Library Juice 8:7 - April 22, 2005


1. Invitation to help build the future Library Juice
2. Links...
3. Why our relevance lies in not being "information professionals"
4. ALA gratuitously honors Laura Bush; ALA Council discusses it

Quote for the week:

"As the circuit supplants the printed page, and as more and more of our
communications involve us in network processes - which of their nature
plant us in a perpetual present - our perception of history will
inevitably alter. Changes in information storage and access are bound to
impinge on our historical memory. The depth of field that is our sense of
the past is not only a linguistic construct, but is in some essential way
represented by the book and the physical accumulation of books in library
spaces. In the contemplation of the single volume, or mass of volumes, we
form a picture of time past as a growing deposit of sediment; we capture a
sense of its depth and dimensionality. Moreover, we meet the past as much
in the presentation of words in books of specific vintage as we do in any
isolated fact or statistic. The database, useful as it is, expunges this
context, this sense of chronology, and admits us to a weightless order in
which all information is equally accessible."

- Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies, p. 129. (Faber & Faber, 1994)

Homepage of the week: Meredith Farkas


1. Invitation to help build the future Library Juice

I published the first issue of Library Juice on January 21st, 1998, over
seven years ago.

As the zine has changed I have come to weed out from inclusion more and
more items that would have gone into a typical week's issue. Some short
items now find their equivalent in brief links, but often items don't pass
muster that originally would have been a part of the colorful mix. I'm
not unhappy with this change. While still juicy, the publication has
become a good deal more serious.

One consequence, however, is that it has become increasingly difficult to
pull together a full issue's worth of good material every two weeks,
especially without writing a major part of it myself. Often I am happy to
write a lengthy editorial for Library Juice. Changes in the publication
have forced me to write more than I used to, and I'm happy with what I
have written and how the process is making me grow as a writer. But as I
grow as a writer, I find myself wanting to write for print publications
and other audiences. As long as I am publishing everything I write in
Library Juice, that is unlikely to happen.

That is one reason (and there are a few others as well) that I want to
change the way Library Juice is produced.

I would like to find volunteers to form an editorial board to take over the
responsibilities of gathering and writing material for each biweekly

An ideal editorial board would have members possessing a diversity of
talents and perspectives and a range of experience and ages, but would
have a shared progressive and critical orientation to libraries and
librarianship. As I see it, if there were, say, five people on the board,
it would be salutary if one had strengths as a web coder, one as a Marxist
theorist, one as a feminist, one as a postmodernist, and one as a populist
(just as an example of a possible breakdown). The major qualifications,
though, are a good mind and a strong interest in contributing to the
future of Library Juice.

Eventually I would like Library Juice to have an existence that is wholly
independent of my contribution, so that I can retire from it and see it
continue in a form different from what I might have imagined. I think I
have brought Library Juice far enough along that I can begin taking steps
in that direction now.

If you have been reading Library Juice and have a serious interest in
assisting it in its growth, please contact me and tell me your vision for


Rory Litwin
Editor and Publisher, Library Juice

2. Links...


Michael Böök interviews Ruth Rikowski

[ Michael Böök ]


Marti Smith's new blog

[ Marti Smith ]


Intellectual Property and Social Justice blog
from students at the UC Davis School of Law

[ found surfing ]


Open Government: a journal on freedom of information

[ from Peter Suber's blog ]


Mary Minow on orphan works

Public Knowlege comments on orphan works

[ from Peter Suber's blog ]


Information Does Not Exist [Journal of Knowledge Research]

[ Library Link of the Day - ]


VCPJ: Right-Wing Vigilantes Omitted from Terrorist List

[ sent to me by Liz Richardson ]


In Steinbeck's Birthplace, a Fight to Keep the Libraries Open

[ from Michael McGrorty ]

Lincoln Cushing's report on the PLG delegation to Salinas

[ Lincoln Cushing to PLGnet-L ]

Salinas Fund Drive Rescues Libraries
By John Spano
LA Times Staff Writer,1,4657699.story

[ from Dana Lubow to the PLG list ]


An Academic Question
Paul Krugman
NY Times
(On the right wing attack on academia)

[ sent to me by Iver Bogen ]


* Columbia U. Prof. Rashid Khalidi: "Freedom of Speech and Academic
Freedom Are Necessary For Unpopular and Difficult Ideas" *

[ from Zapopan Martin Muela-Meza to Lib InfoSociety ]


Pope John Paul II's parting Apostolic Letter to the Media

[ from George Lessard to NetGold ]


GPO - Bid Opportunities

[ from LJ Academic Newswire ]


Michael Geist
Toronto Star
April 4, 2005

[ Don Wood to IFACTION ]


Texas Librarians Unite

[ from Martin Wallace to PLGnet-L ]


Do Libraries Still Matter?

[ Don Wood to IFACTION ]


The Alternative Press and Academic Libraries: A Selected Bibliography

[ found surfing ]


U.S.-backed 'independent library' campaign in Cuba falls flat
The Militant
Vol. 69/No. 16
April 25, 2005
By Jonathan Silberman

[ sent to ALAWORLD by Zapopan Martin Muela-Meza ]


Kim Scipes' Contemporary Labor Bibliography

[ from Kathleen McCook to the PLG list ]


University of Toronto Library School Exams, 1934-35

[ from ]


3. Why our relevance lies in not being "information professionals"

by Rory Litwin

As librarians, the turn of the century has found us in an awkwardly
grandiose and insecure position. On the one hand, we belong to humble
institutions representing the hearth and home of the public sphere;
thought of warmly but never feared (except by those suspicious of what
offenses might lie in our collections). On the other hand, we point to
something called "information" as the defining subject of our professional
expertise, saying that we are and always have been the world's
"information professionals," in a strategic claim to a special connection
to "information" as the new defining matrix of the postmodern world as a
whole. Perhaps it is out of envy for professions that carry a higher
voltage in the information society that we do this. More likely, however,
it is a bid for a perception of relevancy in a new era that has left many
of us feeling outmoded.

Our relevance, I will argue, is only at risk to the extent that we identify
ourselves with such an all-encompassingly abstract and at the same time
technological concept as the new concept of "information." Our relevance
into the future is securely present in the old word "librarian" and within
aspects of librarianship that predate the modern library movement, with
all of its efficiencies and scale. This is because the transformation of
facts, narrative, interpretation, discourse, analysis, summary and ouevre,
as well as sophistic rhetoric and outright disinformation, into something
called "content" has created a steadily growing need for professionals
with a specific role in relation to information: that of interpretively
locating and recontextualizing it; in other words, matching the reader to
the right book (or article or page or dataset, etc.; but perhaps usually
the right book) and putting it in context for him.

By focusing on the technical sides of efficient librarianship, that is, the
science of information organization, and neglecting the question of how
knowledge of subjects, knowledge of publishing, knowledge of intellectual
history, and knowledge of humanity itself ("information seekers") fits
into professional practice, library educators have created a vision of
librarianship that seems to melt into general qualities of information
literacy possessed increasingly in abundance by non-"information
professionals." If what librarians do is navigate and build information
structures with technical proficiency then the question of our relevancy
will naturally arise, because that function is already part of the nature
of work and play for a generation of middle-class youth who do not
necessarily think they need libraries. If, on the other hand, librarians
are known to connect people to the depth of texts, that is, if we, through
our knowledge of subjects and of people (as well as knowledge of
information systems) provide reading that is so on-target that users will
actually spend time reading it, engaging with it, reflecting upon it and
understanding it, then our relevance in the information age will be

The key to our relevance is to think of what we have to offer that our
users generally lack. In the now-remote past what users lacked was access
to and understanding of information systems, even from a user's
perspective. Now this access and understanding is commonplace. What we
now have to offer that is commonly lacking is the sense of the
differentiation within what is generally thought of, revealingly, as
"content." We have the ability to place knowledge and discourse in its
proper context in order to help users make sense of it and to lend ideas
their deserved coherency. In the postmodern situation, ideas have become
suspect, facts easily fall into disrepute by virtue of their claim to
facthood, authorship and subjectivity have been deconstructed, discourse
fragmented, texts liquified into a flow of "text," and the world emptied
of meaning; all appears to be undifferentiated "content," every byte
exchangeable for every other byte. What critics of postmodernist ideas
tend to miss, however, is that this historical situation has its roots in
material (technological and economic) developments, not in the bad
imagination of certain French thinkers (or whomever). Attacking champions
of ideas that express the contemporary situation doesn't change the
contemporary situation, does not bring back what has been lost. What we
should think about when we think about the postmodern situation is not
only what has been lost (and what has been gained) but what needs have
newly emerged in society because of it, and how we can meet those needs.
It seems to me that there cannot be an endemic loss of depth and meaning
without a concommitant emergence of a new need for depth and a new need
for an orienting connection to history. Librarians (and not "information
professionals") are, in certain contexts at least, in a position to meet
that need.

