Library Juice 3:36 - September 20, 2000


1. Fish in the River of Knowledge
2. Tell It Like It Is!
3. OIF web page: Censorship in Schools
4. Death of a Censor
5. IFRT Awards
6. Banned Books Weak
7. Message from Melora Ranney on Freedom
8. Jacobin Calendar
9. Background from NCLIS participant in Dr Laura show
10. Editor's note

Quote for the week:

"Business equates information with profit.  Librarians must equate
information with understanding.  The role of the librarian is to distinguish
between data and information, between facts and knowledge, and to be concerned
not only with the "what" and the "how" but also with the "why."

- Patricia Glass Schuman, in Leslie M. Campbell, "Keeping Watch on the
Waterfront: Social Responsibility in Legal and Library Professional
Organizations," _Law Library Journal_, Summer, 2000, vol. 92, no. 3,

Home page of the week: Erica Olsen es chica chica


1. Fish in the River of Knowledge

Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 15:12:32 -0500
From: "Don Wood" <dwood[at]>
Subject: [IFACTION:885] Fish in the River of Knowledge
To: Intellectual Freedom Action News <ifaction[at]>

"Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek
and receive information from all points of view without restriction.
It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which
any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored."--
Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A

On September 23 through September 30, 2000, celebrate Banned Books
Week: Fish in the River of Knowledge.

Banned Books Week teaches the importance of our First Amendment
rights and the power of literature and will draw attention to the
danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of
information in a free society.

This year's graphics and other information on Banned Books Week 2000
can be found at

Why Banned Books Week?

Challenged and Banned Books

Resource Guide

For more information, please contact Nanette Perez at the Office
for Intellectual Freedom (1-800-545-2433, ext. 4223, or


Don Wood
American Library Association
Office for Intellectual Freedom
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433, ext. 4225
Fax: 312-280-4227

2. Tell It Like It Is!  Video from National Coalition Against Censorship

Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000 11:52:02 -0500
From: "Don Wood" <dwood[at]>
Subject: [IFACTION:985] FYI: Tell It Like It Is! Video from the National
Coalition Against Censorship
To: Intellectual Freedom Action News <ifaction[at]>

Tell It Like It Is!, the National Coalition Against Censorship's
(NCAC's; 15-minute video on censorship of
children's books is a wonderful discussion film that should be of
great interest to librarians--especially in connection with Banned
Books Week., September 23-30.

The film, produced for NCAC by Lora Hays and Chris Pelzer, expresses
children's views about the absurdity of censorship and their
appreciation for the pleasures, joys and insights afforded them by
books.  Judy Blume tells of critics who believe her best-selling
Superfudge is "immoral," "profane," and "offensive," and who would
suppress any discussion of puberty.  Young women describe how
reassuring Blume's books were to them as teenagers.  David Klass,
Robert Lipsyte, Betty Miles, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson,
and Rachel Vail are among the authors who talk about their works and
the chilling effect of censorship on writers and readers.

To borrow the video for use in discussion groups, conferences, film
festivals or other similar events, contact NCAC at 275 Seventh Avenue,
NY, NY 10001, phone (212) 807-6222, email ncac[at]  (NCAC staff
are also available to address groups wanting to discuss the film.)

Tell It Like It Is! may be purchased from Carousel Film and Video,
phone (800) 683-1660, email carousel[at] for $149.95
(discounts available.)  Preview copies are available from Carousel and
from NCAC.

3. OIF web page: Censorship in Schools

Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 14:40:57 -0500
From: "Don Wood" <dwood[at]>
Subject: [IFACTION:1003] Censorship in the Schools
To: Intellectual Freedom Action News <ifaction[at]>

Censorship in the Schools is a new page on the OIF Web site.  It's
located at

On this site is a link to an updated brochure entitled "Censorship in
the Schools: What Is It? How Do You Cope?"


