Library Juice 8:6 - March 25, 2005


1. Links....
2. Editor's comments on Library Juice and the "blog people"
3. ALA Election Picks from Dee Conkling and Mark Rosenzweig
4. Braverman Prize Winner
5. SAA Roundtable on Archival Issues and Advocacy
6. Help ALA stop the FCC's unlawful restrictions on librarians
7. Changing roles of librarians in an open access world (SCHOLCOMM)
8. Government funds color press group's objectivity
9. The Region of the Unromantic (1913)

Quote for the week:

"Libraries are the face of government as it existed before we started
hating government and, therefore, ourselves."

- Jennifer Vogel, in "Can the Public Library (and Democracy) Survive?,"
The Rake, February 2005.

Homepage of the week: Kevin Stranack


1. Links....


Are Public Libraries Criminalizing Poor People?
March 21, 2005
SRRT Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force

[ sent by John Gehner to the SRRT list ]


Soul Beat issue 35 - Special issue on libraries in Africa
from the SOUL BEAT AFRICA partnership
Soul City and The Communication Initiative
Africa editorial and network partner SANGONeT

[ sent to IFLA-L by Estelle Jobson ]


Banks, Marcus A. The excitement of Google Scholar, the worry of Google
Print. Biomedical Digital Libraries, 2(2). Published March 22, 2005.

[ from Bernie Sloan to COLLIB-L ]


Google faces French competition
Wed Mar 16, 2005 08:55 PM GMT

[ from the Herve le Crosnier's blog ]


The Age of Missing Information
The Bush administration's campaign against openness.
By Steven Aftergood
Posted Thursday, March 17, 2005, at 4:23 AM PT

[ from osbick_bird in the libraries livejournal ]


Rory O'Connor, AlterNet.
A new book argues that Japan has the least trust-
worthy media in the democratic world - and guess
how it began.

Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher.
A new American University study anonymously surveyed
Iraq War correspondents and confirms what many sus-
pected about widespread self-censorship.

[ sent by Don Wood to IFACTION ]


DRM Blog (Digital Rights Management)

EFF: Digital Rights Management and Copy Protection Schemes

[ from ]



[ from Don Wood to IFACTION ]


Capitol bill aims to control 'leftist' profs
Alligator Staff Writer

[ sent to me by Tierney Wayne ]

A bill to censor college professors passed its first committee in the Florida house.

[ sent to IFACTION by Don Wood ]


A Library Primer
by John Cotton Dana

[ posted to the Libraries Livejournal by shimgray ]


Factsheet 5 to begin publishing again in 2005
(It's the major zine guide)

[ Found on ]

2. Editor's comments on Library Juice and the "blog people"

Though I have written critically of what I called the "blogging craze"
myself, I am not going to defend Michael Gorman in his wrongheaded attack on
blogging as a clearer-than-ever sign of the demise of civilization. Our
ideas about the meaning of blogs and blogging are different, though
related. As an aside, however, I will just mention that I think that his
characterization of blogging as a degraded form of publishing, deficient
from the point of view of the scholarly publishing process, misunderstands
what blogging is. It is more akin to casual conversation taken into the
realm of the printed word. It borrows effects from the media of print as
well as oral communication. It's something new, and doesn't take the
place of scholarly publishing in any way. So, I think it is a mistake to
identify the "blog people" as a cultural threat.

Potentially more of a threat to serious publishing (and I'm being
half-serious here) are publications like Library Juice, which, though not
blogs, borrow some of the attributes of blogs while still making a claim
to be a part of the world of publishing.

On the one hand, Library Juice can make a claim for being a traditional
serial and not a blog for the following reasons:

I'm going out of my way to say all of this because Library Juice is often
called a blog. In fairness to people who make that mistake, it is more
like a blog than it is like a traditional serial in a number of ways.

So, while I honestly don't consider Library Juice a blog, I think I have to
admit that I am one of the blog people.

