Library Juice 6:3 - February 7, 2003


  1. Reminder - Library Juice needs your donation
  2. FBI at ALA
  3. Links
  4. Call For Papers!! (HweMuDua Collective)
  5. SRRT Resolution on the Iraq Crisis
  6. Mexican Library Manifesto Against War in Iraq
  7. Q & A on Smelly Patrons (includes article by Carol Reid)
  8. Why I reported ALA to SpamCop (Jessamyn West)
  9. Public Libraries Only 40 Per Cent Efficient
  10. Funny Searches

Quote for the week:

"Who of us does not recognize that the life we live, however larded with brave talk about values and thought and ideals, is not actually a life dedicated to immersion in the endless torrent of images, songs, sounds and stories?"

Todd Gitlin, in a talk at the Commonwealth Club. Transcript and audio at:

Homepage of the week: Holly Black


1. Reminder - Library Juice needs your donation

Some folks have asked me to create a system for tracking their "subscriptions" to Library Juice, so that I can remind them when it's time to make an annual donation. Interestingly, these requests usually come in during the month of January. The new year seems a logical time to make the donation, so let this be a belated new year's reminder that Library Juice needs your donations. I plan to use the money you donate for advertising (I ran an ad in The Nation in 2002) and to pay for republishing rights for articles that I want to use.

By next year I hope to make a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so your next donation ought to be tax deductible. That should increase the amount of money coming in. I intend to use those revenues to pay for distribution of press releases via PR Newswire.

Onward and upward!

If you want to make a donation to Library Juice or, you can send a check in any amount to: Rory Litwin, 1821 "O" St. Apt. 9, Sacramento, CA 95814-6136. You can also use PayPal if you're into that, by going to and making your donation that way. Recommended donations are $10 to $20 per year for a subscription. If you want to be a benefactor that would be nice too, of course.

Thanks for your continued support!


2. FBI at ALA

...So, a librarian and a spook walk into a bar....

You may have hear rumors about an FBI agent hovering around the ALA midwinter meeting in Philadelphia. In fact, there is some truth to the rumor. Here's what happened....

ALA Councilor at Large Maureen Pastine, who is a library director at Temple University in Philadelphia, was hurrying through her lunch at the Marriott hotel bar and getting ready to go to the Council Forum, where ALA Councilors would hear the concerns of members. She was talking to a colleague about the Patriot Act when a gentleman, who did not seem like a librarian, asked if he could join their conversation. They welcomed him, and he asked, "Has the FBI ever visited your library?" Maureen answered "Yes" and proceeded to tell the following story....

Two FBI agents went to the University's computer center and told two lower level student staff to go to the library and copy the complete hard drive of a library employee and bring the copy back to them. They were told that if the employee walked in on them they should tell him that they were merely getting rid of a computer virus and finish the job. The two kids dutifully went to the library to do the deed and ran into a locked door to the employee's office. They came to the head of systems in the library to get the door unlocked, and he, knowing the order of things in the library, came to Ms. Pastine. Ms. Pastine would not let the hard drive be copied without a court order or a subpoena, and contacted University Counsel, whom she had already been keeping up to date on the details of the USA Patriot Act, which at that time had not yet passed. The attorney asked the FBI agents why they needed the data. They responded that the man had an email message that mentioned anthrax. (This was during the anthrax scare, when everyone's email had a message that mentioned anthrax). The University Counsel told the FBI guys that they would need a court order or a subpoena to get the data. They left and never returned.

The man in the bar, after hearing this story, told Ms. Pastine that under the Act she wasn't allowed to talk about the visit. Maureen begged to differ; their visit came before the Act had passed, and the gag rule only applies to certain circumstances, and certainly does not apply to a visit by agents who have no court order and no subpoena - not even a search warrant. Maureen talked to him about our basic constitutional rights to freedom of expression and the freedom to read. The man asked, "What if the FBI were investigating people in the library who were responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11?" Ms. Pastine responded that the investigators would still need a a court order, that the constitutional rights of due process and freedom of expression are paramount. (I wondered why the FBI would have trouble getting a court order if the subjects of the investigation were suspected of involvement in the 9/11 attacks. It also strikes me as very easy for the FBI to say that every investigation "might" have to do with terrorism, and that therefore the normal checks and balances to their powers should be suspended.)

