling said the issues behind this issue make it complex. What happens if the union action occurs after the reservation period or if the union action is cleared after the reservation period? However, if it is strictly an informational opportunity, she is not against it.
Gina Millsap said she would have no problem if it was for information only.
What do you think of the ALA One Voice Policy? This is a policy that was not made by ALA Council. It states that a roundtable such as SRRT cannot advocate an action or express an opinion different from, or in addition to, official policy of ALA as a whole body. In the past, we (SRRT) were able to endorse candidates in ALA elections and advocate for issues. We always made very clear that we were representing SRRT and not ALA as a whole. Now we are told that we can only speak as individuals. We have also been told we cannot even discuss an action, such as joining a union picket of a hotel, on our listserv.
Barbara Stripling said she was not aware that this is exactly what the lawyers were saying. She believes SRRT has every right to voice their views as long as it was clearly from SRRT. She will have to investigate the discrepancy between her understanding and what we are saying about the issue.
Gina Millsap said she believes there are two sides to every story and would need more information before she decides.
What do you think about Wikileaks and its ability to act as a platform for whistle blowers, thereby promoting open and transparent government?
Barbara Stripling said she stands by open debate in council and would not overrule the outcome of a decision made there.
Gina Millsap said that, although she believes strongly in intellectual freedom, she thinks ALA resolutions need to relate to the profession and issues over which we have influence.
What do you think about the relationship between ALA and guerilla librarians, such as those maintaining the Occupy Wall Street library?
Barbara Stripling said she was horrified when the Wall Street library was destroyed. She thinks ALA should nurture and provide a forum for conversation about these library movements.
Gina Millsap said she appreciates the energy and the passion, but believes she would start first with questions about how and why.
SRRT proposes that housing status be added to the Library Bill of Rights, so that it is included in the list of reasons “a person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged.” What do you think?
Both candidates said they would support this.
Proposed Changes to SRRT Bylaws
2012 ALA Spring Ballot
IV Action Council
2. The ten elected members of Action Council shall be elected by ballot procedures outlined below and shall take office immediately following the Annual Conference. At the final Action Council meeting of the Annual Conference, Action Council will select a coordinator-elect, treasurer, recording secretary, exhibits coordinator, and a membership/recruitment chair for a one-year term. These officers will preferably be elected from the at-large members of Action Council, but may be selected from the Task Force representatives or the affiliate representatives. Except in extraordinary circumstances, no single person shall serve Action Council in more than one of the six designated offices. At this same meeting, Annual Action Council second meeting, the existing Coordinator-Elect will be recognized as the new Coordinator and take office upon adjournment of the ALA Annual Meeting.
(eliminates Exhibits Coordinator adds Nominations Committee Chair, and adds a Past Coordinator position):
2. The ten elected (at-large) members of Action Council shall be elected by ballot procedures outlined below and shall take office immediately following the Annual Conference. At the final Action Council meeting of the Annual Conference, Action Council will select a coordinator-elect, treasurer, recording secretary, Nominations Committee Chair, and a membership/recruitment Committee chair for a one-year term. These officers will preferably be elected from the at-large members of Action Council, but may be selected from the Task Force representatives or the affiliate representatives. Except in extraordinary circumstances, no single person shall serve Action Council in more than one of the designated offices. At this same meeting, Annual Action Council second meeting, the existing Coordinator-Elect will be recognized as the new Coordinator and take office upon adjournment of the ALA Annual Meeting. [The Coordinator, who has just completed her/his one year term, shall become Past Coordinator and remain on action council for the ensuing year. The Coordinator-Elect, Coordinator, and Past Coordinator shall be eligible to receive appropriate communications and reports from OLOS and the ALA Round Table Coordinating Assembly throughout their terms. The Coordinator may consult with the Coordinator-Elect and Past Coordinator on various issues, yet she/he maintains primary responsibilities for coordinating the round table’s affairs.]
6. Action Council Elections
6.2 Action Council Coordinator will take responsibility for coordinating SRRT elections. Individual members who wish to volunteer to serve will submit their names, their statement of concerns about policy and action on social responsibilities of librarians, and a short note listing their professional experience to the coordinator of Action Council by the required date. The Coordinator will then be responsible for ballot preparation in accordance with the ALA specifications. The names of all volunteers will then be submitted to the SRRT membership for election by ballot.
(removes the print-era involvement of the AC Coordinator in the vetting of candidates, which is no longer necessary due to ALA's online form submittal process)
[The Action Council Coordinator will take responsibility for coordinating SRRT elections. The Coordinator or Nominations Committee Chair will publicize a call for nominees to run for open positions, including At-Large Action Council Member, SRRT Councilor, or any other elected positions. The call for nominees will include job description(s), the link to the relevant ALA online nomination form, and deadline information. Individual members who wish to volunteer to serve will notify the Coordinator and submit the ALA Nomination form by the required date. The Coordinator will then be responsible for confirming nominees with the OLOS Office to ensure accuracy of the SRRT ballot in the annual ALA Spring election.]
Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force News
by LaJuan Pringle -Library Manager, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
and Julie Ann Winkelstein - Public Librarian and Doctoral Candidate
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force met sans our fearless leader, Virginia (Ginny) Moore, who could not physically be with us this time due to illness. But with help from modern day technology, we were able to have her with us via phone. We wish Ginny all the best with her health and a speedy return to the conference, where her effort and energy are unmatched!
The MLK Jr. Holiday Sunrise celebration took place on Monday, January 23 at the Dallas Convention Center. The program is sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force of the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and is supported by the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS). The theme of the celebration was “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Honoring a Legacy That Still Inspires.” Highlights included keynote speaker, Reverend Dr. Lewis Baldwin, professor at Vanderbilt University and editor of “Thou Dear God:” Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits, who offered an inspirational keynote discussing the parallels between Dr. King’s spirituality and his quest for social justice. The keynote was followed by an amazing Call to Action, delivered by Oralia Garza de Cortes. In her call, Oralia urged everyone to consider “What will you do from this day forward to act on those values that matter most?” Our challenge is to look within our professional lives to determine if we are doing the best we can to serve all citizens.
The Task Force also continues to work on the MLK, Jr. Video project where we, as librarians, will film short video clips discussing the legacy of Dr. King and how his legacy has impacted our individual professional aspirations and/or work. The filming will begin at the Annual Conference in Anaheim. Members of SRRT and other leaders within the profession will be asked to develop two minute scripts based on core concepts of Dr. King’s legacy, which include: equality, peace, nonviolence, justice, hope, freedom, service, civil rights, and human rights. More information will be forthcoming.
