Library Juice 7:18 - August 27, 2004
2. On the "Radical Reference" project
3. A Librarian's Confession
4. How Far Should the Library Aid the Peace Movement and Similar Propaganda?
5. The Song of the Library Staff (all six verses)
Quote for the week:
"No sooner," says Boswell, "had we made our bow to Mr. Cambridge, in his
library, than Johnson ran eagerly to one side of the room, intent on
poring over the backs of the books. Sir Joshua observed (aside) 'He runs
to the books, as I do to the pictures: but I have the advantage. I can
see much more of the pictures than he can of the books.' Mr. Cambridge,
upon this, politely said, 'Dr. Johnson, I am going, with your pardon, to
accuse myself, for I have the same custom which I perceive you have. But
it seems odd that one should have such a desire to look at the backs of
books.' Johnson, ever ready for contest, instantly started from his
reverie, wheeled about, and answered, 'Sir, the reason is very plain.
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where
we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the
first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it.'"
- A conversation between Samual Johnson, James Boswell, Sir Joshua
Reynolds and the poet Cambridge at his villa on the banks of the Thames
near Twickenham, April 18th, 1775, as quoted by Andrew Keogh in his
address to the American Library Association Annual Conference in
Asheville, North Carolina, 1907 (original source not cited).
Homepage of the week: S. R. Ranganathan
Talk by Al Kagan on the Social Responsibilities Round Table and social
activism in librarianship, given at the UIUC library school, 10/23/03 as
part of the LEEP lecture series. (Read Audio)
[ From Jane Glasby ]
Librarians as Wimps
"Sorry, Sir, Some Readers May Find Your Book Inflammatory"
By DAVE LINDORFF
August 18, 2004
[ from an anonymous poster to the anarchist librarians list ]
Information and Institutional Change:
The Case of Digital Libraries
Philip E. Agre
This is a chapter in Ann P. Bishop, Nancy A. Van House, and Barbara P.
Buttenfield, eds, Digital Library Use: Social Practice in Design and
Evaluation, MIT Press, 2003.
[ found surfing ]
Maxine Rochester and Pertti Vakkari
"International Library and Information Science Research:
A comparison of international trends"
[ Wilda Newman to IFLA-L ]
Internet Archive has copyright problems: DMCA exempt for now
By Nick Farrell, The Inquirer, 11 August 2004
[ Chuck Hamaker to liblicense-l ]
August issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter
[ Peter Super to ACRL Scholarly Communication T. F. list ]
Librarians For Terror [FrontPage Magazine]
(This is an attack on librarianship from the hard-right)
[ from multiple sources ]
Librarians For Terror: Part Two (on the "Little Green Footbals" blog)
(More attacks on librarianship from the hard right, with librarian
Greg McLay of SHUSH.WS joining in under the name "piglet")
[ found in server logs ]
Madame Cheney's cultural revolution
How the vice president's powerful wife makes sure that historians and other
scholars follow the right path.
August 26, 2004-Salon
[ Kathleen de la Pena McCook to the SRRT list ]
Government Using Commercial Databases to Circumvent Privacy Laws
[ from S. Michael Malinconico to the ALA Council list ]
Reporters Protecting Sources Face Perils
Thursday August 19, 2004 10:16 PM
By LAURA MECKLER
Associated Press Writer
[ found surfing ]
Final release of the Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress,
available on the American Memory Web site at
[ from Laura Gottesman ]
ALA Strategic Plan for 2010
Progress so far:
[ shared among ALA Round Table Coordinating Committee reps ]
2. On the "Radical Reference" project
"Radical Reference," the website started as a service to protesters at
the Republican National Convention, is quite interesting, and worth
It is set up on the backbone of a slashcode like blog, where submitted
questions and answers relating to radicalism and the political season
constitute blog entries. Volunteer librarians with appropriate subject
knowledge tackle the questions. At the moment, the submitted questions
range from requests to compile generally useful information for thinking
about radicalism and the Convention, requests for recommended reading on
historical subjects, request for statistical data about partisanship in
elections, and questions about political theory. The volunteers are able
to answer these questions admirably, owing to their experience and
subject expertise. As the Convention approaches, we can probably expect
to see more questions of a legal and practical nature from protesters.
The website links to blogs and references resources, and is set up for XML
syndication, useful for protesters with network-enabled PDA's and such.