Information: what it was and what it is

In the "information age," we use the word "information" in two ways: in a
simpler, older sense, and in a new, expanded sense whose historical roots
are understandable, if partially distinct. A century ago, "information"
was certainly something that books might hold, but books could hold other
things as well, like stories, analysis, interpretation, arguments, and
opinion, in the same way that someone could tell you some information that
you needed to know but not every verbal utterance could be understood as
providing information. In the old sense of information, the word
essentially meant "potentially usable facts." So, the position, speed
and heading of a gunboat was information, as was a friend's telephone
number, but stories, opinions, and songs were not. We still sometimes use
the word in this way (especially with regard to reference materials) and
our new use of the word, as well, is colored and conditioned by features
of this older use.

"Information" now means, of course, anything that can be transmitted by
electronic signal and rendered meaningful to the senses by some device.
Facts are still information, but so are texts of all kinds, movies, music,
and the signals that control machines. "Information," in the
post-metaphysical information age (marked in part by the deconstruction of
the subject), can also be thought of as the totality of non-physical
substance. This is a far cry from the older meaning of information, but
we often use the word without knowing in which sense we are using it.
Hence, ideals that have their roots in human relations concerning
information-in-the-older-sense - e.g. facts that are relevant to the
governance of society - are in danger of losing their wide acceptance due
to their misapplication to relations concerning "information" in the
newer, larger sense (e.g. positing a "right to information" where the
information we're talking about is an entertainment product).

The development of this new meaning of the word "information" has its roots
in early information theory in the first half of the 20th Century.
Electronic engineers and mathematicians such as Ralph Hartley and Claude
Shannon were theorizing the transmission of information (information in
the old sense, originally) across electronic circuits for military
purposes. In the interest of maximal efficiency, they developed a theory
of information whereby it can be quantified into bits (unwittingly paving
the way for its more complete commodification). Their work led to the
word "information" being used for anything that was transmitted over a
wire, despite telephone and telegraph communication having been in use for
many decades without being considered "information technology." Initially
it was information in the old sense that they were concerned about
transmitting - logistical and strategic information, primarily. But as
their work led to the development of more and more complex and capacious
computer systems, lengthy texts, digitized music and movies could be
transmitted digitally as bits, and the word "information" was at the ready
to describe these systems of communication.

One not-very-obvious result of this change is that our way of thinking
about the things that are now considered information but once were not
(such as narrative, analysis, interpretation, opinion, and entertainment)
has become somewhat conditioned by our way of thinking about information
in the older sense. Information in the sense of "usable facts" has
certain qualities. It comes in discrete, small units; it is consumed as
simply and quickly as it is received; it is immediately comprehensible; it
does not have depth; it is functional and directly related to action; it
all has the same relation to truth (simply either accurate or inaccurate,
knowable only by comparison to other known facts); and it is objective -
seemingly the "view from nowhere" - rather than subjective and situated in
a particular life or community. We now tend to think of anything called
"information" according to these attributes, contributing to our new
tendency to consume cultural material quickly and without much attention
to its depth or provenance, and with more energy invested into the
"getting" of it than to its comprehension in context.

In light of this, librarians' self-conception as "information
professionals" can begin to be seen to have certain implications.
According to the inherited earlier meaning of "information," it leads us
to see ourselves - in all of our activities - in the light of a primary
role as dispensers of potentially useful facts, regardless of the type
of information we are working with. This results in an outlook on the
information we are mediating (be it facts, narrative, analysis, opinion,
entertainment, or whatever) that is not inclined to attend to its depth,
provenance, comprehension or meaning for an individual life, but rather
tends to treat it in discrete units of a neutral, objective character, to
be consumed as quickly as they are received.

According to the newer definition of "information," our self-conception as
"information professionals" also leads us to see ourselves as channelers
of electronic information flows. To the extent that these information
flows are considered according to their form as "information," or bytes,
they are undifferentiated and only potentially meaningful. It is only
when it ceases to be "information," that all-encompassing non-physical
substance, that it can become differentiated into facts, narrative,
analysis, interpretation, songs, jokes, etcetera; recorded communication
with a provenance and a context. Accordingly, it is only when we cease to
be "information professionals" (and return to being librarians) that we
will see ourselves and be seen as having a role in the interpretation,
contextualization and use of information, not merely in its channeling.

Containers and content

"So you are saying that librarians are content people," an information-ager
might respond, using a rather new expression.

The new definition of information has led to the currency of the word
"content" to distinguish that part of information that means something
from the part that contains or carries it, or its medium of transmission.
If you try to imagine how to talk about the things that fall under the
term "content" (e.g. narrative, factual compendia, analysis, etc.) using
another word, you will find that it is difficult; and yet a few years ago
we were not using the word "content" in this way at all. We did talk
about books and articles, as well as discourse, scholarship, communication
and published work, but none of these have quite the same meaning. It is
worth noting that "content" is grammatically "of" something - i.e.
electronic information systems, when it is used in terms of information -
while "discourse," "scholarship," "communication" and "published work" are
terms that indirectly invoke not technology but the context of communal
intellectual activity. So even if you say "I am an information
professional, but not like a computer programmer, because I am a content
person," you are referring to your field of engagement from the point of
view of a technological rather than an intellectual order.

This has two important implications. The first has to do with the effect
upon human life of our adaptation to the technological worldview
(something the late Neil Postman referred to as Technopoly in his book of
that title). The progressive integration of machines into the fabric of
our lives changes the way that human beings think and live, according to
an instrumental logic of efficiency. This is a process that has been
under way for centuries and probably isn't going to be reversed by
anything short of a cataclysm, but it is worth being conscious of it as we
think about human needs and our role in society as librarians or
"information professionals."

The second implication of the conception of our field of activity as
"content" is that it is an orientation to recorded discourse and
communication that lends itself to the commodification of words and ideas,
because "content" has a new attribute of quantifiability and a new
suitability to systems of digital commerce. While it is true that books
have always been bought and sold, the sphere of scholarship and shared
intellectual activity has existed with a degree of independence from the
marketplace that is now being eroded. There are a number of factors
involved, but the transformation of ideas, narrative, analysis, song,
discourse, fact and non-fact into "content" is a chief one. So whenever
possible we should avoid referring to ourselves as "content people" or to
our sphere of activity as the "content" of information systems.

A practical example

The foregoing has been rather abstract. I would like to present an example
of one way that this problem manifests itself in libraries, specifically
academic libraries serving undergraduates.