The Task Force is also currently coordinating the 2012 MLK Holiday Multicultural Exchange to be held during Annual. Andrew P. Jackson (SeKou Molefi Baako), Executive Director, Queens Borough Public Library's Langston Hughes Community &Cultural Center, Jamaica, NY has been confirmed as the panelist presenting King Holiday programs in public libraries. We are still working on invitations for librarians in the academic and school media environment. More information will be available as this program develops.
International Responsibilities Task Force News
IRTF Program on “National Security vs. the Right to Know” at Anaheim
by Tom Twiss - Government Information Librarian, University of Pittsburgh
International Responsibilities Task Force is working on a program entitled “National Security vs. the Right to Know” for the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. The program will be held on Saturday, June 23 from 1:30-3:30 pm, and will be cosponsored by the Law and Political Science Section of ACRL. It will address issues related to the release of classified U.S. documents by WikiLeaks, including the potential conflict between security concerns and the requirements of transparency, democracy, free press, and the protection of whistle blowers. One confirmed speaker is Emma Cape, organizer for the Bradley Manning Support Network. We are still working on getting other speakers, including a speaker from WikiLeaks.
An additional piece of news from IRTF is that Dan Hensley, reference and instruction librarian at the University of Pittsburgh, has taken over as our web manager. He is hoping that a redesigned IRTF website will be up before the Anaheim conference.
Joint Conference of Librarians of Color – A Conference for Everyone
by Miguel Figueroa - Director, Office for Diversity and Spectrum Scholarship Program, American Library Association
The second Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) - September 19-23, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri - will truly be a conference for everyone! Attendees will come together under the theme “Gathering at the Waters: Celebrating Stories, Embracing Communities.” JCLC is sponsored by the five associations of ethnic librarians: the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA).
Those who attended the first JCLC (Dallas, Texas, 2006) can attest to the energy, excitement, and engagement created by a gathering of librarians from different perspectives for a common goal of advancing the issues that affect librarians of color within the profession and exploring how best to serve the incredibly diverse and changing communities that use our libraries. Then and now, JCLC provides a unique and unparalleled opportunity for participants to share successes, opportunities, and challenges while networking and attending cutting-edge programs on pressing issues that affect both librarians and communities of color.
The excitement for JCLC is already building; just visit http://jclc-conference.org. Emmy winner Sonia Manzano, voted one of the most influential Hispanics by People en Espanol for her work playing Maria on Sesame Street, has been announced as the opening keynote speaker. There will be numerous opportunities to network and socialize, including an opening reception at the beautiful Kansas City Public Library Central Library. Two author luncheons will allow attendees to get up-close and personal with youth authors Lauren Myracle and Sharon Flake and adult author Julie Otsuka. A busy exhibit hall will feature the latest from library vendors and partners.
JCLC will provide a unique opportunity for learning, with over seventy concurrent sessions – including panel discussions, presentations, workshops, and roundtables. Programming is divided into five tracks: Advocacy, Outreach and Collaboration; Collections, Programs and Services; Deep Diversity and Cultural Exchange; Leadership, Management and Organizational Development; and Technology and Innovation. Three pre-conferences will provide more focused exploration of diversity leadership development, diversity action plans, and advocacy in diverse communities.
Kansas City, newly revitalized and richly diverse, will provide an ideal backdrop for this gathering, with fountains set throughout the landscape and luxurious accommodations — at attractive conference rates — provided by the Crown Center. Kansas City offers numerous cultural opportunities, including a culinary scene set apart by world-famous barbeque and nightlife fueled by a vibrant jazz community.
JCLC is an experience like no other. Learn more about JCLC by visiting http://jclc-conference.org. Registration opens March 1, 2012.
See you in Kansas City!
by Fred Stoss
Past-Chair, Past-Co-Chair, Task Force on the Environment
Associate Librarian, Oscar A. Silverman Library, University at Buffalo - SUNY
This will be my last “GreeNotes” Column for the SRRT Newsletter. I have been a member of the Task Force on the Environment (TFOE) and SRRT for more than 20 years and am fortunate to have served as TFOE’s Chair and Co-Chair several times. While it has been a unique personal and professional pleasure to have contributed to the SRRT Newsletter over a period spanning three decades, it is time for me to move on and allow fresh ideas and actions to emerge.
Maria Jankowska, also a Past-Chair and a Past-Co-Chair of TFOE, compiled a chronology of the achievements and actions of the Task Force on the Environment in the open-access, free online environmental journal, The Electronic Green Journal. It is worth the effort to read about TFOE’s groundbreaking actions in her editorial in Issue 32, 2012, “Going Beyond Environmental Programs and Green Practices at the American Library Association:” http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1zs6k7m2
The Campaign for Environmental Literacy Reports: “President Obama’s Proposed FY ’13 Budget Eliminates Environmental Education Funding”
Congress is the only place where voices can be directed for restoring these critical environmental education funds—at a time when environmental issues are looming on environmental horizons at international levels, and it is unfathomable to think that U.S. levels of environmental education funding are falling below those of developing countries. It will be up to the community of stakeholders to convince our Congressional leaders of the importance of raising our knowledge and understanding of environmental concerns, issues, and problems, especially in an election year, when cutting the budget is at the top of every candidate’s agenda and list of priorities.
See http://fundee.typepad.com/fundee/2012/02/presidents-fy-2013-budget-proposal-eliminates-environmental-education-funding.html for more information.
Perhaps with some diligence from ALA’s Washington Office, the issue of environmental literacy and related data and information support for environmental education can at least be brought to the attention of ALA and its members.
SRRT Members Interviewed on Termination of the NBII
On September 30, 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced termination of its National Biological Information Infrastructure (effective Monday, October 3, 2011) and the permanent closing of its domain, nbii.gov, on January 15, 2012. Fred Stoss alerted SRRT Council Representative and SRRT Coordinator about this termination notice by October 6th, with requests for information be sent on to the ALA Council and the ALA Washington Office.