In a negative light, what this means is that I am a blog person who is
trying to wear the mantle of serious publishing with a quasi-serial,
quasi-blog that exhibits the best qualities of neither. In a more
positive light, from someone like Michael Gorman's standpoint, I could be
seen as a print person attempting to bring some of the values of the print
publication process into the blogosphere. In either case, Library Juice
does blur the line between blogs and traditional publishing which some
bloggers are trying to draw more clearly these days by emphasizing the
casualness and conversational aspect of blogs in contradistinction to the
greater formality and care that goes into traditional publishing.

I'm not going to worry about it. I'm going to keep going as I've been
going, in my old-fashioned, pre-blog internet style. Library Juice is not
a blog, but I will wear a "blog person" button if you send me one.

Before I leave off, I would like to re-articulate what presently annoys
me with blogs and the blogging craze. There is nothing wrong, for me,
with blogs per se, but I think they represent a craze at the moment in
that they have become the default format for any new website, regardless
of the appropriateness of a centrally chronological organizing principle.
These days, any time a group is organized they set up a blog, as though
all they can imagine offering via the web is their latest news and links.
I think a blog is a logical part of a larger website, but often small
organizations miss the boat when they make it their primary presence, with
a single scanty page, linked only from the blog, telling us "about the
organization" when information concerning the organization could easily
make up a site of its own and deserves prominence and accessibility.
Similarly, if the organization releases documents on a semi-annual basis,
it should provide access to them as an easily findable collection, rather
than primarily through the blog update, mixed in with links to articles out
on the web. So, I think we are in the midst of a blogging craze because the
blog has become the default format of choice where it isn't always
appropriate. I think it is good for a site to have a blog to keep people
coming back, but in many cases it should have a primary access point that
is not chronologically based.

I think the reason for the popularity of blogging is only partly that it's
trendy. The primary reason is probably that nice, easy-to-use blogging
platforms have been created that provide web-based means of creating a
professional-looking site. If some of these projects could begin offering
the capability to create logically in addition to chronologically organized
websites I think we would be on to something.

- Rory Litwin

3. ALA Election Picks from Dee Conkling and Mark Rosenzweig

ALA Election Info:

[SRRTAC-L:16178] ALA Elections
Date: Monday 11:35:05 pm
From: "Diedre Conkling" <diedrec[at]>
To: SRRT Action Council <srrtac-l[at]>
Reply to: srrtac-l[at]

The following is a list of ALA Candidates that I have pulled together
because of their activities in various parts of ALA and ALA affiliated
organizations. A similar list has been put together for several years for
the SRRT Feminist Task Force (FTF). Please read the biographies of these
individuals before voting. It is a recommendation of the FTF that you do
bullet voting and only vote for the candidates you really want. It weakens
your vote to take every vote you are allowed.

The people on this list have been pulled out through my own reading of
biographies and from the Diversity Council. These are people who have been
or are members of: American Indian Library Association (AILA),
Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), Black Caucus of ALA
(BCALA), Chinese-American Librarians Association (CALA), Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table (GLBTRT), REFORMA, Ethnic and
Multicultural Information Exchange (EMIERT), Social Responsibilities Round
Table (SRRT), the Diversity Council & the Committee on Diversity, the
Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), ACRL Women's
Studies Section (WSS) and, of course, the Feminist Task Force (FTF).

ALA Council Candidates endorsed by the Feminist Task Force:

Theresa A. Tobin
Diedre Conkling

Leslie Burger - COSWL, SRRT
Khafre K. Abif - BCALA
Monika Antonelli - SRRT
Kathleen E. Bethel - BCALA
Mary Biblo - BCALA, Com. On Minority Concerns, COSWL, SRRT
Frank Bruno - Com. On Diversity and Minority Concerns, EMIERT
Diedre Conkling - COSWL, GLBTRT, SRRT, FTF
Norman J. Eriksen - GLBTRT, SRRT
Carolyn Lowe Garnes - BCALA, SRRT
Ling Hwey Jeng - APALA, CALA, Diversity Council
Wei Jeng-Chu - APALA, CALA
Carol Ritzen Kem - ACRL WSS
Charles E. Kratz - REFORMA, SRRT
Karen Letarte - AILA, Com. On Diversity
Rory Litwin - SRRT
Peter McDonald - SRRT
Michael J. Miller - Com. On Diversity, GLBTRT, SRRT
Nancy Pack - Com. On Diversity & Minority Concerns, COSWL
Barbara Pickell - Com. On Diversity
Ana-Elba Pavon - REFORMA
Mable Robertson - BCALA
Theresa A. Tobin - COSWL, SRRT, FTF, ACRL WSS
Samuel E. Trosow - SRRT
Marcellus Turner - BCALA