Don Wood

4. Death of a Censor

===This message originated from rhadden[at]

Sent to LIBREF-L

      Today during all the hype about Internet filters, we forget that not
to long ago people were paid by the state with tax money to censor and
filter ideas for us. These people had the right to determine what other
people could or couldn't see. Their censorship decisions were backed up by
force of law and by police powers of arrest and imprisonment for anyone
opposing those decisions.

     Mary Avara was for 21 years one of the official and state-paid movie
censors in Maryland. Her job was to review domestic and foreign movies
before they could be shown anywhere in the state, and to determine what
could and couldn't be seen by other citizens.

      Although she only had a seventh grade education, Mrs. Avara was
confident that she could determine from her own good moral judgement what
was right and what was wrong for other people of Maryland to see. The
Maryland censorship board was only abolished in 1980.

      As we honor those librarians and library supporters who defend First
Amendment rights today, often at the risk of job and career, occasionally
at the risk of violence and anger, it is also right that we take a few
moments and remember what it was like when all 50 states had an official
censorship board supported by state taxes. It is so easy to slip back to
the days when other people made decisions for us in what we can know and
not know.

      It is also easy to think that these all-to-human censors can be
cheaply replaced by un-thinking mechanical and electronic filters on the
Internet. Or that we can go back to the days when the information faucet
could be turned off by official state censorship boards. In both cases,
they are simple solutions to complex problems.

         Let us remember the censors as they pass away.


5. IFRT Awards

Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 15:31:27 -0500
From: "Don Wood" <dwood[at]>
Subject: [IFACTION:1048] Intellectual Freedom Round Table Awards
To: Intellectual Freedom Action News <ifaction[at]>

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table
( rewards exceptional
achievement through three awards:

The Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award--Deadline December 1, 2001 Information Form

Honors a literary work or series of works, in the area of
intellectual freedom, including matters of ethical, political or
social concerns related to intellectual freedom. Presented biennially.
The 2000 recipient was The Transparent
Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and
Freedom? by David Brin.

The John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award--Deadline December 1, 2000 Information Form

Honors notable contributions to intellectual freedom and
demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of
expression. Presented annually.  The 2000 recipient was Gordon

The SIRS State and Regional Intellectual Freedom Achievement
Award--Deadline December 1, 2000 Information

Honors the state library association or state educational media
association intellectual freedom committee or state intellectual
freedom coalition that has implemented the most successful and
creative state IFC project during the year. Presented annually, and
sponsored by the Social Issues Resources Series, Inc. (SIRS). The 2000
recipient was The Ohio Library Council.

For more information, please contact the Office for Intellectual
Freedom at the OIF Main Line (1-800-545-2433, ext. 4223), Fax:
312-280-4227, or oif[at]


Don Wood
Program Officer/Communications
American Library Association
Office for Intellectual Freedom
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433, ext. 4225
Fax: 312-280-4227

6. Banned Books Weak

Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000 16:43:43 -0400
From: "Carol Reid" <creid[at]MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
To: ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom List <alaoif[at]>
Subject: [ALAOIF:11820] Re: Banned Books Week (was: FYI: Tell It Like
It Is! Video)


You make some good points. It's a dicey issue. I am presuming to attach a
column I wrote a couple of years ago about this very thing.

Carol Reid
New York State Library
Albany, NY

Banned Books Weak

In 1995 and 1996, Focus on the Family denounced "Banned Books Week" (their
wannabe-exposé reprinted in Harper's magazine), accusing the American
Library Association of misrepresentation because no books were actually
banned in public libraries during those years. Well, all I can say is some
alliances make no allowances for alleged alliteration! What would they have
us call it? "Library Harassment Week"? "Literally Challenged Week"? "Tried
To But Failed To Ban Books Week"? * It's just an expression, a
catchphrase, a sort of synecdoche - the idea being that these are books
that would have been banned had the protesters gotten their way. And the
only reason they didn't, after all, was that librarians are continually
being educated and encouraged to defend the constitutional freedoms
guaranteed by the First Amendment, largely through the publicity and
support that events like Banned Books Week provide. Ironically, perhaps,
it is because of Banned Books Week that few or occasionall!
y no books succeed at being banned from public libraries in any given year.