Stoss’ comments appear in the January 11, 2012 online article, “Librarians, Researchers Concerned as U.S. Terminates Only National Biodiversity Network,” for The Digital Shift column of the Library Journal: http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/01/information-technology/librarians-researchers-concerned-as-u-s-terminates-only-national-biodiversity-network/
Stoss is also quoted in the January 12, 2012 Research section of The Chronicle, “Budget Cuts Force Biodiversity Program to Close:” http://chronicle.com/article/Budget-Cuts-Force-Biodiversity/130331/?sid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en
At the ALA 2012 Midwinter meeting, a proposal was submitted and acted upon by the ALA Council: A Resolution on the Loss of Crucial Government Information (2011-2012 ALA CD #20.3 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting).
For the text of the resolution see:
Resources for Education:
Population and Climate Change
Population Action International developed a mapping website showing how climate change and population dynamics will change the world over time. Features include country profiles that contain maps, graphs, videos, and additional resources that offer a closer look at population, gender, and climate change trends in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, and Peru.
Their brief guide to the population and climate change hotspots can be downloaded:
Forestry Photos Find a Library
The Marian Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library announced in January 2012 the availability of a newly digitized photograph collection relating to forestry, conservation, and the lumber industry in California and the United States. The nearly 9000 images in the Fritz-Metcalf Photograph Collection can be browsed or searched at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/BIOS/fmpc/.
Shared Round Table Interests:
ALA includes a diverse array of interests in librarianship, resources shared, services provided, and social concerns and conditions raised. An environmental scientist might revel at the crossing of horizons, such as with the newsletter base line, the official publication of the AL’s Map and Geography Round Table (MAGERT). base line (ISSN 1943-6548) provides current information on cartographic materials, publications of interest to map and geography librarians, meetings, related governmental activities, and map librarianship. It is available in full-text PDF format from August 1999 (volume 20, issue 4).
You can access past issues at: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/rts/magert/publicationsab/baseline/baselinea.cfm#
Minutes From Midwinter Action Council
contributed by Susan Hayes - Collection Coordinator, Chattahoochee Valley Libraries
Social Responsibilities Round Table Action Council Meeting 1
ALA Midwinter - Dallas Texas Convention Center, Room 175
January 21, 2012
Jane Glasby called the meeting to order at 10:20AM
Charles Kratz, John Hilbert, Lisa McCracken, LaJuan Pringle, Al Kagan, Tom Twiss, Mary Biblo, John Buschman, Julie Winkelstein, Diedre Conkling, Theresa A. Tobin, Laura Kolkutsky, Mike Marlin, Nikki Winslow, Lisa Raney, Sarah Elichko, Elizabeth Andrejasick, Gerardo Colmenar, Mark Hudson and Susan Hayes. Also attending as invited speakers were Bernadine Abbott Hoduski, Joan Goddard and Linda Williams.
Resolutions to Bring to Council
None were brought forth but there was discussion of Julie Winkelstein's request to have housing status added to the Library Bill of Rights. She noted that often people who did not have permanent addresses were unable to access library resources. After thorough discussion of the procedures for developing something, a motion was brought by Al Kagan to support Julie's idea to investigate adding housing status to the Library Bill of Rights. Diedre Conkling seconded and the motion unanimously passed. Diedre agreed to work with Julie on this task.
Bernadine Abbott Hoduski reported on the current divide among ALA members on the treatment of government documents. She reported that many are being destroyed after being digitized and that digital did not mean permanent, so much was being lost to future generations. The number of regional depository libraries has been reduced and ones that were leaving regional status sent their documents to places where there was no control over what would happen to them. This was a report to make SRRT aware of the difficulty and no action was required.
Joan Goddard spoke of the Presidential Task Force's idea that the ALA-APA should be dissolved and all actions moved to the ALA Council meetings. The ALA Council and the ALA-APA Council are the same people. Joan was concerned that the Council would be dissolved just when it was really getting on its feet. There was discussion that the dissolution of the committee would reduce focus on the salary work that the committee performed. Mike Marlin made a motion to express strong concern against the dissolution of ALA-APA. Charles Kratz seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Report from Occupy Librarian
Lisa McCracken, an Occupy Librarian from Washington DC, was asked to report on her experiences. There was discussion and support from many Action Council members and discussion of ways to bring that energy to other libraries.
Report from Executive Committee Liaison
Linda Williams reported as our liaison to the Executive Committee. She reported on the committee's:
1) Advocating for school libraries
2) Econtent in libraries and licensing concerns
3) The decline in membership in both ALA and committees
4) June 5th, 2012 from 3:00PM to 4:30 PM there will be a second Virtual Membership Meeting. There was some discussion on whether this could not be extended to allow more time for questions; even the in- person meetings should consider this
5) Reminder that during political campaigns, no one should endorse or contribute to any one candidate using ALA
6) ALA has purchased Neal Schuman publisher. This was done as a way to produce income without relying on the membership for income
7) The Action Council brought our concern about the dissolution of ALA-APA to Linda Williams to report back to the Executive Committee
Questions for ALA Presidential Candidates
The Action Council discussed possible questions for the ALA presidential candidates and for Miguel Figueroa the OLOS liaison.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:27PM.
Social Responsibilities Round Table Action Council Meeting 2
ALA Midwinter – Dallas Texas Convention Center, Room 222
January 22, 2012
Jane Glasby called the meeting to order at 2:30 pm
Laura Kolkutsky, Theresa A. Tobin, Julie Winkelstein, LaJuan Pringle, Charles Kratz, Christie Gibrick, Jane Cothron, Tom Twiss, Al Kagan, Amanda Wakaruk, Nikki Winslow, Peter McDonald, John Buschman, Mike Marlin, Jane Glasby, Jim Kuhn, Lisa McCracken, Mark Hudson and Susan Hayes
Rainbow Project Book List
Christie Gibrich reported on the Rainbow Project book list and disseminated the list of the top ten GLBTQ Books for Youth. She reported on the new incoming chair and a social Sunday evening at the Dallas Public Library.
Budget Meeting Report
Nikki Winslow reported on the budget meeting she attended representing SRRT. She said she basically came away with the following: when revenues fall, expenditures must fall. She also reported on several webinars that are available for Roundtable Coordinators and Treasurers. Possible ideas for intern projects were also discussed. The ideas for intern projects need to be submitted in April.