Over the past ten years vendors have begun selling more and more digital
content to academic libraries, mainly collections of scholarly journal
articles, sometimes aggregated in wide-ranging databases and sometimes by
collection or individual journal subscription. We have also begun to see
some electronic books - usually scanned versions of books originally
published in print - become accessible directly from online catalogs in
web browsers. There is an attractive convenience factor to information
that is deliverable "right to your dorm room" or accessible without
getting up from the computer, and manageable on one's hard drive after
download. This convenience factor affects aspects of reference service,
especially such things as virtual reference, where there is a bias in
favor of information resources that are deliverable via the web. Further,
as physical collections grow to the point of challenging the availability
of space in library buildings, an additional incentive to shift to
electronic resources emerges.

As long as librarians are providing readings based on good interpretations
of user needs, contextualizing them properly and offering interpretations
as needed, helping to guide library users in their use of information, and
as long as the medium of communication doesn't itself distract the reader
from the process of reflection and comprehension (which it can), then
format by itself is not a problem. But it may be that, gradually,
librarians' adoption of electronic formats has in fact interfered with our
mode of service.

One thing that is rather easy to forget in the course of providing
reference service if pressures exist that run counter remembering it is
that the nature of the information contained in scholarly journals is
usually quite different from that contained in books, primarily in that
journal articles mostly communicate current research on very narrow topics
in a way that requires a real knowledge and a familiarity with the
language and conceptual universe of their disciplines, while books tend to
offer more comprehensive treatments of topics (even though they may be
narrow topics treated in sigificant depth) in a way that provides at least
some introductory orientation to the matters at hand.

I find that academic librarians very often lead undergraduates doing rather
broadly-focused research projects to these databases of scholarly journal
articles at a point where little of what they contain will be of any use,
simply because the vastness and power of these databases, and the quality
of the information they contain, is so impressive, and because they are so
convenient to use.

There are electronic books in the catalog as well, but relatively few.
Part of the reason that electronic books designed for use in web browsers
have not become a major category of academic library service the way
digitized scholarly journals have is that the format is unfriendly to
them. One can print out a 15 page journal article quickly and without
difficulty, or even read it on a monitor relatively painlessly, but a 200
page book is grossly inconvenient to use in electronic form given the
current state of technology. Often, even if a book is exactly what an
undergraduate student working on a simple research project needs, they
won't immediately be directed to it, because of the preference for
apparently-convenient browser-based content. And if they are directed to
an e-book, say, in a virtual reference setting, they are not likely to
make much use of it due to the cumbersome format.

What this is an example of is how librarians have begun to be affected by
the undifferentiated nature of "information" and "content," where we
should above all be providing that differentiation for users, counseling
them about what type of article or book or discussion we are showing
them, and providing some sense of its place and its role in human
discourse. This doesn't necessarily mean that we should avoid digital
content, but there may be times when it takes an extra moment and an extra
thought in order to break a pattern of bias in favor of electronic
resources, where presently available electronic resources are inadequate
for a specific real need. We should avoid reinforcing an orientation to
information as an undifferentiated surface to be navigated (and work to
diagnose it in ourselves), and instead engender an orientation to
intellectual activity as a source of meaning, depth, connection to history
and one's sense of place in the universe.

"Librarians" versus "information professionals"

My argument has in part been about the significance of language in how
culture is shaped. The terms "information," "information professional,"
and "content" are problematic for librarians because of the new,
technologized relationship to the human record that they invoke. Because
our adaptation to this new language results in our ultimate imitation of
technologies that users have become adapted to themselves, the new
orientation to our work that they imply is the real source of our
threatened irrelevance, not the technology itself. In other words, we are
only in danger of being replaced by technology if what we do is the same
as what technology does. "Information professionals," I have tried to
argue, approach information from a technological standpoint and in so
doing create their own irrelevance. Within the very long history
librarianship, however, are practices and roles for which the postmodern
situation would seem to be creating a new need. Specifically - and I
believe this function is implicit in the word "librarian" - we offer
access to the depth and to the connection to history that is implicit in
the human cultural record. We do it through our knowledge of information
systems, yes, but no less than that, through our knowledge of subjects and
our knowledge of people.

The word "wisdom" might be vulnerable to various forms of postmodern
ridicule, but it represents both an enduring human reality and an enduring
human need. It attaches itself easily to person of a librarian, if
indirectly and in the background, but seems decidedly out-of-context in
relation to an "information professional." Our relevance is attached to
our ability to serve the human being in his or her subtextual quest for
wisdom - not by "being the wise counsel," but by providing access to the
human record in a way that recalls the importance of provenance, depth,
reflection, and comprehension in context. This provision of context and
invitation to depth, I would argue, is the key to the continued relevance
of librarians in the 21st century.


Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies (Faber and Faber, 1994)

Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (Knopf,

Theodore Roszak, The Cult of Information (University of California Press,

Dan Schiller, "How to Think About Information," in The Political Economy of
Information, Vincent Mosco and Janet Wasko, eds. (University of Wisconsin
Press, 1988)

4. ALA gratuitously honors Laura Bush; ALA Council discusses it

The following is a generous selection from ALA Council discussion on ALA's
announcement on its website of a public citation of appreciation to Laura
Bush for her aid to libraries....


[ALACOUN:14369] ALA Gratuitously Awards Laura Bush
Date: 04/12/05 08:09 pm
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>


This gratuitous award to Laura Bush is a deplorable abuse of our
membership's confidence and a betrayal of our principles.
The bestowal of this award is nothing but undignified sucking-up to a
representative of one of the most anti-free-speech, anti-intellectual
regimes in this country's recent history.
Laura Bush manipulates her connection to librarianship only to
advance the agenda of an administration which is hostile to
virtually all we, ALA, stand for. We should be MINIMIZING her tenuous
connection to our profession , not commemorating it!
What's wrong with you people!!??
Mark Rosenzweig
ALA CPimcilor at large

April 12, 2005

ALA honors Mrs. Laura Bush for service to libraries

(WASHINGTON, DC) The American Library Association today honored
Mrs. Laura Bush for her years of support to America's libraries and
librarians at the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library in downtown
Washington, D.C. ALA Immediate Past President Carla Hayden
presented Mrs. Bush with a citation and a gift of Kitten's First Full
Moon and Kira Kira, the 2005 winners of the Newberry and Caldecott

"Mrs. Bush has been a tireless supporter of libraries and library
workers during her tenure in the White House," said Carol
Brey-Casiano, President of the American Library Association and
Director of the El Paso Public Library in El Paso, Texas. "She has
been an exemplary role model to women and men considering the
profession of librarianship, and she has been a consistent advocate
for the importance of reading since her days in the Texas Governor's
mansion. Librarians and library users everywhere owe her thanks," she

In 2002, Mrs. Bush hosted the White House Conference on School
Libraries, an event which highlighted the power of school libraries
to make a difference in student achievement. In 2003, Mrs. Bush was a
guiding force behind Recruitment of Librarians for the 21st Century,
legislation designed to help attract and retain librarians.


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

[ALACOUN:14374] RE: (no subject)
Date: 04/12/05 11:43 pm
From: "Nancy Bolt" <nancybolt[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Ok Mark, I'll take this on.

I'm a lifelong democrat and did not vote for George Bush.

However, I can separate what I think about George from what I think about
Laura. She has been a supporter of libraries, not only in the U.S. but
overseas as well. In a time when program after program have been cut,
funding for libraries has been increased. For the first time we are seeing
real attention paid to libraries in a positive way. Yes, yes, I know the
Patriot Act, and reduction in our civil liberties, and attacks on free
speech in libraries and newspapers and art galleries. You are right. These
are deplorable. And we should fight them tooth and nail. But can't we
thank Laura for the good she has done?