School libraries and classrooms, however, are quite another story. And
students in public schools should also be protected by the First
Amendment, although the courts have not always seen it that way. "Today,
almost all genuine book censorship comes in schools and libraries and is
aimed at younger readers," says Herbert Foerstel, author of Banned in the
U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public
Libraries. "It stems from the willingness of the Supreme Court to grant
very broad latitude in censorship when protecting young minds from being
sullied." And many people are ready to take advantage of that latitude,
ambivalence, and outright confusion. During 1996-97, 14 books were banned
in 11 school libraries and 28 books were pulled from 21 classrooms. In
1995, a teacher in New Hampshire was fired for refusing to remove pro-gay
books from her classroom. A statewide policy barring instruction that has
"the effect of encouraging or supporting homosexuality as !
a positive lifestyle alternative" also led (talk about a slippery slope)
to the banning of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

In 1995, a parent sued a California school district for using Michael
Crichton's Congo as optional reading material. And that same year a
California teacher was placed on administrative leave for supplying a book
about the supernatural to students. Considering how often challenges to
school libraries and curriculums prevail, it might be time to recruit the
National Education Association as a cosponsor of Banned Books Week, which
is currently a joint project of ALA, the American Booksellers Association,
the American Association of Journalists and Authors, the Association of
American Publishers, and the National Association of College Stores.

It is disheartening to see books by or about minorities challenged,
especially when such grievances are brought by minority parents or patrons
themselves, or the politically-correct-to-a-fault crowd. This often seems
to be a case of misreading racism into an anti-racist book. It happens
every year. Most recently, Sounder was challenged for its use of the word
"nigger" and reference to a man as "boy." A selection by Faulkner from
Themes in World Literature was similarly damned for use of the "N-word."
Jump Ship to Freedom was deemed "damaging to the self-esteem of young
black students." War Comes to Willy Freeman impressed one critic with a
"lack of racial sensitivity ... [being] an education in racism, a primer
for developing prejudice." Slave Dancer was seen as "insensitive and
degrading." I Am Regina was felt to portray Native American stereotypes by
employing the word "squaw." And Little House on the Prairie, no less,
purportedly "promotes racial epithets and is fueling the!
fire of racism."

Some of the greatest classics of equality and justice (written, in this
case, by whites) inspire the most fervent efforts toward censorship. To
Kill a Mockingbird has been challenged in many schools. It was criticized
in New York for being a "filthy, trashy novel." Three parents in Indiana
resigned from the town's human relations advisory council after failure to
get the book banned. And, even more incredibly, its use in an eighth-grade
Arizona classroom was protested by the NAACP. The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn has fared even worse, being successfully banned from
dozens of classrooms all over the country during the past couple decades.

Occasionally the objection is patently prejudiced. The Mexican-American
Heritage was challenged because it fostered "Mexican nationalism." The Joy
Luck Club violated "community values." But with most challenges to black
and other minority literature, the political or demographic motivation is
less easy to discern. While these books deal with racial topics, they are
objected to generally only as being "explicit," "pornographic," or
"violent." Last year's examples include Poetry of Black America, I Know
Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Old Gringo, The Color Purple, Beloved, Black
Boy, Native Son, Fallen Angels, and Coffee Will Make You Black. Some
complaints betray a certain denial when it comes to dealing with
unfortunate realities. Magic Johnson's What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS was
considered "inappropriate" and some feared Kaffir Boy, another athlete's
autobiography, might, by discussing it, somehow "promote the sexual
assault of children."   