Questions for ALA Presidential Candidates
The third item was the questions for the candidates. Both Barbara Stripling and Gina Millsap came, gave short introductory statements and were asked questions of interest to SRRT:
1) Their view on the dissolution of ALA-APA
2) Their opinion for ALA voting against displaying information about hotels under union action on the registration page
3) The lawyers’ statement on One Voice and the inability of SRRT to express the views of SRRT
4) Their views on Wikileaks
5) What they thought ALA’s relation to guerilla librarianship should be
6) Changing the Library Bill of Rights to include housing status
Draft Resolution in Support of Intellectual Freedom in Tucson
The draft resolution “in support of intellectual freedom in Tucson” was discussed. This resolution condemns the closure of educational ethnic studies programs on the basis of intellectual freedom, the confiscation of the books associated with educational ethnic studies programs, and the denigration of education and the censoring of important historical, educational, and cultural and creative writings important to the development of critical thinking in students. It urges the Arizona legislature to pass the bill repealing the ban on ethnic studies programs. This was brought by Jim Kuhn who moved that we endorse the idea in principle. Al Kagan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Draft Resolution on Loss of Crucial Governmental Information
Charles Kratz read the draft resolution on loss of crucial governmental information. It affirms that it is essential for libraries and the U.S. Government Printing Office to work together to explore the possibilities inherent in 21st century library services for the American public and urges the U.S. Congress to provide guidance and oversight through its Joint Committee on Printing to support the U.S. Government Printing Office working closely and openly with depository libraries at every level to explore and establish new models for managing federal information resources and related services. The motion to support this resolution was seconded and passed unanimously.
IRTF Program Budget
Tom Twiss presented two options for the budget for the IRTF program for Annual involving Wikileaks and Bradley Manning. He requested that the $1000 that had been allocated for the Alternative Media Task Force (which has disbanded) be given to IRTF. There was discussion on whether it will be possible for the IRTF to obtain additional funding from other groups. The two options were for either an in-person speaker or speakers by Skype. This was moved, seconded and passed unanimously.
Possible Bylaw Changes
Possible bylaw changes were discussed. The changes to Paragraph 2 were:
1) Delete the Exhibits Coordinator
2) Add “at large” to “The ten elected members of the Action Council”
3) Not mention the number of offices in the statement “no single person shall serve Action Council in more than one of the designated offices.”
These changes were moved, seconded and passed unanimously.
There are to be additional wording changes in the remaining areas brought forward and this will be moved to Annual.
OLOS Liaison Report
Miguel Figueroa, the OLOS liaison, came to report to us. We asked about how detailed the budget submissions have to be. The answer was that just the $1000 figure per Task Force was fine with ALA. He talked about the Overlap Report, but only the 2011 figures were currently available. The report showed that most of the loss in membership came when the Roundtable started charging for student membership. The new brochure (which no longer includes a charge for students), although ready, was not on the ALA website, nor on the libr.org website. Jane requested that Miguel send her the file for the new brochure as soon as possible. (Editor’s note: the brochure is now available at http://www.ala.org/rt/srrt/membership-srrt.) Miguel also discussed the budget and reported that we had ended the year in the black for several years and had money in the bank.
IRTF Program Budget Revisited
The Council revisited the proposal to increase the allocation for IRTF’s program if needed to the full amount. There was discussion on what we actually had available “in the bank.” The decision was to move that the Coordinator could allocate up to $2800 in funds to IRTF depending on availability and need. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
Several items were moved from this discussion to discussion in the newsletter, including the newsletter proposals and Task Force Reports.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:38pm
by Al Kagan - African Studies Bibliographer, Professor of Library Administration – University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
First, let me say that it is an honor to be back as SRRT Councilor. Thanks to the Action Council for the vote of confidence in asking me to finish the last year of Tiffani Conner’s term. For those of us who live in cold climates, it was certainly nice to get a break from our winter. And it is always great to engage with friends and colleagues. SRRT did not have any resolutions of its own at this meeting, but we did endorse two other successful resolutions in principle, Resolution Opposing Restriction of Access to Material and Open Inquiry in Ethnic and Cultural Studies Programs in Arizona (2011-2012 ALA CD#19.1) and Resolution on the Loss of Crucial Government Information (2011-2012 ALA CD#20.3).
The Arizona resolution was introduced by the Intellectual Freedom Committee and had very broad support after a title change and a couple of language revisions. The title originally addressed only the Tucson Unified School District, which eliminated its Mexican American Studies Program, removed books from classrooms, and removed many of these books from school libraries. However, the law under which Tucson acted is a state law and puts in danger all ethnic and cultural studies programs in the state. The resolution condemned the suppression of open inquiry and free expression and the restriction of access to educational materials, and urged the Arizona legislature to pass HB 2654, repealing these reactionary measures.
The loss of government information resolution was introduced by the Committee on Legislation. It addresses the problem of removal of digital information from government websites. The resolution urges Congress to restore funding for permanent no-fee access to aggregated sources of government information, to give adequate notice and provide a chance for the public to comment on proposals for modifying or terminating information products, to require agencies discontinuing access to transfer the content and functionality to the US Government Printing Office, and to improve policies and capabilities for making government information available to the public in an open, timely, participatory manner.
Other successful resolutions from the Committee on Legislation were Resolution Opposing the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (2011-2012 ALA CD#20.2) and Resolution Opposing the Research Works Act (2011-2012 ALA CD#20.1). SOPA and PIPA were opposed because they would compromise fundamental rights such as free speech, intellectual freedom, and privacy in an effort to target objectionable foreign websites. The second resolution opposes legislation that would nullify the National Institutes of Health public access policy to federally funded research and supports the expansion of the NIH policy to other federal agencies.
New Jersey Chapter Councilor, Cynthia Czesak, proposed a Resolution on Publishers and Practices which Discriminate Against Library Users. It was passed after much debate and slight revision. This resolution mainly addresses the problems around the use of ebooks in public libraries. It puts ALA on record against publishers’ and distributors’ policies that adversely affect library users, and directs the new ALA Digital Content and Libraries Working Group to review the situation and recommend appropriate action. Two problems are unwillingness to sell to public libraries and setting a limit on the number of times a digital item can circulate. Mike Marlin made a convincing argument that ebooks are the future for blind people and that these problematic practices are especially discriminatory to blind people.