Nancy Bolt

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[ALACOUN:14375] "Sucking Up" & Expediency
Date: 04/13/05 09:25 am
From: Jim Casey <drjbc92[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>
Reply to: drjbc92[at]

The art of "sucking up" to those in power has had a long
history going back all the way to Talleyrand, Machiavelli
and to the Caesars. In our more recent times, we see
cozy pictures of youngsters giving bouquets of flowers
to assortments of anti-intellectual thugs from Mussolini
to Castro. It ain't pretty, but there was a time when
I would have considered awarding such honours ---
particularly to innocuous First Ladies --- to be prudent
and wise.

In our democracy we have ideological differences
that run very deep and into the realms of "culture
wars". It has become increasingly difficult to put
partisan differences aside and would, perhaps, be
all the more laudable for us to do so under these
circumstances. However, when a party in power
uses its power to silence criticism instead of using
its intellect and arguments to refute it,
erases and buries vital scientific and intelligence
information disagreeable to its pre-established
position rather than refuting it, purges from office
those who fail to "tow the party line", bullying
people away from their voting franchise, and even
goes so far as using deceit, violence and torture to
impose its will upon other peoples, I don't think
that we are looking at "politics as usual" within
the context of our democratic traditions.

There are some troubling elements in our current
situation and major threats to the very fabric of
our democratic institutions that disuade me from
accepting the wisdom of kissing the hand of
those surrogates who represent a regime bent
upon systematically undermining our very right to
express disagreement. There are times when
"sucking up" can be a wise tactic. There are
others when it can be as as useless as
appeasement was back in 1938 and only
help to conceal the true intentions of
those who would destroy our liberty
in an effort to secure absolute power.

James B. Casey --- Councilor-at-Large

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[ALACOUN:14376] RE: "Sucking Up" & Expediency
Date: 04/13/05 09:43 am
From: "Nancy Bolt" <nancybolt[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

I agree with everything you say about our current society.

But the First Lady HAS done things that support libraries. Do we condemn
her because she happens to be married to George?

We DO have more money in libraries than we have before. It's about the only
thing George Bush has done in the last 6 years that I agree with.

Laura started the National Book Festival. Should all the states boycott
that because she is associated with it?

She helped get funding for school libraries in a very difficult time. Do we
condemn her for that?

She has spoken on behalf of libraries in Russia to 3 other First Ladies. Do
we ignore that?

Can we not separate the good from the bad?


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[ALACOUN:14378] RE: ALA Award to Laura Bush
Date: 04/13/05 10:32 am
From: Alfred Kagan <akagan[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

There are two issues here. The first one is who is empowered to give
an award for ALA. Of course various ALA bodies make their own awards
which is perfectly appropriate, but the big awards like honorary
membership are made by the ALA Council. The ALA press release does not
even name the award. As far as I know, any ALA-wide award should come
through the ALA Council.

The second issue is whether or not ALA should give an award to a
particular person, in the case, Laura Bush. It seems to me that the ALA
Council is the place to debate that issue.

I would like to get Keith's response.

Let me give me own opinion now. Although it is possible that Laura Bush
has been able to influence her husband to maintain federal library
funding, that is certainly not the full picture. What has she done
about the Patriot Act, for example? I bet she either officially
supports it or is silent on the issue. What has she done about the
Homeland Security Act? What was her position on "Special Registration"
of people from Muslim countries in the US and the many jailings and
deportations? We can't look at this issue in the narrowest possible

The easiest thing for all of us is to be silent on this one. We don't
need to take the initiative on Laura Bush. We have many other more
important things to do. We need to concentrate on the issues. As long
as Laura Bush is married to George Bush, and as long as she supports
99.9% of his policies, I will protest her presence when she comes near
my space. If she doesn't insert herself, I would much rather address
her husbands disastrous policies and the wars that are killing whole

To address Nancy's question, the answer is no. We can not separate the
wife from the husband. I learned yesterday from the Dean of the
College of Science at the University of Bagdad, Dr. Anis Al-Rawi, that
life expectancy in Iraq has now fallen to 38 years! Note that the
previous generation had a life expectancy approaching that in the
richest countries. For example, Dr. Al-Rawi's mother just turned 80.
This is what is being done in our name by the Bush Administration, and
Laura is a Bush.
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[ALACOUN:14379] RE: ALA Award to Laura Bush
Date: 04/13/05 11:21 am
From: Ann Sparanese <sparanese[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

I see no reason why, if she did something positive for
libraries, Laura Bush cannot be thanked, by letter, by
the ALA -- for instance, for sponsoring the conference
on school libraries or whatever else for which she is
being (justly, I assume) credited.

But it is unnecessary and very smarmy to create an
award for her, which is more than a thank you for
work done. It seems too much like a servile gesture to
curry favor.

Like Al and others, I am interested in how an award
presentation like this gets authorized, where the idea
came from and the rationale for making this a public
presentation. Perhaps it was thought that this would
"balance" our image or deflect criticism from the
stands we have been taking regarding USAPA,
information policy etc.? I can see how many in the
Association are justifiably nervous about the lengths
that this administration might go to investigate and
punish those characterized as enemies.

So now that Councilors have raised the issue, I think
we should be informed as to how this came about.

Ann Sparanese
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[ALACOUN:14380] RE: ALA Award to Laura Bush
Date: 04/13/05 11:24 am
From: "Keith Michael Fiels" <kfiels[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>


Let me respond very quickly to your question regarding the award issue.
You are correct in that an ALA Award can only be established by Council
or a division award by a division board. Mrs. Bush did not receive an
ALA award.

Past President Carla Hayden presented Mrs. Bush with copies of the
Newbery and Caldecott award winning books at a National Library Week
event hosted by the District of Columbia Library Martin Luther King
Library. My understanding is that these were presented in appreciation
for her support for the importance of reading, libraries (and school
libraries in particular), federal funding for libraries and federal
funding for recruitment and scholarships, including a grant to ALA which
will increase diversity in the profession.

Keith Michael Fiels
Executive Director
American Library Association
(800) 545-2433 ext.1392
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[ALACOUN:14388] RE: ALA Award to Laura Bush
Date: 04/13/05 12:06 pm
From: jfreedma[at]
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

This may seem petty to some, but I'm also concerned with the use of
"Mrs." Is it standard stylistically to use a person's title, or is
this just to make sure that people get it, that she is her husband's
wife? If she is being honored for work that she has done, shouldn't
she just be "Laura Bush"?

Getting back to the main point that others have made well, it
concerns me that this "honor" APPEARS to be something approved of by
ALA's governing body, even if it's not. Actually, it mortifies me.
Can the story at least be removed from the home page?

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[ALACOUN:14392] Awards
Date: 04/13/05 01:16 pm
From: Backwage[at]
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

The public don't see our machinery at work, nor do they appreciate fine
distinctions. All they see is an award given by the ALA to the President's
wife, whom they view as a part of the current administration and its
policies. If we've done anything here, it is to permit the public to
believe something about us that is not true. ALA Council has not expressed
itself through this gift to Laura Bush. Recently we managed to gain
considerable good press for expressing our earnest desire that the
libraries of Salinas be rescued. To the public, we have spoken again,
no matter if by proxy. This incident should prompt an examination of our
internal processes.

