5.19.2005

book slut

You know I love books. I also have a thing for reference books. (Am I a geek, or what?) So naturally I love libraries. I always have. When I was a kid, when I walked into a library, I would sometimes get that spine-tingly, awed feeling that some people get when they walk into a church. If I have the chance to visit a really old or really vast library, like the one we saw at Trinity College in Dublin, I still will.

As if this wasn't enough love, in these days of government censorship and spying, librarians are now also freedom fighters, leading the battle against the so-called Patriot Act. And so I dedicate this post to wmtc's resident librarian, who keeps the flame alive while battling bunheads on a daily basis.
Librarian's brush with FBI shapes her view of the USA Patriot Act
By Joan Airoldi

It was a moment that librarians had been dreading.

On June 8, 2004, an FBI agent stopped at the Deming branch of the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington and requested a list of the people who had borrowed a biography of Osama bin Laden. We said no.

We did not take this step lightly.
Read Airoldi's story here.

10 comments:

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

l-girl:

I guess if anyone would have the courage to call me a slut or whore, it would be a welcome compliment if in reference to books. Like you, I have been a book street walker for many years!

L-girl said...

Hi Barbara! The title of the post comes from a queer women's discussion group I used to be part of. We used to call ourselves book sluts, math sluts, gym sluts, cooking sluts, etc.

It was just a silly ongoing joke. But it helped loosen my rigid thinking about certain words!

G said...

L-Girl: Great, now I'm in aw-shucks mode here. OK, think of the bunheads ... there we go ... getting angry again ... back to my usual self once more. Phew!

On a serious note, I had not heard of that particular incident, but it did not surpise me at all. Thanks for posting the article! Same thing will happen up here soon enough also, the way some things have been going.

Right now we have a board member arguing for filters and I'm in the rather decidedly uncomfortable position of having to defend our non-use of the stupid things. The fact they only block either too little (hello porno) or too much (goodbye sex ed and health awareness info) just won't win this guy over - respecting a citizen's right to certain information is secondary to this guy's personal morality.

Guy actually tried to sell me on the notion that since we basically control what people read in the library (in the sense that we have to make purchasing decisions when it comes to books), why can't we control what they see online?

When I finally finished laughing (yes I laughed out loud at this during the board meeting), I did my best to explain that we own our books, but we don't own the sites on the Internet, so therefore we can't discriminate that one can access only 'these preferred sites' ... the other sites are still going to be out there and accessible, even with filters in place, because designers of sites are always coding them to be a step ahead. Who do you really think the big moneyspenders are on filters anyway? The libraries, or the guys trying to beat them? Think about it.

Oy vey ... trying issue. No right answer - that's the worst part. But as trying as it is, citizen rights to information and the role of parental responsibility within that are issues that need to be on our mind, just as the FBI issue in your post does also.

We're being pushed out of the democratic Information Age as we speak, and into a decidedly more autocratic Censorship Age, where one person's moral agenda outweighs all others' rights. We see that in the Patriot Act; I see it in my board member. It exists on all levels.

Libraries are pushing back. Saying no to politics that supercede the laws and the guaranteed rights freedoms of the public. Non-Librarians, help us out. Support us. Write in favor of us. Strengthen our cause. And please, please, come in and check out a book. You can even ask our Reader's Advisory Librarian what sort of book s/he thinks you will enjoy based on your interests. And did I mention most of us have like 4 computers in our branches now? And highspeed too! WOW, c'est incroyable! Oh, and there's a really cool ficus plant in the corner ... just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? You gotta stop in now!!

Julia B said...

My partner, who happens to be a librarian, has friends from his days in library school who have run into that exact problem before, with similar results. They had started shredding records well before the visit, so when the FBI came they literally had nothing to show them - all checkout histories were set in the library computer system to be erased upon return of the book. All that the FBI could get (all the library literally had) was current checkouts and outstanding fines information, which did not aid their search.

Way to go for proactive libraries!!! Yay!!!

L-girl said...

G, I remember you posting about that filter-loving guy on your board. Love the thought of you laughing out loud at the meeting. They must just loove you.

Julia B, that is really cool.

G said...

Well, my boss (head of the system) and the Big Boss (head of the county) both actually do really love me. I can't seem to do anything wrong for them - one of the few benefits of working here, but a big one nonetheless.

As for the others on the board, yes, I think it is more along the lines of looove me ... but what can I expect? The board consists of bunheads, former bunheads, conservative church elders, and small-town highschool teachers (ack!). So my leftist views and I are screwed there no matter what.

But, the big bosses see things as I do, so that's all that really matters. I have them exactly where I want them ... [insert maniacal Dr.Evil laughter here]

L-girl said...

What a brilliant situation. Cool.

G said...

Speaking of Libraries ...

You live in NYC, L-Girl - you may want to check this out:

Book Expo 2005 NYC
June 3-5
Jacob Javits Convention Center
http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/

Nowhere else will you ever find a greater collection of bunheads together in one place (until ALA, that is). Go - gawk - enjoy the spectacle of it all. Think of it as a day at the Library Zoo.

In case you think I'm kidding about the number of librarians to be there, here are the quotes lifted from Library Journals full page ad for the event:
________
"A Librarian's Dream"

"A Masterpiece Of Relevant Titles"

"Miss This And You'll Kick Yourself All The Way Back To The Reference Desk"

"If your idea of excitement is finding new titles, unearthing new publishers and uncovering the next crop of bestselling authors, then don't miss BookExpo America."

"It's a bibliophile's bonanza with 20,000 new titles and 1,500 publishers, including 800 you can't see anywhere else."
_______

WOWEE.

And yes that is a librarian's idea of excitement, searching for new titles. A Bibliophile's Bonanza indeed.

As horrendous as the once-noble-sounding event now seems (egads! librarians! run, you fools, run!), at least we learned some new library words out of the ad.

But if you do go, L-Girl - I want pictures!

L-girl said...

WOWEE is right!

"Think of it as a day at the Library Zoo."

LOL

And this is an event not on a weekend. I actually could go. Hmmm...

L-girl said...

I just checked out the website, briefly. It's an industry thing, like New York Is Book Country (an annual publishers fair)? Not really meant for a mere reader, writer and biliophile...?

Redsock, are you getting this? Should we go and sell some books?