Diedre Conkling

Lincoln County Library District
P.O. Box 2027, Newport, OR 97365
Phone & Fax: 541/265-3066

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

[SRRTAC-L:16179] Rosenzweig's picks for ALA Elections
Date: Yesterday 01:10:37 am
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]>
To: SRRT Action Council <srrtac-l[at]>
Reply to: srrtac-l[at]

With all due respect to the many fine candidates identified by Dee
Conkling, I would like to propose a smaller, albeit less
inclusive/diverse slate of people we can count on to pursue the SRRT
and/or PLG agendas on Council.
Since I recommend 'bullet voting' as the best means of assuring the
election of progressives. I strongly urge you NOT to use all of your
votes, but to vote ONLY for those candidates, hopefully most from
this list (or at least Dee's list).
I think we are assembling a top notch team for the Progressive
Council Caucus, with people bringing wide experience, knowledge of
ALA and progressive issues therein, and the ability to actually speak
to matters of concern to us effectively.

Remember, I am not representing this as anything but my own best
juidgment based on more than 15 years of activity and service in ALA
and SRRT. My concern is that we do not spread out votes too thin.

Mark Rosenzweig
SRRT Action Council
PLG Coordinating Committee
ALA Councilor at large
member, Progressive Council Caucus

Leslie Burger - COSWL, SRRT ---for President

for Council:
Monika Antonelli - SRRT
Mary Biblo - BCALA, Com. On Minority Concerns, COSWL, SRRT
Diedre Conkling - COSWL, GLBTRT, SRRT, FTF
Carolyn Lowe Garnes - BCALA, SRRT
Rory Litwin - SRRT
Peter McDonald - SRRT
Michael J. Miller - Com. On Diversity, GLBTRT, SRRT
Theresa A. Tobin - COSWL, SRRT, FTF, ACRL WSS
Samuel E. Trosow - SRRT


4. Braverman Prize Winner

Media Release

Dr. Alison M. Lewis
Chair, Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize Committee
Progressive Librarians Guild
Phone: 215/895-2765
FAX: 215/895-2070
E-Mail: alewis[at]

March 15, 2005
Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize Winner Announced
(Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA) The Progressive Librarians Guild is
pleased to announce the winner of the 2005 Miriam Braverman Memorial
Prize. Jennifer Downey has been awarded the prize for her essay entitled
"Public Library Collection Development Issues Regarding the Information
Needs of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Patrons." Ms. Downey is
currently enrolled as a graduate student in San Jose State University's
School of Library and Information Science.

The Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize is awarded annually for the
best essay written by a student of library/information science on an aspect
of the social responsibilities of librarians, libraries or
librarianship. The prize is named in honor of Miriam Braverman
(1920-2002), an activist librarian who was a longstanding member of the
Progressive Librarians Guild and a founder of the American Library
Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table. She was a strong
proponent of the social responsibilities perspective within librarianship
and an inspiration to younger librarians entering the field.