As long as this site is a limited-duration service based on the event of
the RNC, the blog format is fairly useful, because the database of
questions will probably not be too large to find an answer to a question
that has already been asked by browsing. If the site is going to have a
continued existence beyond the RNC, it should probably evolve to allow
subject access and better searchability of questions and answers.
What is really interesting about this website is that it represents a new
model of reference service that is worth thinking about. It is
web-based; the questions and answers are archived and available to the
public; and it is oriented to a specific subject area, which partially
replaces geography as the determinant of the both the user base and
staffing, with a potentially positive effect on the quality of service.
Jack Stephens of Conservatorblog.com, a conservative library weblog, has
complained that in being specifically political, the librarians at
Radical Reference are violating librarianship's ethic of neutrality,
citing the ALA Code of Ethics' standard that we "do not allow our
personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims or our
institutions or the provision of access to their information sources" and
that librarians provide "accurate, unbiased" responses to all requests.
What Stephens seems to be missing in making this criticism is that
Radical Reference is an independent, volunteer project not associated
with any institution whose aims it could misrepresent. Also, it is
necessary to understand that perceived bias is relative to two factors
(that are frequently in tension): the truth, which has an aspect of
objectivity as well as an aspect of perspective, and the point of view
of the community of readers. In the context of Radical Reference, the
volunteers should indeed provide accurate and unbiased information; if
you look at the questions and answers on the website with a proper
understanding of the concept of bias, you'll see that they do a good job
at this. It is reference service in a mode that is appropriate to the
community of users. It's no less a community for being ideologically
defined (and there are plenty of institutions with ideological commitments
that shape the nature of their libraries' services; no one sees a reason
to complain about that).
The existence of this type of reference service - web-based and oriented
toward a specific ideological and cultural group rather than a geographic
locale - is a sign of the postmodern fragmentation of society, or perhaps
an adaptation to it. But it is one that can help us in thinking about
the future of our services and our roles.
The project was started by by Jenna Freedman, James Jacobs, Shinjoung Yeo,
Ellen Knutson, Chuck Munson, Kris Kasianovitz and other librarians in the
NYC area and elsewhere and can still use volunteers. You can contact
them via the website.
3. A Librarian's Confession
by Rory Litwin
The New Breed Librarian online magazine of 2001 and 2002 was all about how
the younger generation of librarians is busting the old stereotypes that
say we are introverted, stuffy, conservative, shy, perhaps officious,
humorless, pedantic, dowdy, drab, and probably live alone with a beloved
cat. "Not so!" it argued, "Librarians are hip, radical, wild, have indy
street cred, talk in slang, go to the hippest rock shows, are
anarchistic, and want to make the world safe for skateboarders and
free-form muralists!" (It didn't say that literally, but that was part
of the idea, along with more lofty ideas about our devotion to the
democratic ethos of the modern library, as well as ideas about younger
librarians' affinity for computers.)
I was interviewed in the first issue of the NBL as a prime example of a
librarian who is not what a librarian is thought of as being - this
because of my commitment to the radical potential of libraries as a model
institution in society, my interest in making libraries better, and in
general my youthful passion for libraries and librarianship as something
that I see in an exciting light (as well as for being a webmaster and
having an electronic newsletter). I fit the profile of a
stereotype-busting librarian in a number of other ways as well - I've
been arrested in political protests, I've been to plenty of hip rock
shows, I've used a variety of illegal drugs, I've contracted a few STDs
(dim memories now), I have a couple of tattoos, I'm a gen-Xer from the
socially liberal environment of the San Francisco Bay Area, and I've
shown a tendency to iconoclasm. Surely I represent the New Breed of
librarians, right? Defying that awful stereotype? Right?
Well, not exactly. I've come to realize, as I've eased into the latter
half of my fourth decade of life, that to see and represent myself in
that way would not be entirely just to myself as a person, nor to the
profession of librarianship.
Let me explain why.
I had many reasons for becoming a librarian; together they added up to the
profession "fitting" me. The profession fits me because it serves the
ideals of democracy and is a public institution - that is to say, it fits
me ideologically; but the nature of the work suits my temperament as
well. I am and have always been a true nerd; this nerdiness is
connected to my selfless attitude at the reference desk and my passionate
love of reference materials. It really couldn't be any other way.
