Library Juice 3:17 Supplement 2 - May 3, 2000
Third Core Values issue supplement
A communique from Mark Rosenzweig on the core values statement
Date: Mon, 1 May 2000 18:09:47 -0400
To: plgnet-l[at]listproc.sjsu.edu, srrtac-l[at]listproc.sjsu.edu
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]earthlink.net>
Subject: A Guide to the core values discussion/issues
[Some of you have seen some or all of this before, but I thought it
would be useful to provide a single document which you can use for
initiating discussion, for forwarding to interested parties, etc.
Feel free to distribute as needed, to paraphrase it, add to it, edit
it,use in whole or in part, or refashion it in any way that gears it
to your particular needs. For those of you who have already received
all or part of this material, my apologies for the repetition, but it
may be useful to others.
Forgive, too, the inordinate length of this posting, but I wanted to
give you easy access in immediately usable form to some material to
work with. MARK R.]
There are three interrelated issues in what one might call the
re-visioning of ALA. These are issues which must be brought up at the
level of your local/regional associations, your local/national
divisions, your informal caucuses and groups, your individual
libraries, your library schools :
1) the intransigent refusal of Council to consider changing back the
quorum rule to a quorum which we had been actually able to attain and
which allowed membership at conference, for virtually all of ALA's
history, to meet, deliberate, and refer resolutions to Council.
2) the new, official "ALA-speaks-with-one-voice" policy which
disallows SRRT and other such units from exercising free-speech
rights and sending their own positions out to the public even with
prominent disclaimers that they represent only the opinions of, say,
SRRT and NOT ALA ,and the explicit threat (in writing) of dissolving
units which violate this sanction and expelling individuals who are
thought to have done so.
There is the related idea that ALA can only have ONE message (i.e.
something like "branding" or a logo) for the public, a concept of
what an association does which is being driven by PR and advertising
consultants and a leadership with a heavily corporate-influenced
3) The promotion of an absurd "core values statement", the necessity
for which is obscure, which will become the new primary public AND
internal point-of-reference for what ALA stands for but which fails
utterly to capture the core beliefs of librarianship; which very
selectively represents what we stand for; which represents what it
does in the most passive, "inactivist" voice; which uses the insipid
language of PR; which refuses to use even the term "intellectual
freedom (because, it is claimed, that is a term only librarians
understand!) and which does not refer to our active opposition to
censorship and numerous other central concerns (like opposing
fees-for-service in public institutions, etc)
Here are a couple of possibly useful quotes from letters of mine
detailing specific points of opposition to elements of the Core
Values document, FYI... (Please disseminate this whole posting as you
wish and copy it for whatever meetings at which you might find it
"...I am particularly appalled by the section on "diversity" which
doesn't even begin to comprehend what is at issue. The word is used
but the meaning of it is lost. "Respect for the individuality and
diversity of all people" indeed! This is not made any better in the
exegesis of that slogan. Promoting equality and equity (for instance,
racial equality/equity!), is not even alluded to, and neither is
empowering the disempowered, recognizing how libraries can and must
pro-actively serve special marginalized communities, etc.
[By the way, this above point remains true even in the latest 5th
version which supposedly "addresses" the diversity question by
including a non-discrimination list (you know, like a perfunctory
"no discrimination" clause in a legal document(... on the basis of
creed race, nationality etc)., but nothing about librarianship
PROMOTING diversity, in outreach, in collecting, in hiring, etc.]
Elsewhere, the use of the term "equitable access" hardly sums up the need
for [publicly cost free], unimpeded, enhanced and enabled, access in
usable, meaningful form or that librarians are active advocates for
open access in the face of all those forces which militate against it.
No mention is made of social responsibility as a value or even of the
social role of librarianship in promoting democracy,community and a
There is no recognition of the need to positively increase access to
different viewpoints. From our SR viewpoint, that completely negates the
significance of expanding collections to include other voices, the
alternative press, etc.
There isn't even an endorsement of intellectual freedom and concrete
opposition to censorship! This is HIGHLY disturbing to me from a social
On other than social responsibilities grounds, it does not recognize our
commitment to the promotion of scholarship, research, inquiry, discovery
and to the promotion of a "learning society" as it was once called.
I believe it remains in this final form fundamentally flawed."
"...Despite the effort geared to making it a more effective presentation of
our values for professionals and laymen alike, it is, in my opinion, a weak
and uninspiring document, restating things which are much better and just as
succinctly stated elsewhere in our policies, leaving out key values which
we have historically held (unless, of course one is inclined to believe
"it's in there" even though you don't see it).
