SRRT Newsletter

Contents

ALA Annual Conference 2010 Overview
Membership to Vote on Updated Bylaws
Letter from the Editor
Coordinator's Column
Four Action Council Members Elected
Affecting Change Through Language, One Subject Heading at a Time
Reports and Task Force News
     Councilor's Report
     Alternative Media Task Force
     Task Force on the Environment
     Feminist Task Force
     Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force
     International Responsibilities Task Force
     Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force
     Rainbow Project Task Force
     Abridged Minutes from Special SRRT Membership Online Meeting
Reviews
     At Home in Utopia
     What's the Difference? with Felina's New Home
     Humanism and Libraries
     The Wandora Unit
Call for Submissions
Publication Information

ALA Annual Conference 2010 Overview

2010 Annual Conference logo courtesy of ALA

Friday, June 25

6:30-8:30 p.m. Feminists' Night Out (Lace, 2214 Rhode Island Ave.)

Saturday, June 26

8:00-10:00 a.m. All Task-Force Meeting (JW-Grand BR IV)
10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Action Council I (JW-Rayburn)
1:30-2:30 p.m. Introduction to Women's Issues (WCC-143A)
1:30-3:30 p.m. Is It Safe to Go Outside? Health Effects of Climate Change and Global Warming (WCC-210)
1:30-3:30 p.m. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Multi-Cultural Idea Exchange (WCC-203A/B)
4:00-5:30 p.m. Afghanistan in Context: The Background to the War That Every Librarian Should Know (WCC-151B)
4:00-5:30 p.m. Progressive Librarians Guild Meeting (JW-Rayburn)

Sunday, June 27

8:00-10:00 a.m. Rainbow Project Breakfast (WCC-201)
4:00-5:30 p.m. Action Council II (JW-Rayburn)
6:00-8:00 p.m. Membership Meeting (JW-Congressional/Senate)

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Membership to Vote on Updated Bylaws

Members attending the SRRT Membership Meeting (scheduled to be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 27 at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C.) will discuss and vote on two proposals to amend the SRRT Bylaws. These proposals, presented by Mike Marlin and Myka Kennedy Stephens, are an effort to update language in the bylaws regarding the process for selecting an Action Council coordinator and coordinator-elect and the organization of the SRRT Newsletter editorial staff.

The complete text of these proposed amendments is available as a supplement to this issue.
PDF edition - 79 KB
EPUB edition - 12 KB

All current SRRT members are encouraged to attend the meeting and participate in the discussion. Mark your conference schedule to come over to the JW Marriott after the Bookcart Drill Team Championship. Pick up a quick dinner and bring it with you for an evening with your fellow SRRT members!

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Letter from the Editor

Myka Kennedy Stephens, SRRT Newsletter Editor

Dear Readers,

Summer is here and the 2010 Annual Conference is just around the corner. It is my sincere hope that this gets to you as you are making plans to attend the conference in D.C. I am looking forward to seeing many of you there. For those who are unable to attend: may this newsletter help you stay connected to our community from wherever you are located.

This issue of the SRRT Newsletter brings you news from each of our task forces, as well as reviews and thoughts from our members. We are still looking for your feedback and contributions as we continue to make improvements and offer a newsletter that is valuable to a majority of SRRT members. Please see the call for submissions toward the end of the newsletter for submission guidelines and our next submission deadline.

Best,
Myka Kennedy Stephens
SRRT Newsletter Editor

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Coordinator's Column

by LaJuan Pringle

LaJuan Pringle

I've spent the last couple of weeks pondering a very thought-provoking blog entry on Library Juice written by our good friend and past coordinator, Rory Litwin that addresses recent issues concerning SRRT. The article discusses the state of SRRT today and addresses a recent debate regarding the direction of the newsletter. It's an article that I believe that all SRRT members should read as it represents a point of view seldom heard. And judging by some of the feedback the article received, Rory seems to be hardly alone in his views about SRRT. The conversation continues on ALA Connect, where a wide range of members offer their views on where SRRT was at and where it's headed. Do I believe that SRRT is in a state of “protracted crisis”? I'm not certain that I do. I do see a new generation of SRRT members coming aboard who will eventually become tomorrow's leaders and will be “old-timers” before long. And there are some newer SRRT members who are definitely taking on the “establishment” in SRRT. I really appreciated how our newsletter editor and the editorial team stuck to their guts and published an edition of the newsletter that many folks (including myself) tried to discourage. I understand how tough it is to go against the grain, especially when the grain has been entrenched in SRRT for so many years. But I think there is something to be said about how the world has changed and the question should be asked: how do we adapt to the changing times? I believe most of us understand this; but as with any organization that grows, the lessons we are learning now are part of the pains of aging. And some of our changes have become pillars of growth. After all, the SRRT newsletter debate manifested itself into a meeting outside of the conference. And it was an online meeting to boot! Although it was marred with technical difficulties, it was an exciting process to engage in. It also gave me a sense of certainty that SRRT is moving with the times and will continue to do so. We really have no other choice if we want to remain relevant.

The opportunity I have been given, to serve as your coordinator, has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life! I've met so many beautiful people as a member of SRRT. And while I plan on remaining active in SRRT, it's time for SRRT to continue its evolution. No one is better prepared to keep us going than our incoming coordinator, Mike Marlin, who has been quietly leading SRRT for the past few months already. Mike brings a wealth of talent and energy to the role of coordinator. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity I have had the last two years. I look forward to many more years as a SRRT'er. Thanks to each and every one of you.

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Four Action Council Members Elected

The 2010 Election Results are in and SRRT members have elected four at-large members for Action Council. They are, in order of votes received, Al Kagan, Mike Marlin, Julie Winkelstein and Jane Glasby. These four will be serving a term of three years, beginning at the close of Annual Conference and ending at the 2013 Annual Conference. Ballots cast in this year's online election numbered 322, approximately 18% of SRRT membership.

Congratulations also go to those SRRT members who were elected or re-elected to ALA Council: Loida Garcia-Febo, Janice Greenberg, Mary Mallory, Bernard Margolis, Larry Romans and Tom Wilding.

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Affecting Change Through Language, One Subject Heading at a Time

by Sanford Berman

Over the past five years, I've recommended dozens of new and revised subject headings to the Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Supportive Office. Here are some mostly positive results from the last year (2009):

  • Witch hunting (as recommended, 1/7/2009)
  • Post racialism (recommended Post-Racialism, 1/14/09)
  • Lesbian separatism (as recommended, 3/12/09)
  • Manifest Destiny (as recommended, 6/15/09)
  • Exceptionalism-United States (recommended American exceptionalism, 6/9/09)
  • Ecopsychology (added topical reference under Environmental psychology, 7/19/09)
  • Ecotherapy (added topical reference under Environmental psychology, 7/19/09)
  • Cell phone novels (as recommended, 2/7/09)

While these are the successes, there are many more suggestions I have made that have yet to be implemented. In the last year I have written to ask they make the following changes or additions:

  • Nimipu Indians, to replace Nez Perce Indians
  • Corporate welfare, now only appears as a cross-reference to Subsidies
  • Buzzing in the ears/Ear buzzing/Ear ringing/Ringing in the ears, all suggested as cross-references to Tinnitus
  • Technological singularity
  • Rewilding (Primitivism)
  • Rewilding (Wildlife reintroduction)
  • Moody, James
  • Afro-Bolivians, to replace Blacks-Bolivia
  • Short boys
  • Seven-year-old boys
  • Bossiness in girls
  • Second-graders
  • Class pets
  • Children's letters
  • Jawbreakers
  • Sex-positive feminism
  • Unnecessary things
  • Eco-poetry
  • Biggering (Economics)/Getting bigger (Economics), suggested as cross-references to Growth (Economics)
  • Sexting
  • Lesbian Investigative Reporters
  • Blind Eye Detective Agency
  • Japanese-American Women Detectives
  • Lesbian Publishers
  • Vampire Love Stories
  • O, Inspector
  • Punk Parenting
  • Community Power (Energy)
  • Reggaeton Music
  • Literary Darwinism
  • Prosperity Gospel
  • Dancehall music, presently only a topic reference under Ragga (Music)
  • Gay Love Stories
  • Lesbian Love Stories
  • Cyberchrondria
  • A'Aninin Indians, suggested as cross-reference to Atsina Indians)
  • Group polarization

When I send my suggestions to the Library of Congress, I also forward usage examples of the term being suggested. If you are interested in joining me in the quest to expand vocabulary and bring socially responsible language to LC Subject Headings, please send your letters of suggestion along with usage examples to: Cataloging Policy and Support Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540-4305.

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Councilor's Report

by Tiffani Conner, SRRT Councilor

(Editor's Note: Councilor Tiffani Conner's full report appeared as a supplement to our March 2010 issue. The following is a summary report.)

This is my first report to SRRT concerning Council meetings. I would like to thank everyone for their support and encourage you to communicate with me about Council items or motions, as well as this or future reports. Because I tend to keep detailed minutes, I will typically send both a report and the minutes. My goal is to provide as much information as possible to SRRT members allowing individual decision-making to take place. For those wishing to listen to the Council session, audio proceedings are available online after the conference.

To say the least, I was shocked at my first “real” experience at an ALA Council meeting. In June, having sat with Al Kagan and Elaine Harger, two remarkable and immeasurably difficult Councilors to follow, I anticipated lively, long and debate-filled Council sessions. However, everyone seemed tired and lacking in enthusiasm for much. The sessions were all relatively calm and sedate, with two of the three sessions ending early. SRRT brought forth one resolution, the “Resolution in Support of National Health Care” (ALA CD #38). The resolution failed to pass Council for the following reasons (made to me in person, or on the Council floor): a) a similar resolution passed at ALA Annual 2009 that did not direct a specific program, b) the lack of direct library references or library concerns, and c) the impression at the time that “it was too late” and “ALA would look stupid”. In addition, some notes made directly to me as to why this would not pass included: “vigorously lobby” means asking for human resources, which involves money; any direction to the ALA Washington Office, needs to go through COL; and the resolution lacks “library services”. While some in SRRT may not agree with these reasons, I learned a lot from them and hope to be able to address this type of concern in future resolutions. Again, being new, I am in a learning curve as to how Council works and trying to measure the pulse of the group. One very exciting activity to watch was the virtual ball-tossing over a resolution put forth by Larry Romans and Charles Kratz, the “Resolution Concerning the Dratted Event Planner” (ALA CD #37). Councilor Romans deferred the resolution to Council III session and eventually withdrew it because the Executive Board outlined steps to be taken to improve and monitor the effectiveness of the planner, including directing the ALA Librarian to develop a standardized coding system for ALA units.

Speaking of the Executive Board, two SRRT members were elected to serve three-year terms, Kevin Reynolds and J. Linda Williams.

Councilor Tom Wilding, on behalf of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, brought forth another controversial resolution. A motion was made to endorse the application for affiliation from the Association of Jewish Libraries, Inc., contingent on including “sexual orientation” in their non-discrimination policy. There was much discussion on this motion. One councilor argued that the committee's duties were to bring forward a recommendation to accept or not, but that was not what they were doing, instead they were bringing forward a “contingency” resolution. There seemed to be much consideration on the part of Councilors as many people spoke to the motion. In the end, the motion for contingent affiliation passed. As of January 25, 2010 AJL's affiliate status was confirmed based on evidence that they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Good news was that at the ALA Council/Executive Board/Membership information session on Sunday, January 17, the Budget Analysis and Review committee reported that ALA's FY2009 budget was in the black. It was unnecessary to use any reserve funds to balance the budget. A one-time payment of $200K was distributed to ALA staff to offset furlough reductions (ALA CD #33 and #33.1). An interesting note from the Endowment Trustees Report (ALA 2009-10 CD #16.0), that one of the Socially Responsible Investment funds showed the highest returns (63%).

President Alire reported on the status of her two initiatives, frontline advocacy initiative for multi-type libraries (http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/advocacy/advocacyuniversity/index.cfm), and advocacy for family literacy initiative. President-elect Stevens reported on her work with the Committee on Appointments (COA) and the Committee on Committees (COC), and mentioned her initiatives, including frontline fundraising and using popular authors as advocates for libraries. The executive director noted a 2.7% drop in membership, but added the caveat that it may be largely attributed to the cleanup of the membership database. Liz Bishoff and Betty Turock, former ALA President, reported on the Presidential Initiative to raise $1M in 12 months for the Spectrum Scholarships (see ALA CD #39). They noted especially that the most important element was to reach 100% participation from ALA membership in this initiative.

ALA-APA programs at the 2010 Annual Conference will include: Union 101 for libraries; Not-so-extreme makeovers; Effective ways to promote mental health in the workplace; Getting back into the game: Advice for laid off, Insecurely employed, and mid-career slump; Negotiation: What else is on the table?; and Professional integrity and library workers: What's the connection?

The Committee on Legislation brought forward four resolutions, but withdrew one, a resolution that SRRT endorsed, Resolution to Endorse the Statement “Librarianship and Traditional Cultural Expressions: Nurturing Understanding and Respect” (ALA CD#20.3). The resolution suffered from procedural as well as content problems. For example, several drafts were circulated in November and again in Boston, there was a lack of copies of the Boston draft, and no final draft was available. When the issue arose again, it seemed glossed over and many Councilors called attention to this omission since the resolution was on the paperwork.

Other noteworthy resolutions passed include: Resolution in Honor of the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund's Fortieth Anniversary (ALA CD#19), Resolution on Transparency and Openness in the Federal Government (ALA CD#20.1), Resolution to Support Digital Information Initiatives at the U.S. Government Printing Office (ALA CD#20.2), Resolution on Universal Access to Broadband (ALA CD#20.4), and Resolution on Rebuilding Libraries and Archives Damaged or Destroyed by the Earthquake in Haiti (ALA CD#18.1).

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Alternative Media Task Force Plans Event for ALA Annual Conference

by Lyn Miller-Lachmann, AMTF Chair

The Alternative Media Task Force is planning a “Pilgrimage” to Busboys & Poets Café on Friday, June 25, 2010. We have scheduled the meeting time for 5-7 pm at the original Busboys & Poets Café, 2021 14th St. NW (14th and V Sts.), Washington, DC 20009. We will tour the Teaching for Change bookstore, which sells progressive books, CDs, and DVDs from a variety of alternative publishers, and share information with local alternative publishers over drinks and dinner. There is no admission charge; food and drink are a la carte. All are invited.

Busboys & Poets is an important community gathering-place in the DC area. First established in 2005, Busboys & Poets was created by owner Anas "Andy" Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist, and restaurateur. After Shallal opened the flagship location at 14th and V Streets, NW, the neighboring residents and the progressive community, embraced Busboys, especially activists opposed to the Iraq War. Busboys & Poets is now located in three distinctive neighborhoods in the Washington Metropolitan area and is a community resource for artists, activists, writers, thinkers, and dreamers. You may read more at their web site, www.busboysandpoets.com.