Despite the resume of hipness that I am capable of producing, I fit the
librarian stereotype more than I defy it. I am and have always been a
shy, introverted guy, intellectually inclined, with mediocre social
skills and a sexuality that is frequently called into question. The
Myers-Briggs personality test says I am an ISTJ, which, if it is not the
personality type of the majority of librarians, is certainly the
stereotype's type - ("The Duty Fulfiller" - see
http://www.personalitypage.com/ISTJ.html ). Despite my political
progressivism, I have a definite conservative tendency, in terms of my
everyday behavior, dress, judgmental ethical sensibilities and a somewhat
buttoned-down, hesitant and unadventurous nature. I also live alone with
my beloved cat.
Generally speaking, these are facts about myself of which I've never been
completely comfortable, and have at times wanted to deny. But I have
come to realize that they are related to positive traits that serve me
well as a librarian (and no less so as a person). That is what we should
realize about the librarian stereotype. Every human trait has a valuable
and a less-functional face to it. We tend to talk about the librarian
stereotype strictly in terms of its undesirable aspects. But it is
related to our strengths as librarians also - to our thoughtfulness, our
focus, our desire to help. I've quoted Will Manley on our stereotype
before. In American Libraries, May 1996, he wrote:
"The world generally sees us as steady, serious, and studious.
Unfortunately, steady, serious, and studious are often mistaken for
strict, staid, and stuffy. That stereotype seems unfair and unkind until
we compare it with other, more unpleasant occupational stereotypes:
Lawyers are liars, politicians are crooks, doctors are greedy, athletes
are stupid, journalists are egomaniacs. In comparison, our stuffiness
doesn't look so bad."
In a sense, I am saying that we should embrace our stereotype in order to
emphasize its positive aspects (without allowing ourselves to be reduced
to that stereotype, as that would rob us of our individuality and
diversity). The stereotype fits only a few of us perfectly, but anger
over not being represented fairly by it shouldn't lead us to deny the
ways in which we do fit the traditional understanding of what a librarian
is like, because there is much that is true and positive in that idea.
We should be proud of being librarians according to what the word
"librarian" is commonly understood to mean, and should assert our value
on that basis - not on the basis that the public has misconceptions about
us and doesn't realize, for example, that we are computer experts (which
most of us are not) or that we have pierced tongues (which most of us do
not). We should not underestimate the degree to which we are already
valued by society for the qualities we are understood to have and the use
to which we put those qualities.
I am writing this because I am finding that as I "own myself" to a greater
degree as a person, I also own myself to a greater degree as a librarian.
Our profession as a whole could stand to do something similar.
4. How Far Should the Library Aid the Peace Movement and Similar Propaganda?
By George F. Bowerman, Librarian, The Public Library of the District of
An address at the American Library Association National Conference
in Berkeley, California, 1915
I suppose it may be taken for granted that the members of no other
profession could have been more surprised and shocked at the outbreak of
the great European war than were American librarians. Living in an
atmosphere of peace and good will and enlisted in the work of spreading
enlightenment, joined by many strong ties with our professional
colleagues in other lands, we had assessed the spirit of the world to be
in harmony with the spirit of our profession and with the American
spirit, strong for universal peace, and had thought that the world had
become sufficiently civilized so that war, or at least a great
continental war, involving the most advanced European peoples, was no
longer possible. Even now it hardly seems comprehensible that many of
the European libraries are either closed or are running shorthanded
because librarians are serving with armies in the field where they are
fighting their professional colleagues of other nations, being killed or
maimed or contracting diseases that will cut short their careers. Almost
incredible also is it that the great library of the University of Louvain
should have been destroyed in war in this the twentieth century. It is
all so bewildering as almost to defy belief.
Although our country has happily kept out of the war through the wise
leadership of the President and the fundamental devotion to peace of our
people, yet the country in general has suffered heavily and many American
libraries in particular have had appropriations much curtailed as a
result of the business depression brought on by the war. With our
sympathies aroused and our professional interest enlisted, ought we to
allow an annual meeting of our national association falling while the war
is still in progress to pass without asking whether there is anything
that we librarians and the libraries we represent can do to further the
cause of international peace, whether we can assist in bringing about the
peace that shall last, that will make all wars impossible, unthinkable?
I am sure that we librarians "look forward," in the words of William
James, "to a future when acts of war shall be formally outlawed among
civilized peoples." How far is the library justified in going and what
specific methods are we as librarians justified in taking to help in
causing this view to be generally accepted?