M. McGrorty
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[ALACOUN:14393] ALA Honoring of Laura Bush
Date: 04/13/05 01:19 pm
From: "Steve Matthews" <smatthews[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Now that we have had our typical knee-jerk Emily LaTella response to the
"award.," I hope we can refocus on the facts of what actually took place.
Some will condemn everything done by a Republican administration as evil
by association. I believe that you find common ground where you can stand
on it, and I believe that Laura Bush has been an effective advocate for
libraries and has successfully promoted and lobbied for libraries,
especially school and public libraries. She is a true believer! Bravo to
her! And may the next Ms, Mrs., or Mr. who serves as First Spouse be as
She probably would find all of this mildly amusing, knowing that for some
in this organization, the battle cry is eternally that "no good deed (not
done by the ideologically pure) will go unpunished." Thanks to Carol,
Carla and to The D.C. Public Library for thanking her publicly and for
putting the spotlight on the essential things that libraries do as we
continue to make the case for the library as community neccessity .
Stephen L. Matthews, Councilor-at-large
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[ALACOUN:14399] RE: ALA Honoring of Laura Bush
Date: 04/13/05 03:29 pm
From: melora[at]
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

It occurs to me that in a sense we are revisiting the who speaks for ALA
issue from a different perspective. Here are a few thoughts that may be of

One of the things that sometimes bothers us is our inability to act quickly
as an Association. We therefore cede a certain amount of authority and
responsibility to Association leaders to make various kinds of statements.
For instance, recently we saw wide dissemination of: **ALA president
releases statement regarding USA PATRIOT Act Senate Judiciary Committee

Several of you have already voiced your concerns, so I won't go over that
ground again. The only thing I'd like to point out is that this cuts both
ways: whatever Association speech rules we establish and enforce may well
end up creating roadblocks we ultimately regret.

I cannot quite figure out how whether or not a citation is an award;
certainly a letter of appreciation would have been less likely to cause
controversy, as would a different headline. This definition may or may not
be useful to anyone:

4. Enumeration or mention, as of facts, especially: a. An official
commendation for meritorious action


Melora Ranney Norman, Maine
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[ALACOUN:14401] RE: Awards
Date: 04/13/05 04:58 pm
From: jessamyn <jessamyn[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

> It could also be negative if ALA insiders can give away our
> "citations" and
> other various honors before those honors are actually earned.

There is also a difference between what honors parts of ALA may bestow
and what makes the front page of the web site. I know that the web site
isn't a top priority for all members, but it is fair to say that not
all ALA news makes it there. The assumption then is that the things
that do make it to the front page are therefore somehow very
important to the association. I was dismayed to first hear about this
"citation" awarded by ALA to the First Lady by reading our own web
site, and not through some Council notification, if it was going to be
such a big deal.

I'm also interested, as Jenna was, at why we call her Mrs. Laura Bush
instead of just her full regular name. Either way I think it's sort of
odd, in a process sense, that Council gives or approves the awards, but
ALA sans Council can give "citations"

Saying this isn't the ALA talking seems disingenuous to me.

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[ALACOUN:14404] Honoring first lady's library advocacy an ALA media
relations success
Date: 04/13/05 05:27 pm
From: Ellen Zyroff <ezyroff[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Kudos to ALA executive leaders, past president Carla Hayden and current
president Carol Brey-Casiano, for doing the right thing in honoring the
first lady's library advocacy in conjunction with ALA's national media
relations work.

The timing is excellent.

Council appreciation is due to Carla and Carol and ALA's public relations
staff for recognizing and grabbing the unique, golden public relations
opportunity for ALA to promote America's libraries and all those who work
in libraries, by capitalizing on the engaging news story that a librarian
is our nation's first lady.

If during this, Laura Bush's second term as first lady and national
library advocate, Council adds its own recognition of Laura Bush's
choosing to make herself prominent on behalf of libraries during her
tenure, that would be all to the good. By doing so, Council would show
it is capable of non-partisan appreciation for what is good, and would
also be supporting ALA's PR professionals in keeping the once in a
lifetime story of a "first lady librarian" in front of the media as a
wonderful promotion of libraries and ALA.

Ellen Zyroff
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[ALACOUN:14405] Awards, Citatations and ALA's "One Voice" Policy
Date: 04/13/05 06:52 pm
From: "Joseph M. Eagan" <jeagan[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Dear Members of Council:

The presentation of an ALA citation to Laura Bush has elicited
a very interesting discussion that highlights some of
the central governance issues affecting ALA.

Some of these issues might include:

1. How can Council act to effectively balance its rights as ALA's
governing body with the need for the ALA Executive Board, divisions
and round tables, and the ALA staff to sometimes act without
explicit Council approval?

2. If ALA speaks with "One Voice", who IS that "Voice"? Doesn't
Council ultimately decide who that "Voice" is - and what ALA
says with that "Voice"?

3. How involved should Council be in monitoring the ALA Executive Board,
the divisions and round tables, and the ALA staff when they "speak" for
ALA? If we wish to manage the actions of ALA officers, units or staff
more closely, how could this effectively be accomplished with our
current structure?

3. How can Council act to assert it's leadership role when we
meet only twice each year as a governing body?

Just some "food for thought" on this contentious matter.

Joseph M. Eagan
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Central Library/State Library Resource Center
Periodicals Department
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-4484
Telephone: 410-396-5451
FAX: 410-396-1199
WATS: 1-800-492-5626 (Maryland Only)
E-mail: jeagan[at]

Maryland Chapter Councilor
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[ALACOUN:14407] Fwd: [SRRTAC-L:16326] Laura Bush
Date: 04/14/05 05:38 am
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Forwarded for your examination.
The procedural issue of how, where and by whom
this decision to use the occasion of National
Library Week to reward Laura Bush with fulsome
and exaggerated ceremony is , while not
unimportant by any means, secondary to the
matters of substance in considering her worthy of
special recognition. I can think of 65,000
members of ALA who are more worthy.
Mark Rosenzweig
>From: "Kathleen de la Peña McCook" <kmccook[at]>
>To: SRRT Action Council <srrtac-l[at]>
>Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 06:17:52 -0400
>Subject: [SRRTAC-L:16326] Laura Bush
>Dean Smith has provided some links about other milestones events
>for Mrs. Bush. He has given me permission to send these to you.
>Here's why Laura should not be recognized by the ALA:
>Laura "There is nothing political about American literature" Bush
>cancels readings at the White House in fear of poets' anti-war work.
> (cited
>Mother of Dead Soldier Arrested During First Lady Laura Bush's
>Michael Lind, Texas author, not invited to Laura's Texas Book Festival
>(after having read from his works there previously) after writing an
>unflattering book about Laura's hubby.
>But here's the clincher:
>Remarks by First Lady Laura Bush in Media Availability in
>Portsmouth, New
>Portsmouth Public Library
>Portsmouth, New Hampshire
>July 9, 2004
>Q Mrs. Bush, what do you say to librarians and others who have opposed the
>part of the Patriot Act that requires libraries to show reading lists?
>MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm a librarian, as you know, and I'm a very strong
>believer in intellectual freedom. And I think all Americans are very strong
>believers in intellectual freedom. That's part of the freedom that we
>maybe took for granted before, but that we think is very, very important.
>And that's the huge contrast between our country and many other countries,
>countries that we're trying to help now.
>But at the same time, I know it's the President and the federal
>government's >responsibility, just like she said, to protect the United
>States from a further attack. And I don't know that those parts in the
>Patriot Act about libraries have been used or not. But we are in a special
>time right now, where we need to do everything we can to avoid another


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[ALACOUN:14409] Fw: Comments for the Laura Bush Discussion,
council listserve
Date: 04/14/05 08:47 am
From: nancybolt[at]
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Jan Sanders is the Chair of the ALA Committee on Legislation. She asked
that I post this message which provides more background on the event at
which the First Lady was honored.


-----Forwarded Message-----
From: Jan Sanders <jsanders[at]>
Sent: Apr 13, 2005 5:11 PM
To: nancybolt[at]
Subject: Comments for the Laura Bush Discussion, council listserve

Would you post the following for COL? I can read, but not post, since
I'm not a council member. Thanks.

Over the past two years, the Committee on Legislation has discussed the
issue of appropriately thanking the First Lady for her promotion of
books, libraries, and reading, while holding firm the idea that we
certainly do not endorse all the administration's actions (or lack of
actions). The First Lady has been very supportive of school libraries,
library funding, and recruitment of librarians. After all, it is not
just a coincidence that federal library funding has increased
significantly at a time when most of the federal government is being
flat funded.