Among things I have not mentioned previously, it nowhere refers to the core
value of ours that libraries are key institutions and librarians key actors
in maintaining a public space which actively contributes to
self-development, social improvement, cultural advancement,and the
promotion of free public discourse, i.e. that it is our primary value that
it is important, crucial, that libraries and librarianship and librarians
be publicly (and privately!) promoted and supported and developed.
The document at hand doesn't deal, in a related vein, with our commitment
to the value of the profession advocating through the political process for
public funding and library-enhancing legislation in the interests of our
Nor does it allude to the increasingly important value of gearing our work,
political and professional, to overcoming the growing "information gap".
It doesn't address our newer and highly pertinent value of using
ourindividual and collective resources to shaping the direction of the
development of information technology so that remains a key constiutuent to
the unhampered expansion of a free public forum and resource base.
These above are absent, but somehow, rather arbitrarily, on a list of only
eight core items "the formation of partnerships" between libraries,
something which (important though it is) is perhaps more of a "goal" or a
"strategy" than a value is included. No commitment to fighting for
legislation and funding, but "the formation of partnerships" is included? I
don't get it."
"The distinguished librarian Michael Gorman urges us to consider a
number of our major problems with the Core Values document to be
merely "semantic" ones, based on our apparent lack of access to a
Therefore he urges us to come to our senses by whipping out the old
Webster's and looking up the individual words which make up the
compound terms "intellectual freedom" and "equitable access". Then
we'll know what people must think the compound terms mean, by the
mechanical adding up of the two units. And there, conveniently, will
lie the key to eliminating what is at issue. Well, not quite. Let me
just take "intellectual freedom".
In its actual usage, in its historical context both within our
profession and well beyond it, in its accumulated connotations
which, in the estimate of any person (even a non-librarian!), would
go beyond the sum of the denotations of the two isolated words that
together comprise it, the term "intellectual freedom" is a rich
repository of meaning which evokes not just dry dictionary
definitions, but real struggles which have been fought and which
continue to have to be fought.
The term "intellectual freedom" in any case, connotes, even in its
most common-sense reading, much more than Mr Gorman's preferred
formulation "the freedom to form, hold and to express" ones own
beliefs. It expresses, as we have always used it - and as we hope
to have the public understand us to use it (or so I thought) - the
right to access to the whole range of stuff out of which these
"beliefs", these ideas, can be formed. It is tied, therefore, to our
active "opposition to censorship", another expression which, for some
reason, finds no place in the Core Values.
What has been the problem with "intellectual freedom " and
"opposition to censorship" which makes us suddenly believe they are
incomprehensible to the public?
Has our entire history of the use of these terms been shrouded in an
obscurity which we only now realize in the wake of the Core Values
Task Force's considerations? Or do we risk incomprehension on the
part of future generations by maintaing the continuity of usage of
these historic concepts?
I don't think so, so I remain puzzled by the degree to which the Task
Force is wedded to their substitute formulations.
Michael Gorman has given me permission to post this to the Council list.
Michael Gorman <michaelg[at]csufresno.edu>
> Most comments on the proposed values statement seem to center on
> semantics. In particular, whether the phrase "intellectual freedom" is
> or is not a term of art unfamiliar to those outside our field; whether
> the statement's non-use of the phrase has a weakening effect; and
> whether "equitable" is strong enough word.
> Webster's3 defines "intellectual" (as an adjective) as: Of, belonging
> to, or relating to the intellect. "Freedom" hardly needs definition.
> Therefore, anyone unfamiliar with the phrase or our meaning could read
> the phrase as meaning "freedom to think"--something available in a
> totalitarian state. Contrast that with the statement's: Freedom for
> all people to form, to hold, and to express their own beliefs. I would
> submit that the latter is unambiguous, clear, and expressed in terms
> known to all. I have used the term "intellectual freedom" in my book
> on values, but I expect it to be read, if at all, by librarians and not
> by anyone unfamiliar with our particular uses of "intellectual freedom."
> The relevant Webster's3 definition of "equity" is: A free and reasonable
> conformity to accepted standards of natural right, law, and justice
> without prejudice, favoritism, or fraud and without rigor entailing
> undue hardship. The relevant definition of "equitable" is:
> Characterized by equity, fair to all concerned, without prejudice,
> favor, or rigor entailing undue hardship. The staement's: "Assurance of
> equitable access to recorded knowledge, information and creative works,"
> even if read more closely than by most, assures fairness, justice, and
> rights to access without rigor. Can anyone quarrel with that?