For more information about the “Pilgrimage” and to let us know you're coming so we can reserve enough tables, please contact Lyn Miller-Lachmann at mcreview(at)aol.com or 518-729-3976. If you are an alternative publisher, there will be time to speak to those in attendance about your work.

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GreeNotes: Musings from the Task Force on the Environment

by Fred Stoss, TFOE Chair

Join TFOE at the SRRT All Task-Force Meeting, scheduled for Saturday, June 26, 8:00-10:00 a.m. in the JW Marriott Grand BR IV. This meeting will help TFOE leaders take a look at our future directions, program ideas for the 2011 ALA Midwinter (San Diego, CA) and Annual (New Orleans, LA) meetings and programs. We are looking forward to discussing an idea for a panel discussion on children's and young adult environmental books/literature. ACRL's Interest Group on Health Science is also looking for for ideas for future conference themes. If you are unable to attend the All Task-Force meeting but have ideas to share, please send them to me at fstoss(at)buffalo.edu.

TFOE is co-sponsoring a program at ALA Annual with the new Interest Group on Health Science of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Entitled, “Is It Safe to Go Outside? Health Effects of Climate Change and Global Warming,” the session is scheduled for Saturday, June 26, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in WCC-210. The official description follows:

Changing climates and global warming affect human health. Lise Van Susteren, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist and an environmental activist (one of 50 trainers for former Vice President Al Gore's "1,000 Climate Messengers,") addresses health effects associated with climate change and examines actions addressing the risks. Fred Stoss, Chair of ALA's Task Force on the Environment, member of ACRL's Interest Group on Health Sciences and a "Climate Messenger," is moderator.

photo of Lise Van Susteren from 'The Mapleleaf Online'

Lise Van Susteren M.D. Lise received her Doctorate in Medicine in 1982 from the University of Paris. After interning at hospitals in Paris and Lome, Togo, she completed her residency in psychiatry at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C.

A frequent guest on local and national radio and television, Lise has addressed a range of issues on violence, trauma, and mental illness. Through Physicians for Human Rights, she conducts evaluations of victims of torture seeking asylum in this country and advocates on their behalf. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Lise traveled to Houston to assist those in need of mental health treatment.

In September, 2006, she was chosen as one of the first fifty persons to be trained in Nashville by Al Gore to give her version of his global warming slide show, the basis of the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. She has given her presentations on climate change to more than 100 educational, religious, political, environmental and business audiences in the United States, including the US Department of the Treasury and the US Secret Service, and abroad. In the spring of 2008 she developed a slide show on the health effects of global warming, which she has presented to medical professionals, educational institutions, and foundations. During the summer of 2008 she traveled to the Arctic Circle to speak on the impact of Global Warming in the Arctic. In collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation she organized a conference held in March 2009 on the mental health and psychological impacts of climate change.

Lise is on the board of the National Wildlife Federation, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and former Vice President Al Gore's foundation, The Climate Project. Governor Martin O'Malley named her to the working group of the Maryland Commission on Climate in 2007 and to the Board of the Chesapeake Bay Trust in 2008. In July 2009 she was named to the Metropolitan Council of Governments, where she is a member of the Committee on Climate, Energy and the Environment.

Climate Library Launched

The Climate Deal Team announced the launch of the Climate Library, which is open and free for anyone to access and post climate-related documents.

In a press release to email lists worldwide, the Climate Deal Team noted that, "Over the last two years there has been an explosion of climate change related information. As more and more individuals and organizations document every aspect of climate change, from adaptation strategies on local communities to international climate policy frameworks, the challenge of searching, querying and determining the relevance of content gets more complex every day."

The Climate Library facilitates the identification and sharing of information by gathering in an online and open collection the most relevant links to documents about climate change, so anyone can save time and find them easily.

The Climate Library allows anyone to submit relevant documents such as reports, research papers or even masters or PhD theses, and place them in an open-access platform. When doing so, an abstract, author(s), date of publication and keywords can be added so that other users can search the library more effectively and efficiently.

The Climate Deal Team checks that all information entered is correct and will create a specific reference for each article so that a question about the document can be entered on the platform adding the reference as a tag. Climate Deal will actively promote the participation of authors who will then be able to answer questions related to their paper on the Climate Deal Platform (www.climatedeal.org or community.climatedeal.org). Details are found at: www.climatedeal.org/index.php/climate-library and you can contact them at: contactus(at)climatedeal.org.

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Feminist Task Force Activities at Annual Conference 2010

by Diedre Conkling, FTF Co-coordinator

Feminists' Night Out

Friday, June 25, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Lace, 2214 Rhode Island Avenue NE

All feminists and their friends are invited to Feminists' Night Out, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. We are getting together at Lace, located at 2214 Rhode Island Avenue NE (the G8 bus runs right past the Convention Center and continues NE on Rhode Island Avenue). This is a great opportunity early in the conference to get together casually and talk about the conference and other activities. Lace is a woman owned restaurant and bar. We always try to support a local woman owned business or alternative bookstore in the ALA Conference city. We will list this as an event on our Facebook page so you can let us know there if you are going to join the group.

Introduction to Women's Issues in ALA

Saturday, June 26, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. at WCC, Room 143A

Every ALA Annual Conference we hold this program as an opportunity for people to discuss real issues that are important to them and also to get information about the various women's groups in ALA. This year's beginning discussion topic is what employment or workplace issues are you facing that you find frustrating? The discussion will help set the agendas for the SRRT Feminist Task Force (FTF), Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), ACRL's Women`s Studies Section (WSS) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) with your thoughts on the issues discussed.

Representatives from these and other groups will be on hand to learn from you about workplace issues and to let you know about the opportunities to participate in each group. The program is dc-sponsored by ACRL WSS and COSWL.

40th Anniversary Celebration - Canceled

Due to a number of scheduling problems we have canceled this program. Maybe we will have a 45th Anniversary Bash.

Business Meeting

Saturday, June 26, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. at JW Marriot, Grand BR IV

We will be meeting on Saturday during the SRRT All Task Force meeting. Because of a scheduling error we will not be holding our usual second meeting on Sunday afternoon.

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News from the Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force

by Lisa Gieskes, HHPTF Coordinator

Some may be interested in, "Free For All: The Public Library as a Place for Transformation," an article that appeared in the May 2010 issue of Sojourners Magazine. The article is accessible online but requires a free registration to the website. Lisa Gieskes, coordinator of the HHPTF, is quoted in this article.

The HHPTF plans to work with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Public Library in Washington, D.C. on several issues relating to homelessness.

ALA Editions recently published Public Library Services for the Poor: Doing All We Can, written by Leslie Edmonds Holt and Glen E. Holt. It presents a practical approach for librarians interested in meeting the needs of poor patrons. Citing the need for a library commitment to the poor, the Holts provide real world examples of general and specific library services that help the poor.

Leslie and Glen Holt write that "this book's character is shaped by the shortage of prior research designed to improve library services to the chronically and temporary poor" (vii-viii). The Holts draw on their experience at St. Louis Public Library as well as university teachers, administrators, and independent consultants. The Holts, who have an extensive background in working with the poor, present multiple examples of partnerships and collaborations between libraries and public service agencies. Library directors will be interested in real life partnerships with private sector brokers as well as with the public sector.