The man at this point asked an interesting question: "Have you ever worked with the FBI?" Ms. Pastine responded that she had. She has frequently attended the Smithsonian Cultural Property Protection Conference, where the guests and speakers were primarily law enforcement and security experts, including FBI agents, because the subject deals with things like risk management, insurance fraud, theft of art objects, etc. Ms. Pastine said she has had positive contact with a number of FBI agents at this conference, as well as Interpol agents and others. According to Ms. Pastine, "I think it's important for librarians to have good relations not just with other librarians but with everyone who deals with culture and cultural preservation."

Ms. Pastine then asked the man, who clearly was not a librarian, if he was an FBI agent, a logical question. He said he was a retired FBI agent, and agreed to give Ms. Pastine his card. His name is Richard MacClary, and his card reads "Former FBI Secret Service Agent, Member of the FBI Professional Association." (Or something similar. Of course the card could have been a fake designed to impress women in bars - who really knows?) He also gave his email address, which I do not believe is classified information: ramsec2[at]

Ms. Pastine went on to the Council Forum and told her story there, where a good part of the audience was extremely alarmed. The Patriot Act was a subject which members present were interested in talking about. She felt that the presence of this former FBI agent at the bar was not a big deal, but others at the meeting found it alarming that an FBI agent - retired or not - was asking ALA Councilors about their attitude toward the FBI and the USA Patriot Act. Certainly, the nature of his interest and his use of the information he gathered at the conference is unclear.

At the Council session the following day, June Pinnell-Stephens, another Councilor, who attended the Council open forum where Ms. Pastine told her story, told Council about it, she herself somewhat alarmed. A third Councilor, Mark Rosenzweig, was very alarmed and wondered if the same FBI man was attending Council sessions without a badge. From Rosenzweig's perspective, Council itself was nonplussed all around by the news of Pastine's questioning by a spook. According to Ms. Pastine, however, there was nearly mass hysteria as a result of Rosenzweig's alarm (affecting, she estimated, about a third of the room). Anyway, Ms. Pastine said that she did not see MacClary in the Council chambers either that day or the day before, but the pertinent question which Rosenzweig raised remains - to whom had Agent MacClary been talking, and to what end?

-Rory Litwin

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here's some indirectly related email....

[SRRTAC-L:10018] RE: FBI visits--FYI
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 15:36:57 -0600
From: "Pattie Piotrowski" <piotrowski[at]>
To: SRRT Action Council <srrtac-l[at]>
Reply to: srrtac-l[at]

Here's the link to a story I read a while back that has many of the same elements - FBI, used book, ebay - but many details have been changed. Decide for yourself.
Buy a flight manual, get a grand jury subpoena?

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

Pattie Piotrowski

-----Original Message----- From: owner-srrtac-l[at]
[mailto:owner-srrtac-l[at]]On Behalf Of Diedre Conkling
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 9:40 PM
To: SRRT Action Council
Subject: [SRRTAC-L:10006] FBI visits--FYI

Here is a weird posting from PUBLIB
(see below)

Diedre Conkling

     Lincoln County Library District
     P.O. Box 2027, Newport, OR  97365
     Phone & Fax:  541/265-3066
     Work:  diedre[at]
     Home:  diedrec[at]

Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 17:24:31 -0800 (PST)
From: "Patterson, Jill" <JKPatterson[at]>
To: publib <publib[at]>
Subject: FBI visits--FYI

I just had a visit from two FBI agents who requested that I pass the word along on the library listservs. Apparently, our bookstore received a donation from who-knows-where of a book that is still a classified government document. The bookstore sold it for 10 cents to someone who, not really knowing the significance of the book, put it up for sale on E-Bay for $3.00. The FBI actually has a watchgroup monitoring E-Bay and they contacted the seller and confiscated the book (don't know if they paid the $3 or not!). The agents wanted to know if there was any way we could track who donated the book. Well, naturally, we have no idea, and the agents expected that answer.

In any case, any book that is a government document and that is stamped "SECRET" on the cover should be reported to the local FBI office. This particular book was about infrared technology and dated 1975, but it is still classified.

Well, I have had a fun morning--this happened in the middle of a county safety inspection. Let's see what the afternoon turns up!