Ms. Downey's essay was one of many submitted by library and
information science students from colleges and universities throughout the
United States and Canada. Their papers considered such subjects as the
impact of the USA PATRIOT Act on libraries, open access publishing, the
"digital divide" in information access, and numerous other topics. Ms.
Downey's essay will be published in a future issue of Progressive
Librarian, the journal published by the Progressive Librarians Guild. She
will also receive a $300 stipend for attendance at the 2005 American
Library Association's annual meeting in Chicago, and an award certificate
at the PLG annual dinner.
The Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) was founded in 1990 and is committed
to supporting activist librarians and monitoring the professional ethics of
librarianship from a perspective of social responsibility. For more
information, visit the Guild's website at:

5. SAA Roundtable on Archival Issues and Advocacy

From: Peter Gunther <raggmopp_2000[at]>
Sent: Mar 11, 2005 11:57 AM
To: subscibers <Progarchs[at]>
Subject: Announcing new SAA roundtable

Dear List:
A new SAA roundtable has been formed, named Archival Issues and Advocacy.
Its purpose is to find issues relating to archives and records in a timely
manner and report them to the SAA council along with possible council
responses. For a statement of position or response by the SAA council to
have maximum effect, it must be made as close in time as possible to news of
the event .
The exact mechanism of the event finding, reporting and possible response
formulating will need to evolve as the roundtable evolves.
The first meeting of the roundtable will be at the SAA annual conference in
New Orleans, LA in August 2005 at 5:00 on August 17.
To join the email discussion list for this new roundtable, send the command

subscribe advocacy full_name

to <imailsrv[at]>.

The server will send a confirmation message to you which must
be replied to in order to validate the subscription. Only subscribers may
post to the list, the address of which is <advocacy[at]

Anyone can join the list, including non-SAA members. At this time the new
list will have no archives.
Attached is a version of the original roundtable petition and some thinking
about it

Please direct any questions to the new SAA list (above), or to myself,
Peter Gunther CA

6. Help ALA stop the FCC's unlawful restrictions on librarians

ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline
Volume 14, Number 26
March 18, 2005

In This Issue: Volunteers needed urgently: help ALA stop the FCC's
unlawful restrictions on librarians

Many of you already know about ALA's involvement (with other library
associations) in challenging the FCC's "Broadcast Flag" rule, a rule
that will prevent librarians from being able to distribute or make
available copies of broadcast television programs on the Internet. It
will also require you to purchase new electronic equipment that your
library now uses to read or manipulate digital television signals (such
as DVD players, recorders, TiVos, appropriately equipped computers,
etc.) if that equipment is not Flag-compliant and your library does not
already own a digital TV tuner.

We have filed an appeal to the federal Court of Appeals in Washington,
DC, arguing that the FCC had no authority to promulgate the Broadcast
Flag rule. The validity of the Broadcast Flag is now pending before
that court.

This week, the court issued a very important order requiring us to
submit evidence proving that we have "standing" to sue the FCC. In
order to provide the court with the evidence it needs--and to defeat the
Broadcast Flag, which will sharply limit how libraries might be able to
use broadcast materials, perhaps in ways we might not yet have even
conceived--we need your help. And we need it quickly.

We are looking for members of our organization who might be willing to
submit an affidavit explaining how the Broadcast Flag harms them. The
process will be simple, straightforward, and not very time-consuming.
The lawyers representing us in the case will assist in drafting the
document; you'll just have to help provide the facts of what it will
say. The affidavits must be filed by March 29, which means that they
must be prepared as soon as possible next week (the week of March 21).

If you can answer "yes" to the following questions and would be willing
to help us protect the First Amendment rights of librarians, and the
rights we fought so hard to obtain in the TEACH Act, then please contact
us as soon as possible:

1. Are you a current member of ALA, ARL, AALL, MLA, and/or SLA?


2. Do you do any of the following?

A. Archive television broadcasts for use by library patrons or
other educational or research purposes?

B. Use portions of television broadcasts in distance learning
courses, or make broadcast portions available to teachers at your
institution for this purpose?

C. Make portions of television broadcasts available via your
library's or your school's website for any educational, research, or
commentary reasons?

D. Record television broadcasts at your library for any other type
of educational purpose?

E. Have equipment that you use to archive, record, or manipulate
copies of television broadcasts that you would replace if it no longer
allowed you to archive, record, or manipulate the television broadcast
in the same way you do today.

Please contact either Carrie Russell, crussell[at] or Miriam
Nisbet, mnisbet[at] in the ALA Washington Office.

