Magazine article American Libraries

Libraries and Librarians Respond to the Persian Gulf Crisis

Magazine article American Libraries

Libraries and Librarians Respond to the Persian Gulf Crisis

Article excerpt

Libraries and librarians respond to the Persian Gulf crisis

At Presentation College in Aberdeen, S. Dak., head librarian Arvyce Burns is busy cataloging and processing interlibrary loans for her absent assistant, librarian Anita Brick. Brick isn't ill and is not on vacation--she's an Army Reservist called to active duty. "I'm having a hard time finding someone to help out," Burns said.

Brick, stationed in Kansas with the 452nd Ordnance Company, was activated Sept. 25, just four months after beginning work and three months after her marriage.

Cumberland County (N.C.) Public Library and Information Center has temporarily lost library technician Lt. Stephanie King and could lose Maj. Barbara Garcia, head of circulation, in addition to a book-mobile technician--all Army Reservists. "While I had funding to hire a temporary to fill the technician job, it would be difficult to find someone to fill in for the head of circulation," said Library Director Jerry Thrasher.

All over the country libraries and librarians are affected by the Persian Gulf Crisis. While some cope with absent staff, others near military bases have noticed a decrease in circulation. One base library has been fielding 3-5 calls daily for photocopied pictures of relatives spotted in newsmagazines.

Saudi sensibilities

As a "morale support" effort, some 2,100 book kits have been sent to the Gulf by the Army Library Community, Family, and Support Center (CFSC) in Alexandria, Va. Videos and audiocassettes have been sent to those serving in Project Desert Shield by other units. According to Nell Strickland, CFSC director, the book kits were different from those sent on other maneuvers. "We have to exclude anything with religious symbols or racy covers," she said. This includes "any medium displaying the human anatomy in any unclothed or semi-clothed manner such as the area below the neck, above the knees and inside the shoulder," (Desert Shield General Order G0-1).

Censorship in Saudi Arabia can take place very quickly. Library consultant Thomas Cetwinski, who worked at the Saudi Arabia Naval Base, recalled: "The international edition of Time would come out on a Tuesday afternoon and by Tuesday night anything from a blacked-out line to the removal of an offensive ad would be accomplished for every single issue."

Donations and offers of materials from libraries, publishers, authors, and others pour in, according to Tony Dakan, director of the Air Force Library Program, which recently arranged for the purchase and shipment of USA Today. The newspaper will be airlifted daily from Frankfurt, Germany, to the Gulf area.

The deployment of large numbers of female soldiers has brought new reading material to a forward, combat-ready military encampment. The Air Force has already sent donated copies of Woman's Day and plans to include issues of Good Housekeeping in the near future. Donations of romance novels by publishers were discouraged; many of the covers are pornographic by Saudi standards, according to Faye Miller, an Air Force librarian.

Tactical librarianship

Louise Nyce, director of the Army Material Command Program, says her staff is on hand to respond to immediate needs of commanding officers. …

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