Library Juice 1:24 - July 16, 1998

Special Issue on Intellectual Freedom 
1. Bibliographic Tools for the Alternative Press (letter announcing website) 
2. Response to above from a listserv participant (alaoif) 
3. Proposed revisions to "Libraries: An American Value," ALA's new statement 
4. Issues of Inside Censorship and the ALA 
Quote of the day: 
"Today, as the United States appears to become ever more conservative 
and to retreat from the values of pluralistic democracy on which American 
librarianship's intellectual freedom ideology is grounded, the American 
library profession, which historically has embraced the dominant ideology, 
may be faced with more fundamental choices concerning its very identity 
than ever before." 
-Louise S. Robbins, from the introduction to her book, _Censorship and 
the American Library: The American Library Association's Response to 
Threats to Intellectual Freedom, 1939-1969_. 
1. Bibliographic Tools for the Alternative Press 
"Bibliographic Tools for the Alternative Press," from Counterpoise, the 
review joural published by the Alternatives in Print Task Force, is now on 
the web, at <>. 
I am cc-ing this to alaoif because I think it's clear that the alternative 
press is the key to intellectual freedom in the current era of control of 
the publishing and broadcast media by ever larger corporate entities with a 
vested interest in controlling the information environment. 
I am optimistic about the possibility of ALA's intellectual freedom bodies 
beginning to take on these issues aggressively, and to begin supporting the 
AIP's efforts under the intellectual freedom banner. 
ALA's history in defense of intellectual freedom is not such a long history 
that the lack of precedent for explicit advocacy of alternative media 
through the OIF should prevent a turn in this direction. 
I think it makes sense to ask ALA to respond to changing times and to 
recognize and respond to a trend that is a great threat, and perhaps the 
greatest threat, to intellectual freedom, despite its being more subtle 
than the pattern of small-scale, outright censorship attempts.  The hidden 
censorship within the publication, marketing and review process is 
insidious and a very real threat to democracy.  The alternative press, 
which is the most excellent example of the benefits of living in America 
that can think of, would have a better chance of being an effective answer 
if it were given more than lip service by librarians. 
2. Response to above letter from a listserv participant (alaoif) 
Dear Rory, 
I would like to thank you for voicing what is perhaps my biggest beef 
with ALA's Intellectual Freedom statement and most of the current debate 
about censorship and intellectual freedom: the failure to acknowledge a 
greater and more commonplace threat than mere, OVERT censorship by 
government.  It is the lack of outlets for alternative or 
"un-homogenized" points of view that is the real problem in this country 
right now, and yet it is an issue that is hardly ever brought up. 
It is an issue that becomes even more pressing in relation to its 
potential effect on library collections.  We say we advocate 
intellectual freedom, knowledge is power, etc., and yet what do we 
offer?  What we get from our vendors, and vendors offer what is 
published by the big publishing houses, now owned by fewer and larger 
conglomerates whose criteria for publication does not emphasize the 
quality of a potential publication, but its sales potential, its 
potential for promoting other products under the corporation's aegis, 
and its unlikelihood of threatening the interests or reputation of that 
Liana Markley 
3. Proposed revisions to "Libraries: An American Value," ALA's new statement 
This message invites you as individuals to support the revisions to the 
proposed ALA intellectual freedom statement, "Libraries: An American Value," 
just now submitted by Carol Reid, Sandy Berman and me.  I have sent the text 
to June Pinnell-Stephens, chair of the presidential task force, which 
published a draft statement to ALA members in March 1998 and held a 
follow-up hearing at ALA in Washington last month.  Ann Symons has made 
intellectual freedom the focus of her ALA presidency.  The presidential task 
force will prepare a final text this Fall and will submit it to ALA Council 
at Midwinter for acceptance as official ALA policy. 
This statement is intended to be an important policy document for the 21st 
century, designed to be adopted by libraries nationwide.   If you support 
our more forceful, revised text -- or if you want to make other revisions of 
your own -- please write to June Pinnell-Stephens <JuneP[at]> 
IMMEDIATELY.  Waiting until the next SRRT Action Council meeting in January 
1999 will be too late.      --Charles 
June Pinnell-Stephens 
Presidential Task Force on Intellectual Freedom 
American Library Association 
Dear Ms. Pinnell-Stephens, 
Thank you for your courtesy when I spoke at the hearing on the draft of the 
new ALA intellectual freedom statement held by the Task Force at the ALA 
conference last month.  Subsequently, SRRT Action Council, pressed for 
time, was unable to reach agreement on a specific, revised text.  Instead, 
Carol Reid, Sanford Berman, and I as individuals are submitting for your 
consideration the following proposed revisions (in caps) written by Carol 
and modified slightly by Sandy and me. 
