June 18, 2018

Progressive Library Organizations Update, 2013-2017

Al Kagan
ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table

Abstract
This article is a five-year update to the author’s book, Progressive Library Organizations: A Worldwide History, published by McFarland in 2015. It includes information on all the organizations covered in the book except the Library and Information Workers Organisation of South Africa which folded in 2000. These six organizations are from Austria, Germany, Sweden, UK, and US. The analysis is based on several new interviews in 2017, documents, publications, correspondence, and much personal experience. These organizations are in various states of health, and two of them have transformed into new structures. We can take heart that activist librarians continue to organize themselves to push back against the neoliberalism that pervades our profession and the world at-large.

Article here, in the Journal of Radical Librarianship: https://journal.radicallibrarianship.org/index.php/journal/article/view/27

April 25, 2018

Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize

The MIRIAM BRAVERMAN MEMORIAL PRIZE, a presentation of the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), is awarded each year for the best paper about an aspect of the social responsibilities of librarians, libraries, or librarianship. Papers related to archivists, archives, and archival work are also eligible.

The winning paper will be published in a forthcoming issue of Progressive Librarian. The winner of the contest will also receive a $500 stipend to help offset the cost of travel to and from the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference. The award will be presented at the annual PLG dinner at ALA, and the winner is invited to present their paper at the PLG meeting. In addition, the winner will be provided a press pass for the conference, allowing for free entry to sessions and the exhibition floor, with the expectation that they will write a short reflection for publication by PLG.

Requirements

1. Contestants must be library and/or information science students attending a graduate-level program in the United States or Canada. Contestants may not have finished their coursework earlier than December 2017.

2. Entries must be the original, unpublished work of the contestant, and must be written in English. Entries may not exceed 3,000 words, and must conform to MLA in-text citation style.

3. To facilitate the blind review process, each entry must include a cover sheet providing the contestant’s name, full contact information (address, phone number, e-mail address), name of the institution where the contestant is enrolled, and the title of the paper. No identifying information, other than the title, should appear on the paper itself.

4. Entries must be submitted electronically, in PDF format, to bravermansubmissions@gmail.com. Entries must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on international workers’ day, or May Day, May 1, 2018.

5. The $500 stipend is available only to help defray the cost of ALA conference attendance in the winning year; if the winner of the contest is unable to attend, the money will remain in the Braverman Prize endowment fund and may be donated to an information and communication technology social justice-related NGO at the discretion of the selection committee.

Any questions regarding the contest or the selection process can be directed to the chairs of the selection committee, Julene Jones (Julene.Jones@uky.edu) and Madeline Veitch (veitchm@newpaltz.edu).

More information about Miriam Braverman and about the Progressive Librarians Guild is available at http://progressivelibrariansguild.org/.

September 16, 2016

Call for book reviewers for Progressive Librarian

Message from Michael Matthews, Progressive Librarian Book Review Editor:

Dear Progressive Library Workers:

Do you like balmy summer late afternoons, listening to the crickets chirp as you paddle a canoe along a mountain stream while watching a mother moose and her adorable calf drink clear, unpolluted water as an eagle swoops down, clutching a PCB-free trout in in its talons?

Because if you do, I would stop reading this message now and book your vacation plans for Never-Never Land. I’m looking for book reviewers for Progressive Librarian #46 as well as for recently published titles in the following fields of interest:

LGBT, queer, and feminist perspectives on library work
Late (neoliberal) capitalism and the politics of information
Libraries, neoliberal ideology, and social reproduction
Poverty, homelessness, and the role of libraries (in either mitigating the circumstances of poverty or exacerbating them)
Libraries, information technology, and the proletarianization of library workers
Climate change, the Anthropocene, and the challenge for libraries in the Age of the (not-so-immediate) Sixth Extinction
Library management discourse, the future of libraries, and performativity
Scholarly communication and the role of libraries in supporting the supremacy of publishers—or their possible role in subverting them

And…as Ron Popeil would say, “much, much more!” If you can find a book that fits these criteria or might even share a shaded portion of the circle within a Venn diagram, then please forward it to my attention. And if you would like to review such a book (or another book, which I may forward to your attention) then so much the better!

