Library Juice 6:15 - July 17, 2003
2. Aspects of a Humanist Approach to Librarianship
3. Translation of Eliades Acosta's speech at ALA, Saturday, June 21, 2003
4. Germantown Quakers check the spread of novel reading (1874)
Quote for the week:
"To make a contented slave it is necessary to make
a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral
and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to
annihilate the power of reason."
By Frederick Douglas
Source: Sagan, Carl. The Demon-Haunted World. Science
as a Candle in the Dark. New York: Ballantine Books,
Chapter 21: The Path to Freedom, 1997, p. 355.
Homepage of the week:
infozo: moron librarian
Librarians against the WTO -- CALLOUT
[ from Danielle Dennie ]
U.S. News Won't Retract Fiction Presented as Fact
[ from FAIR ]
Open Government Information Awareness
[ from Don Saklad ]
Summer 2003 issue of Management World: "Women in Management"
[ from Fred Stoss ]
"On Power and Priorities: Is Information Technology Threatening Development?"
(Economic Justice News, Vol. 6, No. 1, April 2003)
[ from Al Kagan ]
Q&A related to the CIPA decision
[ from Mary Ghikas ]
Dissertation Could Be Security Threat
Student's Maps Illustrate Concerns About Public Information
By Laura Blumenfeld
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 8, 2003; Page A01
[ from Lisa Abbott ]
THE LURE OF DATA: IS IT ADDICTIVE?
[pseudo-attention deficit disorder brought on by computer use]
SOURCE: New York Times; AUTHOR: Matt Richtel
[ from Benton's Communication Related Headlines ]
The 'grey digital divide': Perception, exclusion and barriers of access
to the Internet for older people
by Peter Millward
[ from Edward J. Valauskas ]
Revolting Librarians Redux is out. Details at
[ from Jessamyn West ]
/usr/lib/info || Will Microsoft control our information access?
(Discussion of Digital Rights Management software)
[ from LISNews, I think ]
Status of ALA's concerted effort to respond to everyone's complaints
about the new website:
[ from Debi Lewis ]
USATODAY.com - More men train to be nurses, midwives, secretaries
[ don't remember how I found this. ]
A video of Maurice Sendak's 2003 Arbuthnot Lecture
[ from Don Wood ]
Lincoln Cushing's review of _Vandals in the Stacks_, the attack on
Nicholson Baker, for the current issue of Progressive Librarian
[ from Lincoln Cushing ]
Web Linking Need Not Cause Copyright Liability
EFF Press Release
[ from Don Wood ]
What would it be like if The Lord of the Rings had been written by
[ from Jeneva Storme ]
2. Aspects of a Humanist Approach to Librarianship
...a contribution to a philosophical foundation
By Mark Rosenzweig
True human autonomy, arguably the goal of human development to which we,
as humanists, are committed, is never achievable, meaningful or desirable,
alone, in isolation, that is, without a concrete, collective context --
without others and their 'otherness', as well as their similarity.
It is the opposite of bare independence (although it requires, or entails,
the exercise of independence in the sense of independence of the
'immediate'), of so called 'American individualism'. It is, more precisely,
the opposite of action or inaction in an atomized universe, no matter how
'free' it seems.
Human autonomy is not a given, as 'individualism' pretends to be. It is not
a 'state of nature'.
This goal of autonomy of which I speak, this possibility, is a profoundly
social goal, an historic goal. For it to maintain momentum it has to be
chosen and re-chosen over and again, in new circumstances, not only by
individuals but by the collectivities they form and re-form in history.
Critics of progress say that its proponents are determinists. The goal of
human autonomy is the negation of thoroughgoing determinism. All creatures,
after all, are creatures of choices of this or that, x or y, For humanity,
however, choice becomes elevated above mere 'behavior' to 'meaning', both
through its possibility of free exercise and the recognition that all
choices are not possible at all times, but that we, nonetheless, are not
constrained within or limited to choices of either/or. This is the possible
autonomy which, when enabled, is the realm of the choices beyond either/or.