Carol Reid, editor of the NYLA IFRT Newsletter, former NYLA IFRT 
coordinator, and former ALA/SRRT Newsletter editor; Sanford Berman, 
Coordinator, ALA/SRRT Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty Task Force; and 
Charles Willett, Coordinator, ALA/SRRT Alternatives in Print Task Force. 
                        JULY 1998 
Libraries in America, whether public or special, academic or school, 
IDEALLY are a cornerstone of the communities they serve and are essential 
to the preservation of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Libraries 
SHOULD provide the ideas, resources and information imperative for 
education, work, recreation and self-government. 
Libraries are a legacy to today's generation, offering them the heritage of 
the past and the promise of the future. To ensure that libraries flourish 
and have the freedom to promote the public good in the 21st century, we 
believe certain principles must be guaranteed. 
To that end, we affirm this contract with the people we serve: 
We defend the constitutional rights of ALL individuals to obtain and use 
the library's resources WITHOUT REGARD TO AGE, SEX, RACE, CLASS, SEXUAL 
We value our nation's diversity and strive to offer TO MEET ITS NEEDS BY 
developing and providing resources and services to the communities we 
We support the rights of all individuals, including children and young 
adults, to determine which resources are appropriate and necessary for 
We UPHOLD the responsibility of all parents to guide their own children's 
use of the library and its resources and services, AND OPPOSE RESTRICTED 
We connect people and information by assisting INDIVIDUALS in identifying 
and effectively using resources, EMPLOYING SPECIALIZED BIBLIOGRAPHIES AND 
We protect each individual's privacy and confidentiality in the use of 
library resources and services BY EDUCATING STAFF, THE PUBLIC, AND 
We protect the rights of individuals to express their concerns about 
library resources and services BY PROVIDING AVENUES FOR COMPLAINTS, 
We celebrate and preserve our democratic society by providing opportunities 
for all individuals to become educated, culturally enriched, and informed, 
Change is constant; but we believe these principles transcend and endure in 
a dynamic technological and political environment.  We believe further that 
through these principles, libraries in the United States can contribute to 
a world free of fear and want, a world THAT values and protects freedom of 
speech, a world THAT CELEBRATES cultural differences and respects 
individual beliefs, and a world where all are truly equal and free. 
4. Issues of Inside Censorship and the ALA 
I wrote the following essay in March, 1998, for Ann Symons' listserv 
"presplan," which was being used to gather ideas for her presidential 
initiative "Intellectual Freedom 2000."   A slightly rewritten version 
appears in _Counterpoise_ vol.2 no.1, January 1998.  If you find any 
sarcasm in it, it's unintentional, and I'll try to strip it out of a future 
rewrite.  Send me your feedback if anything strikes you. 
-Rory Litwin, rlitwin[at] 
Note: it's a good source of bibliographic info on the topic. 
    -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   - 
Issues of Inside Censorship and the ALA 
Forgive me for my lack of experience in libraries.  I am a student and 
what I know of the issues that interest me I have learned primarily by 
As I understand things, ALA's own actions in defense of intellectual 
freedom so far have been limited to the business of directly fighting 
censorship efforts brought against local libraries.  It's an important 
task but something rather narrow in scope and effect, compared to the 
broader, systemic threats to intellectual freedom.  Sanford Berman 
describes the situation in terms of two types of censorship, "outside" 
censorship and "inside" censorship, "outside" censorship efforts coming 
from outside of libraries, and "inside" censorship coming from within 
our institutions; libraries, publishing houses, etc.  As Berman puts it, 
"'Outside' censorship may win headlines, but the 'inside' brand is 
probably more pervasive, and much more damaging to intellectual 
freedom."  (Sanford Berman, "'Inside' Censorship", Wisconsin Library 
Bulletin, Spring, 1981, pp.21-4.  Also see his "Three Kinds of 
Censorship that Nobody Talks About", Minnesota Library Association, Vol. 
23, No. 7, August/September, 1996.)   I see no reason why these deeper 
issues cannot be addressed more comprehensively by the ALA's 
Intellectual Freedom efforts than they have been to date.  Ideally, the 
ALA's traditional courage in advocating its interests where they are 
controversial ought to extend to the honest pursuit of that freedom where 
it is most deeply challenged. 
