December 30, 2007

Embracing Change – an analogy

“You must be willing to Embrace Change.”

We hear this with such frequency now, and always coming from certain speakers in certain contexts, that it is probably few of us who really need it broken down for them. But I’m going to do it anyway, with an analogy. It’s a bad analogy in some ways, but still makes the point.

Let’s say you’re a young woman who’s living in a society that’s in transition from traditional to more modern ways, and you’ve reached an age where your parents really want you to get married. You would like to get married, yourself, but to your boyfriend, who is of the wrong religion, and frankly it’s not that urgent for you. Your parents forbid this marriage, and want to arrange one for you via family connections. They want it to be a marriage that serves their social interests, and unfortunately have your happiness a distant second, telling themselves that if it serves the family it will eventually make you happy as well (probably not true).

Do you see where I’m going with this?

One day your mother asks you to sit down, and tells you that the family has found your future husband, and his name is Change.

This is a double shock, first because you were not expecting this announcement, and second, because, coincidentally, Change is the name of your boyfriend, as well. Could it be, by some miracle, the same man?

Unfortunately it is not the same man. It’s just a coincidence that they are both called Change.

You want to embrace Change. In fact you embrace him frequently, and your parents don’t even know it.

Your parents want you to embrace Change, but it’s the wrong Change. They are very unhappy with you for protesting this engagement. “Don’t you want to move forward with your life?”, they say. “You can’t stay with us forever, you have to go out into the world,” they say.

They think you are clinging to childhood, ignoring the fact that you have already chosen a future that they do not accept, because it does not serve their interests in society. You want to start a life with Change, YOUR Change. Unfortunately, in your society at the moment, this would be extremely challenging to do. Not impossible, as the winds of change can be felt by everyone, but you know that you would suffer reprisals and that it would require difficult sacrifices, material sacrifices, to pursue your life with the Change of your choice.

It is ironic that your own parents accuse you of clinging to your past in refusing the Change that they want you to embrace, when it is they who are clinging to tradition (the self-serving tradition of arranged marriage).

What I am saying, of course, is that the change that Management wants is not usually the change that front-line staff want. Management would have it that front line staff are resisting change, when the issue is far, far more specific, and has everything to do with the question of where the power of decision will to reside. Will it reside with professional librarians who would like to see management in a supporting role that honors their professional judgment and capability? Or will it reside with managers who, despite their lack of knowledge of what goes on in the library or the professional work that makes it happen, would like to see librarians in more or less a paraprofessional role, with little say in how things are done, and little opportunity to exercise professional judgment in their work?

It is not about whether you embrace change, but about what change you embrace. “Embrace Change,” when we hear it most of the time, really means, “If you’re wise, you won’t complain.”

Litwin Books, LLC

I have a business related change to announce.

As possibilities have started to emerge to publish books outside of the originally-defined editorial scope of Library Juice Press, I’ve begun to feel the need for another name. So, I have changed the name of the company from Library Juice Press to Litwin Books. Library Juice Press will continue as an imprint of Litwin Books. On the Library Juice Press imprint I will continue to publish books about librarianship from a critical perspective, for professionals and students. The focus on libraries and the critical edge seem to be the essential things about the Library Juice Press imprint. The books that are a bit outside of the LIS field, which will mostly be scholarly books but not limited to that, will be under Litwin Books. Two forthcoming books are not going to be on the Library Juice Press imprint, even though they have to do with libraries: Restoring Order: The Ecole des Chartes and the Organization of Archives and Libraries in France, 1820-1870 and Eugene Morel: pioneer of public libraries in France. While both have to do with libraries, both are also of potential interest to people outside of librarianship who are studying French history. In a few days I will be advertising a third book not on the Library Juice Press imprint, a study of the Library of Congress by anthropologist Samuel Collins; again with an audience outside librarianship. Three works in progress will also be coming from Litwin Books down the road, one having to do with French history and copyright, and the other two having to do with media criticism and history. (I did not plan to do so many books having to do with history, but it seems to be working out that way.)

Happy New Year to everybody….

December 21, 2007

Madeline Kripke

Madeline Kripke is someone I’ve known since I was a child, because she is my mother’s best friend from college. Only since becoming a librarian have I learned how important she is in the circles of lexicography and book collecting. Madeline has what is possibly the premiere collection of dictionaries in English, and it focuses on slang and specialized argot. My mother just sent me a link to this interesting article about her from a book collectors’ website called Americana Exchange: The Gifted in Pursuit of the Valued. The article contains a link to a recorded interview, where Madeline talks about some of the treasures in her collection. Some of the philosopher-librarians out there may recognize the name Kripke. Madeline is the sister of philosopher Saul Kripke, author of Naming and Necessity.