> Forgive this Casuabon-like missive but I would like to inform the
> discussion with some objective observations.
------- End of forwarded message -------
I [MR] attach below a letter I just sent to Brien Kinkel which also
might be helpful.
To: "Kinkel, Brien" <BKinkel[at]NCPC.org>
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: What is most important now?
The two best backgrounder items to the issue are the John Berry
editorial in the current LJ, available on-line and in hard copy,
opposing the document (there is also a brief article on the
controversy in that issue) and the reprint by Rory Litwin on Library
Juice as a supplement (either the last one or the one before that) of
a significant part of the exchange which took place on the Council
The key questions are "Why do we suddenly need an official "core
values" statement at all?; why does it include what it does and
exclude what it does?; why is the list so artificially abbreviated
and phrased in the insipid language of PR; why is it being railroaded
It is my contention basically that our core values are embedded in
the ALA Policy manual, notably, but hardly exclusively, in the ALA
Mission Statement, in the Freedom to Read statement , the Library
Bill of Rights , the ALA Code of Ethics, the Poor People's Policy, as
well as in many other sections (in which our commitments to free
service in public institutions, civil rights, affirmative
action,social justice and so on, are eloquently articulated).
The most obvious thing about this statement is the refusal of its
framers to even use the terms "intellectual freedom" or posit our
opposition to censorship. This, I believe, is a fundamental and quite
purposeful, revision of orientation which, even if it were the only
thing wrong with this document would be quite enough reason to scrap
I attach below the latest version of the core values document (with
my response which precedes it on the page), which makes certain
phony, superficial concessions to two points I raised, but which
nonetheless remains a pathetic attempt to define "core values" in
such a way that no one can effectively refer to them in any
discussion as being violated by, let's say, "outsoucing" professional
functions (as we once did) or violating the intellectual freedom of
librarians themselves (as in the Berman case) or in charging fees for
services in public libraries or privatizing public information
resources or agreing to filter all internet access in a library or
caving in to so-called community standards with respect to materials
As for the matter of the quorum about which you inquired: The quorum
for ALA membership issues was raised by a resolution passed by
Council which was sent out to members for a vote, without members
having the slightest notion that it would effectively prevent such
meetings from ever hapening, something of which the proposers of the
new quorum rule were fully aware and which effect they actualy
intended. It was raised from a quorumof 250 to a quorum of 1% of the
mebership (which at present would mean 700 people) just to do
business.That was done specifically to make it impossible for SRRT,
et al. to have a meaningful forum for their ideas in an official
context which a) would have to be reported on by American Libraries
and b) which could result in the forwarding of resolutions from
Membership Meetings to Council Meetings for consideration. In order
to thwart SRRT, the ALA establishment was willing to close down a
forum which had met regularly for most of ALA's history. The
proximate cause was ONE resolution which passed, after much debate,
in a membership meeting (and also was, also after much debate, over
several years, passed by Council): a resolution opposing the
well-documented censorship and cultural repression, the arrest of
journalists, the confiscation of libraries, going on in Israel and
the Occupied Territories aimed against Palestinian self-determination
and anything which supported it, as well as involving very broad
censorship of a whole list of the most unlikely materials.
Now, in order to overturn the quorum rule and re-establish viable ,
regular membership meetings or take a widely supported
counter-position to the core values statement or whatever, we have to
have 700 people meet. That is highly unlikely a) because membership
has not been able to convene for over 5 years and thus the idea is
already well established that these meetings are a thing of the past
and b) because it is realistically impossible to get 700 people to
sit for a meeting of this sort when all kinds of other things are
going on. 250, sure. 700, impossible. However, if we bring together a
significant number of people for a membership meeting we can
constitute some kind of unignorable forum at which the cre values
issue, the ALA speaks with one voice policy and the quorum itself can
be challenged . Thus the importance of getting as many people to that
meeting (without any illusions of getting a quorum).
Finally, on the 5th(most recent (and probably final) version of the
Core Values document with some cosmetic changes:
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 18:05:40 -0400
To: hpress[at]highsmith.com, alacoun[at]ala.org, "Maurice J. Freedman"
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]earthlink.net>
Subject: On the 5th Draft of the Core Values Statement
Before we start the celebration....
It's not clear whether [the addition of the word] "free" as in "free
and open" means simply "unimpeded" or means that we [affirm our
opposition] to fees for service in public institututions. Please
Correlatively, there is no mention under diversity of "without
respect to economic or social barriers" or anything to that effect,
there or elsewhere.
There is still no mention of (positively) promoting intellectual
freedom. There is no mention of opposition to censorship, one of our
most basic beliefs.