Jill Patterson e-mail: jkpatterson[at] La Habra Branch Library/Orange County PL 221 E. La Habra Blvd. La Habra CA 90631 TEL: 562/694-2958 FAX: 562/691-8043

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 11:23:04 -0600
From: "Don Wood" <dwood[at]>
To: Intellectual Freedom Action News <ifaction[at]>
Reply to: dwood[at]

From: <Loribonfitto1[at]>
To: <dwood[at]>
Date: 12/11/02 11:20AM
Subject: FBI in Libraries - A new Play Opening January 2, 2002

I wanted to make your organization aware of a new off off Broadway Play opening in January 2003.

Based on actual domestic defense operations, and eerily prophetic of recent governement invasions of personal privacy, SPIES IN THE STACKS begins in 1962, in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A New York librarian is approached by the FBI to spy on patrons, including those people close to her. Initially opposed to such tactics, her convictions waver after the assassination of President Kennedy. When a beautiful Cuban woman begins to visit the stacks, the librarian's surveillance becomes obsessive in the play about danger, desire, and spying as an erotic impulse.

SPIES IN THE STACKS runs at WOW Cafe Theater Thurs-Saturday January 2nd - 25th. All performances are at 8pm, tickets are $10. WOW Cafe Theater is located at 59 East 4th Street, in New York City. For reservations call 212 777-4280, or visit the website



3. Links


McSweeney's: Library Science Jargon That Sounds Dirty

[ Found on Holly Black's site ]


Top Ten New Copyright Crimes

[ Thanks Joel Kahn ]


The Library from Hell

[ Thanks Jessamyn ]


Banned Books Week at the Reference Center for Marxist Study
(Photographs by Mitch Freedman)


Advertisements (Collected by Tony Wilson)

Jan 31 issue of Rolling Stone, p 24: "Librarian by Day - Bacardi by Night."

HP ad in Martha Stewart Living (?)
"What the Internet needs is an old fashioned librarian"

Honda ad, Dec. 2001 Car and Driver
"The automotive equivalent of a really hot librarian. Good-looking, yet intelligent. Fun, yet sophisticated. All in a very eye-catching, 200-horsepower package. " n.pdf

Mack's Earplugs, "She's not your typical librarian."

Natural Contours, "After a long day at the library..."


For Non-violence and Peace (LOWNP)
(A Palestinian Bookmobile)

Letter from LOWNP


Library Associations Around the World


Librarians Split on Sharing Info (WIRED Mag),1848,57256,00.html


New URL for the petition against war in Iraq, now up to 1670 signatures:


New Listserv: Weapons of Mass Instruction. Anti-war discussion for librarians


Illegal Art (From Stay Free Magazine)
The best in creative copyright law civil disobedience


EduTour to Cuba for librarians
May 18th to June 2nd, 2003


4. Call For Papers!! (HweMuDua Collective)

-Are you interested in connecting with other progressive librarians, cultural/information workers, grassroots activists and others working for social change?

-Are you seeking a space to develop your voice for discussing social/political issues, sharing your thoughts and ideas about all that needs to be done in our communities and globally?

-Do you have articles, essays, art work, resources, etc. that you¹d like to share with others but have not found a safe space for mutual support and dialogue?

-Are you interested in making a difference, exploring alternative resources and ways of sharing information regardless of format or location?

The HweMuDua Collective would like to hear from you and give you a voice to share articles, essays, work stories, activism, community work, etc. We are publishing the first edition of our journal and need your support.

We represent a small collective of librarians, cultural/information workers and community activists interested in creating a support system for progressive work in the information sciences, resource sharing, developing alternative information resources and access points and promoting holistic communities throughout the African Diasapora.


For submission guidelines and consideration contact: Del Hornbuckle


HweMuDua Collective
10 Point Plan

Name: Hwe Mu Dua (pronounced shea?moo?doo?ah) ³measuring stick² is an Adinkra symbol which represents examination and quality control. The symbol signifies the check on mediocrity in quality and abilities; the symbol also encourages thorough examination of all aspects of human life and endeavors in order to achieve perfection.

Mission: Enrich and support learning communities to enhance, realize and nurture networks and those global and local groups/institutions that provide egalitarian access and services to information resources thereby promoting lifelong learning and holistic communities.