December 17, 2007

Interview with Christopher Klim on the Eric Hoffer Award

Library Juice readers,

I’ve had the opportunity to interview Christopher Klim, an author and editor and an advocate for independent publishing, about an award he has founded for the independent press, the Hoffer Award.

Mr. Klim, would you tell Library Juice readers a bit about yourself, your company, and the Hoffer Award?

Christopher Klim

This is the short history: Hopewell Publications belongs primarily to E. Martin and other small investors. Martin is an ex-editor in Manhattan. It’s his baby. The press back-lists all of my books. Hopewell has agreed to handle the financial aspects for the Hoffer Award, for which I am grateful. Around 2001, I established a free writers’ information Web site (www.WritersNotes.com), which grew into a biannual magazine and annual book award. In 2005, I started editing Eric Hoffer’s backlist for Hopewell Publications and became a friend of the estate. Last year, I changed the name of the magazine to BEST NEW WRITING, which holds the results of the ERIC HOFFER AWARD for prose and independent books. The estate has given permission to use the Hoffer name. Eric Hoffer, if you don’t know, was one of America’s greatest freethinkers. His first book has been in print for fifty years. All of his nine books remain in the public discourse.

As an author with a number of small presses, I realized that none of the major awards even consider small presses and independent books. This is the purpose of the award: To bring these books and authors to light. Books can be from small, academic, and micro presses, as well as self-published authors. Many self-published books are undisciplined, but many are brilliant. It underscores the problem in Manhattan when you realize that certain books are not even considered for publication and therefore the authors take it to market on their own. An award like the Hoffer–run by volunteers, kept intentionally cheap and accessible to the public–gives these authors due recognition. We have eleven category prizes, including runner-ups and honorable mentions. We give individual press designations awards, and we also give the one overall grand prize. However, any of the awarded books creates a great read.

It is my hope that librarians eventually recognize BEST NEW WRITING and the HOFFER AWARD authors and books it features. I understand that many library districts have book buying plans from the big distributors that are shoved down their throats, but most libraries also have discretionary budgets. They should really, really go outside of their Manhattan-marketed catalogues and see what the indies are doing. BEST NEW WRITING and the HOFFER AWARD put it in one place for them.

Rory Litwin

That’s excellent. I definitely agree about the importance of librarians collecting from independent publishers, and I think this award could be a helpful collection development tool for us. Can you say a few things about how the awards are juried? Who makes up the juries, and what kind of criteria are applied? What kind of books tend to get the awards?

Klim

The eleven categories are designed to handle almost any book: ART, GENERAL FICTION, COMMERCIAL FICTION, CHILDREN, YOUNG ADULT, CULTURE, BUSINESS, REFERENCE, HOME, HEALTH/SELF-HELP, & LEGACY. (They are all explained at www.HofferAward.com.) Sometimes books fit in more than one category. It’s the entrant’s decision whether he/she wants to enter more than one. The LEGACY category is my favorite. It contains books that are over two years old–that’s the only criteria. In an industry that behaves as if books have the shelf life of a banana, the LEGACY category seeks books that stand the test of time.

Judges come from all walks of life, depending on the category. For example the FICTION categories are judged by book reviewers, librarians, school teachers (for the CHILDREN’s books), editors, and sometimes agents. We are based in the NY-Philadelphia metropolitan areas, and I know for a fact that Manhattan agents are perusing our winners list for potential publication with a larger press. The BUSINESS category is judged by financial industry experts. The REFERENCE category is judged by college professors. We position people who are experts in the type of books to be scored. It’s a tremendous labor of love for the judges. When the contest is over, books are donated to libraries and public institutions around the country. These are excellent places to promote your book.

Books are judges on an internal seven-point scoring criteria, which focuses on content and execution. Aspects of production (cover, layout, etc.) come into play in order to split hairs when necessary. I like to believe that a great book always rises to the top. The winner in each category competes for the Eric Hoffer grand prize, which includes a $1,500 check. This is a separate panel, apart from the category judges who read the books all over again and confer with the original scoring judges. Finally, the highest scoring books in the four press designations (i.e. SMALL, MICRO, ACADEMIC, and SELF-PUBLISHED) receive additional distinctions. When the winners are announced, we have one grand prize winner, four press designation winners, eleven category winners, and various runners-up and honorable mentions in each category. There are times when judges convene to determine a category’s prize ordering (i.e. winner, runner-up, etc.).