An implicit project of all humankind, for all humankind, it is realized
through the struggle of hominids to be, after all, more fully human, an
impulse kept alive through all the history of blood and violence,
unnecessary suffering, injustice and domination, that we drag behind us
either as the useless burden of ignorance or the useful if more painful
burden of self-knowledge.
It is the recognition of ourselves and the other as us-as-nature;
us-and-nature, and our-nature-as-humanized, recognized as the shared
meaning of who we are necessary for assuring a better future, as something
to be cultivated.
You ask what is the implied goal of human autonomy, a goal to which we can
aspire as a social-ethical imperative? It is what Marx meant when, in
defining the good society, he said it was ultimately the possible
emergence of the set of social arrangements which are such that the free
development of each is the condition for the free development of all. Could
there be a better creed for librarianship and the goal it shares with all
truly humanistic pursuits?
Autonomy is possible, perhaps paradoxically, only through deepening human
interconnectedness -- active 'global' interconnectedness today --
synchronic and diachronic, of all who exist together and all who have ever
existed. It is history and co-existence. It is past and future meeting in
the now. It is, above all human consciousness, the self-motivating search
for knowledge, the irrepressible instinct, not just for survival, but for
something far beyond mere survival.
It is well, though, to remember that this is not a predetermined
evolutionary process. We do not yet, especially in our truly global
society, share the same past, see the same future or live the same now, and
after all, that may not ever be, or may not ever be realized under
conditions fully conducive to global human development. It remains to be
seen. There is no 'inevitability'.
But we can say that human autonomy alone will allow us to appreciate
natural diversity and cultural plurality and group and individual
difference, character and person, and to synthesize them in understanding,
rather than be overwhelmed by it, oblivious to it, rejecting of it,
destructive of it.
Human culture in its totality, including human knowledge, recorded and
unrecorded, impossible for any one person or collective to comprehend in
its diversity of interpretations and viewpoints, is the record of the
struggle for human autonomy, its successes and failures, its triumphs and
disasters, its truths and its lies, its glories and genius and its tragedies
and follies. The shelves of the libraries of the world, full of
contradictory and hostile views, of their interpretations, of the
transcribed dialogues of the contests of interpretations, of the return to
interpretation and, hopefully, dialogue at a higher level, are not
repositories of truth or wisdom, but the tool to reach truth and wisdom, to
follow the basic Socratic quest: "Know thyself!" . The librarian is not the
arbiter of truth, but the facilitator of dialogue and interpretation, and
of returning to dialogue and interpretation at a higher level.
It is the historicity made possible by the freedom of human autonomy and
later the knowledge of historicity which is the humanists' always repeated,
yet ever-new, message, which makes possible the ability to constitute
an horizon of the 'new', of that which has not yet existed, which always
contains the prospect, if not the promise, of liberation from the constraints
which bind us in relations of domination of one the other, relations which
are the mark of unfreedom, of self-subjection, of mutual degradation, of
limitation and imprisonment in meaninglessness.
The nihilism of, for instance, fascism (or crude collectivism as an end in
itself) is the negation of the goal of human autonomy as a social project.
The basis for the dialogical is destroyed, the foundations of the plurality
of interpretations meeting each other productively is made impossible. There
can be no real humanities, certainly no true librarianship under fascism.
The evolution of autonomy historically in culture is recorded in the
quintessentially human activity of the creation, at first unconsciously
then consciously, of artifacts and the collection, at first casually then
systematically, of information -- by individuals and institutions -- not
just as experienced and disappearing, transient, but as 'captured',
preserved and recorded, therefore selected and interpreted, and, not just
for one's own purposes, but for others' experience and purposes as well.
No deepening communication is possible without communicants allowed,
encouraged, to be open to hearing, to seeing, the voices and images, the
traces, of the transmissible past ,to being open to the otherness, too,
of co-communicants' alternative views. And do we not know that there is no
communication of even so-called information/data which is not already
without meaning and interpretation, a merely abstract transfer or exchange?
