Magazine article American Libraries

Soviet Librarians Demanding More Glasnost in the Stacks

Magazine article American Libraries

Soviet Librarians Demanding More Glasnost in the Stacks

Article excerpt

Soviet librarians demanding more glasnost in the stacks

SOVIET LIBRARIANS ARE CONcerned about declining attendance and a growing public attitude that libraries are not playing the role glasnot offers them. In the Soviet press, citizens read of collections failing to meet public needs, restrictions on access, technology lags, deteriorating material conditions, and managerial incompetence. In an ironic echo of U.S. privatization of libraries, Soviet private cooperatives are offering books and journals in demand, document delivery, photocopying, reference, database searching, and personalized bibliographies.

New pressure for change in libraries is coming from academics, library activists, and a movement to promote critical thinking in higher education. Even government officials are speaking of greater risks to scientific development and national security in censorship than in unumpeded dissemination of information. They call for a shift from the "cult of secrecy" to an "information culture."

Some libraries already show signs of a shift in this direction: easier access to restricted collections and the transfer to open stacks of foreign journals and previously censored journals. …

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