Another perennial target is books dealing with homosexuality or sex in
general. Typical of many cases was that of It's Perfectly Normal: A Book
about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, removed from
one Washington school library, and challenged at public libraries in Utah
and Pennsylvania, where it was described as a "clear example of child
pornography." Becoming Visible: A Reader in Gay and Lesbian History for
High School and College Readers was banned in two high school libraries in
Maine by the school superintendent. The ACLU sued a Louisiana school for
pulling the books Everything You Need to Know about Sexual Abstinence,
Everything You Need to Know about Incest, and Gays In or Out of the
Military. It's really sad that such useful, informative, and timely books
for teens, gay or straight, are so readily censored in so many school

At the 1996 ALA conference, a resolution was brought to change the name of
Banned Books Week, apparently in response to charges that it's misleading.
In my opinion, though, we have a long way to go before we start
apologizing for calling a spade a spade, even when it fails to dig out the
dirt. There are still many cases of book banning in schools and classrooms,
occasional cases of book banning in public libraries (there were three
banned and six restricted to adults in two libraries in 1997), and a great
many attempts to ban books in all venues. We should quit worrying about
offending the offended merely by shedding light on their activities and
avowed intent. ALA, in the spirit of intellectual freedom (that is, "more
speech" rather than "no speech"), decided to keep the familiar name of
"Banned Books Week" along with the more upbeat subtitle "Celebrating the
Freedom to Read" as it has done all along.

Though I have nothing against celebrating freedom, I am made uneasy at the
attempt to expunge an expression that still has such resonance and
relevance. Incidentally, I was surprised to find no entry for banned books
or book banning in Library of Congress Subject Headings, with the obscure,
vaguely Catholic-sounding formulation prohibited books in their place. A
quick literature search revealed that the b-words are used worldwide and
have appeared in book titles for over sixty years. I may take a page from
the book of cataloging renegade Sanford Berman, and petition the Library
of Congress to add this heading. LC and ALA should be the last places on
earth that the very idea of book banning is banned, or made useless by

July-August-September 1997

>>> hhahn[at] 08/17/00 04:19PM >>>
> ... especially in connection with Banned Books Week., September
> 23-30.

I realize it's almost heresy to suggest this, but couldn't Banned
Books Week be renamed to something like Freedom to Read Week?

Virtually every PR presentation I've ever attended (admittedly, not
that many) say that you should always phrase things in the positive
and never in the negative.  And yet here we have the phrase "Banned
Books", which is negative terminology, being the title of a major
library push.  It would seem to me that emphasizing the fact that we
are "free to read" such materials has a much more positive spin to it
that would-be censors would have a harder time criticizing.  The
negative phrase "Banned Books", by contrast, already starts you out
on the defensive by planting a psychological seed that something must
be innately wrong with these books in order to be called (or
considered) "banned".  It's not the books themselves that have the
problem, but some of their readers.  I realize that there is
memorable alliteration in the phrase "Banned Books", but perhaps its
time of usefulness is past.  I see no reason to give opponents any
kind of ammunition to use against libraries.


Harvey E. Hahn, Manager, Technical Services Department
Arlington Heights (Illinois) Memorial Library
Desk: 847/506-2644 -- FAX: 847/506-2650 -- E mailto:hhahn[at]
Personal web pages:

7. Message from Melora Ranney on Freedom

Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 14:55:30 -0400 (EDT)
From: Melora Ranney <macbeth[at]>
To: ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom List <alaoif[at]>
Subject: [ALAOIF:11855] The Cost of Freedom

I have been contacted lately by concerned librarians and staff, who are
ambivalent about open access to the Internet in libraries.  As I think
about this new, amazing, unregulated medium--where anybody and everybody
can get out there and express themselves to everyone--I am reminded of my
semester in Spain back in the early 1980s.

It was difficult to be an American woman in Spain back then: if you were
recognized, the call AMERICANA! went out, and soon you were followed by
crowds of young Spanish men.

Many people were afraid, and the atmosphere was heady, exultant, chaotic.
Nostalgic people everywhere talked about how under Franco, there used to
be a cop on every corner, and it was safe to walk anywhere at any time of
night; many felt uncomfortable with the open expression of sex and
violence in magazines now available at the many newsstands.