Every communication is a transaction, which is transforming of its content
and (potentially) transformative of its communicants. It is always a
reciprocal process or it is not communication.
Further, there is the collection of artifacts and texts and the creation of
new information and records. And further, the collection of information
about those artifacts, and of artifacts about that information.
Finally, in the anthropology of shared meaning there is the dialogue of the
interpretations themselves, the acts of imagination based on the
internalization and symbolic manipulation, conscious and unconscious, of
the appropriated conversation of the world, at its best in respect and awe
for its totality and complexity and suggestiveness.
These all, in turn, form the basis for the more-than-merely-immediate
dialogue between people and cultures and their histories -- shared and
different, overlapping and separate -- and, as well, the
not-just-obviously-practical and instrumental interpretation by peoples and
cultures of their artifacts and texts but also the shared, humanizing
appropriation of their meanings just for their own sake, for the sake
'merely' of human, collective self-affirmation and happiness.
At first, face to face dialogue, then interior, imaginary dialogue and
interpretation of the other in relation to one's self, then dialogue at
distance in time and space, and social dialogue and interpretation of
the-self-in-the-world-with-others: this is the complex basis for a common
practice which is neither extraordinary nor merely routine, but is,
nonetheless, emancipatory practice, of the common practice underlying
mutuality in pursuit of seemingly simple goals, simple yet unrealized,
which are 'liberatory' goals, or even of ends pursued for play and
pleasure, so often permitted only to the elite, for humanizing each other
in social communion.
I assert here that besides the satisfaction of basic needs -- and, more
darkly, despite the terrible things we historically have thought and,
atavistically, still think we must do to better satisfy and secure them for
ourselves revealed by a review of history -- wars, enslavement, degradation,
treachery, deceptions, thievery, torture, murder, rape, despoilment,
exploitation -- there is a parallel, if asynchronous history (not
altogether independent, one might add, realistically) of 'humanization' in
each epoch, marked by the enlargement of the capacities for empathy, based
deeply in biology, and also just as powerfully in the potential expansion
of the quest for mutual understanding, based deeply in given forms of social
organization which provide for the possible creative, constructive
cultivation of knowledge, understanding and self-understanding necessary to
give birth to higher forms of organization,interaction and ultimately,
collective action for human betterment.
The goal is not as 'utopian' as critics are so quick to point out. "Utopian"
has become an epithet in todays political discourse. I prefer to believe,
along with the late Herbert Marcuse that: "It is the task and duty of the
intellectual to recall and preserve historical possibilities which seem to
have become utopian possibilities." If we in the professions and in
librarianship in particular consider ourselves in a modest, sociological way
to be intellectuals, his reminder could not be more apropos.
For what is the 'utopia' we propose we can help bring about? What is 'the
good society' we propose?
As Marx modestly put it, the good society is one arranged in such a way in
which the possibility of the full and free development of one is the
precondition for the full and free development of all. This seems very much
within the universe of the possible and within the intellectual orbit of
If you care to look, human autonomy itself in the light of reason reveals
the sometimes hazy horizon of humankind's strivings. True, reason does not,
of course, and cannot and probably should not exist without unreason.
Unreason is the shadow which reason casts. It cannot be abolished anymore
than we can abolish our own physical shadow. Its darkness too often
overcomes the world and reason seems to be, in fact, the shadow of
unreason, and, because of its nature, its servant. When reason becomes the
servant of the irrational there is much to fear. Everything is at stake.
Humankind's more worthy tasks are daunting because their ultimate
realization, always taking place just beyond the shadow of unreason,
presuppose commitment to the continued striving towards cultivating that
which makes them possible in the first place: the assertion of the
possibility of universal and perpetual peace among peoples and nations, of
the possibility, the choice of prosperity without waste which we can
produce and share justly,of the social justice which knows no distinctions
of sex, race or class, of the respect for nature, which is our nature, but
not just ours.