  1. We are committed to a liberating community-based agenda of anti-oppression, social justice, equality, diversity and the preservation of the cultural histories of the African Diaspora.
  2. We support individuals and groups striving (locally and internationally) to make basic information resources accessible regardless of location or format; individuals and groups using creative approaches for networking across all populations and learning communities; and individuals and groups committed to using information resources throughout the African Diaspora to empower, encourage and uplift all types of learning communities.
  3. We are committed to elevating, encouraging, nurturing and supporting children and youth throughout the African Diaspora and worldwide; we support individuals and groups using information resources regardless of location and format to empower children and youth to develop healthily and make informed decisions about their lives.
  4. We are committed to the exploration of alternative models of human services; promoting and disseminating critical analysis of information technology's impact on all learning communities, societies; and supporting the fundamental democratization of existing institutions of education, knowledge, culture, and communications.
  5. We support an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to community-building and the development of cultural democracies and civil societies throughout the African Diaspora and worldwide.
  6. We shall foster and encourage the promotion of learning, albeit traditional or alternative, with an emphasis on careers in the library sciences, information sciences, and all levels of cultural/information workers committed to making all types of information resources available, egalitarian and accessible to all populations, societies and learning communities.
  7. We are committed to fighting illiteracy and associated poverty.
  8. We are committed to supporting traditional and alternative ways of spreading information; sharing resources to heighten awareness; eliciting problem-solving and informed decision-making; and strengthening personal and community resources.
  9. We are committed to nurturing and promoting healthy public and cultural institutions (public health, public education, higher education, nutrition/wellness, business/community development and spirituality through knowledge management and resource sharing.
  10. We are committed to celebrating the oral and written histories, cultural societies, learning communities, and information resources throughout the African Diaspora.

"Nothing happens until something moves"~Albert Einstein

"WE are the ones that we have been waiting for..." Audre Lorde

Del R. Hornbuckle, Director Resource Center for Activism & Arts 1730 Connecticut Ave, NW-2nd Floor Washington, DC 20009 202.299.0460 dhornbuckle[at]

The Resource Center for Activism & Arts is a seed project of the Gaea Foundation based in Washington, DC. We support individuals and groups seeking personal and social transformations. Modeled on a traditional library, the Center's collection offers an in-depth source of information on alternative histories, viewpoints and approaches to deep social change. The Center supports the interests of artists, writers, students, scholars, activists, community organizers and the general public. Del R. Hornbuckle, Director & member of PLG


5. SRRT Resolution on the Iraq Crisis

The following resolution was adopted by the elected representatives of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) at the midwinter meeting. SRRT is a body within the American Library Association but does not and should not be taken to speak for the Association as a whole. In this resolution SRRT speaks only on its own behalf.

Resolution on the Iraq Crisis

WHEREAS the President of the United States is considering whether or not to go to war to disarm the nation of Iraq of its weapons of mass destructions; and

WHEREAS the citizens of a democracy need libraries as a key source of the information they require to formulate and express their views on this, and other important issues of our times; and

WHEREAS the Congressional Budget Office estimates a military action against Iraq will cost our nation between nine and eleven billion dollars a month, resulting in cutbacks in, among others, federally funded programs that benefit libraries; and

WHEREAS any major military action in Iraq is likely to destroy many libraries and other cultural facilities as well as kill many innocent people; therefore

be it

RESOLVED that the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library

Association urges all libraries to conscientiously build collections of information presenting all points of view on this critical issue, including points of view opposing war and promoting peaceful alternatives; and be it further

RESOLVED that this resolution be sent to the President of the United States, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Secretary of State of the United States, members of the United States Congress, IFLA and the library press.

Passed unanimously, January 27, 2003 by SRRT Action Council meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

Relevant ALA policies:

50.10 Disarmament and Conflict Solving Information in Libraries
50.11 Nuclear Freeze, the Arms Race and National Security
53.1(2) Library Bill of Rights
53.7 Destruction of Libraries
53 Libraries: An American Value


6. Mexican Library Manifesto Against War in Iraq

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2003 22:13:00 -0600 (CST)
From: fmeneses[at]
To: Progressive Library Guild <plgnet-l[at]>
Cc: ONU <webmaster[at]>, Phillippe Queau <p.queau[at]>, Abdul Wahhed Khan <aw.khan[at]>, IFLA/FAIFE <faife[at]>, susanne.seidelin[at], sus[at], John Berry <jberry[at]>, Council ALA <alacoun[at]>, SRRT Action Counsil <srrtac-l[at]>, Vietnam veterans Againts the war <xx600[at]>
Reply to: fmeneses[at]


Let us prevent the destruction of books and libraries of the Iraqi People!

Let us support our U.S. colleagues!

