Saturday, June 21, 2008

When is a Librarian not a Librarian?

When the ALA says he or she is not. In Cuba, there are some brave souls who take matters into their own hands at great risk to themselves and open up their homes with collections of pre1959 books, books tourists have given them, and just about any scrap of the printed word they can get their hands on. These little rooms are some of the few places in which Cubans have access to the unfettered word because the regime censors all materials. Consequently, it has independent librarians beaten and harassed and their collections, including such subversive works as Orwell's Animal Farm, burned.

This would seem a natural for the ALA, our national organization of librarians. After all, these are the very people expressing their discontent with the approval of FISA. Think again. Despite the exhortations of some of the notable keynote speakers at their gatherings, authors such as Ray Bradbury and Anthony Lewis, as well the general sentiment of their membership, over the years, the organization has steadfastly refused to condemn the repression of independent librarians. I have heard all sorts of reasons, including the lack of credentials on the part of the intrepid souls and the canard that these folk are mercenaries in the pay of the CIA. I have been unable to find their reports, as well as the latest article. Good luck trying to get them on the ALA website. I will, however, use other channels to get my hands on the latest article in their magazine, entitled "ALA’s Stand on Cuba’s Independent Libraries," the listing of which carries this descriptive note: "The Association opposes both censorship and embargo."

What in the world the embargo has to do with library censorship should be interesting, or rather why they felt the need to include the embargo has some interesting connotations. Anyway to make a long story short, the ALA will be meeting in Anaheim. To wit, read Ziva's post on Babalu which explains much and links to the "Friends of Cuban Libraries." I only wish I were in California.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the response of the Friends of Cuban Libraries to Peter McDonald's fallacious article, see "Invisible Book Burning Re-ignites ALA Controvesy" in the Recent News section of our website at:


Friends of Cuban Libraries