Our committee felt it was appropriate - even necessary, given the way
Washington, DC politics work-- to thank her for these efforts. ALA has
in the past met with and honored First Ladies of all parties - Barbara
Bush and Rosalind Carter come immediately to memory. Tuesday's event was
as Keith pointed out, only one part of a NLW event hosted by DC's MLK
Library. The intent was to both acknowledge Laura Bush's interest and
support of libraries and to create an event (the First Lady read to DC
school kids and talked with them about the importance of reading) which
would draw attention to the beginning of National Library Week. The
First Lady was presented by ALA with the books and a certificate of
thanks. The thanks she received is not a blank endorsement of the Bush
administration rather an acknowledgement of Laura Bush's work behind the

I think that whether or not this is perceived as an "ALA award", which
it was NOT, it was a chance to publicly say that we appreciate the work
that she has done for literacy, her successful efforts to increase
library funding and to foster a love of reading.
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[ALACOUN:14412] Re: Laura Bush
Date: 04/14/05 11:08 am
From: "Elaine Harger" <eharger[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Dear colleagues,

Like everyone on this list, I strongly believe that, as institutions
serving the public good, libraries deserve full funding. I also believe
day care programs, and public schools, and colleges and universities, and
public transit (including Amtrak!), and public health, and national parks,
and a whole host of other public goods and services deserve full and
complete funding by our federal government.

Do I believe that libraries deserve funding over all these other programs?
No. I am not so self-serving as to say that my work is more important
than that of the teachers with whom I work. My work isn't more important
than the bus drivers who get other people to their jobs. I am one _part_
of a web of public services, we are all part of the whole social fabric.

The Bush administration needs a fig leaf to cover its shame - and it has
chosen libraries to be that fig leaf. If Laura Bush had been a park
service ranger, you can be certain that the dollars sprinkled over
libraries right now would instead be planting trees.

Libraries sorely need money and we absolutely deserve it.

But as the links [posted by Mark Rosenzweig] remind us, Laura Bush has
acted as a censor and she supports the USA PATRIOT Act. She is not being
a do-gooder in spite of her husband, she is being a do-gooder on _behalf_
of her husband. He can't make his own fig leaves, so she's doing it for

Yes, those with access to the halls of power can distribute all the alms
they like to projects and receive whatever praise for such "generosity."
But shouldn't ALA look at the big picture? Are libraries suffering so
badly that we must humor the wolves in sheep's clothing with smiles and
bouquets and citations and pretty photo ops? Should ALA be contributing
to the public relations, _whitewash_ work of the White House?

Have we no sense of the suffering this administration is causing all over
the world?

Elaine Harger
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[ALACOUN:14413] Re: Laura Bush
Date: 04/14/05 11:34 am
From: "Nann Blaine Hilyard" <nbhilyard[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Though I'm not bothered that Laura Bush got an award from ALA, I am
bothered by what I think are overstatements: that she is a "tireless
supporter" of libraries and library workers and that she is "an
exemplary role model."

Acting as nominal head of a one-time event, despite the title of "White
House Conference," does not qualify her as a a "tireless supporter."
Lending her name to a publicity campaign to recruit librarians does not
qualify her as an "exemplary role model." She worked as a school
librarian for about a decade (if I recall the length of time correctly)
and then "married well," as they say.

I do applaud her advocacy for reading.

[at]the library in Zion, Illinois
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[ALACOUN:14414] Re: Laura Bush
Date: 04/14/05 11:52 am
rom: Loriene Roy <loriene[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>


I do know that the Laura Bush Foundation has provided much needed
financial support to school libraries since 2001. In 2004 136 libraries
received a total of $660,000 in grant funding; 1200 school libraries had
applied in this round. Each year some of these grants are awarded to schools
serving indigenous children; these recipients have included the Richy
School in Tucson, the Chief Bug-O-Nay-Ge Shig School on the Leech Lake
Reservation in northern Minnesota, and the Indian Community School in
Milwaukee. Funding must go to the purchase of new books. Professional
librarians, including leaders in the field whom I respect, are involved
in the selection process. I know that these awards are well received and
provide services to communities who often have very limited resources.

Loriene Roy (Anishinabe/Ojibwe; enrolled: White Earth Reservation, member:
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe)
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[ALACOUN:14477] Fw: What is an award? (fwd)
Date: Saturday 08:10:18 pm
From: "Melora Ranney Norman" <melora[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Posted with permission, from Norman Horrocks.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Norman Horrocks" <nhorrock[at]>
To: <melora[at]>
Sent: Saturday, April 16, 2005 3:12 PM
Subject: Re: [ALACOUN:14443] What is an award? (fwd)

> Here it is Melora.


I love these simple sounding questions - "what is an award ?" But as you
asked me to weigh in, here goes. I think the many and various
policy/procedural concerns expressed may have been caused by the confusion
of terms. We have the "ALA Awards" ( the capital A for Awards here is
deliberate) but also the awards made by ALA units, which are sometimes
also described as ALA awards (the lower case a is also deliberate), and
then there are other awards; two examples of which would be Citations or

(A) "ALA Awards" - the direct responsibility of the Awards Committee.
The 2004-2005 ALA Handbook of Organization, page 14, details
the ALA Awards Committee. This Committee is charged with making
recommendations to the Exec Board and Council on all policies relating to
awards to be made or sponsored by ALA and its units. In addition this
Committee is charged with administering the general awards, grants and
scholarships presented in the name of the American Library Association,
known as "ALA Awards." These awards, grants and scholarships are listed on
page 14 with the names of their Jury Chairs. There is one exception to
all of this in that Honorary Memberships are not handled by the Awards
Committee. The Exec Board nominates and Council elects Honorary Members.

(B) ALA awards -The units of ALA have been given the authority to make
in their areas of responsibility provided that they conform to the policies
established by the Awards Committee. Prior to the implementation of any new
award the unit has to report its proposal to the Awards Committee, to
Executive Board and Council. All of these details (and more) are contained
in the ALA Awards Manual.

(C) Citations, Certificates

Citations or Certificates as a type of award are not defined in either
the Awards Manual or the Policy Manual although they do exist, e.g.
both ALCTS and ALTA award Citations, LAMA awards Certificates. I suspect
that there are other similar forms of recognition across the Association
but I don't think they have come under the purview of the Awards
Committee nor do I think they have come to Council for approval.

(D) Committee on Legislation

To look at your specific points on this Al - " the Committee can't
create policy... without the express will of Council. " Agreed.

"the Committee cannot create an award... without the express will of the
Council." is a trickier question to answer. The Awards Manual does spell
out how units can establish awards and how Council is
involved in the process. But there is no mention of how ALA Committees
can establish an award. (I know at least one committee has an award - The
John Ames Humphry/OCLC/Forest Press Award presented by the International
Relations Committee.) ALA Policy 6.5 does define units - as membership
groups (in effect, Round Tables and Member Initiative Groups)and then says
"Committees and subcommittees which are appointive groups are excluded
from this definition of unit." This distinction is carried over
in the next two paragraphs in Policy 6.5 - the first of which talks of
"Divisions, other membership units, and committees" and the second which
talks of "Divisions, Round Tables, other membership units, or committee.

You ask the same question about the Committee's authority to create a
Citation without the express will of Council. There doesn't seem to be
any agreed definition of a Citation nor how they are established.

Finally you attach a copy of Melora's comment on the Policy Manual
Section 11 AWARDS. She is correct in that awards have to be funded before
being brought before the Executive Board and Council. A five year
commitment of funding is required; the details are in the Awards Manual.