As Ann Symons and the ALA's membership prepare an intellectual freedom 
program for her upcoming presidency it seems an ideal time to consider 
these issues.  It is discouraging to me, however,  that while ALA's basic 
intellectual freedom documents seem to take a strong stand against 
institutional threats to intellectual freedom, and librarians seem to 
believe universally that they are its defenders, the process of "inside" 
censorship only seems to be picking up steam, in book publishing, 
promotion, and review decisions.  Librarians don't necessarily see the 
process and are commonly unaware of what they can and should do to 
counter its effects in their libraries.  Also, through their own 
decisions, they are increasingly losing their own independence of the 
political-economic forces that affect their libraries.  What happens to 
intellectual freedom as a result?  The answer is not to be found by 
monitoring outside censorship efforts alone. 
ALA's reach extends beyond its influence on library professionals and 
ability to protect local libraries.  It is a politically influential 
organization.  I believe it is worthwhile to more directly address some 
of the institutional threats to intellectual freedom.  I have read 
accounts of books being stopped before publication and books being 
"killed" in the promotion phase by PR firms working for specific, 
nameable industrial entities.  These acts of censorship are harmful to 
society because they suppress facts that it is valuable, sometimes 
essential to know.  Often these publications, or attempted publications, 
would reveal genuine threats to the public health, threats that are only 
recognized much later, due to the successful efforts of industries and 
PR firms to suppress the information.  Who is there to fight against 
this form of censorship?  As Herbert Schiller puts it, "The rejected 
author, whose book is rejected for political reasons, has no platform on 
which to complain."  (_Information Inequality_, London: Routledge, 
1996.)  The present Freedom to Read statement seems dedicated to 
defending books from being removed from their shelves by people who are 
fearful of what they contain.  But books are also being removed from 
_publication_, or not selected for review, by people who are fearful of 
what they contain.  Why not address this type of market-based or 
political-based censorship in the ALA's official Intellectual Freedom 
statements?  At the very least, librarians should be made distinctly aware 
of censorship of this type and the resultant necessity of  reviewing, 
indexing, and selecting alternative publications.  But beyond that (and 
possibly beyond the scope of this listserv, but worth considering), why 
not pursue these issues through ALA's influence in Congress and 
relationship with the American Association of Publishers? If we stand for 
intellectual freedom, we must to act in the political realm to ensure our 
market-neutrality and independence from political forces.  (I have recently 
read accounts of the sort of "book killing" I am referring to in John 
Wiener's article "Murdered Ink," _The Nation_, May 31, 1993, and the book 
_Toxic Sludge is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations 
Industry_, by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton (Monroe, ME: Common Courage 
Press, 1995).) 
Assuming a challenging book reaches publication, it still has to be sold to 
a vendor.  To a degree that is in principle measurable, booksellers are 
reducing access to alternative literature by the use of the approval plan 
concept and similar systems that end up weeding out alternative literature 
as an effect of their efforts to maximize profit margins.  A study of 
library/vendor relations could be commissioned by ALA or by another group 
outside of the libraries themselves to document the real effects of the 
approval plan concept (aside from the budgetary savings and loss of jobs in 
acquisitions departments, which is already well documented in libraries' 
own reports).  The potential for loss of intellectual freedom through a 
less than vigilant watch over library/vendor relationships is well enough 
understood already, however, to give it explicit attention in an 
intellectual freedom program. 
There is an equal problem with "inside" censorship by the gatekeepers 
within the library profession.  The ALA's own _Choice_ has a policy of 
representing "all viewpoints on controversial or sensitive topics," but, as 
Charles Willett has argued, is far from achieving that goal.  ("Politically 
Controversial Monographs: Role of Publishers, Distributors, Booksellers, 
Choice Magazine, and Librarians in Acquiring Them for American Academic 
Libraries," _Building on the First Century: Proceedings of the Fifth 
National Conference of the Association of College and Research 
Libraries_, (Chicago: ACRL, 1989), pp. 238-42.)  Reviewers at _Choice_ 
can be shown to have biased judgment in determining what will be 
reviewed.  Similar factors limit review of challenging books by other 
review journals, with the effect of preventing their selection.  Since 
this type of "passive censorship" or "inside" censorship is already 
contrary to stated policy at _Choice_, it is difficult to think of a 
suggestion for a new intellectual freedom policy that would be effective if 
it were to be adopted.  I think that their are many possible elements to 
the answer.  The statement should be clearly worded, so that it cannot be 
mistaken for an empty ideal or principled verbiage that makes no demands on 
anyone.  It should address institutional or structurally-based 
censorship directly and with a critical intent, without hedging or 
avoiding specifics.  After all, is the aim of ALA's intellectual freedom 
program to defend intellectual freedom, or isn't it? 