We will also entertain reviews of books (or other works) that cleverly torpedo the pretensions of our profession’s self-appointed “thought leaders”, and pitilessly reduce their arguments to a burning pile of wreckage—with eloquence, wit, and substantive scholarship, of course.

Your friendly neighborhood book editor, social raconteur, and mad gadabout,
Michael Matthews
_________________________________
Michael Matthews
Head of Serials & Media/
Associate Professor of Library Science
Northwestern State University Libraries
Natchitoches, Louisiana 71497
matthewsm@nsula.edu
318-357-4419

March 23, 2015

In Defense of Libraries and Culture in the Middle East

In Defense of Libraries and Culture in the Middle East

Statement from the Progressive Librarians Guild:

Media coverage of the destruction of libraries and antiquities in northern Iraq during March 2015 has aroused the indignation of people around the world. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has initiated this destruction and used it in a propaganda campaign to promote its interests throughout the region. This destruction is based on its crude fundamentalist version of Islam, but that is not the whole story. There are also reports that ISIS is selling invaluable artifacts for profit.

Libraries with unique collections, with some items going back to 5000 BC, have reportedly been ransacked in Mosul, including the Mosul Central Library, the Mosul Museum Library, the Sunni Muslim Library, and the library of the Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers. There are reports that many of the books were burned.

Archeological sites at the ancient cities of Hatra, Nimrud, and Dur-Sharrukin have reportedly been devastated. The Mosul Museum was looted during the U.S. led military invasion in 2003, but nearby residents saved many of the artifacts at that time by hiding them in their homes. According to Bagdad Museum Director Fawzye al-Mahdi, it appears that most of the recently destroyed artifacts in the Mosul Museum were actually plaster cast replicas of originals, which were moved to Bagdad in 2003. However, according to exiled Mosul Governor Atheel Nuafi, at least two were priceless originals, including the Winged Bull, which used to stand at the gates of Nineveh in the 7th century.

Progressive librarians unconditionally condemn the destruction of libraries and culture in the Middle East.

In order to understand the current situation, we need to examine recent history. In a candid March 17th interview with Shane Smith of Vice News, President Obama stated that “ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and that it is an “example of unintended consequences” (https://news.vice.com/topic/isil).

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, Iraq was a brutal dictatorship that tortured its opponents. But it was also a stable and secular middle-income country fueled by an oil-based economy. Although women were certainly not treated as equal to men, they had considerable freedom and rights not available in many other countries in the region. But of course Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, opposition to the government was not tolerated, and freedom of speech was very limited. One consequence of the authoritarian state was that radical Islamist groups had no presence in the country.

Although the U.S. generally supported Saddam Hussein from 1979 to 1990, the situation reversed after the 1990 Gulf War when Iraq attacked and annexed Kuwait. Strict U.N. economic and other sanctions led to the death of perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children by 1996, when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that “we think the price was worth it” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4).

Al-Qaeda established a presence in the country only after the chaos caused by the U.S.-led invasion. The destruction and systematic dismantling of Iraq’s government and army along with the bombing of crucial infrastructure led to the recruitment of competing ethnic militias, and massive “ethnic cleansing” of both Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods and regions.

Whether boots on the ground or through drone attacks, the U.S. military is continuously making the situation worse. New extremists are created when the U.S. military kills or maims civilians or destroys their homes and livelihoods. The example of Iraq is instructive. A stable secular country without any Islamist extremists has been turned into a haven for ISIS. The destruction of libraries and culture is a direct result.

We condemn the ISIS attacks on libraries and culture, and we equally condemn U.S. wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is the people of the Middle East who can solve the problems of the Middle East. In the current situation, the most productive things the U.S. can do are to end all military operations in the region and to provide non-military aid and development assistance, including assistance in the rebuilding of libraries and other cultural resources.