The book is divided into three parts and fifteen chapters, each with footnotes, and it includes an index. Part one, "Think and Plan," establishes the need for and reasoning of library services for poor people. Part two, "Act," covers library services and programming for poor patrons. It includes both general and specific programming. Part three, "Big Challenges," provides an overview of partnerships, collaborations, and evaluations.

This is a highly recommended work for readers interested in implementing library services for poor people. It provides a framework for libraries seeking to be civic agencies.

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International Responsibilities Task Force Promotes Program on Afghanistan and Plans Taking Resolutions to ALA Council During Annual Conference

by Jane Glasby, IRTF Coordinator

The ALA Annual Conference is fast approaching and those of us fortunate to have the time and financial support to get to DC are looking forward to meeting old friends, making new ones and enjoying some fruitful discussions of how best to carry on the work of SRRT. The International Responsibilities Task Force will be considering what resolutions may be useful to take to the ALA Council for their support and talking about what subjects we might like to cover in programs and events at future conferences. We can also talk about other activities. I should like to encourage anyone who is interested in any aspect of what we do, or expansion of what we do, to come to SRRT meetings at Annual. These include Action Council meetings, the All Task-Force meeting (we all meet in one big room and you can see us all) and the Membership Meeting. New attendees are very welcome. If you cannot get to Annual Conference, then we hope to see your participation on the email list or on ALA Connect. You may also ask to be put on the IRTF mailing list.

I am excited about the program we have organized for this year. The title is overly long, and paradoxically not as descriptive as I would wish, but these things have to be submitted early: “Afghanistan in Context - the background to the war that every librarian should know.” I have been referring to it myself as a program on women in Afghanistan. Since the situation of women in Afghanistan has been taken as an excuse for the invasion-and because we are not informed about what life has been like for women under various regimes, what it is like for them now, and what women there are struggling for—it seemed a good lens through which to look at the history of Afghanistan and the role of our government in that history, in the present and in the country's future. We have four speakers:

  • Anne Brodsky is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Psychology and past Director of Gender and Women's Studies at UMBC in Baltimore. Anne will be talking about her book, With All Our Strength based on trips to Afghanistan and interviews with members of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). This group of women has been fighting oppression since 1977, long before the Taliban took power and has become “the most powerful voice for women in Afghanistan, with thousands of volunteers.”
  • Nasrine Gross is an Afghan-American writer and women's rights activist. She is the founder and president of Kabultec in the US and the Roqia Center for Women's Rights, Studies, and Education in Afghanistan. She runs award-winning literacy programs. She has been active in Afghan politics, participating in several Loya Jirgas and in election campaigns.
  • Fahima Vorgetts has been working for many years for women's rights in Afghanistan. She has testified about Taliban abuses before the United Nations and other organizations. She is the director of Women for Afghan Women's Afghan Women's Fund, and on the Board of Directors for WAW.
  • Hirad Dinavari is the Reference Librarian for the African Middle Eastern Division Iranian World Collections. He will be giving us an introduction to resources about Afghanistan available at the Library of Congress.

The program starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday June 26 in the Conference Center in room WCC-151B.

Since I have been elected as a Member at large of Action Council, and I've been doing this for a couple of years, I intend to step down as coordinator for this Task Force. I am hoping that someone better at hitting deadlines than I will step up to take on coordination. It involves attending meetings and conferences, writing reports for the SRRT Newsletter and coordinating the organization of any programs or events we might decide as a group to take on. Anyone interested can email the list, or come to the SRRT All Task-Force meeting.

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Multi-Cultural Idea Exchange Features Tradition and a Tribute in Dance, Drama, and Music by Colours Ensemble Performing Arts Program

by Virginia B. Moore, MLKTF Chair

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force will continue its tradition since 2000 by offering a three-part program to exchange ideas with a panel presentation of acclaimed library programs for the observance, opportunities for audience speakers, and the sharing of materials.

Joanne C. Burns, Librarian/Storyteller, will provide details about the activities and programs of the Aston Public Library of Ashton Pennsylvania and Roy L. Joynes, Branch Manager, Laurel Library, Laurel Maryland will moderate the Audience Exchange. During the Audience Exchange, those in attendance will have the opportunity to make a brief (1-2 minutes) account of their outstanding library activities. Also, everyone is asked to bring at least 25 copies of their bookmarks, brochures, calendars, fliers, programs, awards, etc. for the closing Materials Exchange.

For the first time, we will have a featured performance: “A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.” by the Colours Ensemble Performing Arts Program. The program is designed to strengthen student academic, leadership, interpersonal, and artistic skills and the performance is designed to engage the audience through enlightenment and entertainment.

In addition, the Task Force will participate in the Diversity Fair with an exhibit on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunrise Celebration at the Midwinter Meeting in Boston and materials from that event will be available again.

Everyone is encouraged to attend both events and to become involved in this exchange of ideas about some of the ways that libraries continue to promote the legacy and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in order to “Keep the Dream Alive.”

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Rainbow Project Celebrates at Annual Conference with Breakfast

by John Andrews, RPTF Chair

The Rainbow Project will be hosting its first celebratory ticketed event at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC, on Sunday, June 27, at 8:00 am. The breakfast will feature three authors (whose works were selected for the 2010 Rainbow Project Bibliography) speaking on the importance of quality GLBTQ literature for youth: Marcus Ewert (10,000 Dresses), Lesléa Newman (Mommy, Mama, & Me and Daddy, Papa, & Me), and Ellen Hopkins (Tricks). Tickets are available in advance or at the door for $50.00.

The Rainbow Project welcomed three new members this year: Christie Gibrich, Nanci Milone Hill, and Zeke White, who joined existing jurors John Andrews, Michael Cart, Lynn Evarts, Michael Santangelo, Victor Schill, and Laurie Spurling. The Task Force is hard at work seeking out, reading, and nominating titles for consideration for the 2011 Bibliography, to be determined at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Diego in January 2011. For more information, visit http://rainbowlist.wordpress.com. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact John Andrews, 2010-2011 Chair, at jandrews(at)washoecounty.us. The Rainbow Project is a joint undertaking of the Social Responsibilities Round Table and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table of the American Library Association.

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Abridged Minutes from Special SRRT Membership Online Meeting

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. EDT via OPAL

(Editor's Note: The complete, unabridged minutes from our first online meeting are accessible via ALA Connect, along with the full audio playback of the meeting. Text of documents and emails shared during the meeting has been removed for this abridged version.)

Moderators: Mike Marlin, LaJuan Pringle

Participants: Ann Sparanese, Tom Twiss, Jane Glasby, Myka Stephens, Nancy Churchill, Shannon Barniskis, Nancy Garmer, Al Kagan, Alison Lewis, Rory Litwin, Erik Johansen, 0046932 (Steve Marquardt), Ginny Moore, Erik, Megan Kinney, Wesley Stewart, Rhonda, Dana Lubow, Julie Winklestein. Note: Not all participants were present for the meeting in its entirety and not everyone could participate actively due to technical difficulties.

Meeting commenced at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the following agenda items:
Proposed Newsletter Editorial Policy
Proposed Newsletter By-Law Changes

The anonymous participant was asked to reveal his/her identity several times and did not. Other meeting participants expressed that they were not comfortable speaking without knowing who was in the meeting. [Steve Marquardt sent an email to LaJuan Pringle a day or two after the meeting stating he was participant 0049632. He said that he loaded the software and logged in; however, he could not read the text or hear the audio.]

