Slight Departure From Regularly Scheduled Programming....
This week's 'Minder is not about any practical, hands-on tips. It is just a reminder about other stuff.... Read More...
For starters, it is a reminder about cliches. Cliches may be overused but they are all based on truth.This week's cliches are: History is cyclical, there's nothing new under the sun, what goes around comes around, and this too shall pass.
I get a monthly e-magazine, Library Technology Guide, published by Marshall Breeding. Last month's letter had this article in it. The headline: "Voters Approve Most Library Levys, But Two Libraries Face Closer[sic] Following Defunding Campaigns." Mispelling aside, the article is from EveryLibrary, the only PAC dedicated to promoting libraries and library issues, and focuses on the uptick in using library funding debates to further censorship attempts.
Just as I started getting anxious about this report, I started thinking about the cliches....This isn't new. In the late 1940s early 1950s, at the height of the cold war and McCarthyism, libraries and librarians faced pressure from not only local citizens, but government at all levels. There were "loyalty oaths" for government employees, and authors, actors, publishers were on blacklists. In 1952, ALA itself was questioned whether they "were using their resources for un-American or subversive activities" by a Select Committee of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States. It was a scary time to be a librarian. There were a lot of challenges of materials that were considered "subversive", or "un-American." Challenges that went to court, made national news, led to dismissals of librarians and board members. Libraries won some and lost some. This is an interesting article about McCarthyism and Libraries, in case you want to read more. BTW, you know that Sen McCarthy was from Wisconsin, right?
Eventually, it got better. ALA revised and ratified the Library Bill of Rights in 1948 (in the thick of all the censorship). There were still waves of challenges over this or that book, or over this or that subject and always will be, but for a long time there hasn't been a widespread, systematic attack on libraries as during the McCarthy years.
But what does any of this have to do with me, now? Well, Princeton Public library just fought off a book challenge in November--you can read about it here.
Interestingly, A Google search of "library challenges in wisconsin" returned this: which was quite a while ago but still made national news. When I googled "Library Censorship challenges in Wisconsin," it bumped the CNN article to page 2 of results because I got a lot more recent hits. Like these:
Some of which seem to indicate that the uptick in challenges is making its way into our state, our libraries. We might be heading into one of those more challenging times like during the 1950s.
So, this is just a 'Minder to keep your ear to the ground and be prepared to fight the good fight for equal access for everyone. This, too, will pass. But, until it does, it is not necessarily child's play, a walk in the park, a piece of cake, cake walk, bed of roses....
That's it for this week...
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