Al Kagan for the PLG Coordinating Committee

February 16, 2015

CFP in celebration of Miriam Braveman’s “Mississippi Summer”

Dear Colleagues,

The *Progressive Librarian* editors’ cooperative is planning an issue to
commemorate the Freedom Libraries of Freedom Summer 1964 which is being
done in conjunction with reprinting Miriam Braverman’s 50 year old *SLJ*
work “Mississippi Summer” November 1965 *School Library Journal*, pages 31
– 33.

In a message from one of the editors, (Elaine Harger ) “Progressive
Librarian has an annual LIS student essay contest named in honor of Miriam
Braverman, and so the editors have been thinking that we’d like the next
issue to have articles reflecting on the civil right movement and where
librarianship stands today in relation to the history and present of the
movement.

We’d [*Progressive *Librarian] be happy to have essays, poems, reflection
pieces, academic articles, letters from elders to the next generation of
librarians, images, drawings, graphics, bibliographies, book reviews.

We haven’t yet set a deadline, but it would likely be July/August.”

Here are links to PLG’s website with information about Miriam Braverman
and the essay contest named in her honor
http://www.progressivelibrariansguild.org/content/bravermanbio.shtml
http://www.progressivelibrariansguild.org/content/award.shtml

For more on Freedom Summer see: http://crdl.usg.edu/events/freedom_summer/?Welcome
http://www.loc.gov/folklife/civilrights/survey/view_collection.php?coll_id=2501

and Freedom Libraries: http://littleknownblacklibrarianfacts.blogspot.com/2011/07/freedom-libraries.html

Questions? Please contact Elaine Harger
eharger at drizzle dot com

thanks all,
lp

Lorna Peterson
lorna.peterson2401@gmail.com

November 11, 2014

PLG’s 25th Anniversary – A Message to Members from Elaine Harger

Elaine Harger sent the following note to PLG members this morning…

Dear PLGers,

Yes, 25 years ago, about 20 librarians from up-and-down the east coast met in NYC for the first meeting of what became the Progressive Librarians Guild. We didn’t have a name until the midwinter conference of ALA in Chicago in 1990, but on Nov. 11, 1989, librarians from as far away as Boston and Washington DC and Minneapolis gathered at the Empire State College School of Labor Studies, where I was librarian, to discuss how we could bring critical and leftist perspectives and activism into librarianship.

So, today, I’m sending greetings of solidarity to each and every one of you, along with deepest thanks to everyone who has given freely their time, energy, and creativity to PLG activities — from organizing and participating in meetings, to contributing to the journal and various incarnations of newsletter and bulletin, to carrying out the Braverman Essay Contest, making and managing listservs and websites, finding great restaurants and other venues for PLG get-togethers, for establishing and running PLG chapters, and handling the bank account, membership lists, and doing all the mailings. This little organization could not exist without your efforts and dedication.

As Che Guevara wrote in a 1965 essay Man and Socialism in Cuba, “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.”

And, although I don’t think of myself as much of a revolutionary, I do hold great love toward all you PLGistas!

Adelante!

Elaine Harger

“I’d say I’m a revolutionary optimist. I believe that the good guys – the people – are going to win.” Amiri Baraka, 1934-2014

June 29, 2011

University of Alberta PLG on McMaster University Librarian Jeff Trzeciak’s rather open comments

McMaster University Librarian Jeff Trzeciak’s recently revealed in a talk at Penn State that he plans not to hire librarians in the future at his library, setting off a firestorm in Canada. (He said that he plans not to hire MLS holding librarians for professional positions but people with PhD’s in other fields instead.) The University of Alberta’s PLG Student Chapter has issued an insightful response to Trzeciak’s comments, summarizing them and putting them in the context of labor-management conflict. This management trend has been in the air for a while, but Trzeciak’s statement seems notable for laying the cards on the table. I have to say that I appreciate his candor in highlighting this issue before the library community in a way that may enable some further intelligent responses and strategy (though it was surely not what he intended to do). Thanks to Sam Trosow for posting the statement.

March 5, 2011

Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize – Call for Submissions (student paper contest)

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Are you an LIS student interested in activism and the struggle for social justice? Do you stay awake at night thinking about how your politics might inform your professional practice?