Under Franco, there had been a Charter of Rights that gave lip service to
civil liberties; however, * . . . the government bestowed them [people's
rights], and could suspend them without justification.*  ** People had the
right to free speech--as long as they didn't criticize the government. The
Roman Catholic Church was the only legal religion, and was the only one
that could publish or own property.  Catholic religious instruction was
mandatory in *all* schools.  Divorce and contraception were banned. **

The result?  *Franco's legacy had been an unprecedented era of peace and
order, undergirded by his authoritarian grip on the country.*

Peace, order, and authoritarianism.  Exuberance, chaos, uncertainty--and
freedom.  A choice.  We can't have it both ways; we can't *have our cake
and eat it too.*

I have not been back to visit, but I'm told that Spain has become
accustomed to its new, open existence, after a period of difficult
adjustment.  The evolution of societies is such that once people have the
basics--food, shelter, clothing, etc.--they start wanting civil liberties:
they start wanting their *rights.*

Librarians come from all walks of life.  Our various religions and
backgrounds give us different perspectives on society.  However, our
country is based on a respect for the rights of the individual: despite
encroachments on this theme, despite interest groups that would like to
control the expression and lives of people to the extent that we would
lose our rights, that is *not* what this country is about.  Our personal
values may be challenged frequently by our roles as librarians: that is
why we have things like ALA's statements on ethics and the Library Bill of
Rights--to keep us focused despite our personal fears, likes, and

As librarians, we have a sacred trust--to protect the rights of the people
in the communities we serve here in the United States of America.  Despite
the fact that freedom can be frightening, even dangerous, we have an open
society, and it is our duty as librarians to uphold that freedom.

**I drew on the following web site for verification of the information in
this post:

Melora in Winthrop

8. Jacobin Calendar

Convert any date from 1792 to the present to the Jacobin calendar:

Crane Brinton on the French Revolutionary calendar:

The culmination...of revolutionary propaganda [was] its new calendar.
Almanacs had been from the beginning of the Revolution a favorite and
successful method of spreading the word. Collot d'Herbois himself had won,
with his Almanach du Père Gérard, a prize offered by the Paris Jacobins for
a work to spread the new ideas in simple language.

But for the Jacobins of 1794 it was not enough to print good republican
moral counsels, after the manner of Franklin, at the appropriate dates and
seasons. The whole calendar must be made over. The existing calendar
perpetuated the frauds of the Christian church (Jesus himself was probably
a good sans-culotte; all the nonsense stemmed from Paul), and was highly
irrational and inconvenient.

The new calendar, based on a report of Fabre d'Églantine, was adopted by
the Convention in October, 1793. By it the year began on September 22 of
the old calendar, and was divided into twelve months of thirty days each,
leaving five days (six in leap years) over at the end of the last month.
These five or six days were to be known as the Sans-culottides, and were
to be a series of national holidays. Each month was divided into three
weeks, called décades, the last day of each décade being set aside as a
day of rest corresponding to the old Sunday.

The months were grouped into four sets of three, by seasons, and given
"natural" names, some of which are rather attractive-- vendémiaire,
brumaire, frimaire (autumn); nivôse, pluviôse, ventôse (winter); germinal,
floréal, prairial (spring); messidor, thermidor, fructidor (summer). The
days of the décade were named arithmetically--primidi, duodi, on to
décadi. In place of the old saints' days, each day was dedicated to a
suitable fruit, vegetable, animal, agricultural implement.

The Sans-culottides were dedicated, the first to Genius, the second to
Labor, the third to Noble Actions, the fourth to Awards, and the fifth to
Opinion. This last was to be a sort of intellectual saturnalia, an
opportunity for all citizens to say and write what they liked about any
public man, without fear of the law of libel. The sixth Sans-culottide of
leap years was dedicated to the Revolution, and was to be an especially
solemn and grand affair. The republican era was to date from the
declaration of the republic in September, 1792. When the calendar came
into use, the year I had already elapsed.

In spite of its symmetry and its poetic months of budding and of mist, the
new calendar was not a success, and Napoleon abandoned it in the year XII
(1804). Workingmen preferred one day's rest in seven to one in ten; its
terminology, appropriate to the climate of France, was singularly
inappropriate to that of the Southern Hemisphere; it embodied a new cult,
and that cult, though it profoundly influenced Christians then and since,
failed completely to supplant Christian terminology. The calendar and its
fate form in many ways a neat summary of Jacobin history.