In terms of bibliographic access there is the further problem of bias in 
librarianship, due to a lack of critical reflection on mass publishers' 
pervasive marketing and the bias of reviewers.   Sanford Berman's work 
over the years has frequently addressed this "post-selection" form of 
censorship, starting with _Prejudices and Antipathies_ and moving up 
through any bibliography of his work.  In his "'Inside Censorship" 
article (ibid.), Berman describes post-selection barriers other than 
poor cataloging.  Barriers to access that originate in the unconscious 
bias of librarians are clearly an intellectual freedom issue.  There is 
no good reason for ALA's Intellectual Freedom statements and policies to 
continue to neglect these forms of censorship, regardless of whatever 
practical limitations they might have to confront. 
These issues all point to one primary defense against the overall threat 
to intellectual freedom, and that is the awareness, selection, and 
extensive use of alternative literature.  Above all, I believe that this 
solution needs to be specifically included in the Intellectual Freedom 
statements - as a solution, and with reference to the censorship it 
answers.  Much has been written on the importance of the alternative 
press as well as how to use it.  Charles Willett's recent contribution 
to the discussion list "presplan" cited the review journal _Counterpoise_ 
and the directory Alternative Publishers of Books in North America.  The 
Alternatives In Print task force or SRRT is a dedicated group but does 
not make policy.  Not for a lack of interest, or for a lack of effort 
either, the AIP is currently not represented on the 21st Century Policy IF 
Statement group, which is responsible for drafting a new intellectual 
freedom statement.  Although the words "intellectual freedom" do not appear 
in its name, those words fairly well express AIP's reason for being; yet 
the group is left to function largely by itself, and is largely ignored by 
the Office of Intellectual Freedom and other IF bodies within ALA.  As a 
newcomer to the organization, I am unaware of the historical reasons for 
the lack of cooperation between these groups, and I am equally unaware of 
the reasons these issues have not been taken up more broadly or addressed 
more explicitly. Since the set of issues I've discussed has been written on 
at length already I have chosen to close with a few quotations from the 
>From Chris Atton, "Beyond the mainstream: Examining Alternative Sources for 
Stock Selection," _Library Review_, v.43 No. 4 (1994) pp. 57-64: 
"...(B)y limiting ourselves to the publications of the mainstream we 
might be unwittingly sustaining a status quo, fostering an information 
elite, restricting access to aspects of culture and politics that tend 
to be disregarded by mainstream publishers and mass media in 
general...The distorting influence of all mass media (and I include 
"mass publishing" in this) has been demonstrated for many years in the 
work of such as Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, and the Glasgow University 
Media Group."  In _The Manufacture of Consent_, Chomsky identifies a 
number of ways in which the mass media operate: 
        by selecting topics 
        by emphasis 
        by framing of issues 
        by filtering information, and 
        by the bounding of debate." 
(Be aware of Chris Atton's recent book, _Alternative Literature: A 
Practical Guide for Librarians_, (Gower, Brookfield VT, Hampshire 
England, 1996).) 
from Charles Willett, (ibid.): 
"(Politically controversial books) do not leap automatically from cash 
register to the shelves of most college and university libraries.  These 
books are our _glasnost_, our _samizdat_, our free voice.  Every 
participant in the chain linking author and reader has a responsibility 
to bring them into college and university libraries.  Publishers and 
distributors should tell librarians what titles are available and why they 
are significant.  Booksellers should include them in their approval plans, 
even if they are not big money makers.  Review journals should put aside 
ideology and guarantee that all viewpoints on controversial or sensitive 
topics are fairly evaluated.  Comprehensive bibliographic essays and 
collection management reports should consider the whole world, not just the 
West.  They should consider all points of view, not just academic and 
political orthodoxy.  Studies and reviews that fail to consider honestly 
the intellectual contributions of socialist countries, third world 
countries and western dissidents are instruments of propaganda." 
from John Buschman, "Towards a New World Information and Communication 
Order: A  Symposium," _Progressive Librarian_, No. 3, Summer, 1991, pp. 
"Libraries as market-neutral spheres for information are declining... 
(W)hat has happened to economics, ownership, and distribution of global 
and government information has made basic freedom of information 
something of a joke.  Libraries, like schools, are becoming linked to 
specific business and economic issues.  Those issues will come to 
dominate the purchasing and administrative actions of libraries in order 
to fulfill the economic agenda now set for them.  Perhaps most 
disturbing, most of this has begun unquestioned." 
It is my hope that Ann Symons' Presidency and the Intellectual Freedom 2000 
initiative will be an occasion to broaden the scope of ALA's attention to 
the issues of inside censorship. 

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Date: Thursday, October 29, 1998 12:07 PM