Yet it is is not unreason which is the sole obstacle, not ignorance or
error. It is apathy, it is lack of will, it is fear, it is cowardice, it is
selfishness, it is conformism, it is timidity, it is cynicism. These are
the forces that eat away at the foundations of the few institutions which
attempt to assure the preservation of humanity's history when faced with
the calculative imperatives of purely economic reason
Reason alone cannot assure the preservation of what has been hard fought
for, or assure progress or a better future. There is no reason without
emotion, nor without passion, at least not which is not suspect. No
disinterested, disembodied reason. That is a myth at best, a lie at worst.
The evil of unreason is not emotion, but the rather cold and bureaucratic
idea (sometimes pursued with maniacal intensity and fervor, to be sure)
that reason is purely instrumental and it is instrumental possibilities
which determine what is do-able and therefore worth doing.
Immanual Kant said: "Enlightenment is man's release from self-incurred
tutelage. Tutelage [rote learning, instruction in custom] is justified only
by humankind's inability to make use of understanding without direction
from others, that is, with true autonomy. It is self-incurred because --or
when --its cause lies not in a lack of reason but in lack of resolution or
courage to use it without direction.
"Sapere aude" Dare to know! "have courage to use your own reason" -- that
is the motto of enlightenment, says Kant.
If libraries were to proclaim their social mission in an inscription over
their door they could not do much better than to proclaim "Sapere Aude"
For, as the great socialist Karl Kautsky said early last century, "the only
real security for social well-being is the free exercise of people's
Creating the conditions for that is the collective project to which
librarianship makes a modest yet irreplaceable contribution. It will only
continue to do so, however, if it probes its humanistic roots for its
constitutive purpose and rediscovers its commitment to enlightenment and
July 4. 2003
Editor's note: Mark Rosenzweig has a growing crowd of critics outside
the library world. To see what they sound like, visit
Mark's comment about this page is that it represents "a real aspect of
the social impact of the WWW and how information that gets passed
around is transformed."
3. Translation of Eliades Acosta's speech at ALA, Saturday, June 21, 2003
Here is a translation of the speech Eliades Acosta, directory of the
National Library "José Martí", Cuba, gave at ALA, Saturday, June 21, 2003.
Cuban Libraries: the Interview Waiting for CNN
A real Cuban librarian, in the flesh, is a person, almost always a woman
that seldom is of interest to the ever-expanding quantity of journalists and
related others that claim that they dedicate themselves to saving the Cuban
reality in their writings. If the true reality of the islands seldom seems
appears reflected with medium objectivity in the great press that calls
themselves "free and professional", it should not astonish us that little or
nothing is known of the more than twelve thousand information specialists
that maintain this important social service in a poor, harassed, and
economically blockaded country by the greatest power in human kind's
history, as if it were a criminal country, a nation that shelters a mortal
illness for the rest of the nations: demonstrating that another better world
It is odd to answer that in spite of this vile criminalization of an entire
people, for this grim persecution against a social project that deeply
revolutionized the structures of exclusion and injustice that the largest
majority of the Cuban population had suffered under, the truth is that Cuba
shows the greatest index of schooling for all of the Third World, above,
including that of many developed countries; it doesn't suffer from
illiteracy; it has the greatest world per capita of teachers and is
recognized by UNESCO as possessor of one of the educational systems that is
of highest quality in preparing its graduates. None of this has true
importance for those that criticize and accuse Cuba.
It's not important that no Cuban child has to beg on the streets in order to
live, nor that education is free and universal from preschool through the
university, as well as health care. This of course harshly, is irrelevant,
since the Cuban children and youth also don't shoot one another in the
schools, or kill their teachers in their own classrooms.
It's not important that from the month of September of this year, in the
Cuban schools one can count a teacher for very twenty students, a ratio only
approximately achieved in Denmark, where the classrooms can count a teacher
for every twenty-five students. It's not important that in our network of
schools there exist six thousand school libraries, nor that they have within
them for 2002, fifty thousand computers, televisions, and VCR's, including
those close to 1000 rural schools that can't count on electric service and
that use provided solar panels, even when said schools were among 173 that
open each day in order to take in only one student, because they live in
very remote regions. But none of this is really important.