There was also a debate about the continuing need for an ALA-APA Council to govern the ALA Allied Professional Association. ALA-APA has two functions, to administer certification courses and to work for better worklife conditions for librarians. The ALA Presidential Task Force for Improving the Effectiveness of ALA’s Council recommended that the ALA-APA Council be disbanded. If that is done, all decision-making will go to the ALA Executive Board. The ALA-APA Council voted for more discussion and to reconsider this proposal at the 2012 ALA Annual Meeting. There seemed to be support for a compromise: reducing the ALA-APA Council meetings to one per year instead of meeting at both the Midwinter and Annual meetings.
It is a real pleasure to report that Betty Turock was unanimously voted an honorary membership. This is ALA’s most prestigious award. Betty was one of the original founders of SRRT and has always supported our efforts. More recently, she initiated the ALA Spectrum Scholarship Program and she has worked tirelessly to make it a great success.
Finally, anyone who has been on the ALA Council has met and much appreciated the help of Lois Ann Gregory-Wood at ALA’s Council Secretariat. Lois Ann was honored for her long supportive service to the Council with a formal tribute resolution. It was also a pleasure to honor her.
I would be happy to try to answer any questions.
Who Is Protecting the People's Property?
by Bernadine Abbott Hoduski
Bernadine Abbott Hoduski is retired from being an Assistant Professor and Director of the Governments Documents Department at Central Missouri State University, manager of the serials catalog at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, director of the scientific & law library for EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Missouri and Lecturer at the Catholic University School of Library & Information Science.
She also served 21 years as a professional staff member for the Joint Committee on Printing of the United States Congress. She chaired the JCP working groups on automation of the cataloging system at GPO, automation of the Congressional Record Index and establishment of standards for Congressional binding. She chaired the Congressional Serial Set Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Depository Library Access to Federal Automated Data Bases.
Government publications and information deposited in federal depository libraries are considered the property of the federal government. I prefer to think of them as the people’s property, entrusted to librarians for free public access. The Federal Library Depository Program was set up to serve all the people in all Congressional districts – including the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, students, small business people, and children – not just professors, students, lawyers, and scholars.
The future of the program is being discussed by a number of library associations and the depository library community. ALA is under pressure by some librarians to develop a position about the future, which would include changing the underlying legislation in Title 44. Some of these librarians would like to see regionals, which are responsible for taking everything and keeping it permanently, allowed to substitute digital for other formats, including paper. Some would like to see the number of regionals reduced from two for each state to 15 for the entire nation. Some would like to see the majority of documents available only electronically.
Librarians representing the largest libraries in the country are writing to Congress to ask for changes that will benefit their institutions. Many of the regionals are at the largest academic libraries and some of them are complaining about the burden of preserving paper document collections.
Those regionals did not complain when they were first in line to get those documents, of which there were often not enough for every library. They did not complain when Congress decided that only regionals would receive bound documents of historical importance, like the Serial Set and the Congressional Record. Many public libraries are dropping out of the program; both Detroit and Denver Public Libraries have dropped their regional status. Smaller depository libraries depend upon their regionals to keep the paper documents that they send to them.
Librarians convinced Congress to provide government information electronically to all libraries and directly to the public. This makes it possible for those who live in small towns and in the country to access government information. But once digital was available, Americans wanted it all digital right now. This is not possible because it takes time, work and money to digitize every government document in a way that makes it useful and of good quality. Some librarians did not wait for the Government Printing Office and agencies to finish the work of digitization; they started digitizing the people’s property themselves. They did it as individual libraries, in consortiums, and with vendors and publishers such as Google, Internet Archive, West, Readex and ProQuest. In the process, some libraries have engaged in destructive digitization by providing Google or Hathi Trust with their documents. One university library in Illinois sent a large part of its collection to Hathi Trust; so far, 20,000 documents of that library have been destroyed. Those documents will not be going back to the Illinois library that was entrusted with “the people’s property.”
When both of the regionals in Michigan relinquished their regional status, the solution proposed by the state librarian of Michigan was to make University of Minnesota the regional. The Government Printing Office denied the request and is urging the state to find another regional. One reason for the denial was the fear that a large part of the collection at the state library would have been sent to Minnesota for destructive digitization.
In the meantime, GPO is working with the publishing agencies to digitize their documents in a non-destructive, quality manner. For example, GPO is working with the Library of Congress to digitize Congressional publications. It is a slow process because Social Security numbers are being excised from the Congressional Record and hearings in order to protect privacy.
Because the public and many librarians have jumped to the conclusion that every document is digitized and easily available electronically, librarians have started weeding their document collections. An academic library just last week posted on GovdocL that her library was going to get rid of half of their collection, some 250,000 documents. She promised that if her regional did not take the unwanted documents – such as their 1,785 volumes of the Serial Set dating back from 1873 – she would offer those volumes to other libraries.
Some librarians are discarding the paper Serial Set when they buy the digital version. The publishers were only able to digitize the whole set because missing volumes were provided by libraries. The sets cost hundreds of millions of dollars to print, bind, marbelize, catalog and ship to libraries. Tax supported libraries and librarians preserved them for several hundred years. But now, preserving them has become a burden and space is needed for the machines needed to read the digital version that libraries will pay for with more tax dollars.
Many documents librarians, including myself, who labored for years to make sure that their historically important series were complete, preserved and cataloged, want the permanent paper editions to be preserved in libraries geographically dispersed around our country, just the way members of Congress envisioned it when they set up the depository library program. As chair of a subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Printing looking at whether electronic access for government documents should be provided to libraries, I consulted with the experts on what is permanent. Their conclusion and that of the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, and other libraries, is that only paper is permanent. Digital is needed, but it must be backed up with paper. Not only is digital not permanent, but it is also threatened by disasters that disable the technology that make it readable.
We need to think and plan like librarians and prepare for the future. Our collections were built by thousands of librarians who cared about future readers. Some of them have retired rather than see their collections destroyed. Some have been persuaded to sign letters of support for policies they do not support. Some are desperately trying to protect their collections. Some have had their collections taken away and some have had their jobs taken away. Most of them are still trying to serve the needs of the American people. Documents librarians need your help to convince library directors and the policy makers of ALA to protect the past to ensure a good information future for all.
I urge you, as members of SRRT, to join the conversation before it is too late. The ALA Committee on Legislation appointed a subcommittee on government information (GIS). When GIS did not write a resolution to support the solutions proposed by the largest libraries, they set up a task force to write a resolution for Annual Conference. Both the full committee and GIS will look at the resolution at Annual, but it will not represent the interests of the public and small libraries if more librarians do not speak up.