In attempting to answer these questions it is desireable first to lay down
certain principles that should guide the library in its attitude toward
propaganda in general and then to inquire whether there are special
considerations that may properly affect our attitude toward the peace
The librarian is constantly confronted with demands for the purchase of
books and magazines, the offer of free copies of books, magazines and
pamphlets issued on one side or the other of controverted questions,
cults and isms. The main guiding principle should be that of interested
neutrality. The library seeks complete enlightenment on the part of the
constituency and to that end affords the fullest possible representation
to both sides, to all sides of every controverted question. The library
should encourage a broad and liberal spirit of free inquiry; its purpose
is not to restrain but foster comprehensive curiosity. The offers of
literature or the requests for its purchase may have propaganda in mind;
the proponents very probably intend to use the machinery of the library,
expensive to the public but cheap for their use for the dissemination of
their own views. The library in lending itself to such use is not
playing into the hands of the propagandist, but is rather availing itself
of offers and requests to afford the inquiring and curious public,
interested in subjects of current discussion, with material for the study
of the questions at issue. Care should of course be taken when material
representing one side only is offered, to procure the best material on
the other side, together with the writings of capable neutral critics, if
such exist. Even though the subjects of discussion may sometimes seem
relatively unimportant or even at times rather foolish to the
matter-of-fact librarian, the library cannot best meet the needs of the
public unless it furnishes such material. The library wishes to be fair
and escape the criticism of being narrow-minded or biased. Some subjects
which provoke only a smile or faint interest among sophisticated persons
like librarians, may be of surpassing interest to certain readers of
character and standing in the community.
This position of hospitality is, I believe, the proper attitude of the
librarian toward the many controverted questions with which he is
constantly dealing such as vivisection, vaccination, Roman Catholicism,
Christian Science, socialism, the single tax, the recall, capital
punishment, immigration restriction, prohibition and women's suffrage.
The individual librarian or member of a book committee may have strong
opinions on some or all of these subjects; he may be superior in his
personal attitude toward some of them and hostile toward others;
officially, however, he must be sympathetic toward various points of
view, for they are vital questions to large sections of the community and
to ignore them is to render a public library unresponsive to the needs of
The word that libraries may appropriately do with respect to a sharply
controverted question may be well illustrated by what has been done by
them in the case of the present war, involving as it has disputes over
causes, atrocity charges, infractions of international law, etc., on the
one hand, and an American public divided in its sympathies on the other.
Ever since its outbreak the public has been closely following the war not
only by means of the newspapers, but numerous readers have flocked to
libraries to study with eagerness books, reviews and controversial
pamphlets. The war has created an entire new and voluminous literature
that libraries have properly collected and made available, in many cases
by means of maintaining a series of special shelves devoted to the
material about the war. Several libraries have printed for distribution
reading lists, compiled in their own libraries or have distributed the
list issued by the Publishers' Weekly. In gathering this material,
libraries have collected widely and impartially, in order to afford the
amplest opportunity for the forming of independent judgments. The wise
librarian has utilized this occasion to bring to the attention of his
readers not only material about the immediate and controverted questions
at issue, but also books about the historical aspects of the controversy,
about the conditions in times of peace in the nations involved and also
especially the literature of peace and international arbitration.
How far should the library definitely promote the peace movement itself,
if at all? Should its attitude be strictly that which it occupies toward
any other controverted question? If so, the peace advocate may hope much
from what the library can do for it is believed that the literature
favorable to peace and international arbitration is far stronger than
that opposed to peace. Simply for the library to possess full resources
on both sides of the question and to exploit it by displays, annotated
lists and the other usual methods will of itself powerfully aid the peace
movement. This war has forcibly dragged the question out of the academic
shades where it has for the most part previously rested and made it the
most vital question before the bar of the world's opinion. It can no
more be neglected than can the question of the cost of living. Every
library at all responsive to public questions must provide full resources
and make them available to the public. That of itself inevitably
promotes the peace movement.
But I believe that the library is justified in occupying a more advanced
position on this particular controverted question. It is likely that few
librarians or library trustees, whatever their individual opinions may
be, would officially advocate omission to provide for suitable national
defense, or for proper development of army and navy and other elements of
preparedness, at least until such time as armies and navies, if retained
at all, are made into international military and police forces. These
are immediate questions of public policy with which he has nothing
officially to do. I believe, however, that it is entirely in
consonance with the purpose of the library, as an integral part of the
public educational system, as an institution devoted to the spread of
democracy and the promotion of enlightenment, as an institution with
books in many languages, containing information about all the peoples of
the world, and as an institution with many international friendships with
librarians and other scholars throughout the world, to promote in every
suitable way the strongest ties of international friendship.