As centuries have passed, worldwide history shows that books and libraries have become increasingly vulnerable to the military technology of barbarous governments thirsty for power and vengeance. The growing destructiveness of war has been a large factor in this cultural tragedy. It has long been a strategy of war and conquest that one means of subjugating a people is to destroy their literature.

In this sense, we believe that the issue of the war against Iraq is everyone's problem, one share by the United States of America's people and all the peoples of the world, since all belligerent conflict has collateral consequences for everyone, as well as for the libraries and other resources that serve the human memory such as archives and museums. The wars of the 20th century, as in previous centuries, were the primary enemy of books and libraries, and consequently of the preservation of our true histories for posterity. The effects of war on libraries are far-reaching and universally calamitous.

Thus, the library profession, along with other cultural elements of society, has a civic responsibility: transform itself into a profession working actively against the war, a profession in favor of peace. In these crucial days we must act as responsible citizens in facing problems of an international nature. In other words, the library as a social institution must participate actively in the anti-war movements of these historic and decisive days. This pacifist stance must be an elevated and noble ethical stance in the practice of librarianship worldwide, and not exclusively in that of the warring nations. Wartime is, by virtue of its destructive nature, unquestionably significant for the moral development of the library profession.

In fact, wars have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of cultural life, and librarianship is no exception. All warlike conflict exposes the nations involved and their institutions-social, political, economic, and educational-to the risk of embracing inflexible and reactionary policies because war itself is politically retrograde. Therefore, the wartime librarian must be in the highest sense a pacifist professional.

In agreement with the principles above, let us help our U.S. colleagues to stop the belligerent plans of George W. Bush. Let us stop the possible damage to the people of Iraq, prevent and the impending destruction of its libraries. Such activism is one the tasks of democratic librarians of around the world. This support for peace and should be of ethical-citizen interest both to librarians and other workers of the culture, as well as library school students and professors. These are days of the librarians of the social responsibilities; of collective action between librarians and other professional and library staff from all over the world. We as library professionals, workers, students, and scholars must be an active part of the fight against this war.

We adhered to the call:

We Need 'Weapons of Mass Instruction' -- Books Not Bombs -- No War Against Iraq!

made by the Progressive Librarians Guild it its petition at:

No to war against the Iraqi People!

Felipe Meneses Tello
Librarian and Professor
National Autonomous University of Mexico

co-founder, Mexican Circle of Studies on Political and Social Librarianship

Oscar Maya Corzo
co-founder, Mexican Circle of Studies on Political and Social Librarianship
Mexico, D. F.

Lorena Rivera
co-founder, Mexican Circle of Studies on Political and Social Librarianship
Mexico, D. F.

Martín Vera Cabañas
co-founder, Mexican Circle of Studies on Political and Social Librarianship
Mexico, D. F.

José Manuel Bello Horta
Mexico, D. F.

Carmen Yasmina López Morales
Mexico, D. F.

Coral Chamú Arias
Mexico, D. F.


7. Q & A on Smelly Patrons (includes article by Carol Reid)

First posted in Library Juice on April 29, 1998

> FYI.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 11:34:30 -0500
> From: Jeff Coghill <jcoghill[at]>
> To: member-forum[at]
> Subject: Patrons
> I need some opinions here. We are a medium sized university library
> with a public access computer lab. We have a few patrons who are do
> not regularly take baths and who are prone to bouts of loud and
> extended coughing. This does not seem to bother the students worker
> staff much. However, other patrons have complained and asked us to
> do something about these people. I am in a quandary. How do we work
> with these people? Do you ask them to leave? To take a bath? I
> want to preserve our good library environment and keep a positive
> working relationship with everyone who comes into the lab. What to
> do? What is the policy in your respective libraries?
> Jeff Coghill
> McNeese State University

This can be a problem and I'm not really sure what you should do, but I would venture to say ... nothing. You might want to acquaint yourself with the Kreimer v. Morristown decision and urge some tolerance and fellow-feeling on your patrons. I am attaching a column I wrote on this topic for my library newsletter a few years ago.

Carol Reid

Kreimer Versus Blamer

The Kreimer case has ended ambiguously, on a note of acrid acrimony--the smell of money and moneylessness. (The homeless man won $80,000, plus another similar sum against the police, in an out-of-court settlement that the Morristown library opposed, as an appeal was pending, and for which they were dropped by Traveler's Insurance, resulting in considerable debt. While the first judge found in favor of Kreimer, and decided that the library's regulations were vague, overbroad, discriminatory, and unconstitutional, the second judge overturned that ruling. Kreimer gets to keep his money, the library their rules, and once again banning is banned. But only theoretically.) Smelling, in fact, would seem to be the biggest problem patrons can present. It wafts unmistakably through the legal and procedural deliberations, as does the amorphous Staring (sometimes construed as harassment, other times as daydreaming).