The Social Justice Impact of Ebooks
by Laura Krier - Principal Metadata Analyst, California Digital Library
The reading landscape is changing, and with it the operating practices of libraries. Our old models and expectations do not hold in a digital reading environment. As ebooks proliferate and greater attention is paid to shifts in reading practices and book buying models, libraries have to remain at the forefront of these changes. We have to involve ourselves actively in building new models and establishing new rules, rather than simply reacting to the precedents publishers try to set.
The shift to an ebook environment cannot be undone, and it is only likely to accelerate in the next few years. But this isn’t only about how people read. There are important social justice issues involved in these changes. As our reading models shift to the digital, issues of equitable access to content become trickier than they’ve ever been before. The issues are different for different types of libraries and different communities, but there are commonalities, and the ways in which these changes play out in one arena will affect all the others. Our needs and concerns are different, but we need to work together to ensure we can continue to fulfill our missions in a digital resource environment.
Public libraries exist to provide equal access to information for all patrons. There are obvious ways in which the ebook revolution makes this difficult: not every patron can afford an ebook reader; those who cannot are prevented from accessing titles that are published or purchased only in a digital medium. We cannot, however, use this difficulty to try to turn the tide against ebooks. Instead, we have to work within our communities and with publishers and authors to find ways to provide content for all patrons. We have to fight against licensing agreements that prohibit lending of ebook readers. We have to work with grant funding bodies to provide devices to those in our communities who cannot afford them. And we have to fight to ensure that digital content is published in a standard format that will be available on all devices, not only a select few.
When publishers limit which titles are available to libraries as ebooks, it might not appear to be a social justice issue. It’s easy to think that if a patron can’t read a book on her device, she can always come into the library and check out the print version. But what about our housebound patrons and those who have limited ability to access our physical buildings? The ebook revolution gives us a way to provide better service to all our patrons; publishers’ decisions to limit content curtail our abilities to do so.
Even more troublesome is the precedent that publishers are trying to set regarding how libraries can own and lend content. As publishers try to exert greater control, libraries lose the ability to fulfill key parts of our mission.
In academic libraries, preservation has always been a strong part of our institutional mission. We build collections not only to serve our patrons today, but also those of the future. These collections are intended to preserve our cultural heritage. Current ebook contracts that provide content on a licensed, limited basis prohibit libraries from fulfilling this crucial function. Without the ability to preserve copies of digital books locally, we run the risk of losing this content at the whim of a publisher who decides to pull it. Books that are out of print might truly be unavailable if they are pulled from libraries’ licensed collections.
The Social Responsibilities Round Table hasn’t to date been strongly involved in discussions about digital content and the rights of libraries and library patrons. This should change. ALA has established a Digital Content and Libraries Working Group to examine crucial issues in the digital reading environment and advocate for libraries. SRRT should work with this group to bring social justice issues to the forefront. Social justice work is always best achieved through collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders. This work offers SRRT a great opportunity to build our relationships with other ALA groups and to achieve something of importance to all libraries. I’d like to urge SRRT members and the Action Council to reach out to the Digital Content and Libraries Working Group and to find ways to collaborate to ensure libraries can continue to fulfill our crucial roles in a digital future.
Here are some places to begin if you would like to learn more about what librarians are currently doing to ensure equitable access to digital content.
Inside DCDW: The First Meeting, American Libraries magazine: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/e-content/inside-dcwg-first-meeting
Library Renewal: http://libraryrenewal.org
Sarah Houghton-Jan at Librarian in Black writes a lot about ebook issues in libraries: http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/
Bobbi Newman at Librarian by Day also has great things to say about ebooks: http://librarianbyday.net/category/ebooks/
Thoughts From an Occupy Wall Street Librarian
by Mandy Henk (Guest Author) - Access Services Librarian, DePauw University
The book and other forms of human writing allow the transmission of ideas from one place and time to another. Like a jet engine or a time machine, the book preserves and transports the ideas within it from one human mind to another. To be a keeper of books, a steward of knowledge, is a pretty special role in a society that prizes information as highly as ours does. This role is inextricably bound up in the political. The acts of building a collection, assisting readers, maintaining a common for intellectual engagement—these are not the acts of someone unconcerned with politics. Rather, these acts can shift the balance of power within a given society.
The impulse to share our thoughts with each other, both in writing and through conversation, is one of the more delightful traits of human beings. This trait allowed word of the defiant self-immolation of a fruit seller in Tunisia to spread across the world, instigating revolution as it went. The Arab Spring has spread far and wide since then. Its primary tactic, occupying a public place to force political change, inspired a group of activists (mostly anarchists at first) to occupy a small park in lower Manhattan last fall. We gathered, in part, to talk and to share ideas. What was the first book brought to Liberty Plaza? No one knows, but over time more than 9,000 books – 9,000 ideas – have been collected, organized, and carefully maintained so that they can be shared by all.
I only lived there for a few days at a time, but if you’ve never lived outside in a public park, you should try it sometime; there’s a very particular rhythm to it. Like many librarians, I spend most of my life in a fairly secure bubble. Bursting that bubble is a liberating and exhilarating experience. Building and staffing a library at the same time, well that was truly sublime. I pressed books into the hands of budding young activists, homeless activists, and even a few Wall Street bankers. At its best, librarianship is about connecting authors and readers. Being a librarian at Occupy Wall Street let me do that in a very real (and sometimes even literal) way.
It was a cold, early morning in November when the books of the People’s Library at Occupy Wall Street were confiscated. The tent was cut apart with chainsaws, two librarians went to jail, and our books were tossed casually into a dumpster alongside kitchen waste. The laws that govern the confiscation of property were ignored by what Mayor Bloomberg has called his “personal army.” The destruction of books is an abomination because it is the symbolic destruction of an idea.
There are few objects that hold as much power or demand as much reverence, especially in the secular world. The act itself is deeply symbolic and profoundly destructive. This is a fact that those who wield power seem to have considerable trouble understanding. Earlier in the week this piece was written, the US military, through an unfortunate oversight, burned copies of the Qur’an and other religious texts at the Bagram prison complex in Afghanistan. The death toll from the resulting uprising now stands at twenty-five and rising.
