Magazine article American Libraries

On My Mind: Are We Creating Dissident Librarians?

Magazine article American Libraries

On My Mind: Are We Creating Dissident Librarians?

Article excerpt

Is ALA creating dissident librarians by becoming too politicized? Two recent events prompt me to ask this question.

First, I was recently appointed as a representative to the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics, which led me to review the ALA Code of Ethics and related documents. I hadn't actually read through the code in a while, but it is just as high-minded, balanced, and fair as it always was. It's a reassuring document, and I think we as librarians should be proud of the values it embodies: intellectual freedom, respect for colleagues, not advancing private interests over professional concerns, and not conflating our personal convictions and our professional duties.

Soon after, I stumbled across an old article by David Durant in the September 30, 2005, Chronicle of Higher Education, "The Loneliness of a Conservative Librarian." That led me to his blog, Heretical Librarian (hereticallibrarian.blogspot.com), which in turn led me to several other blogs written by people I can only describe as dissident librarians. I certainly feel more than a bit naive, because I didn't realize such blogs existed. I don't read many blogs, and I've never given much thought to ALA politics; but as I read I grew more and more disturbed, not because I agreed with these dissident librarians on every issue--far from it--but because I began to realize that the creation of political dissidents by ALA leadership was itself a problem.

Blasts from the blogs

These dissidents are mostly politically conservative, though not always. In addition to Heretical Librarian, consider these blogs: Conservator, Shush, and Annoyed Librarian (all easy to find with Google). Their blogrolls will lead you to others. Some posts criticize ALA positions that are library-related, such as the Association's opposition to the Patriot Act. Some address specific political issues, such as the war in Iraq, as matters of personal opinion of the bloggers. But others slam not just the allegedly liberal political slant of ALA, but ALA Council resolutions on political issues that seemingly have nothing to do with librarianship (e.g., the resolution opposing Samuel Alito's Supreme Court appointment) or the highly politicized choice of speakers at ALA conferences. Why this deliberate attempt to take political stands that don't relate to librarianship? …

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