Librarians are also interested in peace and should, I believe, promote it
as a matter of self-preservation. Many observers have predicted that the
present war will cease only with the complete economic exhaustion of one
or more of the combatant nations. In any event the rehabilitation of all
of the countries involved will be a long and painful process. Money
spent on armies and navies and for interest on piled up debts cannot be
spent for social objects or for education; and since the library is
perhaps the youngest and least considered of all educational agents, it
will doubtless suffer most from the enforced economies resulting from war
preparations. We are told that more than 70 per cent of income of our
own national government is spent on wars past and future. Can anyone
doubt that library appropriations would be larger if military and naval
expenditures were smaller?
Most librarians would agree not only that war and preparations for war are
entirely at variance with the purposes for which the library exists, but
that war versus peace is no longer a controverted question of public
policy at all. It is rather a question of fundamental ethics: Is the
world willing to go on sanctioning a system that puts all of the
resources of modern technical science into commission for wholesale
murder and theft? The failure to adopt at the close of the present war
some plan that will eliminate war from the earth except as a measure of
punishment by an international police force would be to postpone the time
when the library may hope to do its full work.
We the librarians of today want to see the scope of the library enlarged
instead of having it kept to its present narrow limits. We want to see
libraries have larger and better paid staffs in order adequately to meet
present demands. We need money to foster larger demands on the part of
the public. Both as citizens and as librarians we want to see promoted
all of the other movements that make for social well-being and
enlightenment, knowing that thereby the opportunities and demands for our
work will most surely be enlarged. The reduction of the burden of
armaments offers, I believe, the best hope for the expansion of the
library and of library work.
Although I have been arguing that the library by reason of its essential
character as well as because of self-interest ought definitely to promote
the peace movement yet I do not think that the specific measures I shall
advocate will prove unacceptable even to those librarians and library
trustees who conceive the peace movement as strictly falling within the
field of controverted questions. In proposing that the library stress
the peace movement there is no suggestion of neglect to provide the
fullest possible resources for the study of literature favoring war and
controverting pacifist arguments.
In an enumeration of the ways in which the library can appropriately aid
the peace movement I should put foremost the efficient and liberal
development of the library itself and the compelling extension of its
resources to the entire reading population. If only the library is
generously stocked with travel literature, books in foreign languages and
literatures, technology, fine arts, economics, sociology and history; if
it has branches and other agencies and expert administration so that it
is really used by approximately the entire population, it becomes a great
leavening influence, improving the economic efficiency of the population,
increasing their general enlightenment, counteracting the jingoism of the
yellow journal, making good Americans of recent immigrants and increasing
the sympathetic interest of persons of American birth in foreign lands
and peoples. The great agent for the amalgamation of those of foreign
birth is the public school and the library is or should be its strong
right arm. In other words, if the library is able by proper support to
cease being a static institution simply responding to calls made upon it
and can become more a more dynamic institution that shall reach out and
influence the entire population and join in a big way in the forward
social movements, it can powerfully influence public opinion. Who can
doubt that this influence would be for general progress, including
It must be confessed that some of the influence of the library has been in
the direction of fostering warlike sentiments. Many of the books, most
popular in libraries, fiction, juvenile books and histories, glorify war
and inflame international hatreds. I make no suggestion of a censorship
that would eliminate such books. It is desireable, however, that
libraries should furnish an ample stock of the books that depict the
horrors of war an that they should encourage the writing of books of
history that record the work of heroes of peace and that recognize the
fact that real history is a record of the development of pacific
civilization and international harmony. The Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace might well enlist some geniuses in the work of
writing masterpieces of fiction for adult and juvenile readers - books
that will do for the cause of peace what "Uncle Tom's Cabin" did for the
slavery question. It is a perfectly fair proposition, I believe, for the
library as an educational institution to stress such a part of its
collection. Of course it goes without saying that the library should
have the best possible stock of books on international law and on the
economic and social phases of war and peace.