We look forward to hearing from you to help in this important issue!

ALAWON (ISSN 1069-7799) is a free, irregular publication of the
American Library Association Washington Office. All materials subject to
copyright by the American Library Association may be reprinted or
redistributed for noncommercial purposes with appropriate credits.

To subscribe to ALAWON, send the message: subscribe ala-wo
[your_firstname] [your_lastname] to listproc[at] or go to ALAWON archives at

ALA Washington Office, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 403,
Washington, D.C. 20004-1701; phone: 202.628.8410 or 800.941.8478
toll-free; fax: 202.628.8419; e-mail: alawash[at]; Web site: Executive Director: Emily Sheketoff.
Office of Government Relations: Lynne Bradley, Director; Carol Ashworth,
Don Essex, Joshua Farrelman, Erin Haggerty, Patrice McDermott and Miriam
Nisbet. Office for Information Technology Policy: Rick Weingarten,
Director; Carrie Lowe, Kathy Mitchell, Carrie Russell. ALAWON Editor:
Bernadette Murphy.

7. Changing roles of librarians in an open access world (SCHOLCOMM)

[lib-info-society] Fwd: Changing roles of librarians in an open access world
Date: Monday 07:35:16 am
From: Zapopan Martin Muela-Meza <zapopanmuela[at]>
To: Lib InfoSociety <lib-info-society[at]>,
Progressive Library International Coalition <lib-plic[at]>,
ubmls list <ubmls-l[at]>
Reply to: lib-info-society[at]

From Heather Morrision at "SPARC Open Access Forum" list.
If you have more comments or roles send them to: heatherm[at]

Many SCHOLCOMM participants (and SFU library staff) provided thoughtful
responses to my question about changing roles of librarian in an open
access world. Following is a repeat of the question, and summary of
responses. All offlist quotes are with permission.

What might the role of a librarian look like in a future world where
scholarly literature is openly accessible? This is one of the
questions that a group of us would like to address in an upcoming
conference session on open access.

Some of the possibilities seem obvious (to me, anyway): libraries and
librarians as publishers, new roles relating to institutional
repositories, increased needs for information literacy, advanced
searching (research level) assistance, and more emphasis on collecting
and preserving information rather than licensing temporary access.

Comments? What other roles am I missing here?


Open Access Publisher Journal of Insect Science's Henry Hagedorn writes
that, "while some librarians are not very comfortable with the
publishing role, others are convinced that it is one way out of the
morass we find ourselves in. The shining goal would be that libraries
of academic institutions would publish digital academic journals that
would be open access, and, in fact, free access to all, including
authors. If the ball got rolling we could end up with some fraction of
the academic literature being published at low cost, certainly far lest
than it is costing now. Some of us think that the way to achieve that
would be to put together a consortium of academic libraries that would
contribute funds towards the creation and support of a unit, at one of
the libraries, that would publish journals for members of the
consortium. I think that the cost of such a project would be far less
than what it is costing us for the Journal of Insect Science because of
economies of scale, and, perhaps more importantly, the ability to use a
system for automatic handling of manuscripts that we cannot justify for
one journal."

At Simon Fraser University Library where I work, the library has
recently taken on responsibility for supporting the Open Journal
Systems developed by the Public Knowledge Project at the University of
British Columbia My colleague Kevin Stranack
looks forward to taking on some of these support responsiblities as
part of his duties as librarian. SFU Library will not be publishing
per, but rather hosting and providing related support services. Kevin
says it makes just as much sense for librarians to be involved in
facilitating creation of information, as facilitating access to
information. This could potentially be seen as an expansion of the
community network concept that brought internet connectivity to people
through their public libraries. A similar viewpoint from an anonymous
person: the value we add has nothing to do with whether or not we
purchase the information we provide.

