The Librarian Spies: Philip and Mary Jane Keeney and Cold War Espionage

By Rosalee McReynolds; Louise S. Robbins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
The Progressive Librarians’ Council

As it turned out, the ALA helped Philip Keeney get his job at the Library of Congress. The favor was hardly intentional and resulted not from a rapprochement, but from blunders by the ALA that played into Philip’s hands.

With time weighing heavily on them in Berkeley, the Keeneys could dream up creative ways of irritating their enemies, and the ALA was high on the list of targets. By July 1938 Philip realized that the ALA’s leaders would not come to his aid in the Montana case and decided that it was because they were philosophically opposed to his attempts to unionize professionals at the university.1 The Keeneys’ plan of retribution against the ALA was simple, but highly effective. They began their own organization, the Progressive Librarians’ Council (PLC). With membership dues of fifty cents and virtually no budget, the PLC could never rival the 60-year-old ALA with its 17,000 members. But that was not the purpose of the PLC. Instead, it was meant to be a gnat torturing an elephant, and it tortured very well. Under the Keeneys’ leadership the PLC’s members turned up at awkward moments, garnered publicity, and embarrassed the ALA.

The PLC took shape in San Francisco at the ALA conference of June 1939, right on the heels of Philip’s victory in Montana and following informal meetings of like-minded people at the two previous annual conferences.2 His friends, including David Wahl, feted him at a small but highly visible banquet where he was elected chairman of the new organization. ALA officers turned a blind eye to the whole affair, but they

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The Librarian Spies: Philip and Mary Jane Keeney and Cold War Espionage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Philip 9
  • Chapter 2 - Mary Jane 15
  • Chapter 3 - The Librarians 25
  • Chapter 4 - Struggle 47
  • Chapter 5 - The Progressive Librarians’ Council 53
  • Chapter 6 - The Spies at Home 65
  • Chapter 7 - The Spies Abroad 87
  • Chapter 8 - Caught in the Web 99
  • Chapter 9 - The Un-Americans 112
  • Chapter 10 - Guilt and Association 125
  • Notes 135
  • Bibliography 161
  • Index 169
  • About the Authors 185
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