Sunday, November 19, 2006

On Dissident Librarians

Imagine my surprise when a co-worker told me recently that I was mentioned in American Libraries. Nonetheless, there I was, as part of an interesting and thoughtful essay by Wayne Bivens-Tatum in the November 2006 issue of AL.

In his piece, Mr. Bivens-Tatum discusses how me came across my article from the September 30, 2005 Chronicle, and from there discovered this and other conservative librarian blogs. As he did so, he "grew more and more disturbed, not because I agreed with these dissident librarians on every issue...but because I began to realize that the creation of political dissidents by ALA leadership was itself a problem."

Obviously, I agree with the point Mr. Bivens-Tatum is making. However, if you'll allow me, I need to make one important albeit semantic point: I am not a "political dissident". Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a dissident; Martha Beatriz Roque is a dissident; Andrei Sakharov and Vladimir Bukovsky were dissidents. These are people who have risked death or imprisonment to speak their minds. I, on the other hand, risk little more than having unpleasant things said about me on web sites and listservs.

(What about your blog title, oh persecuted heretic? -Ed.) "Heretical Librarian" is nothing more than a tongue-in cheek way of getting my point across. Besides, it was the best name I could come up with. Unfortunately, it also makes me sound like a complete ubergeek, a not totally inaccurate impression, I'm forced to admit. However, the reaction my blog name got out of a certain humor-impaired Stalinist alone made it all worthwhile.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. While Mr. Bivens-Tatum's essay is not online as far as I can tell, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the November American Libraries and give it a read. This key passage in particular cannot be improved upon:

If ALA and the culture of politicized librarianship it seems to foster are responsible for the alienation of fellow librarians...then this alienation should make us question our own values as well. How tolerant and understanding are we? How much diversity do we really care to see? Do we really respect intellectual freedom, or only when the free intellects join us in thinking like we do? Are we advancing private interests over professional concerns? Do we really respect our colleagues, or only if they happen to agree with us?

I applaud Mr. Bivens-Tatum for his willingness to step up and ask these questions.


Anonymous professor ed said...

Thank you for mentioning Wayne Bivens-Tatum's item in the latest American Libraries. I too found his question/points well worth pondering

1:30 PM  

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