If you visit www.HofferAward.com and observe the list of previous winners, you will see that we are all over the map. Again, I like to believe that the best book, no matter what the subject, rises to the top. Last year a coffee table memoir on Marlene Dietrich won the grand prize. I would have never predicted that, but the judges determined that it was a great book. If you look at last year’s category winners, you can see which books were competing for the grand prize. This year, it could be a work of fiction, a reference book, or a children’s book. Who knows?

I started this contest because I felt, as a small press author, that no one was helping us. The irony is, of course, because I oversee the contest, I can never enter one of my books. In fact, no one connected, including Hopewell Publication’s own authors or staff, can enter the contest.

Beyond promoting great unknown books and authors, my hope is that librarians and educational institutions consider the annual BEST NEW WRITING for the collection. It’s only $15.95, and it contains great new unpublished stories as well as the book coverage. The premiere 2007 edition contains 17 great stories selected from thousands of entrants.

Litwin

That’s terrific.

I will note for librarians who don’t explore the website of the Hoffer Award that the “reference” cataegory is not what we would normally think of as reference. I think the “reference” and “culture” categories are somewhat odd, from the standpoint of an academic librarian, but perhaps they make more sense from the point of view of the book trade.

Mr. Klim, I am wondering how you are doing so far in terms of publicizing the award and getting it recognized within the publishing industry. Where are things at with the award, and what are your goals and strategies as far as publicizing it and gaining recognition for it? Many of us in librarianship who are interested in the independent press think about these things.

Klim

I hear you. REFERENCE is and it isn’t typical. We have to expand it to include not only hard core reference books, but biographies and other technical matter. So anything from serious academic discussion to how-to goes there. And it’s not very populated either. Still, we want all books in one of the eleven categories.

CULTURE admittedly is another anomaly, but it has grown in leaps and bounds. Next year, we will likely pull personal memoir into its own group. This will cut the category in half. Culture is a fantastic category that describes the human experience. In the past, I have judged in that category.

We press release all the trades and get kindly coverage by people such as yourself. (WE VERY MUCH APPRECIATE IT!) Since we switched form the “Writers Notes” award to the “Eric Hoffer” award in 2005, our entries have doubled. Clearly Hoffer carries more honor and savvy. What we’ve done is assemble an e-mail reminder list of publishers, and we notify them all at the end of the year, but we have learned through survey is that many, many authors and publishers have learned about us for the first time through either Writers Market or the Internet.

On the back end, the award coverage is not only in BEST NEW WRITING, but pressed to all the media outlets. We also get articles and stories from individual authors and presses who are happy to announce their accomplishment. It’s a grassroots effort. We also mail libraries once annually about the winners and winning titles.

The award, started as a hobby, has taken on a life of its own. Personally, I feel that it has reached the breakout phase, and within the next five years, it may become something that many people will know and recognize, which isn’t at all bad for the first decade of its existence.

Litwin

I wonder if there is ever confusion about the nature of the award caused by the fact that it’s named after Eric Hoffer, who didn’t exactly write in all eleven categories. You must have thought about this when you changed the name. Does it take extra work to communicate the fact that the award is not just for books of freethinking philosophy? Also, you mentioned that you have the permission of his estate; I wonder if they have said anything interesting about the award. Do they see a connection between the award and Hoffer’s work?

Klim

Actually, we were THE WRITERS’ NOTES BOOK award, associated with the Web site and magazine of the same name. Participation was moderate. It’s when we switched to the HOFFER name that things accelerated. Hoffer was a self-taught, self-motivated, freethinker, and that’s how we market it. He was blind until age fifteen and completely self-educated, yet had the knack to interpret many of the great texts of mankind and distill a philosophy in plain, concise language. His books are still sold and translated all over the world. Wherever there is a particularly awakening society, Hoffer’s books are of great interest (i.e. China, India, etc.). Just yesterday, I was negotiating the Turkish rights on behalf of the estate. Hoffer embodies the American spirit to transform from nothing and achieve greatness. This appeals to anyone writing their own book or running their own small press, since much of what they do is a product of their willingness to ask questions and learn… and to work very hard on their own behalf. In my mind, Hoffer is a dead-on fit for the independent publisher.