What about the old roles of indexing, abstracting, cataloguing, and
providing metadata? Definitely, says SFU Systems Librarian Nina
Saklikar - especially the cataloguing / metadata. In addition to
library systems support, Nina's job now includes support for the SFU
D-Space Institutional Repository, which involves, among other things,
creating metadata. Nina thinks there might well be a role for
cataloguers in providing metadata at some point; they are more
qualified than systems librarians, who are much more qualified than the
average faculty member. There does appear to be some room for
improvement in metadata associated with institutional repositories.
Another area where library staffing is needed for the institutional
repository is marketing - like any other library service, the IR needs
to be promoted before it will be fully used.

With regards to providing research level assistance, Michigan State
University's Tom Volkening writes: "I think several of your
suggestions imply increased outreach to researchers. It would nice if
researchers thought of us whenever they were starting a new project.
Being part of the research team might be a good goal. We might do some
of the initial literature searching ourselves and pass those results
on. This would require us to be out there talking to folks and letting
them know what we can do. It might mean lessening our role as
teachers. We might be more like special librarians who do literature
searching for their users. This runs somewhat contrary to the
assumption that it is enough for us to increase our users level of
information literacy." On a personal note, as an SFU faculty member, I
would love to have the services of a research librarian!

This reminded me that many of the academic librarians I know are
increasingly becoming involved in their institutional strategic
planning processes. Some see the ideal as when librarians are part of
the planning process whenever a new program or course is in the
creation process.

Radcliff Science Library's Judith Palmer has drawn a similar
conclusion, that "one of the things that we will have to do much more
of is work out of the 'library' as part of multidisciplinary
teams... In the UK we have ben looking at this from a slightly
different perspective. CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and
Information Professionals) was concerned about how we might
'future-proof' the
profession giving the new opportunities for librarians and information
workers. We looked at health as an exemplar. See

Dalhousie University's Elaine Toms writes: Personally, I find your
list of roles a little too limiting. Graduates have a much more diverse
skill set that enables them to undertake a wider range of occupations.
Here are some that exist and/or will emerge:
a) information designers and architects for products and for
information appliances
b) information integrators who will repackage information objects for
c) evaluators of information, information products and systems,
d) information consultants (and not just expert search, but also assess
information needs) and eventually knowledge managers when we have
'knowledge' to manage!

The University of Regina's Ed Perry, it seems, is already on some of
these tasks. Ed writes: "I'm currently working on a presentation on "
Information Overload " for the SLA Conference in April [ Saskatchewan
Library Association ] which will treat in considerable detail the
roadblocks libraries/database suppliers/publishers' websites put in the
way of our clients, with special emphasis on the problems for foreign
students/faculty. IE, things like database search interfaces which
will give you a foreign language interface on demand [ I looked at some
Spanish and French ones ], give the
French or Spanish equivalents of and/or/not in the little dropdown
command-setting boxes, but WON'T recognize the Spanish or French
equivalents of the boolean operators when you type them
in inside the search boxes themselves. Not to mention the fact that in
most cases the language of the material IN the database is
predominantly English, so that a Spanish or Chinese speaker
still needs an excellent command of ENGLISH to perform a successful

On behalf of Andrew Waller, Hilde Coldebrander, Bill Nadiger, and
myself, I would like to thank everyone for their help with our upcoming
presentation on Open Access at the British Columbia Library Association
Conference, April 21 - 23, 2005.

An additional thank you to those who assisted but were not specifically
Mark Jordan, Simon Fraser University Library
Michelle L. Young, Virginia Tech

Further comments would be most welcome.


Heather G. Morrison
Project Coordinator
BC Electronic Library Network
Phone: 604-268-7001
Fax: 604-291-3023
Email: heatherm[at]

8. Government funds color press group's objectivity

The Guild Reporter
March 11, 2005

[The Guild Reporter grants to all the right to freely republish this article
without permission.]

Over the past year, U.S. news stories about press freedom
increasingly have cited the work of a Paris-based
organization, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans
Frontières, or RSF). Indeed, despite its small size and
lack of high-profile principals, Reporters Without Borders
has achieved nearly the same name-recognition as the New
York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which can
boast of having Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw
on its board of directors.