The MIRIAM BRAVERMAN MEMORIAL PRIZE, a presentation of the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), is awarded each year for the best paper about some aspect of the social responsibilities of librarians, libraries, or librarianship. Papers related to archivists, archives, and archival work are also eligible.

The winning paper will be published in the Summer 2011 issue of Progressive Librarian. The winner of the contest will also receive a $300 stipend to help offset the cost of travel to and from the 2011 American Library Association (ALA)annual conference in New Orleans, LA. The award will be presented at the annual PLG dinner at ALA.

Think you might be interested? Here’s the fine print.

1. Contestants must be library and/or information science students attending a graduate-level program in the United States or Canada.

2. Entries must be the original, unpublished work of the contestant, and must be written in English. Entries may not exceed 3,000 words, and must conform to MLA in-text citation style.

3. To facilitate the blind review process, each entry must include a cover sheet providing the contestant’s name, full contact information (address, phone number, e-mail address), name of the institution where the contestant is enrolled, and the title of the paper. No identifying information, other than the title, should appear on the paper itself.

4. Entries must be submitted electronically, in Microsoft Word or RTF format, to bravermansubmissions@gmail.com. Entries must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on May 1, 2011.

5. The $300 stipend is available only to help defray the cost of ALA conference attendance in 2011; if the winner of the contest is unable to attend, the money will remain in the Braverman Prize endowment fund and may be donated to a progressive cause at the discretion of the selection committee.

Any questions regarding the contest or the selection process can be directed to the co-chair of the selection committee, Steve Lorenz at stevelorz@gmail.com or Sarah Clark at sclark@windwardschool.org. More information about Miriam Braverman and about the Progressive Librarians Guild is available at http://libr.org/plg.

January 2, 2011

Progressive Librarian in full text

Folks at the Progressive Librarians Guild have put the full text of back issues of their journal, Progressive Librarian, online. Coverage goes back to issue number one, from 1990. I was on the editorial board of Progressive Librarian for a number of years, and consider them an important venue for library literature that works to strengthen the ties between the profession of librarianship and the left political philosophies that are akin to it. Back issues have been available through Proquest and Ebsco for some time, but their accessibility on the web will give a new level of exposure to the ideas there. Check it out.

June 2, 2010

2010 Braverman Prize Winner

June 1, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize Winner Announced

(University of Oregon, Eugene, OR) The Progressive Librarians Guild is pleased to announce the winner of the 2010 Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize. This year’s prize has been awarded to Kristen Hogan for her essay entitled ‚ “‘Breaking Secrets’ in the Catalog: Proposing the Black Queer Studies Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.” Ms. Hogan is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Information Studies (MSIS) program at the University of Texas at Austin School of Information; she expects to graduate August 2010.

An honorable mention goes to Steven Lorenz, School of Library and Information Sciences, North Carolina Central University, for his paper, “The Finer Points of Librarianship: Does a Basic Policy Impede Library Access?.” Lorenz’s essay makes a strong argument against library fines, identifying ways in which they can serve as a barrier to library resources, even for patrons who do not currently owe any.

Essays were submitted by library and information science students from colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Their papers considered such subjects as open access publishing and meeting the information needs of many populations including adult learners and LGBTQ teens. Ms. Hogan’s essay will be published in the forthcoming issue of Progressive Librarian, the journal published by the Progressive Librarians Guild. She will also receive a $300 stipend for attendance at the 2010 American Library Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., and an award certificate at the PLG annual dinner on June 26, 2010.

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

The Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) was founded in 1990 and is committed to supporting activist librarians and monitoring the professional ethics of librarianship from a perspective of social responsibility. For more information, visit the Guild’s website at: http://libr.org/PLG/

October 25, 2009

Two sets of priorities

This post is a presentation of two lists of priorities – first, priorities of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT), and second, a list of the kind of issue that I think SRRT ought to emphasize instead. The first list is as complete a list as I was able to compile of the subjects of SRRT’s official resolutions from mid-2002 to mid-2005 (the time during which I was SRRT Action Council Coordinator). The second is a list of many of the important progressive issues in librarianship according to the way I personally see things. They are the issue areas that have given me my motivation as an activist and now a publisher in librarianship. Because those issues have been my priorities but not always SRRT’s or the Progressive Librarians’ Guild’s, I often felt out of place in those groups even as an insider.