There is no mention of the actively collecting the diversity of
points of view of materials, or that we provide uncensored access .
There is, of course, no mention of anything about the social role of
libraries in promoting community or helping in the development of
Also there is no mention still of the value of our advocacy of the
extension of library services, the importance of promoting library
education, or the imortance of promoting legislation favoring the
development of libraries and professional librarianship.
It is a true measure of the document that there is room for an upbeat
phrase like "entertain and delight the human spirit". But what about
the material that shakes-up, disturbs, angers, depresses, frightens,
appals,? Does "American Psycho" or , for that matter, "Crime and
Punishment" "entertain and delight the human spirit", or does it
merely suport the "the differing needs of learners"?
(below is the 5th version itself)
From Don Sager
The Task Force has continued to review comments and suggestions on the
4th draft of the Core Values statement from ALA units, affiliates,
chapters, and members of the ALA Council. As a result of these
recommendations, we have made two changes which have been included in
the following 5th draft. The first change pertains to the core value
access. We changed "Assurance of equitable access to recorded
information, and creative works" to "Assurance of free and open access
to recorded knowledge, information, and creative works." The second
change was made in the interpretation of the value on diversity. The
previous wording was "We honor each request for assistance promptly
with courtesy, meeting it equitably with the fullness of tools at our
command while protecting each person's common right to privacy and
confidentiality." The new statement, including the value, reads
for the individuality and the diversity of all people. We honor each
request without bias, and we meet it with the fullness of tools at our
command. We respect the individual's need for privacy,
and the right of access to library and information services and
resources regardless of race, creed, national origin, age, ability,
gender, or sexual orientation.
Librarianship and Information Service: A Statement on Core Values
5th Draft (28 April 2000)
The library and information profession is enriched by the skills and
knowledge of its individual members. Through their specialized
training and experience, they contribute to the varied missions of
their institutions and organizations. Over time, they have refined
their services to meet the unique and ever changing needs of their
communities. Despite the multiplicity of these skills and roles,
librarians and information specialists hold the following values in
Connection of people to ideas
Assurance of free and open access to recorded knowledge, information,
and creative works.
Commitment to literacy and learning
Respect for the individuality and the diversity of all people
Freedom for all people to form, to hold, and to express their own
Preservation of the human record
Excellence in professional service to our communities
Formation of partnerships to advance these values
These values encompass many principles and beliefs that may have
special meanings or require a different emphasis in each of the
varied professional associations representing librarians and
information professionals. The following is one interpretation, which
may be adopted or revised by these organizations, based on their
individual goals and priorities:
Connection of people to ideas. We guide the seeker in defining and
refining the search; we foster intellectual inquiry; we nurture
communication in all forms and formats.
Assurance of free and open access to recorded knowledge, information,
and creative works. We recognize access to ideas across time and
across cultures is fundamental to society and to civilization.
Commitment to literacy and learning. We aid people to become
independent lifelong learners by selecting and offering materials
that support the differing needs of all learners, and that entertain
and delight the human spirit.
Respect for the individuality and the diversity of all people. We
honor each request without bias, and we meet it with the fullness of
tools at our command. We respect the individual's need for privacy,
confidentiality, and the right of access to library and information
services and resources regardless of race, creed, national origin,
age, ability, gender, or sexual orientation.
Freedom for all people to form, hold, and to express their own
beliefs. All people have the right to seek, to know, and to find.
Preservation of the human record. The cultural memory of humankind
and its many families, its stories, its expertise, its history, and
its evolved wisdom must be preserved so it may illuminate the present
and make the future possible.
Excellence in professional service to our communities. Our commitment
requires integrity, competence, personal growth, effective
stewardship, and service to our discipline as well as to our public.
Formation of partnerships to advance these values. We believe in the
interdependence of libraries and librarians and advocate
collaboration in all areas and between all types of library, knowing
that collections and services evolve successfully through such
For future reference, the 5th draft has also been posted on the Core
Values Task Force website. The URL is
Don Sager, Chair, ALA Core Values Task Force
Donald J. Sager, Publisher, Highsmith Press, P.O. Box 800, Ft.
Atkinson, WI 53538-0800. Tel. 920/563-9571. Fax: 920/563-4801.
E-mail: <dsager[at]highsmith.com>. Web: http://www.hpress.highsmith.com
SOL: Spanish in Our Libraries
List moderator: Bruce Jensen <flaco[at]ucla.edu>
SOL site: http://skipper.gseis.ucla.edu/students/bjensen/html/sol.htm
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