Moderators discussed the protocols for participating in the meeting. Participants typed in their name or the word 'mic' to ask for the floor. Participants without a microphone typed their comments and questions into the text box and the moderators read them aloud.

Mike Marlin posted the current newsletter editorial board policy, 5th revision, to begin the meeting.

LaJuan asked Myka Stephens to begin the conversation.

Myka said much of the policy is the same as what was presented at the Action Council II (ACII) meeting at the Midwinter conference. The only significant changes made since Midwinter were the Purpose and Content section at the beginning. This underwent heavy revision for simplification and to make it more direct. Also, a section was added regarding submissions to the reviews editor because this had not been addressed in the previous drafts of the policy. All of the changes that were approved by Action Council at Midwinter were heavily discussed and incorporated by the editorial board members.

Some technical difficulties hindered the progress of the meeting. Mac users were not able to access the meeting fully to participate.

Mike suggested beginning with a review of the Editorial Board section of the policy since this was the least controversial part of the policy and proceed from there.

Jane Glasby asked what the overall purpose of the meeting was - discussion or a vote? Mike and LaJuan said it would be legal to cast votes. SRRT is allowed to take a binding vote in an online meeting if that is agreed upon by the participants. However, with the technical difficulties, we want to be sure everyone could cast a vote.

Ann Sparanese stated that in a first meeting like this it would be inadvisable to be a voting meeting. Nancy Churchill agreed.

Jane read aloud a synopsis of the content of Al Kagan's email to the SRRT Action Council and Newsletter Editorial Board dated 3/28/10 regarding his concerns with the policy. Al Kagan was unable to participate fully due to the Mac compatibility issue. Jane agreed with the points made in Al's email and wanted to reiterate his points for the meeting participants.

Myka shared her comments about the idea of balance. In the leading paragraph, it states that the newsletter is to represent SRRT and its task forces. In the fifth paragraph, balanced is used in the context of publishing minority positions. This means that any SRRT member has the right to make a submission to the newsletter. The submission would then be scrupulously reviewed and as a minority position would be balanced with a SRRT position.

Nancy Garmer suggested that the final sentence in the Purpose & Content section could end with the word newsletter and omit the rest of the sentence, i.e. “The editorial team must assume an obligation to represent the best interests of SRRT and its task forces as fairly and fully as possible within the scope of the newsletter.”

Ann said it seemed that the basic nature of the newsletter is being changed to be more like a journal. Myka said that is not the case. Myka said the editorial she wrote for the last newsletter explained what the editorial board would like to do with the newsletter, which is to serve the purpose of SRRT and provide accurate coverage of SRRT activities.

Alison Lewis said that as a member of the editorial board, she wanted to make clear that the intention of the policy is to codify what the newsletter has been doing already and has done in the past. It is not morphing into a journal. The policy is just trying to get things down on paper, so when there is a change in leadership, no one has to reinvent the wheel. This document will provide guidance.

Tom Twiss said this draft looked like it changed. Tom said it appears that the editorial board is trying to assert its independence in relation to AC. If that's the case, then it does seem like newsletter is changing and taking new direction.

Al Kagan commented, via LaJuan, that in his view, the board works to advance SRRT and its causes. It is not an independent body that just follows its own understanding of the issues. In his view, the editor does NOT have “…prerogatives in producing a balanced and readable publication.” Rather, the editor should be knowledgeable about SRRT and its history, and work to promote the round table in this context. Editors and editorial board members should be encouraged to take initiatives but when striking out in new directions, they should be obligated to discuss these new initiatives with the Action Council.

Myka reviewed the history of SRRT newsletter timeline, which she presented at the Midwinter Conference Action Council meeting. She stated that it appears that the newsletter editor was a member of Action Council for many years. She does not think they are making a departure from the past. According to the by-laws, Action Council is responsible for appointing the newsletter editor. Simply, there has never been any documentation or a job description about what the newsletter editor would do. This policy is intended to provide that documentation.

Myka stated that the idea of the newsletter as the voice of SRRT is not a new one. The Action Council will remain in its advisory capacity for the newsletter. The job of the editorial team is to oversee editorial policy so it is not necessary to confer with AC on every little issue that comes up for every quarterly publication. The newsletter is published more often than AC meets. The editorial board will review policy whenever the need arises. Like now, the need has arisen and the board takes AC questions and suggestions very seriously.

Myka said that she does not see that this policy is a significant departure from where the SRRT newsletter has resided previously.

Al stated that AC should control the newsletter.

Nancy Churchill stated that although her comment is not within the agenda focus, the mission of SRRT in general is broad and disjoint. If the mission was revisited (and revised), some of the issues touched here would be resolved.

Ann stated that letters to the editor are one thing; however, she does think there is a difference with the editorial board being independent and the newsletter being the voice of SRRT.

Myka admitted to her part in broaching the Cuba issue. She said that she pushed her editorial perspective and did not leave room for the membership's voice. She stated that the language that was included in the draft of the editorial policy at Midwinter about themed topics and features on certain issues has all been removed. A decision was made, as the board, to not force an editorial perspective in the newsletter.

She stated that one idea the board has discussed is creating official liaison relationships between each editorial board member and a task force representative as a means to allow the voice of the membership to come through more than it does right now.

Myka stated that the Cuba issue taught the editorial team that making an editorial decision like that was not the way to go. However, the newsletter could have a place for editorial remarks that would be clearly marked. Myka also pointed out that the newsletter has had a statement for sometime that says the newsletter does not always reflect the views of ALA and/or SRRT. That statement existed before Myka.

Alison said that aside from official accounts of things that go through SRRT as resolutions, it is a mistake to think there is a one point of view that represents SRRT. Everyone has their own opinion on things. We should not assume that our personal views are representative of SRRT as a whole. LaJuan agreed that SRRT does represent a wide range of views and everyone must keep this in mind when defining what is and isn't a SRRT position.

Al said SRRT positions are based on resolutions and documents that we have all agreed on.

Mike said that SRRT certainly does not want to have a One Voice Policy.

Ann stated that sometimes SRRT Action Council votes on something and that is a SRRT position. It's not about a one voice policy. Ann also commented that creating editorial board/task force liaisons could make the process more complicated. Currently, the head of the task force makes the report. SRRT task forces are not casts of thousands. Ann stated that the newsletter is not the blog of the editors and that doesn't sit right with her.

Myka asked for the floor to present statements she prepared in response to the points made in Al Kagan's email.

Myka said that there are official SRRT positions. These are things that come out of AC and resolutions that are made. Those are all published in the newsletter as minutes and resolutions. The minutes were published in the newsletter for first time in 2001. Membership has only been able to read the AC minutes for the past nine years.

Myka said she recognizes that task force members can be stretched thin. The idea is to make the newsletter provocative and lively. The newsletter could do so much more. The idea is to work with task forces to get the membership excited about the work SRRT is doing.

In response to Al's comments about the rights of the editor and reviews editor to vote, Myka explained that the editorial board is the body that is responsible for reviewing and selecting candidates for editor and reviews editor when those positions come open. The language is in there to encourage the full participation of the editorial board members. Since everyone participates long distance and communicates electronically, it encourages people to participate when they know their votes count. To date, the editorial board has not had an occasion to have an official vote on anything newsletter related. Everything so far has had general consensus on decisions and directions taken. These are the reasons the editor and reviews editor are asked to remain neutral on those votes.

(Unrelated to current discussion, Al typed in that he looked at the SRRT by-laws Article 4, no. 7 which states what AC members are responsible for. There is no provision for an electronic meeting, so taking any kind of vote would be outside of the by-laws.)