Al, I have no objection to your sharing this with Council of course seeing
that you did ask me !

cheers, Norman
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[ALACOUN:14478] Re: Fw: What is an award? (fwd)
Date: Saturday 10:12:42 pm
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

As we have come to expect, Norman Horrocks is uniquely able to
clearly and distinctly establish with authority and without
prejudice --to whatever degree of precision is possible given our
statutes and institutional memory -- the meaning of the terms
involved in our discussion of the seemingly -- dare I say, obviously
-- official ALA effusions at the stage-managed pseudo-event in
question, centered around the US President's wife , Laura Bush, on
the occasion of a staged and hypocritical piece of political and
so-typically-disingenuous media-oriented 'theater' in which her
slight connection to the cause of librarianship, a field (our field)
whose institutions and principles are stifling, smothering, dying
beneath the reactionary and regressive overall social, cultural and
economic policies promoted by and so closely associated with her
husband, President George W . Bush (in terms of whom, after all, her
amplified importance as "librarian" --or anything much else -- is so
misogynisticaly defined as "First..." this and "First..."that) is
WITH LIBRARIES and, moreover, in a manner useful to our enemies but
having no positive effect on official policy towards libraries by the
Administration or in strengthening, rather than wrecking -- as the
Bushites are stenuously and effectively doing --- the
social.economic/political context in which our librarianship
achieves its purposes.

The fact that the issue I initially raised about the dishonor of the
unnecessary ritual and rhetoric of the award/citation for Laura Bush
devolved immediately into a purely procedural discussion only
exemplifies the already reflex-like dereliction of responsibility in
the face of power by ALA's leadership on an occasion which given a
different mind-set, could have used , for instance, to publicly call
BEHALF OF LIBRARIES -- to join with us in fighting for those core
issues of ours where she and her husband are on the OTHER SIDE: with
us against censorship; against the erosion of the separation of
Church and State; against the USAPATRIOT Act; against intolerance and
obscurantism; against the against the dismantling of the public
sector; against the creed of total privatization and the free-market
fetishism which undermine the basis for equitable and effective mass
education and libraries in this country and the world; against
spending for 'bombs instead of books'; and against looking to the
rule of force rather than the rule of law to resolve conflicts.

What a fine platform the occasion could have been, if we had any guts
or convictions, to call upon her to go beyond using her library
connection to give a warm and fuzzy image to the ruthlessness of her
husband's administration and to actually connect up with the living
values of librarianship rather than simply opportunistically donning
what she takes as its pathetic but reassuring 'smiley' mask.

Mark Rosenzweig
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[ALACOUN:14486] Re: Fw: Comments for the Laura Bush Discussion, council
Date: Sunday 08:29:24 pm
From: "Leslie Burger" <LBurger[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

I feel like I am weighing in a little late with this but let me share a
few thoughts.

I would hope that before we use the official ALA name to bestow "citations"
or "awards" on any individual that the ALA Council and Executive Board
receive the courtesy of knowing in advance that this is being done. Sure
we might have had the same debate on whether or not to award the citation
to Laura Bush but we would not have been caught off guard when we learn
about it after the fact on the web site. It seems to me that we need to
improve communication about this kind of action.

Secondly I would hope that ALA would be thinking strategically about these
kind of things. ALA's name and reputation carries clout. Before we decide
to honor someone for their efforts we need to think about how we want to
work with the individual or organization in the future. Sure Laura Bush
can claim responsibility for encouraging more money for libraries during
her husband's administration but there is still a long way to go. In my
mind the Committee on Legislation and any other ALA committee or
organization needs to carefully consider the consequences of its actions
within ALA's larger political agenda. I don't for a moment want Laura
Bush to think that she's off the hook as far as funding for libraries
goes. There is still much more to be done.

Leslie Burger, Director
Princeton Public Library
65 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
609.924.8822 x253
609.924.7937 fax
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[ALACOUN:14487] RE: What is an award?
Date: Monday 01:33:46 pm
From: "Nancy Bolt" <nancybolt[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Things move so fast in today's e-mail world that we are past this memo but I
did want to answer it as well as send the results of my conversation with
ALA Washington Office staff.

First I want to thank Al for seeking clarification about awards,
certificates and thank yous from Norman. It may clarify the process.

As I've said before, I think there are at least two issues involved here.
First is the process and second is "content" , whether Laura Bush was
deserving of anything from ALA.

Al wrote
I don't think I can be more clear, but I will try. There certainly is a
difference in degree between awards, certificates, and thank yous. The press
release certainly made this look like an award. I do not think that every
thank you has to go through Council. I know that Council sets policy and
that Council Committees should publicly act only after Council approval. In
most cases, I would trust the good judgment of the people involved to use
common sense. In this case, some else happened. Further, it turns out the
one of the members of the initiating committee, the Committee on
Legislation, does not appear to have been consulted on this. So where did
this really come from? So far, we don't know. I again ask the chair of the
Committee on Legislation to enlighten us.

NB says

I don't think we are so far apart on the process issue. We know there is a
difference between awards, certificates, etc. and maybe this needs to be
clarified. I've tried to answer your question about the involvement of COL
in this process in another memo sent today.

Al wrote (with some editing to focus on his questions)
This appears to me to be an end-run around Council for political purposes.
Don't you feel at least a little bit upset with the way the Council was
ignored? Don't you think this issue rises to a very high level, not just the
level of a routine thank you? Don't you see the broader implications of
playing these political games? Don't you think ALA should lobby for its
issues rather than fall all over people in power? Do you really think we
should be giving certificates to people who support section 215 of the USA
Patriot Act? Do you really think we can advance the cause of free inquiry
this way? Don't you see that our civil liberties are at stake, and that this
award sets back our cause?

NB replies

Well, we disagree here. I don't think it was an end-run around Council for
political purposes. I think the COL was doing one of the things it's
supposed to do: gain support for library funding and programs in Washington
DC. I believe Laura Bush has helped libraries. The Committee thought so as
well. I don't think it deserved a high level award exactly BECAUSE it's
such a controversial issue within ALA. A simple thank you makes the point
that we appreciate what she has done for us without making a big deal of it.
I absolutely see the broader implications of playing these "political
games." Perhaps it's because I have worked with state government for 18
years. I remember once we gave an official Colorado Library Association
Award to out Joint Budget Committee for NOT CUTTING OUR BUDGET that year.
We gave an award to two very conservative legislators with whom we battled
over filtering in public libraries yet who sponsored a revision of the
Colorado Library Law. You may not like what they do one year and you fight
it and you hope they will support you the next year in something else. Our
bottom line has always been funding. It's not pretty but it's honest and
critical. I think we should lobby strong for our issues and we do.
Remember it was Carla Hayden who stood up to John Ashcroft on the Patriot
Act. It was just last week we issued a strong statement in a new release
about the inaccurate testimony also on the Patriot Act. We have a very
strong record of standing up for what we believe in. I don't think it's
"falling all over people," I think it's thanking people for what they do
for you and challenging them when you don't. Our motto is "No permanent
friends and no permanent enemies." Yes, I do think we should give
certificates of thanks to people who support Section 215 of the USA Patriot
Act . not for their support of the act but for their support of funding for
libraries. I've mentioned Joel Hefley before. I can oppose is support for
the Patriot Act while praising him for his strong support of the Ethics
Committee. If we refuse to thank everyone in Congress who supports the
Patriot Act, we would not have a lot of people left to thank. As a matter
of fact I do think we can advance the cause of free inquiry this way because
if local school and public and academic libraries get funding they do
advance the cause of free inquiry in millions of ways. every time a person
comes into a local library. I do see that civil liberties are at stake but
I think an award like this has NO effect on the Patriot Act issue but could
have an effect on the funding issue.

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

[ALACOUN:14488] Laura Bush
Date: Monday 01:33:46 pm
From: "Nancy Bolt" <nancybolt[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

I'm a member of the ALA Legislative Committee and this morning I called the
ALA Washington Office to try and get some detail about what happened with
Laura Bush. This basically restates what Jan Sanders said in her memo but
explains why neither Ann Sparanese nor I knew about it and details of the

This is what they told me.