To be sure, RSF has embraced many causes near and dear to
American journalists. For example, it was among the more
outspoken organizations demanding a Pentagon investigation
of the shelling of the Hotel Palestine, in which two
journalists were inexplicably killed. More recently, it has
lambasted federal prosecutors for targeting Judith Miller,
Matthew Cooper and other journalists in an effort to force
them to disclose their sources.

But RSF, unlike the CPJ, is heavily funded by government
grants, raising questions about its objectivity. And a
closer examination of the battles RSF wages-and those it
ignores-strongly suggests a political agenda colored by its
choice of patrons. Unfortunately, the organization appears
unwilling to address such concerns: RSF's New York
representative, Tala Dowlatshahi, terminated a telephone
interview when asked if the organization had applied last
year for any U.S. government grants other than one received
from the National Endowment for Democracy.

Most notable, perhaps, is the group's obvious political
bias in its reporting on Haiti. RSF expressed its support
for the Feb. 29, 2004, Franco-American overthrow of Haitian
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the same time that it
received 11% of its budget from the French government
(¤397,604, or approximately $465,200 in 2003). According to
Haiti-based journalist and documentary film-maker Kevin
Pina, the organization selectively documented attacks on
opposition radio stations while ignoring other attacks on
journalists and broadcasters to create the impression of
state-sponsored violence against Aristide's opponents.

RSF blamed Aristide for the unsolved murders of two
journalists, calling him a "predator of press freedom,"
then celebrated his departure in a July 2004 article
headlined, "Press freedom returns: a gain to be nurtured."
"A new wind of freedom is blowing for the capital's radio
stations," it proclaimed, adding that Aristide-who had no
army-was planning a "scorched-earth ending" to the crisis
that began when 300 paramilitaries armed with M-16s invaded
from the Dominican Republic.

But RSF fell silent in the bloody aftermath of the coup,
even in the face of continued attacks on journalists. For
example, the police killing of radio reporter Abdias Jean
in a Port-au-Prince slum this January went unnoticed by the
group, as did an attack on journalist Raoul Saint-Louis,
who was shot this February after receiving death threats
and who is now in hiding. In fact, unlike its sustained
campaign against Aristide, RSF doesn't blame the current
government for anything.

Pina claims the stories told in the press about Aristide
losing support and using gangs to hold onto power were a
manipulation designed by a U.S. State Department-created
opposition and by the national and international media. The
story the media -and RSF-refused to show is one of a hugely
popular president and a citizenry that wanted him to finish
his term. Opponents of Aristide staged demonstrations which
the media dutifully covered while ignoring the much larger
pro-Aristide marches; at the same time, the country's
largest political movement, Lavalas, was portrayed as a
violent mob.

Reporters Without Borders also has gone after Venezuelan
President Hugo Chávez for allegedly threatening the private
media. The conflict between the Chávez administration and
the media goes back to before April, 2002, when Venezuela's
four private television stations actively aided and abetted
a military coup against the government. On the night of the
coup, following months of broadcasting anti-Chávez speeches
and calling for a "transitional government," media mogul
Gustavo Cisneros's station hosted meetings among the
plotters-including would-be dictator Pedro Carmona.

The president of Venezuela's broadcasting association
signed the decree dissolving the national assembly, and for
the next two days the stations blacked out information
about the kidnapped president or the retaking of the
presidential palace by loyal troops backed by hundreds of
thousands of supporters in the streets. No television
owners or managers have been prosecuted or lost their
broadcasting licenses; nevertheless, RSF continues to side
with the private media against the "authoritarian" Chávez.

On November 26, 2004, RSF issued a report critical of a
proposed media reform bill in Venezuela's National Assembly
("Reporters Without Borders criticizes new law threatening
press freedom"). Coincidentally or not, the report came
just two weeks after RSF had applied for a grant from the
U.S. National Endowment for Democracy. Although the NED
ostensibly is a private agency, its money is appropriated
by Congress and controlled by the State Department.