It's not important that we can count a higher ratio of public libraries in
Cuba than in Italy; that this complies with the recommendations of UNESCO
and almost three books per person are available for the user's disposal;
that in the past year more than eight million people have received services
in our network of a total population of eleven million, and that in the
country they can buy the cheapest books in the world. And that all of this
is achieved in order to serve all of Cubans, not the privileged elite, nor
those that have the greatest purchasing power, they have less importance,
none of it is important, since none of these achievements, that the Cubans
are proud of, have been developed in the middle of a war that has lasted
already forty three years.
The recent restrictive measures of the government of the United States for
the plan of the interchange of ideas and academic projects has confirmed
that the blockade doesn't recognize borders and that their affirmations to
the contrary are pure rhetoric. The prohibition of traveling to Puerto Rico,
a territory of the United States, of the Union of Cuban Librarians that need
to participate in professional courses and conferences, adds up negatively
to Cuban cultural organizations, like Cubarte and the National Library, that
are not able to subscribe to databases about literature, like SAFARI
(safari.oreilly.com/) and OCLC. There can be no doubt: under the laws of the
blockade it is impossible to develop a normal life, and such a reality
Effectively, for almost half a century we Cubans have lived in exceptional
conditions. Those of us, like I, who are less than fifty years old, have
been born and have grown up under the blockade, and we have had children and
grandchildren that also have been born too under the blockade. The threat of
experiencing a foreign military aggression to experiment on our own flesh
never has abandoned us in all this time. Meanwhile, a great part of the "the
free and objective press" has been dedicated itself to scrutinize the nooks
and crannies of our lives, to demolish without pity the gigantic work of
social justice that we have developed in conditions so adverse, and to
create a virtual Cuba that is the worst of the worst sites of the planet.
Recently, particularly viciously and with an unusual display of scandalous
lies, a section of this infernal artillery has concentrated on the work of
the libraries and the Cuban librarians.
Of what are we accused? Which are these serious mortal sins that we
committed and that has earned us the most severe sentences of these
Cuba is the only country that of almost the two hundred that compose the
United Nations that has deserved, in the eyes of FAIFE of IFLA (Committee
for the Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), a
differentiated analysis and two special reports, one in 1999 and the other
in 2001. We have had the honor to receive on our soil, in that same year, a
large delegation of ALA and FAIFE which freely traveled around the nation
and its libraries, the real and the false ones, and interviewed all the
people that they wanted, among them, writers, librarians, booksellers and
people of the town. While Mrs. Susan Seidelin, Director of FAIFE, traveled
around the stacks of our libraries with a list in her hand searching,
fruitlessly, for the promised absences with regards to "censured" titles and
authors, an English scholarship holder, Mr. Stuart Hamilton, traveled
"incognito", reminiscent of the characters of Graham Greene, the streets of
Havana, meeting those they classify with that delightful euphemism of
propaganda and psychological war against Cuba that they are calling
In spite of that suspicious fixation with Cuba, as if this were the country
where the worst treatment of liberty and intellectual rights occurs; as if
Cuba were, and not the United States, the nation that appears the most
frequently denounced on the web page of FAIFE for scandalous violations of
such rights and liberties; as if in some place in Cuba they burn and
prohibit the books of Mark Twain, Alice Walker and Isabel Allende, as it
occurs in some places of the United States and as it were a relevant part
of the national debate whether or not to have "Harry Potter" on the shelves
of the libraries, the Resolution about Cuba approved with 86% of the votes
cast to the General Assembly of IFLA, celebrated in the summer of 2001 in
Boston, is worth remembering, proposed in an exemplary way unified manner by
North American and Cuban librarians, secured in an unequivocal way the
position of the world community of information with respect to those
so-called "independent librarians":
"To exhort the United States government to widely share the materials of
information with Cuba, especially with the Cuban libraries and not only
with "nongovernmental independents individuals and organizations" that
represent the political interests of the United States."