   --from A Decade of Revolution, 1789-1799 (1934)


9. Background from NCLIS participant in Dr Laura show

Forwarded to the ALA Council list by Karen Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: "Meg Van Patten" <megv[at]BVILLE.LIB.NY.US.
To: NYLINE[at]
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2000 8:52 AM
Subject: background from NCLIS participant in Dr Laura show

(I am sending this note to friends and colleagues who, I believe, have an
interest in the topic. I have no objection to its being further
circulated.) by Robert Williard, who is the Executive Director of NCLIS

This week marks the premiere of the syndicated television show hosted by
Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The program dealing with libraries, and
specifically access to inappropriate material on the Internet by children,
will air this Friday (9/15). The show is placed in different time slots in
different cities; a locator is at
that identifies the broadcast time in all cities where the show is
broadcast. I am disappointed to report that the name chosen for this
particular show is "Lewd Libraries."

I participated in the show and I thought I would share my impressions
about the whole process.

The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) had
held a hearing on the topic "Kids and the Internet: The Promise and the
Peril" in late 1998, and had sent material about the hearing to Dr.
Schlessinger. As is known to just about everybody, she has been an
unrelenting critic of library policies that may allow kids to see
pornography on Internet terminals in public libraries. A producer from her
show contacted NCLIS on Monday, 7/31, to invite participation in the taping
which was scheduled for the end of that same week. I agreed to take part,
and was flown to Los Angeles Thursday afternoon.

Friday morning I went to the studio and shared a waiting room with Larry
Worrall, an attorney who advises insurance companies that provide coverage
for libraries. We watched the first three-quarters of the show fom our room
on a small monitor. The show began with Dr. Schlessinger describing herself
as "computer-stupid," and then simulating searches on the Internet. She was
alleging that one could get nasty sites by making typos or slight
differences in a URL, so the first example, of course was
Then she claimed to misspell "shareware" and connected with,
which (then, perhaps, but not now) was a porn site. With both sites,
screenshots were displayed on a monitor with strategic areas out of focus.
Finally she claimed that entering the names of innocent body parts could
get unwelcome results. She typed (with a lot more keystrokes than
necessary) "knee." She then looked at her computer monitor, tilted her
head to the side, said something like "I didn't know you could do that,"
and then said she wouldn't display that picture to the audience. I wonder
how many searches will take place on "knee" on Friday. Of course, I tried
it! The first screen, naturally, was a list of sites. I really didn't
explore too long, but most sites seemed to discuss knee surgery.

Next we saw a hidden camera segment where a 15-year old girl was wired to
snoop on the Denver Public Library. She checked out R-rated videos and
used an Internet terminal to retrieve pornographic pictures. This was
followed by a second hidden camera foray with Mom present questioning a
Denver librarian about the policy on checking out material. Then Mom, Dad
and daughter appeared on the set with Dr. Schlessinger for a brief

The next two segments of the show featured U.S. Representative Ernest
Istook and former librarian Heidi Borton. Mr. Istook discussed his
filtering legislation and Ms. Borton described quitting her job in
disagreement with her institutions's policy on Internet access. (Ms.
Borton had been a witness at the earlier NCLIS hearing.)

Finally, Mr. Worrall and I went on the set (and Borton and Istook
remained there too). In less than 10 minutes, discussion ranged over many
issues including whether selection policy was a form of censorship, a
Washington Times article on political bias in libraries (I was familiar
with the article and said the effort didn't even deserve to be called
research), and the effectiveness of filtering software. Certainly, there
was no in-depth conversation in this limited time.

