1998 IRTF Report

International Responsibilities Task Force Report on Activities at the Annual Conference, 1998

Al Kagan

Social Responsibilities Round Table Newsletter, No. 129, September 1998, p. 8

The International Responsibilities Task Force sponsored the main SRRT program this year titled, "Social Responsibility Around the World," endorsed the Pastors for Peace caravan to Cuba, and endorsed the Basic Services for Libraries project for Palestine.

Contact Ann Sparanese, ACS20@aol.com, for further information on how to help with the Pastors for Peace caravan to Cuba. They are bringing bookmobiles as well as library and school supplies. Contact Elaine Harger, eharger@tao.agoron.com to help out with the Palestine project to aid the Gaza Health Sciences Library at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

In coordination with ALA President Barbara Ford's 1998 theme, "Local Touch, Global Reach" the Task Force was energized through its successful program on "Social Responsibility Around the World." The papers will be printed in the Progressive Librarian. The following speakers from our sister progressive library organizations gave overviews of their organizations and explained the library environment in their respective countries:

Austria: Renate Obadalek from Arbeitskreis Kritischer Bibliothekarinen und Bibliothekare im Renner-Institut (KRIBIBI). Translation: Male and Female Critical Librarians.

Germany: Frauke Mahrt-Thomsen from Arbeitskreis Kritischer BibliothekarInen (AKRIBIE). Translation: Working Group of Critical Librarians.

South Africa: Johnny Jacobs from Library and Information Workers Organization (LIWO.

Sweden: Lennart Wettmark from Bibliotek i Samhle (BIS). Translation: Libraries in Society.

United Kingdom: Martyn Lowe from Information for Social Change.

Several other members from the Austrian and German organizations also attended the meetings and participated in our discussions, including Raimund Dehmlow, editor of the Directory of Progressive Librarians Around the World(Hannover: Laurentius, 1997). An expanded directory is online without descriptions at the following URL. Links to various homepages are provided: http://www.germany.net/teilnehmer/100/115158/adresse.htm

Chris Atton, author of Alternative Literature: A Practical Guide for Librarians(Aldershot, UK: Gower, 1996) was the panel discussant. Chris noted that it can sometimes be lonely working on issues in our respective countries, but the act of coming together and meeting each other is actually ìa validation of our work. He described how winning this year's SRRT Jackie Eubanks award validated his work in the UK, and brought mainstream attention to his work. So giving each other more awards may be a viable organizing strategy.

The great positive energy generated resulted in the beginnings of an international network of progressive library organizations. Our first action was to endorse a statement on the inappropriate venue for this year's International Visitors Reception at the World Bank. All of the speakers boycotted the event in protest over the Bank's Structural Adjustment Programs which decimate social programs so that countries can pay their debts as dictated by the international financial system. The first campaign will be opposition to the Multinational Agreement on Investments (MAI). See the SRRT resolution in this issue.