One librarian writes of a relative who chose for the most part to live on the streets and frequented the public library. She says that "the problem of 'starers' had become a hot topic among public librarians in North Carolina." She asked her relative about his use of the library and he told her that the main branch had "too many people working in there. They don't have anything to do but sit at their desks and stare at you all day long." "I like," she says, "to remind myself of this story every time I start thinking that I have the one true perspective on something."

Speaking of staring down one's fate, Richard Kreimer, homeless advocate and eager litigant, is not the only indigent to have found his calling at the library. Michael Brennan, formerly homeless, now a free-lance writer in Massachusetts, describes his transformation in a beautifully written essay in the January 1992 issue of _American Libraries_. "Ignoring (his) humiliation" (two nearby patrons rising and moving "downwind" of him), he determined that "the library was to be my school; the books my curriculum; and this after-work cramming my 'homeless work.'"

Kreimer v. Morristown has prompted important discussion within the library community. Sanford Berman argues eloquently in _Women Library Workers Journal_ for the abolition of fines and fees; some libraries have done this in order to be less prohibitive to the poor. Two years ago the Minnesota Library Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table submitted a wide-ranging policy resolution to ALA concerning "Poor People's Services" and it was adopted. Last fall ALA's Intellectual Freedom Committee drafted "Guidelines for the development of policies regarding patron behavior and library usage."

These two documents taken together illustrate as well as anything the different but compatible perspectives of SRRTs and IFRTs, both commendable efforts on the part of libraries to promote democracy. Although Judge Sarokin's decision was reversed, his advice remains sound: "If we wish to shield our eyes and noses from the homeless, we should revoke their condition, not their library cards." In the meantime, here are some other inspiring notions (from the American Library Association Fact Sheet on the Homeless). In Tulsa and Dallas, libraries have joined with social service agencies to help open shelters (with "a nonjudgmental atmosphere like that found in the library"), networked with other groups, and donated library materials.

In Portland and Milwaukee, libraries received federal grants for reading rooms in homeless centers. A new library in Massachusetts will include a Acommunity room for the homeless, with easy chairs, coffee maker, TV, paperbacks, magazines, newspapers, and information on local homelessness organizations. San Francisco is now offering library cards to people without permanent addresses. They and the Philadelphia public library provide children at shelters with story hours and films. The New York Public Library operates five projects for the homeless. Some libraries produce information cards, listing agencies and phone numbers; others operate up-to-date central information and referral services. And many libraries have literacy programs which benefit the homeless.

In these days of desperation, libraries that try to maintain the principles of equal access and empowerment will do the most to ultimately tip the scales of economic justice. As the saying goes, and goes for both rich and poor: "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries." And compassion, imagination, and cooperation may get us through both.

May-June 1992


8. Why I reported ALA to SpamCop (Jessamyn West)

Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 17:29:30 -0800 (PST)
From: Jessamyn West <jessamyn[at]>
To: rory[at]

[rant follows]


I applied for a membership at ALA because I want to run for council and help, among other things, fix ALA. Ever since then, I have regretted this decision.

I submitted my application via a webform that, as near as I can tell emailed my credit card information to ALA. I then waited two weeks to even get an acknowledgement of my membership. The "welcome to ALA" email I got was sent to an address I had used when I was an ALA member three years ago, and one that I did not give them. I replied to the email to ask to be taken off the list but no luck, they made the return address a non-emaileable address, my reply bounced. I then mailed the woman whose email was in the email to change my address and that seems to have worked, though I got no reply.

Then I got the first spam from Mitch Freedman.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like Mitch and I also want to "Save America's Libraries" What I do NOT want is email, to an address I did not give them, with no return address, lobbying me to do anything. The footer of this email says that my address is not on any list. This is demonstrably false since how else did I get this email...?

So, I wrote to customerservice[at] This would have been easier if either of the mailto links on the Customer Service page [itself, an outsourced front-end pretending to be ALA but probably a service shop in the South someplace] worked. They do not. In fact, they are embarassingly blank. The person who provided ALA the template didn't even bother to read the instructions enough to get to the "type your organization's email here" part. That's okay though because the Customer Service front end only allows me to register for ALA or register for the conference, all other queries are routed back to ALA. I changed my email address in my ALA "profile" to something unmentionable.