Human rights lawyer Eva Golinger has documented more than
$20 million given by the NED and USAID to opposition groups
and private media in Venezuela, many of them headed by coup
participants. The NED granted RSF nearly $40,000 in
January. Although the rights group has criticized Chávez
since the time of the 2002 coup- well before the grant-its
application for money from a U.S. government agency that
has been targeting the Venezuelan president for regime
change raises questions about RSF's independence, as well
as its willingness to criticize its benefactors.

That brings us to Iraq and RSF's 2004 report on the
invasion and its aftermath, which is rambling and
contradictory. It reports, for example, that the overthrow
of Hussein "opened a new era of freedom . . . for Iraqi
journalists;" meanwhile, the International News Safety
Institute reports that 44 Iraqi journalists and support
staff have died covering the conflict since it began two
years ago. Similarly, the RSF asserts that the bombing of
the Ministry of Information-a war crime under the Geneva
Conventions- "[ended] decades of zero press freedom." That
sunny assessment is followed by 11 pages detailing
journalists killed, wounded, missing and imprisoned.

To its credit, the report doesn't whitewash the killing by
U.S. forces of five foreign journalists or missile attacks
by the U.S. on Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV. But these and
other attacks on the press in Iraq, such as the closing of
Al-Jazeera, apparently haven't hurt too badly the United
States' position in RSF's ranking of countries by press
freedom, currently a reasonably respectable 17th. By
comparison, Venezuela is way down the list at number 77.

And a telling example of how RSF mutes its criticisms of
U.S. policies is the way it has responded to the abduction
of Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami Al-Haj. Al Haj disappeared in
December 2001, while on assignment in Afghanistan , and
ended up in the U.S. concentration camp in Guantanamo ,
where he remains to this day. Not only has Al-Haj
disappeared physically, he has all but disappeared from the
RSF web site, where he is mentioned only once in a January
27 press release about Al-Jazeera. By contrast, RSF
routinely wages high-profile campaigns on behalf of
European journalists kidnapped by Iraqi resistance


Diana Barahona was an elections observer in El Salvador and
Venezuela in 2004. She is studying journalism in

9. The Region of the Unromantic (1913)

The Dial: a Semi-monthly Journal of Literary Criticism, Discussion and
Information. December 1, 1913, p. 465.

The region of the unromantic, where statistics displace sentiment, and
hard-and-fast certainty crowds out all the delightful possibilities that
love to lurk in the penumbra of the uncertain and the problematical, is
deemed by some to be the chosen abiding-place of librarians. Especially
does the presiding genius of the information desk have the reputation of
one who scorns the delights of vagueness and lives laborious days in
clearing the cobwebs of dubiety from his mind and in flooding its every
nook and corner with the pitiless glare of the light of positive
knowledge. The English delegate who attended our late A.L.A. annual
conference reports to his fellow-librarians at home on this zeal of our
librarians for reducing the unknown if not the unknowable to its lowest
terms. "It is difficult, perhaps," he says in the course of his report,
"just at this time to estimate the intellectual and spiritual loss
entailed on the race of men by the reaching of the two poles, reducing
almost to the vanishing point those places of the earth where imagination
may still lose itself untrammeled by the deadening reality of the
topographer and the map-maker, and foreshadowing the time when it will be
as easy to get to the poles as it is to Bournemouth. Let us express the
hope that librarians may leave the poles and a few other areas of what
Bacon calls the Globe Intellectual in their virgin remoteness, untouched
as long as may be by the 'civilizing' influences of the cataloguer, the
bibliographer, and all those agencies for hustled information which centre
themselves in that generally speaking excellent, but unromantic,
department of the American public library known as the Information Desk."
But after all, there is no real cause for alarm. As Herbert Spencer long
ago reminded his readers, the enlarging of the sphere of the known, so far
from diminishing the volume of the unknown, only increases the amount of
surface exposed to that circumjacent element, or, in other words,
multiplies our points of contact with it and makes its magnitude more
appreciable to the senses.

L I B R A R Y   J U I C E

ISSN 1544-9378

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