Myka explained that the reviews editor is responsible for the selection of materials to review. This was the case with last reviews editor and it is the case now. However, as a quality control measure, the reviews will now be chosen with support and recommendation of editorial board. In the past, the reviews editor simply sent Myka reviews and she printed them. There was no discussion about the materials. Now that Jennifer is on board as reviews editor, she will review material in collaboration with editorial board.

Regarding the right-wing vanity press publication in the December issue, Myka stated this was a mistake on everyone's part during the cusp of transition between the two reviews editors and as the first issue with the nascent editorial board.

In response to Al's comment about keeping the statement that it is preferable for editorial board members to be members of AC when possible, Myka stated that when the board changed from three to five members it was not practical to expect that all of the editorial board members could be from AC. This was heavily debated at the Action Council meeting at Midwinter and by the board after Midwinter.

Myka stated that it is the consensus of the editorial board that they want the board to be a welcoming place for new members. It is an entry point for people who want to be involved in SRRT. Currently, there are three AC members on the board and those members agree that a statement indicating AC preference is heavy-handed.

Myka stated that in regards to Al's point that there is nothing in the policy about how the editor and reviews editor are selected, that is because they need to figure out how by-laws will need to be amended. The by-laws will always supersede the editorial policy. So, approval of the editorial policy right now or in June (at Annual conference) does not necessarily have to hinge on how they are selected. That would be settled with a by-law amendment.

Nancy Garmer typed in that it would not be necessary to specify that we should try to have AC members on the Editorial Board if it was clearer that the board would be working closely with AC and task forces.

Responding to Al's last point about full disclosure, Myka said the language stating that reviewers should not have conflict of interest is common practice. Readership should know if the reviewer is connected to the item being reviewed.

Al agreed with the full disclosure statement. The conflict of interest is not important to him, but full disclosure is.

Jane Glasby read aloud and posted the text from an email written by Deidre Conkling, co-coordinator of the Feminist Task Force, to srrt-l on 3/26/10 to reiterate and agree with her sentiments.

(Secretary's Note: It was difficult to here Jane Glasby speaking at this time in the meeting.)

Jane stated that what Dana is doing with Cuba would be appropriate to talk about in the newsletter since it is something SRRT members are involved in - not what other members of ALA are involved in. She also expressed concern about the fact that this was all published anyway when it was decided that the newsletter would be postponed until this was all sorted out.

Jane and LaJuan both agreed however that it would be useful to move past things of the past and move forward.

Mike posed a broader question to the group at hand: Do we want the newsletter to continue outside of just meeting minutes and task force reports (which is necessary, but not the most exciting content ever) or stick to only mandated content?

Myka appreciated this question being put forth. She told the group that she has a lot of motivation to move the newsletter up a notch. She has seen some great submissions come across her desk, but those submissions don't come in all the time. There are occasions where she doesn't have anything by deadline. Myka said she was appointed and approved by AC to serve for three years and she wants to do that, but if AC wants to reduce the newsletter to simply minutes and task force reports, she would like to know ASAP because she doesn't want to continue to expend the energy required for editing and publishing a livelier newsletter if it's not going to exist.

In response to Jane's comments, Myka said that three of the editorial board members were at ACII and none of them came away thinking the newsletter wasn't covering Cuba in March. LaJuan asked her to hold off on publication until AC had a chance to decide and the editorial board decided to move forward anyway. The publication of the newsletter did go against LaJuan's request to postpone the Cuba issue and Myka said she will accept consequences.

Alison said that SRRT has published more substantive issues in the past.

Mike asked what direction AC members want to head. LaJuan stated it was good to meet and get all of this information out in the open. He said we should get over the Cuba debate and decide as a group what we want the newsletter to look like.

LaJuan supported the newsletter editorial policy that has come around. More provocative newsletter articles would be a nice addition. LaJuan hears what membership has to say. We are not heading into journal territory. Do want to keep things simple? It is important to get new members involved especially in newsletter and should encourage that.

Alison said that there was much discussion at ACII but no clear decision made about publishing or not publishing the Cuba issue. In the future, decisions need to be more clearly defined.

Tom Twiss stated that he would like to see a more provocative newsletter and a difference in opinions in future newsletters. This instance was probably just because of Cuba itself. It was a contrary subject to the AC members who had participated in that discussion. He would appreciate these articles in the future, but will just need to be handled with sensitivity. Tom would like to see amendments to the editorial policy along the lines of the comments Al made and does not want to vote today.

Myka said she would like someone to enumerate the actual amendments that the group would like AC or the editorial board to consider. She has Al's comments and Nancy Garmer's comment about striking the end of the sentence in the first paragraph.

LaJuan suggested that the wordsmithing should be done through the list. We have to commit to work on it consistently, so we can bring it to DC.

Myka said she would take this policy to the editorial board and work on a sixth revision. Once revised, the new policy, based on comments and discussion from this meeting, will be posted to the AC board on ALA connect for everyone to make comments and work on there. All the wordsmithing can be done online.

Al asked that the revisions can be posted to the list as well for email review.

Mike asked if the group wanted to look at the proposed newsletter by-law revisions today.

Jane said she has not used ALA connect. Alison and LaJuan agreed that ALA Connect is much more collaborative, but we should keep options open while also giving ALA Connect a chance.

Myka offered to make sure that whatever is said on Connect makes its way to the AC list and vice versa. This could be done via a digest every couple days, so everyone can hear what everyone is saying in both forums.

Myka said she will post deadlines on Connect when the revision is posted.

ALA Connect is set up to allow everyone to view items and comment if we check the box to make this discussion public. LaJuan said for now let us work in the AC portion of Connect. Then, we can make all the comments public and the membership can add their voices if they like.

Nancy Garmer and Mike Marlin agreed to work on hashing out this chat session. Jane requested that the text be posted somewhere to view.

Al suggested that we should evaluate this meeting at our AC meeting in DC. Mike stated that he has participated in many Opal meetings over the last five years and they have all gone incredibly smoothly, but there are always a few glitches at the beginning.

LaJuan said this is a great way for SRRT to jump into electronic world.

Meeting adjourned at 5:47 p.m.

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At Home in Utopia. A project of Filmmakers Collaborative, 2008. Running time: 133 minutes (57 minutes feature + 75 minutes of scenes added for this DVD).

Reviewed by Karen A. Weaver, Electronic Resources Statistician, Duquesne University; Adjunct Faculty, The iSchool at Drexel University

Who would build a house to conquer the world?...They were garment workers....
They were so gutsy-to think that they could build an apartment house for 700 families....
From this apartment, they planned to make a revolution.

Boston-area filmmaker Michal Goldman has produced, directed, written, and edited this captivating and well-researched documentary film, along with her co-producer Ellen Brodsky and a highly skilled team of cinematographers, contributors, and researchers. Almost a decade in the making, At Home in Utopia made its national debut in April 2009 on the award-winning PBS series Independent Lens. This excellent film presents viewers with a feast of urban and social history and politics, as well as the history of a unique social experiment from 1925. This was a time when thousands of immigrant Jewish garment workers “pooled their resources and built cooperatively owned and run apartment complexes in the Bronx.” While several cooperative housing projects sprung up afterward as the open space became more developed and the new subway line was built, the United Workers Cooperative Colony (“the Coops”), a grass-roots, member-driven Jewish labor housing cooperative where many residents were Communists, has an incredible, little-known history. And having lived in the Bronx for eight years not too far from the Coops, I also found this film personally fascinating.