First, the list of topics addressed by SRRT’s official resolutions between mid-2002 and mid-2005 (at least the ones I was able to find):

  • Torture
  • Health insurance
  • The Iraq war (a number of these)
  • The war in Afghanistan
  • Freedom to travel to Cuba
  • Workplace speech
  • Disinformation in the public sphere (this one was actually initiated by me)
  • Cultural democracy as a core value
  • Racist training materials used by the U.S. Military
  • ALA partnerships and sponsorships

This is a very partial list, but based on my own memory I think it gives a fair representation of the scope and proportion of SRRT’s resolutions. I personally agreed with a lot of these resolutions.

The resolution on disinformation, which had to do with Bush administration tactics, arose from a discussion within Action Council in which I complained that too many of SRRT’s resolutions were not directly related to library issues or even issues of information ethics in general. In answer to the question, “What do you propose we do instead?” I drafted an earlier, unused version of that resolution. Part of the fallout of that discussion was that some members of action Council began encouraging me to try the Intellectual Freedom Round Table as a better place to pursue my priorities.

Here is my own list, not exhaustive, of the kind of issues and topics that I would like to see addressed from a progressive perspective and in an organized way. Some of them concern intellectual freedom, but most do not. They could all be said to be in the realm of information ethics, and in most cases have a political angle that can be drawn out through a bit of intellectual work.

  • Privacy (of library users, web users, and citizens)
  • Copyright and the Open Access Movement
  • Workplace speech
  • Deprofessionalization and deskilling
  • Librarians’ pay and status
  • “Next generation library catalogs”
  • Cataloging trends
  • Market effects on intellectual freedom (media monopoly)
  • Academic Freedom
  • Internet filtering
  • Net neutrality
  • Information as a public good
  • Disinformation
  • Government secrecy
  • Privatization of information and information services
  • Trends favoring casual users over researchers
  • The dumbing down of culture and of educational institutions
  • Funding crises / library closings
  • The decline of publishing / changes in the publishing industry
  • Digitization as a funding priority
  • Conflict over the foundations of the library profession
  • Education 2.0 and critical thinking
  • Critical perspectives on multiple literacies and media shift
  • The digital divide
  • The literacy divide
  • The middle class bias of public libraries
  • Serving the underserved
  • Racism and sexism and libraries
  • Capitalism and trends in the information landscape
  • Library of Congress priorities
  • American Library Association priorities
  • OCLC priorities
  • Library education and the iSchools
  • Media, information overload, and the educational psychology of reading
  • Critical pedagogy and library instruction
  • Queer theory, information access, and information organization
  • Neutrality and advocacy
  • Bias in systems of information organization
  • The crisis in journalism and its meaning for the public sphere
  • Change in the nature of the public sphere
  • The digital preservation crisis
  • The role of local perspectives and local needs
  • Commercialization of libraries
  • Corporate funding (of libraries, of ALA)
  • Indigenous knowledge and Intellectual Freedom
  • Intellectual Freedom and hate literature/hate speech
  • Research standards in the profession / bias in research
  • Googlization
  • Google Books settlement

First, to be fair to the Progressive Librarians’ Guild, I should say that they have often done a better job than SRRT of addressing many of these big-picture issues. Also, to be fair to SRRT, I should mention that many SRRT members are not interested in the resolutions that SRRT Action Council passes and do their work within the issues-based Task Forces that are a part of SRRT, and I have not represented their activities here.

To me, the issues on the second list have as much urgency as the war in Afghanistan, and are within a sphere which we can claim as our own by virtue of being librarians. I would like to see SRRT do more to address these kinds of issues and less to address issues that are not related to libraries. That is not to say that ALA has “no business” addressing non-library issues. I think ALA has a right to talk about the war in Afghanistan and may see the need to make statements on such issues from time to time. But I don’t think it should ever be our primary focus, not when there are urgent matters to address within our own sphere. And just because these issues relate to our professional qualifications does not make them apolitical. Part of the point of addressing these issues from a political angle would be to demonstrate the ways in which our profession is tied up with politics in various ways.