There is no doubt, for the delegates in Boston who voted for the passing of
this Resolution, one can't be independent, while one represent the political
interests of a determined state, it's not important if it is the United
States of the Kingdom of Tongo.
Precisely, what does one wants to emphasize with the use of the adjective
"independent" together with the noun "librarian, when it is applied to the
In the first place, it's taken for granted that all of the rest of the Cuban
librarians, that is, the thousands that studied for years and took exams in
order to practice their profession; that work daily under very adverse
conditions, using an admirable creativity and spirit of sacrifice in order
that our country is, as it is, one of the most educated on the planet, they
are "oficialista*" librarians, for the simple fact of receiving a salary
from the government. Following this same logic, what then to call the
immense majority of the librarians of the world that work in the public
sector of their respective countries, that is, that receive salaries from
their governments, when these, as one knows, are under conditions of making
it, and are not being forced to make spending and budget cuts, as it is
occurring, right now in the libraries of the richest country on Earth?
On the other hand, if the decisive criteria in order to call some librarians
"oficialista*" and others "independents" depends on who pays for their
services, then the latter can't be called thus, since they don't work for
the Cuban state, but for the United States, as it has been reliably
demonstrated, including the "independents", as they themselves have declared
to the foreign librarians that have visited them. They know, and irrefutable
proofs exists, about the rates for their services, about the equipment that
they receive, the books that have arrived at their houses directly in the
cars of the United States Office of Interest in Havana, and of the generous
visas that they and their family members receive in order to emigrate, when
they are rewarded for services rendered.
In the second place, if the criteria in order to distinguish some and others
depend on the ideological affiliation of each one, then it complicates the
matter even more. The enormous majority of the Cuban people support the
Revolution. If this were not so, it would not be able to resist so many
years of siege, blockade and aggressions, that go from terrorist attacks,
like the one of 1973 in Barbados to invasions as far as the Bay of Pigs, in
1961, the nuclear threats, in 1962, and the introduction of plagues and
illness. The Cuban librarians and their professional organizations support
the Revolution, and we say this out loud and clearly since it fills us with
pride, it is a right that we exercise to the light of day and it doesn't
shame us. Not one important intellectual, not even one information
professional, nor one writer has been able to be recruited for this
subversive campaign, Are those "independent librarians" able to demonstrate
that they don't work in order to overthrow the Revolution; that they don't
receive political orders and millionaire funding of the entities of the
government of the United States charged to subvert the Cuban institutional
order, as is the case of "Freedom House" and the USAID, to cite only what
has been made public, and that more than librarians act as conspirators that
violate the laws of the country at the service of a foreign, hostile power?
Incidentally, the U.S. Code, Section 180 established sentences of ten years
in prison for those that work within any part of the country or territories
for a foreign power hostile to the United States, as has demonstrated in a
recent article by James Petras. In the Cuban laws, as in those of the United
States, the figure of the "intrusive professional" appears as a punishable
infraction: that, and no other thing, is to proclaim oneself the "director"
of a library and to fraudulently invade the terrain of a profession,
receiving from them monetary retribution. These "brave and struggling
freedom fighters", as their defenders like to call them, earn in one month,
in their houses, without working, 2.2 times what I earn monthly as Director
of the National Library of Cuba, charged in giving daily services to close
to 400 users and conserving a collection of more than 3 million documents.
Are we in the presence of a professional topic, one of those that is
connected with the general principles that we all share in our noble
profession or, on the other hand, of a political discussion, related to the
action of political activists at the service of the total war declared by 10
successive administrations of the government of the United States against
the Cuban Revolution?
If we agree that one doesn't discuss here the applications and updating of
the Dewey Decimal System, nor metadata, nor the questions bound with the
preservation of the bibliographic or digital heritage of the nations, nor of
the paths needed to strengthen the collaboration among the librarians of
Cuban, Canada, and United States, then, what shall we discuss when in spite
of the accord in Boston, one persists in calling them "independent
librarians" which they aren't; when on behalf of principles that don't
require the government of the United States, that which violates a free flow
of ideas and of information with their laws that relate to Cuba, condemns
the victim, because it is small and weak, instead of condemning the
executioner, because it is large and powerful?