The film is kept vivid and dynamic throughout thanks to the narration of Linda Lavin as well as the carefully selected music, which maintains vitality from scene to scene. The warmth and humor of the three men who are revisiting their memories of the Coops are also appreciated, and even the building itself is a fascinating character, with its architecture (hammer and sickle above the doorway), Tudor elements, gardens, basement rooms used for social activities, and much more. Interviews with residents who grew up in the Coops lend an interesting angle to the narrative and are full of fascinating insights on what it was like growing up in the community. One of these residents, architect David Liebeskind, observed that the apartments were more like houses and created intimate areas such as inner courts and gateways, and another, teacher Harriette Nesin Bressack, commented that while she was growing up, “I assumed the whole world was Communist, and certainly, the whole world was Jewish.”

A personal favorite touch was the use of old archival footage of the elevated subway line leaving Manhattan and heading to Allerton Avenue station, as well as the rooftop views of the greenery of Bronx Park. Many people may not realize how green the Bronx and other boroughs actually still are. The film uses an array of still photos, home movies, and personal interviews provided by many special collections such as the Bronx Historical Society. Goldman stated that when she first looked at a 1926 image of the people who founded the Coops, she could see their faces full of suffering, pride, and determination. The film “knocked at her door” when architect Andrew Hazelton described the interest his students had shown in cooperative housing experiments and the impact of political and social events from the time.

People at the Coops believed in creating a new social contract, a haven where culture and community could flourish. Many of the children from the Coops said they knew grew up knowing that they were the sons and daughters of the working class, knowing about the history of labor unions, marching with their parents in the May Day parades to Union Square, and thinking the rest of the world was just the same. Perhaps not surprisingly, women played an important role in the Coops. They agitated for social change-when there were rent strikes, for examples, the mothers of the community would shout out the windows and drag their kids along to help block the eviction of families. They also worked to improve the community itself, spearheading such projects as a 20,000-volume library of Yiddish materials in the basement of the Coops. Notably, greenery and gardening were integrated into the community; parts of what is now the New York Botanical Gardens used to be family backyards. Providing access to open space was a new idea in a time when only the wealthy had flowers, hedges, or anything growing green around them.

The feature film (57 minutes) is divided into three sections: The Founding, Politics, and The Next Generation (which also has director's commentary). There is a bonus section (75 minutes) of special scenes edited for this DVD that include sections such as The Amalgamated Houses (another Bronx cooperative), Uncut Interviews, Coops Memories, Patriotism in the Coops, Reds versus Pinks, and Storyteller Updates. This bonus section provides a wealth of insights and additional interviews on living in the Coops, vacations to Camp Nitgedeiget in Beacon, New York, and former residents reading their FBI files from the McCarthy era.

This is recommended viewing for middle school through adult courses in sociology, American studies, urban studies, political science, Jewish studies, African American studies, architecture, and labor studies. I hope that this documentary will trigger additional research on these topics, further exploring the role that workers played in trying to create a better life and “heaven on earth” in their communities. Michal Goldman has created a true documentary treasure for anyone interested in the past-and the future.

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Slade, Suzanne and Joan Waites (illustrator). What's the Difference? An Endangered Animal Subtraction Story. Mount Pleasant, SC: Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2009.

Wlodarski, Loran and Lew Clayton (illustrator). Felina's New Home: A Florida Panther Story. Mount Pleasant, SC: Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2009.

Reviewed by Frederick W. Stoss, Associate Librarian, Biological and Environmental Sciences and Mathematics, University at Buffalo-SUNY

I give a presentation for librarian and teacher association meetings ranging from local to national levels titled “E-Literacy Conquers Illiteracy: A Librarian-Educator Collaboration.” In this talk, I strive to show that stimulating students through creative collaboration, programs, and activities leads to a sustained interest in the environments (from home to communities) in which they live, go to school, and play. The inspiration for this presentation is Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, which describes the need to expose children to nature-related, experiential, outdoor activities as an essential component of physical and emotional development, which fosters life-long benefits.

The premise is basic: by creative expression through writing (nature journals play a significant, foundational role), telling stories, illustrating, and the performance arts (dancing, singing, and acting), a child becomes more ecologically or environmentally literate (“E-Literate”) while at the same time honing their literacy skills, not only for reading environmental or nature-themed books, but expressing what Rachel Carson called a child's inborn “sense of wonder.”

E-Literacy begins by reading a book whose ideas, themes, or purpose goes outside-literally and figuratively-to experience and record what they have read: in essence, they “Do the Book.” It is, therefore, fitting to review some useful children's environmental books for SRRT members, and especially TFOE members and other readers of the SRRT newsletter. I review here two such titles that improve literacy skills and E-Literacy skills. Both have special features to assist teachers and librarians in their instruction.

cover art for 'What's the Difference?' courtesy of Sylvan Dell Publishing

What's the Difference? An Endangered Animal Subtraction Story

Susan Slade has more than 60 children's books in her portfolio and Joan Waits has illustrated more than 40 educational and trade publications in addition to teaching in the Corcoran Museum School of Art and Design's Aspiring Artists Program. Here they join forces, providing a strong message about endangered species using simple subtraction problems for twelve endangered species. Each species' problem is described in a four-line poem. For each animal, there is a teacher/parent sidebar explaining why that animal is endangered (typically from poisoning, over-hunting or harvesting, habitat modification or destruction, etc.), and additional information about the species. There is a very useful and warmly welcomed five-page educational section, “For Creative Minds,” that briefly outlines important vocabulary terms, dynamics of food chains and webs, and missing links in food chains, and provides explanations of the mathematical problems accompanying each animal's story. The book is described as for grades pre-K through 3 (ages 4 to 8 years). Public and school libraries would find this a useful title for their collection, as would nature centers, museums, or the book lists of environmental, nature, or outdoor educators.

cover art for 'Felina's New Home' courtesy of Sylvan Dell Publishing

Felina's New Home: A Florida Panther Story

Similarly, science writer Loran Wlodarski (Grolier's Encyclopedia for Children, The Marine Mammal Encyclopedia) and illustrator and scientific consultant Lew Clayton (Ask Magazine, Random House Books, Animal Planet, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire) team up for the story of Felina, a Florida panther growing up in the dwindling forest habitat. Other animals of the forest are threatened by the construction of a new highway. Wlodarski uses his skills as a science writer to explain deforestation while Clayton's emotive colored pencil drawings add to the unfolding of a story about human encroachment and what children can learn and do about keeping wildlife safe and healthy.

Again, teachers and parents will find the educational section “For Creative Minds” a very useful and welcome aid providing fun facts about the Florida panther and its life cycle, additional facts about endangered species, and a Match the Animal experience. Sylvan Dell Publishing's Web site has additional links about Big Cypress National Preserve, compiled by wildlife biologist Deborah Jansen and education specialist Lisa Andrews. While this story is specific about the Florida panther, its message is much more universal; as with What's the Difference?, public and school libraries would find this a useful title for their collection, as would nature centers, museums, or the book lists of environmental, nature or outdoor educators.

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Cossette, André. Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on the Philosophy of Librarianship. Duluth, MN: Library Juice Press, 2009. (Trans. Rory Litwin; originally published 1976.)