The last segment focused on a brand new topic. A woman from California,
Mrs. Shurtleff, was being lauded for her fight with the library about
access to her daughter's borrowing records. Dr. Schlessinger said she
couldn't imagine any circumstance where that information should be
withheld. Although my part of the show was over, and I was sitting on the
opposite side of the audience, I piped up and said that I could think of
an example. That caused a little stir as cameras relocated and Dr.
Schlessinger got up to ask me to explain. I quickly described a situation
in which a parent is abusing a child and the child comes to the library
for information on what to do; I said the parent should not be able to
know that material was requested. Dr. Schlessinger immediately dismissed
that example as a "one in a zillion" situation. I was somewhat heartened
however when, during the break before the credits, a young woman came up
and tapped me on the shoulder saying, "I just want you to know I agree
with you; she doesn't know what goes on in the real world."

After an interminable session of applause by the audience (background, I
presume, for rolling the credits), the show was over and I made a beeline
to the airport to see if I could get back home without taking a "redeye."
I succeeded, and on the flight I spent a good deal of time hunched over my
notebook computer drafting a letter to the Dr. Laura Show. Essentially, I
said that they could do the show any way they wanted, but if they hoped to
involve people who had a view contrary to Dr. Schlessinger's, they could
not continue the format I experienced. I complained about the lack of time
to discuss the issues, and then set forth the points that I would have
liked to discuss1) Internet access policy should be determined locally
(that was the position of NCLIS) and that national legislation calling for
filtering was an inappropriate, unfunded mandate; 2) filtering technology
was imperfect and not a panacea; and 3) the real shameful activity taking
place in school libraries, which Dr. Schlessinger could do something about
if she wished, was the woefully inadequate level of funding. I also
expressed regret at her sensationalizing of the subject with reference to
"sex in the libraries" and "X-rated" libraries and called for her to work
together with librarians to address the issue of potential harm to kids.
(I'd be glad to email a copy of the letter to anyone who requests it.)

That was the end of it, I thought, but early Tuesday evening, August 29, I
received a rushed call from the producer. She told me they had taken the
show to focus groups and they needed to reshoot part of the show. Could I
come back? She also mentioned my letter. It sounded like I would get a
chance to discuss the topic more fully, and I readily agreed to fly out
again for a taping Friday morning.

As it turned out, not much changed the second time. I learned that the
first taping was a "test" show; I suppose if it tested well, it would have
aired. However, an almost entirely new show needed to be produced. Only the
undercover camera work from the Denver Public Library was retained,
pricipally because the family could not return to L.A. (I guess
sharp-eyed viewers will notice a wholesale shift in the audience between
segments!) If anything, the new show was a little more tawdry. Mr. Istook,
discussing his dry legislation, was no longer on the docket; instead, a
Louisiana police chief was there to discuss the arrest of a 38-year old
man who had masturbated at a public library Internet terminal in view of
two young teenage girls. The chief argued that every single terminal in
libraries should have blocking software. Heidi Borton was invited back;
she acknowledged the NCLIS position supporting local policymaking, but said
it didn't go far enough.

On the other hand however, there was also included as a panelist Sally
Romano, a First Amendment lawyer currently involved in a case in her home
state of Texas similar to the Loudon County case. In the audience, there
was also an individual brought in by the show to participate in the
discussion: Mike Wessells, an ALA member who is described as both a
fundamentalist Christian pastor and an intellectual freedom advocate. Both
participated in an articulate and effective manner.

The final segment was again the recogition of the mother who wanted to see
her daughter's borrowing record. This time, the opportunity to interurpt
didn't present itself, so my earlier example remains forever on the
cutting room floor!

I did't have a stop-watch with me, but my gut assessment is that I had no
more time than on the first show. Despite encouraging words by members of
the production staff who mentioned my letter and told me this was my
chance to make my points, it really didn't work out that way. Again, the
limited time, the need for breaks between segments, and the time Dr.
Schlessinger used to read from the teleprompter a lengthy statement of her
views, just didn't allow for any meaningful dialogue. Regretfully, Dr.
Schlessinger continues to demonize librarians and ALA instead of seeking
some way to work together to resolve this issue. But maybe that's the way
to build up an audience in television.