Book burning and looting, as abhorrent as they are, are simply no match for the power of a good idea. The ideas we shared at the People’s Library, like the idea communicated by the Tunisian fruit seller, are spreading rapidly. The spirit of Mingo, Flint, and Love Canal is being kindled in a new generation. Direct action is back. Rosa Luxemberg wrote, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” We live in an era in which we enjoy considerable personal freedom. Most of us are free to live where we wish, free to eat what and when we want, free to spend our money as we see fit. But in other ways, we live in an era every bit as constrictive and contrived as the Victorians did. We are bound up in a lifestyle dependent upon a global economic and political system that is undeniably morally abhorrent. Our lights run on electricity generated by blowing up the mountains of West Virginia and by forcing poisoned water into the bedrock of Pennsylvania, our computers are built by virtual slave labor in China, our food system rests on soil destroying farming practices and poisons. Our entire way of life is alienated from the natural world that sustains us and gives us life, while we ourselves are alienated from each other.
What role does our profession need to play as these new ideas spread and gain power? How do we look to our own house, as it were, and rebuild it on a stronger foundation - the kind of foundation we can be proud to hand down to the next generation who will tend the books and materials, both physical and virtual, that we hold on our shelves? The path forward is hazy, but by keeping our moral vision clear and at the forefront, we can begin asking new kinds of questions as we build and manage our libraries. We can ask not just about how much a new database costs, but also about the labor conditions of those who built the servers and the carbon footprint of the equipment. We can support our scholars when they boycott predatory publishers. We can look to our own institutions and ask who among us is without health care and why.
As much as I love my work with the People’s Library, it’s only part of my activism. The harder part is at my day job doing the work of building the kind of library I can be proud to hand down, one that serves my readers while treading lightly and gently upon the Earth and her people.
Thoughts On Inclusion
by Julie Ann Winkestein - Public Librarian and Doctoral Candidate
In January 2012, I went to the annual ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education) conference in Dallas. One of the sessions I attended was called “Extending ALISE’s Reach: Expanding Our Diversity Horizon.” This workshop offered an opportunity for attendees to contribute to the discussion on the ALISE Diversity Statement Proposal. Part of the impetus for this session was mentioned in the background material we all received, which included the conclusion that “too many years have been spent on talk and more was needed on action; i.e., the need to remove institutional barriers to diversity at ALISE and in LIS education” (ALISE Diversity Statement Proposal, Background, first paragraph).
At the session, we first heard from a panel and then broke into small groups to talk about different aspects of the proposal. My group looked at the section called “diversity principles” and had some polite disagreements about the wording. One of the words that is used repeatedly in the ALISE document, and in many other documents that relate to diversity, is the word “inclusion.”
Until recently, I’ve been comfortable with this term. After all, inclusive education encourages diverse voices and inclusive policies take into account everyone’s life situations. However, I’ve changed, perhaps because of my research on diversity and homelessness. Now, the word “inclusive” has begun to suggest privilege and power. When I use the word, it feels to me like I am saying, “I could exclude people, but I don’t.” When universities use the word “inclusive” in discussing multiculturalism or diversity, they seem to proclaim, “We used to be White-centric,” or, “we used to have a heteronormative view, but now we’re including those people we used to exclude.” In other words, we have the power to decide how we’re going to do this and we’ve decided to be more open and welcoming.
I raised my objection and the ALISE group listened to me. I think at least one person agreed. It was suggested that I come up with another term and I struggled to do so. What word says, “We are all in this together?” What word doesn’t proclaim an in-group and an out-group, doesn’t imply power and voice on the part of one group and powerlessness and no voice on the part of another? In fact, what word doesn’t talk about groups at all, but talks about all of us?
In trying to solve this, I realized diversity is another one of those words that has the potential to be divisive rather than unifying. If diversity is about including people who are somehow considered “different” or diverse, we again have a power dynamic; we have an in-group (the ones who are the same) and the out-group (the different ones). If our intent in increasing diversity is bringing in the “out-group,” to my mind we are perpetuating a system that needs to be changed.
As I’ve grappled with finding new definitions for diversity and inclusion, I’ve tried to think of ways to express our equality. One idea I had is that diversity means acknowledging there are characteristics or qualities some of us use to judge others of us. Or, as is quoted in the ALISE Diversity Principles, “diversity is the difference among us” (Lee and Chancellor, 2011). If I use that as my base, then how do I change the first sentence in the ALISE Diversity Principles, which is, “ALISE has an ethical compass that points to equity, diversity, inclusion and social responsibility?” The statement goes on to explain that inclusion “refers to what happens to people once they are in an organization, institution or social context.” If you accept my concern with the word inclusion, what word could be used instead? Does the word “unity” say, “No one has the right to exclude or include anyone?” Does unity say, “We are all equal?”
My husband pointed out that maybe the word inclusive isn’t even necessary. If we say we belong to an inclusive organization, aren’t we really saying we include everyone who is in the organization? In fact, maybe what we’re saying is we don’t exclude. This, however, takes me back to my original point - who are we to say we include or exclude in the first place?
For me, this issue is about the power of language, which can be subtle and multi-layered. For example, I’m doing research on youth who are experiencing homelessness. Some people call them “at risk” because statistically they may be more likely to be exploited and to feel – well – excluded. But this term labels them and makes them appear to be victims when, in fact, they are resilient and capable and inspiring.
Is inclusive like this? Does it appear to mean one thing, while actually subtly saying something else? Do we even need this term? I don’t know. What do you think?
Concrete, Steel & Paint. Dir. Cindy Burstein and Tony Heriza. Distributed by New Day Films, 2009.
reviewed by Fred Stoss - Associate Librarian, Oscar A. Silverman Library, University at Buffalo - SUNY
Steel and concrete are the primary building materials in the Graterford State Prison, a maximum-security facility outside the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its inmates include violent criminals who face decades behind locked doors and an existence devoid of many of the freedoms they would enjoy “on the outside.” The inmates whose story unfolds in this documentary film seek a means of making a “positive contribution to society” and giving back, in part, something their actions took away. These inmates fear isolation from the outside world, isolation from the communities and people they betrayed, and isolation from the healing they desperately seek.
The families of murder victims remain wracked with grief and sorrow, seeking closure to the violence that tore apart their lives. Many of these families are looking also for healing, restoration, and answers to their questions about resentment, justice and forgiveness. Their greatest fears include the lack of genuine remorse from the criminals and an inability to find forgiveness.
What is the common ground on which these two groups meet? Jane Golden is head of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia. She uses mural painting as a vehicle for dialogue and community development. Jane goes to the prison to speak with the inmates about designing a mural from their perspective, but with the condition that it includes the community.