The Hoffer estate is still managed by Hoffer’s longtime associate Lili Fabilli Osborne. I’ve befriended her over the years. She has told me a number of times how pleased she is to have Eric memorialized in this way. Each year one book gets the Eric Hoffer Book Award and one new story gets the Eric Hoffer Prose Award.

Litwin

One thing that librarians in my circle have been interested in over the years is the rise of alternative book publishing, mainly in the 1980s and since, as an outgrowth of the underground press during the counterculture movement of the 60s/70s. In alternative publishing, as something somewhat distinct from independent publishing in general, the dominant idea is that mainstream publishers don’t have room for political thought that lies beyond certain popular boundaries. The problem is specifically that the nature of the publishing industry distorts national and global politics by keeping radical ideas out of the public sphere. The directory, Alternative Publishers of Books in North America, now in its 6th edition, focuses on this type of publisher. Maybe it’s my own biases, but there seems to be relatively few political books, especially radical books, on the winners lists so far. Would you say that there isn’t as much out there as I would assume, relative to the total? Is it a matter of which presses find out about the award because of circles of communication? Or does it have to do with a lack of political people on the juries? It seems that there’s so much out there you could have a Politics category in addition to the Culture category, depending on what the outreach was like.

Klim

How true! I teach journalism in college, and one of the things I notice is the lack of public discourse. The kids will often sit there and wait for my opinion so that they can have one of their own. This is particularly shameful in academia right now, where the thought police tell you to act PC-perfect or get out. On book tours, I’ve met intelligent people around the country with developed book concepts that range from political to corporate issues but were deemed “too controversial” by the big pubs and were therefore squashed. These weren’t conspiracy theory books either. They were books on topics about the military, pharmaceutical, and financial sectors. Topics that need public awareness, but I guess if we have Brittany Spears to watch instead, everything will be alright.

We don’t get the radical books as much as we’d like. And when we do, they are often so poorly written that we cannot get behind them. Personally, I give controversial books a push, but when the authors go on unsupported rants and source most of their information from Internet resources, you cannot (as a journalist) take them seriously. The real shame is that if they had done the legwork, they might have delivered a ground-breaking work. Sometimes, I write the authors notes and point them at sources. Again, I teach journalism. It is embarrassing what has happen to this profession. Ironically, Hoffer writes just about this. Historically, he’s one of the philosophers who wrote in-depth about people who seek evidence of their beliefs. We all do to some extent, but you cannot walk around so channeled into your ideas that every time you pick up a stone it’s proof again that aliens have landed there. You need a chain of effective facts. I often tell my journalism students this: the facts are often bad enough: no need to take liberties.

Sorry about the long answer. The short answer is that we don’t get enough of those books. The balance of good radical titles has not reached us yet. I have planned since the beginning to create a special award under the Hoffer umbrella for such a title. So you’ve jumped by gun. Last week, we were toying with the idea of awarding the best one we encountered with this award just to launch the concept–get it out in the public purview. This award would be applied to a book no matter what category it entered. So the answer is that we need better outreach for those titles.

Litwin

It occurs to me that there are authors and publishers out there who have strong enough disagreements with Eric Hoffer that they would have an aversion to learning about the award or wouldn’t want to be associated with his name, and might not submit their books for that reason. I don’t know what you think about that.

Klim

The Eric Hoffer Award is meant to embody the independent spirit of the soul and not any of Hoffer’s views on society and mass movements. Hoffer was a self-starter like any independent publisher. In his lifetime, Hoffer encouraged intellectual discourse. As far as the award that bears his name goes, the judging criteria is simple. Does the book present a clear thesis and follow through? Is it well executed and presented? If you look at the list of winners, you’ll see no adherence to an particular belief, politics, or mantra. As the chair, I weed out the judges that have an agenda. If that is not enough to entice an entrant, then we can do nothing to persuade them.

Litwin

Thanks for being so generous with your time, Mr. Klim. That was very interesting. I wish you the best luck promoting the award, which I think has a lot of potential usefulness to us librarians as a collection development tool.

If readers would like to find out more about Christopher Klim, there is biographical information at his website: http://www.christopherklim.com/.

December 12, 2007

Pardon me for not realizing before now that Al Gore is really smart

Okay, though it tends to bring in the trolls, here is another post about something that’s hotly discussed on general political blogs…

I’ve been reading Al Gore’s new book, The Assault on Reason, and I have to admit that I had underestimated him, simply because he has been successful in politics without widely communicating even a few of the insights about the world that are in his book.