There isn't the slightest doubt: we aren't in the presence of a professional
topic, but political one, therefore I wonder if the professional
organizations, like those that have convened this Conference, must move away
from its professional mission adopting political positions in one or the
other direction. And I add: would it take a some position with relation to
the internal situation of Cuba untieing it from its external determinants,
in the first place, from the blockade and its renewed harassment that it
suffers by the United States government? Would these organizations be
prepared, from this precedent, to express declarations and to take clear
positions about the innumerable problems that corrode the modern world?
Would they do it, for example, with relation to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, or to the not-concluded war against the Iraqi people? Have they
done it in order to condemn a war, as this, that causes not only thousands
of innocent victims among the civil population for the benefit of the
interests of the military industrial complex and the oil transnationals, but
also the destruction and plundering of the National Library, the National
Museum and dozens of other important centers that were the heritage of
These days the campaign against Cuba has as a final objective the creation
of a favorable climate of isolation and discredit in order to attack it
militarily. It isn't in vain that the reactionary circles of exiled Cubans
in Miami worked frenetically to make a reality the loaded orders of hate and
frustration that flourished and was fulfilled as the only public act
celebrated in the world in support of the war against the Iraqi people:
"Iraq now, Cuba later". One military aggression against Cuba, they say, is
the only way possible in order "to resolve" the Cuban problem, by doing
this, they situate themselves at the same juncture as the United States
government when it reduces still more, those already reduced cultural and
academic interchanges with the island and also with the European Community,
to practically prohibit them: it is the tacit recognition of their defeat in
the exchange of ideas with Cuba, in the people to people interchange. What
remains to them, then, after having used, without any success, all the
possible methods, but the bombings and the invasion, even when this will
provoke the loss of thousands, maybe millions of human lives, and not only
Since those distant days that Cubans fought practically alone for thirty
years for their liberty, we are a country that doesn't wait for other
governments, but for other people. We know well that through all of history
we have received much courage and solidarity from the people of the United
States and Canada: it is what we wait for in these tragic moments, full of
danger, when the destiny of humanity is yet again being played in a
This is what we hope from the colleagues that are attending this Conference.
That what the thousands of real Cubans feel and desire, librarians that
never have been nor will ever be interviewed by the large, informative
media, but that at this moment, are helping our children discover the
unforgettable pleasure of their first book.
Eliades Acosta Matos
Director of the National Library "José Martí"
La Habana, Cuba
Translated by Dana Lubow
LA Valley College Library
with assistance from Dr. Librada Hernandez
LA Valley College Foreign Language Department
* oficialista = a term used by the anti-revolutionary Cubans to refer to
someone who works for the government. There is no translation into English.
4. Germantown Quakers check the spread of novel reading (1874)
"In watching the use of our library as it is more and more resorted to
by the younger readers of our community, I have been much interested in
its influence in weaning them from a desire for works of fiction. On
first joining the library, the new-comers often ask for such books; but
failing to procure them, and having their attention turned to works of
interest and instruction, in almost every instance they settle down to
good reading, and cease asking for novels. I am persuaded that much of
this vitiated taste is cultivated by the purveyors of the reading
classes, and that they are responsible for an appetite they often
profess to deplore, but continue to cater to under the plausible excuse
that the public will have such works. This furnishing of unwholesome
mental food or poison is gradually pervading our literature to an
alarming extent, from the fictitious Sabbath-school little story-book,
through our serials, to the more pretentious novel, vitiating the taste
and giving false ideas of the life wherever found. Could the directors
of our public libraries but see the evil and aid in checking its spread,
they would be conferring a great benefit on the young people. Our
library is doing a good work in that direction."
-From the 1874 annual report of a small public library established by
Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Published in The Nation.
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