Reviewed by Reviewed by Seth Kershner, Bard College at Simon's Rock, Great Barrington, MA

cover art for 'Humanism and Libraries' courtesy of Library Juice Press

Those who care about finding the philosophical underpinnings of librarianship face a tough search. For signs of life, one has to look beyond library schools and the established LIS journals. From his outpost in the “Iron Range” region of Northern Minnesota, Rory Litwin (of Library Juice fame) has almost single-handedly kept the discussion of library philosophy afloat.

One of Litwin's latest projects has been the translation of André Cossette's Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on the Philosophy of Librarianship. In this slim volume, originally published in 1976, Cossette tries to establish a unifying principle of librarianship. In order to find a common bond that would cut across the boundaries of various types of institutions-school and university libraries, archives, and so on-the philosopher makes claims that would likely have been less controversial at the time he was writing.

For example, although he insists that librarianship has nothing to do with education, Cossette does not deny that reference and academic librarians “should, on some occasions, teach students how to use the library in the most effective way. But to use that aspect of the work to justify calling the librarian an educator is not acceptable” (49). For Cossette, equating the aims of academic libraries with those of the institutions they serve runs the risk of forsaking the unique character of the profession, losing precisely the unity that his study is dedicated to discovering. He argues that to say that an academic librarian is an educator means we would also have to consider a hospital librarian a hospital worker, a prison librarian a jail-keeper, and so on.

If it is not education, what, then, is the unifying principle in librarianship? Cossette argues that all libraries share the aim of aiding access to information. This guiding light is reflected in his definition of librarianship as “the art and science of the acquisition, preservation, organization, and retrieval of written and audiovisual records with the aim of assuring a maximum of information access for the human community” (33, emphasis added). One could make the counterclaim-as Litwin himself does in the book's helpful “Questions for Reflection” section-that positioning information services as the central role of libraries made sense in the 1970s, but in the Information Age, individuals can now find the information they seek on their own through the use of online search engines. Cossette could not have anticipated how the educational role of libraries would assume greater importance in this new environment.

SRRT members will particularly appreciate how Cossette situates the humanistic role of libraries in a progressive discourse of librarianship, saying “the work of librarianship is truly a human endeavor ... that has as its end the well being of humankind” (59). Beyond just serving their patrons, libraries “can be a powerful lever for social transformation” (61). In their role as information-providers, librarians may face an uphill struggle for respect. But Cossette's work highlights the essential social role of librarians-for those that provide information offer nothing less than to “give each individual the means of critiquing power” (58).

While Litwin certainly proves himself a worthy translator from the French, the book is not without its imperfections. There are several typographical errors, including one unfortunately found in the final sentence of Cossette's concluding paragraph. This reviewer would also have appreciated more background explaining how Litwin came across the Canadian's work.

Nevertheless, this title is recommended for academic libraries that maintain collections in library science. Humanism and Libraries would also make a welcome addition to library school reading lists.

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Randall, Jessy. The Wandora Unit. Denver, CO: Ghost Road Press, 2009.

Reviewed by Jenna Freedman, Coordinator of Reference Services and Zine Librarian, Barnard College

cover art for 'The Wandora Unit' courtesy of Ghost Road Press

I don't know if I've ever read a book that better or as unselfconsciously captures the intimacy and idiosyncrasies of a high school clique. (And when I say “clique,” I do not mean to imply snobbery or exclusivity; merely the phenomenon where teens create their own family of close friends.) Wanda Lowell and Dora Nussbaum, editors of their high school's literary magazine Galaxy, which is at the heart of their group's identity, are best friends and the leaders of the clique. Wanda and Dora are called the Wandora Unit because of their intense friendship and solidarity, though at times the term is not a tribute. Until their senior year of high school they never disagreed about anything. The Galaxy crew has inside jokes, thinks they are the funniest and smartest people in the world—and they are doomed.

This passage, where the students are on their way to an awards banquet, captures the exuberance and the temporary nature of teen obsessions and friendship: “We just feel happy and full of fun, and we yell poems out the window. We pick poems out of each other's hair. Poems fill the bus invisibly. For an hour and a half the poems exist only as radio waves, moving through everything in complete silence.”

This YA novel, a small press book from Ghost Road Press and written by poet-librarian Jessy Randall, is not strictly linear. It's told in short episodes of varying styles, with the occasional guest voice supplementing Dora's first-person narrative-a style that will greatly appeal to a non-traditional or inquisitive reader. Most of the poems throughout and at the end of the text are genuine high school poems from Randall's own high school literary magazine and other sources, which lends authenticity and variety. Randall doesn't necessarily need the help, though. She's got the high school vernacular down and doesn't succumb to the temptation to pepper it with an imagined slang, as other YA writers do with limited success.

The high school poems are so real they're a little embarrassing, but also charming and nostalgia-producing. Dora muses, “Ms. Green says that poetry lets you have your feelings instead of your feelings having you. I write, hoping the truth about my life will rise to the top like marshmallows in hot chocolate powder when you shake the container.”

For those who worry about such things, there is sex in the book-not glorified, not graphic, not horrible. Dora describes sex with her long-time boyfriend in a poem: “...Sex with him / is tangy like a grapefruit with sugar / you eat with a spoon that has spikes.” So while Dora is sex-positive, she's not recommending everyone rush out and get laid. There are also some references to body parts, though there aren't any curse words that I recall.

For those who wonder why this fiction book without an explicitly political message should be reviewed in the SRRT Newsletter, my rationale is that it's an implicitly feminist book from a hard-working small press that deserves a little attention. The teenage women at the center of the story are in charge, value female friendship, and don't suffer particularly from insecurities. They take AP classes and are the obvious leaders of their circle. Dora is a loud girl who gets the lead in the school musical because of, not in spite of, her volume. Her Judaism is matter-of-fact, as is the African American ethnicity of a core clique member. And in contrast to many other teen novels with their broad strokes, even the good characters are all flawed in some way. No one is perfect, but the novel is pretty good. My only complaint is that it ends with the final version of Galaxy, rather than a wrapping-up narrative. The story ends without a solid conclusion; as with poetry, you have to provide that yourself.

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Call for Submissions

The SRRT Newsletter is always looking for good articles, essays, and letters to the editor. The next submission deadline is August 20, 2010.

Submissions to the SRRT Newsletter may be made by any current SRRT Member or SRRT affiliate. Please send your submissions electronically in one of the following formats: MS Word, RTF, PDF, or plain text pasted into the body of an e-mail. We ask that submissions be kept to a length of 500 to 1,000 words or less. Graphics are encouraged. Please submit images as separate files along with a list of file names with corresponding captions. If using images that are already on the Internet, the URL of the image and a caption or description may be added to the text of the submission.

Please send submissions and inquiries to SRRT Newsletter Editor Myka Kennedy Stephens, indicating "SRRT Newsletter" within the subject line of your e-mail. For submissions that can only be made by post, please mail to Myka Kennedy Stephens, 5928 Crain Street, Morton Grove, IL 60053. A confirmation of receipt will be sent in a timely manner. Notification of our decision to accept or reject your submission for publication will be sent after the submission deadline.

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Publication Information

SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright © 2010 by the Social Responsibilities Round Table. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without permission. Editor: Myka Kennedy Stephens, mykaks(at)gmail.com. Book Reviews Editor: Jennifer Caldwell, Jennifer.Caldwell(at)pima.gov. Editorial Board Members: Gerardo Colmenar, Erik Estep, Alison Lewis, Heather Stone, and Julie Winkelstein. Views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of ALA/SRRT. The editors reserve the right to edit submitted material as necessary or as the whimsy strikes.

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