So is this a call for action? I suppose I could make it one:

  • More issues of information ethics and information politics in SRRT
  • More talking and thinking and writing about these issues

As always, Library Juice Press is accepting manuscripts and book proposals

June 2, 2009

2009 Miriam Braverman Prize Winner Announced

Announcement that went to PLGnet-L this morning:

The Progressive Librarians Guild is pleased to announce the winner of the 2009 Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize. Sarah Clark has been awarded the prize for her essay entitled “Marketing the Library? Why Librarians Should Focus on Stewardship and Advocacy.” Ms. Clark is currently enrolled in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA.

Clark’s essay was one of many submitted by library and information science students from colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Their papers considered such subjects as the alternative press, U.S. government secrecy, and women’s compositions in digital libraries. Ms. Clark’s essay will be published in the forthcoming issue of Progressive Librarian, the biannual journal published by the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG). Clark will also receive a $300 stipend to offset the cost of travel to the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago, IL, and an award certificate at the PLG annual dinner.

“When researching this paper,” said Clark, “it dawned on me that public libraries are unique precisely because of their public status. The fact that these libraries are publicly owned and funded reflects their democratic foundations, which are too often overlooked.”

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

The Progressive Librarians Guild was founded in 1990 and is committed to supporting activist librarians and monitoring the professional ethics of librarianship from a perspective of social responsibility. For more information, visit the PLG website at http://libr.org/plg.

May 23, 2009

Questioning Library Neutrality – Introduction

Questioning Library Neutrality: Essays from Progressive Librarian, edited by Alison Lewis, has been out for a while. I was just taking a look at it, and it occurred to me that it might be a good thing to put Alison’s introduction to the book online, so I have done that. It’s a good, quick read for someone who wants an overview of some of the critical discourse around the ethic of neutrality in libraries over the past couple of decades.

May 12, 2009

PLG statement on Elsevier’s fake journals

Progressive Librarians Guild Calls for Elsevier to End Corrupt Publishing Practices and for Library Associations to Take Advocacy Role on Behalf of Scientific Integrity

http://libr.org/plg/elsevier.php

Progressive Librarians Guild. May 12, 2009.

Elsevier, which describes itself as the “world’s leading publisher of scientific and health information,” was partner to the efforts of Merck & Co. to promote a hazardous drug that caused harm to the health of many unwitting victims and compromised the medical judgment of physicians worldwide. (1)

The scandal involving Elsevier (2) has surfaced in the course of a class-action suit against pharmaceutical giant, Merck & Co, Inc., for continuing to sell its anti-inflammatory drug, Vioxx, after it became aware of the drug’s potential cardiovascular risks. Merck paid Excerpta Medica, a division of Elsevier, to publish a compilation of reprinted articles as a fake journal, the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine (AJBJM), to appear as a legitimate, scholarly peer reviewed medical journal, the type that Elsevier publishes. AJBJM carried articles about Vioxx without disclosure that the publication was sponsored by Merck itself as part of its efforts to continue to promote its very profitable but increasingly questionable and dangerous anti-inflammatory. Elsevier, in publishing and distributing this bogus journal, was partner to the efforts of Merck to promote a hazardous drug that caused harm to the health of many unwitting victims and compromised the medical judgment of physicians worldwide.

Elsevier has apologized for its publication of AJBJM, stating that in publishing the fake journal it did not meet its own criteria for “high standards for disclosure.” PLG asserts that the matter of AJBJM was not just an accidental editorial error on the part of Elsevier. It was a money-making business using the reputation of Elsevier to leverage deceptive pharmaceutical industry marketing of a harmful product. In fact a total of six titles in a “series of sponsored article publications” were put out by their Australia office and bore the Excerpta Medica imprint from 2000 to 2005. (3).