Eventually, the offenders and representatives from the community meet face-to-face. Their dialogue is the crux of this documentary, as feelings are peeled back, much like pulling off the leaves of an artichoke to reveal its heart. However, the designs of the mural have too many disparate perspectives and the end result is two murals, side-by-side, one depicting the thoughts of the inmates and the other those of their victims.
This documentary does not make any attempt to sugar coat the emotions that are identified during the conversations and the actual painting of the murals. The honesty and sincerity of the inmates is easy to understand and forms an emotionality juxtaposed with the resentments and insufficiencies felt by the victims and their inability to accept apologizes for the taking of another person’s life. It is safe to say that there are many positives about the underlying messages delivered in this film: reconciliation is possible, though it may be incomplete; its partial fruition overpowers inaction and provides a thought provoking means for resolving conflicts of tremendous proportions. Concrete, Steel & Paint is a clear and powerful documentary with the message that healing is an art form worth exploring beyond Philadelphia’s streets.
This film is highly suggested for viewing in academic settings for classes in criminology or criminal justice, law, or sociology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Public libraries should work closely with nonprofit organizations and neighborhood and community groups that address the broadly defined topic of dealing with violence. A challenge would be to see these three groups – academia, local nonprofits, and libraries – working towards the goal of spreading the messages found in Concrete, Steel & Paint to foster dialogues in their own communities.
For more information see: https://streamingmoviesright.com/us/movie/concrete-steel-and-paint
Collins, Samuel G. Library of Walls: The Library of Congress and the Contradictions of Information Society. Minnesota: Litwin Books, 2009.
reviewed by Ashley Braun, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ
In his dissertation-turned-manuscript, Samuel Collins deconstructs the concept of the “information society,” using the evolution of the Library of Congress as a lens. As the title indicates, this anthropological exploration repeatedly returns to the inherent incongruities within the Library of Congress, whether Collins is analyzing the architectural motives behind each LC building, the many historical updates in LC technologies, the de-skilling of much of the labor force, or the confusing role the LC’s National Digital Library (NDL) plays in relation to its physical collections. This meticulously constructed text effectively showcases the continually evolving spatial, procedural, and staffing elements that both obstruct and bolster the Library’s ability to provide access to its collections.
Collins’ slim book reveals the deluge of inconsistencies lurking beneath the information society. For example, when introducing the National Digital Library in 1995, Head Librarian James Billington (the thirteenth Librarian of the United States Congress) stressed his hope that the LC would release ungrouped, non-thematic collections for public use and refinement—what he termed “plain vanilla.” Collins does not hesitate to acknowledge the reality that the NDL is yet another grain of sand in the grand scope of commercialized information available on the Internet. Thus, in order to retain preeminence, it must provide value-added collections, many of which are geared toward existing and potential corporate donors. The contradiction, Collins explains, is in the pressure to eliminate or de-skill employees, despite the continued, albeit reluctantly acknowledged, reliance on human expertise to organize our national collection into exhibits for public consumption. For “the real dream of a ‘virtual library’ is a library without a library: books, films, recordings and photographs presented in their logocentric fullness without the ‘noise’ of cataloging, classification and organization.”
Ultimately, Collins questions the idealistic notion that the Library of Congress—or even information itself—can be accessible entirely without barriers. The creation of the National Digital Library has extended the LC’s reach beyond imagination, purporting inclusiveness for all in the democratic process. Even so, exclusivity remains as problematic as ever. Walls exist even when they have no physical presence. Collins’ metaphor extends further; the library of walls, with its physical space, organizational processes, and human expertise, fortifies the future information society: “the machines and spaces of the information age—those touchstones of our shiny, new telematic world—are less important than the people who enable and interpret the objects in our life. Hence, the last word has been left to those who labor at the Library.”
Library of Walls is not a disparaging account of the history, practices, or management of the Library of Congress, but rather a commentary on the ambiguity underlying the concept of an information society. The writing is dense and occasionally inaccessible, as the author writes from an anthropological perspective; however, readers are treated to captivating historical details relating to former practices, collections, and librarians at the Library of Congress. This is recommended for any information professional or graduate student seeking to better understand the limits of a “limitless” information society.
Press Releases – Oakland Museum of California Exhibitions
The Oakland Museum of California has two exhibitions coming up that may be of interest to SRRT Newsletter readers.
From Kelly A. Koski, Assistant Director of Communications and Audience Development, Oakland Museum of California:
The 1968 Exhibit
The year 1968 was a turning point for a generation coming of age and a nation at war; and throughout it all, the Bay Area was at the forefront with an emerging California counterculture. In Spring 2012, the Oakland Museum of California presents The 1968 Exhibit, a major, multimedia exhibition examining the events of the year and how they fueled a persistent, and often contradictory, sense of identity for the people who were there and those who came after. On view March 31 through August 19, 2012, in OMCA’s Great Hall, The 1968 Exhibit was developed by the Minnesota History Center, in partnership with the Atlanta History Center, the Chicago History Museum, and the Oakland Museum of California.
“Discussions about the impact and legacy of 1968 are being had at dinner tables, in classrooms and on the streets of America,” says Tom Brokaw, honorary chair of The 1968 Exhibit, former anchor and managing editor of the “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” and author of Boom! Talking About the Sixties. “It is time to document this watershed year through the voices of the people who experienced it firsthand, and to hear from the next generation about what it means to them.”
View the full press release at: http://museumca.org/pressroom. Find more information about this exhibit at: http://the1968exhibit.org
All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area
The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) announces the special exhibition All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area, on view in the Museum’s Great Hall March 31 through August 19, 2012. A companion to The 1968 Exhibit, All of Us or None is the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the poster renaissance that began in the Bay Area in the 1960s.
Celebrating the recent acquisition of the renowned All Of Us Or None (AOUON) poster collection, OMCA presents the first comprehensive exhibition exploring the poster renaissance that started in the mid-1960s as both a legitimate art form as well as a powerful tool for public debate on social justice issues. Presented as a companion exhibition to The 1968 Exhibit, the exhibition features 68 original political posters framed and traditionally hung, in addition to countless posters digitally printed at size and collaged to the gallery walls, a method similar to how they were originally displayed
To view the entire press release, visit: http://museumca.org/pressroom
Call for Submissions
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SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright " 2011 by the Social Responsibilities Round Table. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without permission.
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