Today I got my membership card saying that my membership expires in 10 1/2 months despite the fact that I have been a member for all of three weeks, based on the date I got the email [my card didn't arrive until today]. I sent another email trying to rectify this and at the same time maybe seeing if we could all just forget the entire thing and cancel my membership, this had obviously been a mistake.

This evening I got the third piece of email to an address I never gave ALA, another exhortation from Mitch, another footer saying "you are not on a list" and still no reply to my email to customer service from a week ago. I said "fuck it" and sent the mail to SpamCop. the email was clearly:

  1. unsolicited
  2. sent to many many people at once [from, itself a faked mailserver]

Plus, I had asked to be removed not once but twice. My feeling at this point is if this organization is in any way indicative of the complete disorganization and rotten customer service that we can expect from "America's Libraries" then I don't want to save them at all.



9. Public Libraries Only 40 Per Cent Efficient

By John Brisben Walker
San Francisco Examiner, June 8, 1917

We maintain throughout the United States magnificent buildings and costly staffs - then, just on the point of making our public libraries truly valuable to the class of people most needing education, we stop.

Our failure arises from the commonly accepted theory that people have leisure to come to the libraries, select their books and take them away. As a consequence, library books are in large part read by the leisure classes - by leisure classes not meaning the rich, but rather those members of families who happen to have leisure because of sickness or age, or determining causes of like character.

But the great mass of humanity - the men and women who work - might almost be said to be sidetracked by the libraries. They are the ones whom it is chiefly important to educate. Yet for these libraries are 90 per cent inefficient. Can the American public view with indifference this almost savage waste, in view of the fact that if the public were taught the use of books the education of this great mass of the people would contribute results fully as important as from the public schools?

We spend vast sums for collecting books, we spend vast sums for housing books, and we spend vast sums on the care of books. But we spend little or nothing upon a scientific system for distributing books, and little or nothing educating the average man or woman in the use of books. Yet we have an agency in the United States Postoffice ideally adapted to this distribution at a minimum of cost.

The Government, acting upon the belief that the local newspaper serves a purpose in educating the people, gives it free passage throughout the country in which it is published. Government furnishes furnishes expensive school buildings and corps of instructors to educate the growing citizen entirely free of cost.

Government furnishes school books free of cost, and in many places government carries the child to school free of cost. Why should it not also recognize the transcendant importance of education for the adult, and by act of Congress authorize th efree delivery and free return through the mails of all library books of a character likely to increase the intelligence and efficiency of the citizen?


10. Funny Searches

The following are amusing search expressions that led people from search engines (mostly Google) to pages on during the month of January:

I must absolutely find some letterpress news this instant
pecked to death by ducks
earth is a planet of many splendors
"life of yogurt"
transexual jazz band
why do we need -carbohydrate
Has Liberalism destroyed the U.S.A.?
rories in florida
"maeve binchy" +"bad writing"
electronic cuckoo clock parts
news updates on kids below 13 should not have tvs or computers in their room
dewey decibel numbers
significance of '3:14' and baseball
revolutionary bunion treatment
+"mike tyson" +bush +misunderestimate
+"feline reactions to bearded men" +1991
show me your engine
controlling-their-men examples


L I B R A R Y   J U I C E
| Library Juice is supported by a voluntary subscription
| fee of $10 per year, variable based on ability and
| desire to pay. You may send a check payable in US funds
| to Rory Litwin, at 1821 'O' St. Apt. 9, Sacramento, CA 95814,
| or, alternatively, you may use PayPal, by going to:
| To subscribe, email majordomo[at] with the message
| "subscribe juice".
| To unsubscribe, email majordomo[at] with the message
| "unsubscribe juice".
| Other majordomo commands are available in the help file,
| which you can get by emailing majordomo[at] with the
| message "help".
| Original material and added value in Library Juice
| are dedicated to the public domain and may be copied
| freely with appropriate attribution; beyond that the
| publisher makes no guarantees. Library Juice is a
| free weekly publication edited and published by
| Rory Litwin. Original senders are credited wherever
| possible; opinions are theirs. If you are the author
| of some email in Library Juice which you want removed
| from the web, please write to me and I will remove it.
| Your comments and suggestions are welcome.
| Rory[at]