The literature of peace, internationalism and war may well be exploited by
the methods already mentioned and by the publication of lists such as
those issued by the Brooklyn Public Library in 1908 (57 pages), by the
public libraries of Boston, Denver, Salem and Buffalo, by the Library of
Congress and the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. The American
Association for International Conciliation has issued two lists on
"Internationalism," compiled by Mr. Frederick C. Hicks, and has
distributed them to libraries generally. Mr. Hicks also prepared and the
American Association issued, two or three years ago, about a dozen "best
book catalog cards," each card listing, with annotation, several titles
of books and periodicals on various phases of the peace question. These
cards have been inserted in the card catalogs of a large number of
American libraries. This work should be continued. The American
Association has issued for free distribution a reference list and a
syllabus for the study of international polity, by Dr. John Mez. It is
also believed that the American Peace Society or one of the other
American peace agencies, would, if the American Library Association or
any considerable number of American libraries should make the suggestion,
issue a brief and a comprehensive annotated list of books on peace in
very large editions for distribution by libraries to their readers. The
call for literature on the peace question in libraries is already large.
The distribution of such lists would stimulate such calls.
Librarians might well let it be known to the Carnegie Endowment and the
local peace societies that they would welcome lectures and debates on the
peace questions in their lecture halls in their main libraries and
branches. In common with most lectures given in library auditoriums,
they need not be directly under library auspices, but might be under the
patronage of the peace societies. The public library is now generally
becoming a feature in the social and civic center movement by which
public school buildings are coming to be used for public lectures,
meetings and debates. Here are opportunities for the popularization of
knowledge of the peace movement and for library co-operation in
furnishing the literature for the study of the question.
the story-telling now done in library children's rooms or in schools by
children's librarians, or with library co-operation, offers another
opportunity for implanting peace ideas in the minds of coming citizens.
If heroes of war form the subject of the stories, care should be taken
not to leave the idea that war of today is the romantic thing it may
possibly have been once -- or more probably never was, except in the
minds of the romancers. Perhaps the horrors of war should not be
detailed to younger children, but the deeds of heroes of peace might well
be utilized in story-telling. More material in the interest of peace
suitable for story-telling should be published. It ought also to be
listed in bibliographies for children's librarians and teachers, and for
the children themselves. Something has been done in this direction in
the publication by the New York Public Library of its pamphlet list
The scope of the American School Peace League might well be enlarged to
include the library. One of its objects is to secure the writing of
histories for children which will be truthful but will not unduly
emphasize international and racial antipathies. The library surely needs
such help, should use it and might well join in the movement.
So far as I am aware, this is the first time that the relation of the
library to the peace question has ever been specifically discussed at the
meeting of the American Library Association. The New York Library Club
devoted a meeting in November, 1912, to the subject. The speakers were
President Nicholas Murray Butler, Professor Samuel T. Dutton and others,
who discussed the movement generally, the literature of peace, the
library and peace, international bureaus of information and the
international exchange and loan of books. I believe that the topic ought
frequently to appear on the programs of the national and local library
If the practical suggestions here offered seem few, it should be stated
that the purpose of my address is more to enlist librarians and the
library in the cause of peace than to point out specific measures, to
appeal to the spirit rather than definitely to outline th practical. If
I have offered sufficiently convincing arguments that the library might
properly assist in this movement, appropriate measures will suggest
themselves to alert librarians.
Even if the advocates of internationalism should at the close of this war
see their dreams realized by the establishment of a supreme international
tribunal and the stable development of a body of international law
enacted by regularly recurring sessions of the Hague Peace Conference, by
the organization of a League of Peace, a Federation of the World or a
World State, the task of making any such plan work, of holding any such
organization together when some crisis arises, or of securing the
acceptance of the decrees of any such international tribunal would be a
difficult one. In order to be successful, behind the world organization
and the international court there must be the sympathetic world spirit.
This can only be secured by education, in which the library should have
an increasingly large part.
5. The Song of the Library Staff (all six verses)
By Sam Walter Foss, Librarian of Somerville (Mass.) Public Library
Read at the 1906 ALA Annual Conference
Oh, joy! to see the Library staff perpetually jogging
And to see the Cataloger in the act of cataloging
("Catalogs - Log-books for cattle," was the schoolboy's definition, --
A statement not to be despised for insight and precision)
Every language spoke at Babel in the books that pile her table,
Every theme discussed since Adam -- song or story, fact or fable!
And she sweetly takes all knowledge from her province, as did Bacon,
All the fruit that's dropped and mellowed since the Knowledge tree was
All the ologies of the colleges, all the isms of the schools,
All the unassorted knowledges she assorts by Cutter's rules;
Or tags upon each author in large labels that are gluey
Their place in Thought's great Pantheon in decimals of Dewey;
Oh, joy! to see the Library staff perpetually jogging,
And to see the Cataloger in the act of cataloging.