The Progressive Librarians Guild believes it is the responsibility of librarians and their organizations to expose the conspiracy between Merck and Elsevier to distort medical research and subvert the peer review process. If it is not the responsibility of information professionals, what does it mean to say that we are advocates for our user-communities? This type of corporate PR packaged and distributed as scientific research must be denounced as deceptive, destructive and dangerous, in spite of our profession’s intimate and unavoidable connections with Elsevier, one of the library world’s biggest vendors and a major corporate supporter of the American Library Association and the Medical Library Association. Can librarians responsibly turn a blind eye to the company’s betrayal of the trust of those whose interests we help safeguard?

The American Library Association, specifically the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT), must demand that Elsevier be transparent about its editorial policies and practices that corrupt the research process and the information environment. ALA and other library organizations, such as the Medical Library Association, must insist that Elsevier and its divisions reveal all covert corporate involvements in sponsored pseudo-scholarship, especially the role of MECCs (medical education and communication companies), which are paid to “ghostwrite” disingenuous articles. Elsevier must commit itself to ending such activity and must apply consistent standards of research integrity and transparency commensurate to the key role many of its fields of publication play in spheres affecting the public interest.

The Progressive Librarians Guild decries the distortion and abuse of research and science by corporate greed exemplified by Elsevier and Merck, and calls upon librarians to educate the public and researchers about all instances of collusion of academic and scholarly publishing with profit-making business entities in palming-off corporate propaganda through deceptive publishing practices, which debase scholarship and science, conspire against the public interest, and pollute the well of genuine scholarly information and communication.

(1) Bob Grant, “Merck published fake journal,” The Scientist 30th April 2009.

(2) *Elsevier, which describes itself as the “world’s leading publisher of scientific and health information,” is a division of Reed-Elsevier, a major global publisher of scientific, professional, and business journals (the parent company includes RBI-US which owns Library Journal, one of the foremost professional journals in the field of librarianship). Recently, the company’s involvement in the global arms trade as a major organizer of international arms fairs made it the target of a successful international corporate campaign – the firm reluctantly divested itself of the business – which called into question Elsevier’s corporate ethics. See “Reed Elsevier and the arms trade revisited.” By Pelly M, Gilmore I. Lancet. 2007 Mar 24; 369 (9566):987; discussion 989-90.

(3) Bob Grant, “Elsevier Published 6 Fake Journals.” The Scientist, May 7, 2009.

February 16, 2009

Braverman Prize – Call for Papers

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Are you an LIS student interested in activism and the struggle for social justice? Do you stay awake at night thinking about how your politics might inform your professional practice?

The MIRIAM BRAVERMAN MEMORIAL PRIZE, a presentation of the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), is awarded each year for the best paper about some aspect of the social responsibilities of librarians, libraries, or librarianship. Papers related to archivists, archives, and archival work are also eligible.

The winning paper will be published in the Summer 2009 issue of Progressive Librarian. The winner of the contest will also receive a $300 stipend to help offset the cost of travel to and from the 2009 American Library Association annual conference in Chicago, IL. The award will be presented at the annual PLG dinner.

Think you might be interested? Here’s the fine print.

1. Contestants must be library and/or information science students attending a graduate-level program in the United States or Canada.

2. Entries must be the original, unpublished work of the contestant, and must be written in English. Entries may not exceed 3,000 words, and must conform to MLA in-text citation style.

3. To facilitate the blind review process, each entry must include a cover sheet providing the contestant’s name, full contact information (address, phone number, e-mail address), name of the institution where the contestant is enrolled, and the title of the paper. No identifying information, other than the title, should appear on the paper itself.

4. Entries must be submitted electronically, in Microsoft Word or RTF format, to bravermansubmissions@gmail.com. Entries must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on May 1, 2009.

5. The $300 stipend is available only to help defray the cost of ALA conference attendance; if the winner of the contest is unable to attend, the money will remain in the Braverman Prize endowment fund and may be donated to a progressive cause at the discretion of the selection committee.

Any questions regarding the contest or the selection process can be directed to the chair of the selection committee, Marcel LaFlamme, at mlaflamme@indycc.edu. More information about Miriam Braverman and about the Progressive Librarians Guild is available at http://libr.org/plg .