First, the Committee on Legislation had a retreat last December. I don't
think Ann Sparanese was there and I was only there on Day 2. On Day 1, the
Committee had a general discussion about thanking Laura Bush for her work on
behalf of libraries. They agreed that: these kind of presentations
sometimes "grease the wheel" of politics in Washington, DC; it should be a
very low key recognition of her support; it was not an "Award" since the
Committee did not have the authority to present an award; they authorized
staff to follow-up.

(If there are other members of COL who were at that meeting and can add more
detail than Jan or I are providing, please do so.)

Subsequent to this meeting, the ALA Washington staff contacted the White
House and said that they would like to thank Laura for her support. It took
several months but the White House came back to ALA Washington Office (I
think, it might have been to Keith's office) and said that Laura would
accept thanks. (Now don't get cynical, that's the way it's done in DC if
you expect a high government official to actually show up somewhere.)

The venue chosen was the Martin Luther King Library in a small room off the
children's room. Present were Mrs. Bush, Keith Fiels, Carla Hayden
representing Carol Brey Cassiano, Emily Sheketoff, Lynne Bradley, Fran
Buckley representing MLK Library and some secret service people. There was
no press invited or present.

She was given a framed "Certificate of Thanks" and the two award winning
books. I've asked for a copy of the wording on the certificate and it's
being sent to me. I didn't want to take notes and take a chance of it being
wrong so I asked for a copy.

Following the presentation, Mrs. Bush went into the Children's Room and read
to a group of children.

ALA then wrote the press release that is on the ALA website.

As Jan stated in her memo, ALA previously honored First Lady Barbara Bush
with an Award that was approved by Council. Roslyn Carter was also honored
in someway but current ALA Washington Office staff were not employed in the
office at that time so they are not sure how.

I was also wrong about something else I said. At ALA Legislative Day, it
isn't the ALA Office that honors Congress people. It's FOLUSA which, of
course, is not an ALA unit and thus can honor whomever they want in any way
they want.

If anyone was at either the COL meeting or the actual presentation would
like to add something, please do so.

Nancy Bolt
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

[ALACOUN:14490] Expression of Thanks for Laura Bush
Date: Monday 01:54:43 pm
From: "Roberta Ann Stevens" <rste[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Below is a message from Jan Sanders that provides the background on the
expression of thanks given to Mrs. Bush. This message was sent to COL
and I am forwarding it to the ALA Council's listserv.

I hope we continue to reinforce efforts, wherever they may originate,
to support librarians and libraries in this country.


The idea of issuing some kind of "thank you" to Mrs. Bush was a topic of
consideration at our last retreat, which unfortunately, you were not
able to attend. It was a general discussion, with no real action
outlined, as we had no definite "plan" in mind. Instead, we just agreed
that thanking her would be a good idea, and would possibly further our
work in Washington. When this opportunity arose, it seemed a good time to
issue a brief acknowledgement of her work. Knowing that Carla Hayden
would be there and handle most of the conversation, staff felt comfortable
simply tying into the event--sponsored by the MLK library. Like many
events held in and around the Hill, this was just to be a cordial
happening, noting Mrs. Bush's work promoting children and reading, a nod
of thanks from her colleagues (even if we are not such close colleagues
as some would like). The council discussion has gone far beyond the fact,
in my opinion, and I think we would be wise to just accept that not all
Council members, nor indeed, all COL members would have had the event take
place as it did. It is past now, and did us--or our efforts on behalf of
America's libraries--no harm and perhaps some good. Thanks for your
interest. I'll see you in Chicago.

Jan Sanders
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

[ALACOUN:14514] Acknowledgements
Date: Yesterday 06:04:03 pm
From: "Brey-Casiano, Carol" <BreyCX[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

Dear Colleagues:

I have been following the discussion regarding the recent acknowledgement of
Laura Bush, and wanted to provide Councilors with some background
information on ALA's past practice with regard to acknowledging the
contributions made by political figures to libraries.

The Committee on Legislation has regularly recognized the contributions of
political figures--to library legislation and libraries in general--on
numerous occasions, ranging from ALA Legislative Day to special events
occurring in Washington. Over the years, many such commendations have been
presented, and to political figures from various parties. In most
instances, these acknowledgments were presented by ALA Presidents. A partial
list of those acknowledged in the past includes:

President Lyndon Johnson
President Jimmy Carter
Rosalyn Carter
Barbara Bush
Sen Mark Hatfield
Sen Nancy Kassebaum
Sen Claiborne Pell
Sen Paul Simon
Rep Pat Williams
Sen Al Gore
Sen Robert Kerrey
Sen Jack Reed
Sen Edward Kennedy
Sen Robert Byrd
Sen William Cohen
Sen Thomas Eagleton
Sen James Exon
Sen Tom Harkin
Sen John Rockefeller IV
Sen Olympia Snowe
Sen Ted Stevens
Sen Ralph Yarborough
Sen Lister Hill
Sen Hubert Humphrey
Sen Wendell Ford
Rep Sid Yates
Rep Vic Fazio
Rep Daniel Flood
Rep Don Fraser
Rep Sam Gibbons
Rep William Goodling
Rep Edward Markey
Rep Pat Roberts
Rep Edith Green
Rep John Fogarty
Rep Verne Ehlers
Rep Carl Elliott
Rep Silvio Conte
Rep Duke Cunningham
Rep Ralph Regula
Rep Pete Hoekstra
Rep Major Owens
Rep John Porter
Rep William Ford
Rep William Natcher
Secretary of Education Richard Riley
Secretary of Education William Bennett

I would also like to thank Norman Horocks for the information he provided on
the policies relating to awards, and for again emphasizing that such
acknowledgments are not ALA awards.

I hope this information is helpful.

All the best,

Carol Brey-Casiano
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[ALACOUN:14519] Re: Acknowledgements
Date: Today 09:05:04 am
From: Jim Casey <drjbc92[at]>
To: ALA Council List <alacoun[at]>

I want to thank President Carol Brey-Casiano for the long
"partial" listing of those political figures acknowledged in the
past. Some names go back quite a few years --- even to the
time before my Library career began. It almost seems to
be an altogether different era when political figures could
disagree vigorously and nevertheless be respected and
counted upon to uphold the basic democratic principles.
Unfortunately, I think that the age of Jimmy Carter,
Hubert Humphrey, Ralph Yarborough, and
Thomas Eagleton is a bygone era.

Please forgive me if I have come to the conclusion that
politics as we once knew them have been suspended
and the party in power is seeking overhwhelming
domination of political and cultural life. Perhaps the
first inkling I had of this were when Presidential Press
conferences leading up to the attack on Iraq were
basically devoid of critical or tough questions.
Where has our free press gone? What I believed
to be erroneous and at the very least a dubious
course of action was not even being questioned
by the media as millions protested in the streets.
Then, traveling across the 700 miles of the Eastern
United States and finding that every single public
affairs discussion on the radio was favorable to
the Administration. Twenty and thirty years ago
criticism of administrations in power seemed to
be common practice and was even accompanied
by anti-war or anti-establishment music offerings.
If you didn't like that, you could listen to William
F. Buckley, Paul Harvey, etc. and get the flip side.
Today, lies are being treated as valid opinions.
Truth is being buried or attacked by a media
blitzkrieg. --- I fear that we may be headed
towards a dictatorship and don't wish to see
ALA become a party to that process
and essentially digging its own grave.

I realize that many of my Council colleagues don't
share my dire assessment of our predicament
and feel that the present situation may not be as
different as the days of LBJ and Reagan --- that
the winds will continue to blow back and forth.
I sincerely hope that those of you who believe
that are correct and that we are not seeing the
kind of slide into dictatorship that I have
perceived to be the case.

James B. Casey --- Councilor-at-Large

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