There isn’t much in the book that is new to me, or probably to you if you are reading this. The reason that I’m bothering to post about it in Library Juice is that in this book Gore takes up many of the topics that have been the meat and potatoes of Library Juice since 1998, and brings them to a truly wide audience, with the authority of a national leader. If you’ve been following Library Juice you will notice that many of the intellectuals Gore cites, quotes, and mentions in his discussion of what is going on in the world have also been discussed here: Jürgen Habermas, Neil Postman, Edward Bernays, Walter Lippman, Louis Brandeis, Jerry Mander, George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, Larry Tye, Seymour Hersh, and Lawrence Lessig. Gore puts the problems of the Bush administration in the context of the effects of television media, public relations, the effect of money in politics, print culture and its relationship to reason, and the transformation (or death) of the public sphere.

American liberalism as a political philosophy, as everybody is saying, is in need of revitalization and clarification, and I think Gore’s book does a lot to help liberals find their footing. I think it is very helpful that a book that states the case against Bush as solidly as this also provides a coherent view of the contemporary world. Gore really puts it all together in this book. I am very impressed, and a little embarrassed, because until reading this I just thought of him as a more or less typical politician. No, he is a very intelligent person whose engagement with world issues led him to take on a role of political leadership. I will also add that in a world that has taken such a disastrous wrong turn, the fact that Gore can write with not only a broad comprehension of contemporary society but with an apparently well-grounded direction forward is inspiring, and much needed at a time when it is such a challenge to find hope. Before this I’ve never felt that a “leader” (a politician) of my own time was actually a leader…

Now, I have some deep disagreements with him politically, but I could get behind him despite those because of the qualities that he has and the things he understands.

One sad note: Right winger’s have dinged the book for lacking footnotes; Eric Boehlert, who comments on the media, refutes this by pointing out the books 273 endnotes. Footnotes, endnotes; the sad note is that while the publisher did include the 273 endnotes in the book, it deleted all the textual references to them, at least in the edition that I am now reading. So there are no numbers in superscript throughout the text that point to the clearly numbered endnotes. I don’t know what Penguin was thinking….

Doris Lessing critical of the influences of technology, in her Nobel Prize acceptance speech

This was just covered in the Chronicle of Higher Education daily email, with a link to a post in Ars Technica, a blog about technology. Doris Lessing delivered her Nobel Prize acceptance speech last week (not able to attend personally). It is about the contrast between the affluent North and the poor South, particularly Zimbabwe, but not in the usual way. According to Lessing, young people in Zimbabwe are extremely interested in books and how to get them, in contrast to the to young people in Europe in America, who have little interest in books, because we have become hooked on “blogging and blugging.” She uses herself as an example of a person who grew up in a very poor country (she lived in a “mud hut”) and found those circumstances very conducive to the start of a life of letters.

Lessing’s speech is mainly about the perceived decline of Western Civilization, the emblem of which, for her, is the book. I think she is right to observe educational declines in England and America and a general loss of interest in reading, and I think she is right to connect reading to reason and humanistic values in a civilization. I don’t blame her for blaming the internet and computers, because the perceptible decline has a chronological fit with the rise of computers, and also because it is easily seen how computers are responsible for the increased pace of life, which has a role in the loss of interest in reading, which in turn requires slowing down and investing time. I think the overall picture is more complicated than that, however. People who prefer to view the rise of computers in terms of a shift in media in which the new medium will bring its own system of values into play have a valid perspective. Also, there are other factors in the decline we are seeing, cultural factors that are not really related to computers, such as the focus on pleasure and the self that the baby boom generation brought, a change that has economic and cultural roots….

December 7, 2007

Mrs. Magavero: A History Based on the Career of an Academic Librarian

Mrs. Magavero: A History Based on the Career of an Academic Librarian

By Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick
Preface by Susan Searing
Price: $15.00
ISBN: 978-0-9778617-5-0
5″ by 8″

Filomena Magavero worked for fifty years at the Stephen B. Luce Library at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx. For twenty five of those years she was the only professional woman on the campus. Mrs. Magavero: A History Based on the Career of an Academic Librarian describes the career of a strong and dedicated librarian in the mid 20th century through an oral history, and uses her story as a window into what was happening in the library profession in the pre-feminist era. Neither the library profession nor society as a whole, during her first two decades at the college, offered any encouragement or support for equal pay or better status.