See the reference librarian and the joys that appertain to her;
Who shall estimate the contents and the area of the brain to her?
See the people seeking wisdom from the four winds ever blown to her,
For they know there is no knowledge known to mortals but is known to her;
See this flower of perfect knowledge, blooming like a lush geranium,
All converging rays of wisdom focussed just beneath her cranium;
She is stuffed with erudition as you'd stuff a leather cushion,
And her wisdom is her specialty -- it's marketing her mission.
How they through to her, all empty, grovelling in their insufficience;
How they come from her o'erflooded by the sea of her omniscience!
And they know she knows she knows things, -- while she drips her learned
The percentage of illiteracy perceptibly decreases.
Ah, they know she knows she knows things, and her look is education;
And to look at her is culture, and to know her is salvation.
See the Children's gay Librarian. Oh, what boistrous joys are hers
As she sits upon her whirl-stool, throned amider her worshippers,
Guiding youngsters seeking wisdom through Thought's misty morning light;
Separating Tom and Billy as they clinch in deadly fight;
Giving lavatory treatment to the little hand that smears
With the soil of crusted strata laid by immemorial years;
Teaching critical acumen to the youngsters munching candy,
To whom books are all two classes -- they ar either "bum" or "dandy";
Dealing out to Ruths and Susies, or to Toms and Dicks and Harriees,
Books on Indians or Elsie, great big bears or little fairies.
For the Children's gay Librarian passes out with equal pains
Books on Indians or Elsie, each according to his need,
Satisfying long, long longings for intellectual feed.
See the gleeful Desk Attendants ever dealing while they can
The un-inspected canned beef of the intellect of man;
Dealing out the brains of sages and the poet's heart divine,
(Receiving for said poet's heart ofttimes a two-cent fine);
Serene amind the tumult for new novels manifold, --
For new novels out this afternoon but thirty minutes old; --
Calm and cool amid the tumult see the Desk Attendant stand
With contentment on her features and a date-stamp in her hand.
As they fee beasts at the circus to appease their hungering rage,
So she throws this man a poet and she drops that man a sage,
And her wild beasts growl in fury when the do not like her meat, --
When the sage is tough and fibrous and the bard not over-sweet;
And some retire in frenzy, lashing wrathfully about,
When the intellectual spare-rib that they most affect is out.
But she feeds 'em, and she leads 'em and beguiles 'em wiht sweet guile,
And wounds 'em with her two-cent fine and heals 'em with her smile.
Oh, the gleesome Desk Attendant -- who shall estimate her glee?
Get some mightier bard to sing it -- 'tis a theme too big for me!
Now my Muse prepare for business. Plume your wings for loftier flight
Through the circumambient ether to a super-lunar height,
Then adown the empyrean from the hights where thou hast risen
Sing, O Muse! the Head Librarian and the joy that's her'n or his'n.
See him, see her, his or her head weighted with the lore of time,
Trying to expend a donnar when he only has a dime;
Tailoring appropriations -- and how deftly he succeeds,
Fitting his poor thousand dollars to his million dollar needs.
How the glad book agents cheer him -- and he cannot wish them fewer
With "their greatest work yet published since the dawn of literature."
And he knows another agent, champing restive to begin
With another work still greater will immediately come in.
So perfection on perfection follows more and more sublime
And the line keeps on forever down the avenues of time --
So they travel on forever, stretching far beyond our ken,
Lifting demijohns of wisdom to the thirsty lips of men.
See him 'mid his myiad volumes listening to the gladsome din
Of the loud vociferant public that no book is ever "in";
And he hears the fierce taxpayer evermore lift up the shout
That the book he needs forever is the book forever "out."
How they rage, the numerous sinners, when he tries to please the saints,
When he tries to please the sinners hear the numerous saints complaints;
And some want a Bowdlered Hemans and an expurgated Watts;
Some are shocked beyond expression at the sight of naked thoughts!
And he smooths their fur the right way, and he placates him or her,
And those who come to snarl and scratch remain behind to purr.
Oh, the gamesome glad Librarian gushing wiht his gurgling glee! --
Here I hand my resignation, -- 'tis a theme too big for me.
L I B R A R Y J U I C E
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