I don't know what the appropriate next steps are. It is said that Abraham
Lincoln was asked once to comment on a particular book and he said that it
was the type of book that would appeal to people who like that type of
book. Maybe the same is true of the Dr. Laura Show. If it is watched only
by those who agree with her and have made up their mind to focus on the
solitary issue of access to pornography and ignore all the good things
done by libraries and librarians, then perhaps no further effort should be
expended. However, I strongly believe in the "come, let us reason together"
approach to problem-solving. Whether that approach will work with Dr.
Schlessinger and her followers remains to be seen. -Bob

Robert S. Willard
Executive Director
National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
1110 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 820
Washington, DC 20005-3552
Phone202-606-9200; fax202-606-9203
Cell phone202-255-8306

Meg Van Patten, Head                        BALDWINSVILLE
Reference and Adult Services               PUBLIC LIBRARY
Baldwinsville Public Library                 1948 - 1998
33 East Genesee Street                  PRESERVING THE PAST
Baldwinsville, New York   13027                  &
                                       PRESENTING THE FUTURE
(315) 635-5631 ext. 206 [voice]
(315) 635-6760 [fax]
megv[at]  [e-mail]

10. Editor's note

I somewhat regret featuring so prominently material advertising ALA's
Banned Books Week without a stronger showing of alternative viewpoints on
intellectual freedom.  While I have advertised Library Juice in the past
as focusing partly on intellectual freedom concerns, I would now prefer
for it to be a forum for discussing intellectual freedom issues from a
variety of perspectives.  I do sympathize with intellectual freedom and
anti-censorship advocates, but I think their rhetoric sometimes obscures
certain issues.  While attempts to ban books in school libraries are a
problem, they are trivial compared to the problem of media monopoly and
corporate control of the mental environment.

I am interested in new perspectives on information proliferation which may
pose a challenge to traditional libertarian intellectual freedom ideologies.
The essential problem, as I see it, is that while we are not actively
prevented from reading what we want to in this society, for the most part,
what we are exposed to, and often what is shoved down our throats in the
form of advertising and popular culture (both forms of "information"), is
mostly consumer capitalist propaganda.  While I don't want to deny anyone's
freedom to read, I may be interested in challenging a corporation's claim of
First Amendment rights (becaues they do not have the accountability of 
individual persons).  As well as the right to read freely (and that includes
a right to know ABOUT the materials whose appearance is blotted out by
the dominance of the corporate presence), I have a right to a freedom FROM
information pollution.

I have begun looking at intellectual freedom the way I look at other
freedoms.  When individuals possess them on a human scale, they are sacred.
When capital claims them, we are about to witness real exploitation.  So,
I have begun to look at intellectual freedom as an extension of the ideology
of the free market (which, in the age of commodified information, it
literally is).  The history of the free market, leading as it has to
present day America, has proved that in the face of billions of dollars of
advertising, people are not capable of chosing what is good for them, but
are sometimes capable of democratically chosing to put limits in place
that regulate the structures of industries or what they can and can't do,
and seeing that they are enforced.

I would be open to seeing this principle put into practice in the sphere of
information.  For example, I think communities have a right to be protecte
from advertising in the same way we have a right to be protected from other
forms of pollution.  I think it would also make sense to protect children
from violence in movies and video games.  I think the PR industry needs to
be heavily regulated to counteract the influence it has on the news.

I don't understand, however, why the growing opposition to the dominant
intellectual freedom ideology focuses on Sex.  I don't see what is so
dangerous about sexually oriented material (although I am uncomfortable
with the way a semi-pornographic visual appeal seems to have permeated
every corner of the culture).

HOWEVER.  I think the First Amendment was primarily intended to protect
the free expression of ideas, and I don't think entertainment constitutes
an exchange of ideas.  I think the First Amendment has been too broadly
interpreted, and the result has been an image-saturated dystopia of
consumerist propaganda - images selling images that sell images that sell
more images that sell anything and everything.

Yes, I cherish the freedom to read _No Logo_ or other works critical of the
status quo.  But I wish I had a freedom FROM certain information as well.
I think a rational society would apply some limits in this area, and that
librarians might have a role in the process.

Feel free to send me replies to this exploration: rory[at]

  L I B R A R Y   J U I C E

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