A very useful review of the library literature relating to the status of women, including articles, surveys and studies by librarians in journals, books and dissertations, focuses on the years Magavero worked at the Maritime College. A brief history of the Maritime College itself, part of a unique group of institutions, is also included. Through this placement of Filomena Magavero‚Äôs oral history in the context of what was occurring in the library profession at the time, the reader will see that women librarians were in fact a “Disadvantaged Majority” through this time period. Even the American Library Association (ALA) did not pay serious attention to women’s issues until the mid-1970s. Moreover, there was little or no library literature or research focusing on women in the profession. What was written dealt mainly with public librarians, because women were a minority in academic libraries. Women were more prominent in the lower-status libraries and less likely to advance to positions of leadership in academic (higher-status) libraries.

Examining the library profession from a feminist standpoint, for the period roughly corresponding to Magavero’s career, from 1949 to 2003, adds to the history of women librarians in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. With the Second Wave of feminism came an expansion of research into women’s history which produced an entirely new method of discovering and understanding women in history. Major texts which redefined historic methodologies from a feminist standpoint, but the history of women in academic libraries remains hidden in archives and special collections. This oral history should stand as another small step towards further research into the hard to find, but existing, women‚Äôs history in libraries in the United States in the 20th century, and hopefully will bring more memoirs and biographies into the public eye.

Mrs. Magavero is now available from major book jobbers as well as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

December 6, 2007

The Golden Compass and “anti-Catholic bias”

I have not said anything about the controversy over the Golden Compass, because the issue has seemed too simple and clear cut to warrant comment. But take a look at what appeared in this week’s American Libraries Direct:

The Golden Compass accused of anti-Catholic bias

Several Toronto-area Catholic school boards in Ontario have removed Philip Pullman‚Äôs The Golden Compass fantasy novel from library shelves for review following a complaint in the municipality of Halton in late November. The novel and its two companions in the ‚ÄúHis Dark Materials‚Äù trilogy are receiving heightened scrutiny for their allegedly anti-Catholic content prior to the December 7 U.S. release of The Golden Compass movie (right) starring Nicole Kidman and Donald Craig. ALA President Loriene Roy issued a statement December 4 urging libraries to resist calls for censoring the books or boycotting the film….

I find this way of covering the issue quite interesting. Up to this, I had only seen the book attacked for the author’s “open atheism,” which seems so blatantly forgetful of the fact that we (in the U.S. and Canada) don’t live in a theocracy that the story pretty much spoke for itself. But restating the issue in terms of an “accusation” of “anti-Catholic bias” puts the story in the frame of anti-defamation, hate speech, and multiculturalism, an area where intellectual freedom has some competition from other progressive values.

This kind of pisses me off. Freedom of speech means that we are free to criticize a religion. Here, American Libraries Direct is using the word “accusation” in reference to the book’s anti-religious viewpoint, as though such a viewpoint would be criminal or immoral. The word “bias” suggests that an unfavorable opinion of a religion amounts to prejudice, as though we are talking about a minority ethnic group that has a legitimate interest in countering false stereotypes and misunderstanding. Religions are belief systems and organizations, and should be just as open to criticism as political parties or corporations. We should be able to talk about specific beliefs, including beliefs that form a religious doctrine, as the beliefs that they are, separate from the political baggage of institutional sacredness. If Philip Pullman wants to tell a story that contains an anti-religious viewpoint, “accusation” is not the appropriate word to use regarding what he is doing, any more than saying that C. S. Lewis has been “accused” of incorporating a Christian viewpoint in The Chronicles of Narnia. Some may not like Philip Pullman’s beliefs, but others like them. He is not advocating crime or immorality, as the word “accused” implies. American Libraries Direct should not use phrases like “allegedly anti-Catholic content” when it’s not a crime in Canada (as far as I know) to criticize a religion. If the Church doesn’t like it, too f-ing bad!

December 4, 2007

SRRT Newsletter 160/161

The new issue of the SRRT Newsletter is out, issue 160/161. It is available online in PDF, and being mailed to members in hardcopy. This issue is full of reports, from SRRT Task Forces, the SRRT Councilor, and the SRRT Action Council Coordinator, so it is a great way to see what SRRT is up to these days.

December 3, 2007

Mitch Freedman – video of speech before striking Vancouver librarians

CUPE 391, the union representing Vancouver, BC’s striking library workers, has posted a video of former ALA President Mitch Freedman’s supportive speech before them on October 24th. Mitch took a detour from a visit to Seattle and drove up to Vancouver to personally support these workers. The video is lengthy and interesting. The first part provides some interesting history and background in terms of library workers’ strikes, and the majority of the rest is about improving pay for librarians, which was the primary issue of his 1999 ALA Presidency.