Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Random Radical References

These long warm days aren't energizing me for blogging. I'm 1458 entries behind in my feed reader, and it's only by keeping up with the bibliotekblogosphere that I'm able to find library nonsense to write about.

Apparently those Radical Reference folks feel enervated as well, because ALA Annual in DC is only a couple of weeks away, and they haven't organized any radically referential protests. Of course this time last year I got excited over the prospect of the radical referrers protesting. "Stay tuned for info on possibly protests of Madeleine Albright and Laura Bush," they said. I stayed tuned, but nothing happened! And this year they don't even have a link for Annual 2007. We're going to Washington DC, and they're not even going to protest anything? I find this sad. Perhaps the radical referrers are all in Germany preparing to protest the G-8 meeting, handing out flyers with information on how to block roads and break windows and such. After all, protesters always need something to protest about, otherwise they don't get their emotional thrills. I assume most of them protest for the emotional thrill, because it's certainly not like they change anything.

I thought I'd read somewhere that the Regressive Librarians were going to back an ALA Council resolution to defund the Iraq War, but I couldn't find the reference again, not that I looked very hard. That will certainly be exciting, and if the resolution succeeds we can all relax in the knowledge that the boys will be coming home again soon, because after all, when the ALA speaks, people listen. After successfully blocking the confirmation of Justice Alito and directly causing the impeachment of President Bush and ending the genocide in Darfur, the ALA Council's record of affecting non-library issues is proven.

But maybe saner heads will prevail. Speaking of, I was surprised to see a sane head in the latest SRRT Newsletter (page 11). A socially concerned member of SRRT, Todd Grooten, wrote an opinion piece protesting SRRT's overwhelming concern with non-library issues and their lack of concern with the problems of actual librarians, including the problem of librarian unemployment. Here's an excerpt:

"I have dealt with chronic unemployment since graduating with my MLS in May 2003. I know I am not the only new(ish) librarian suffering from this problem. It has been discussed in many of the discussion lists geared towards people new to the profession (Nexgenlib, Newlib). When I posted a message about this topic to the SRRT discussion list last year, no one responded to my message, on or off the list. I found this disheartening, since I considered it an issue that would be pertinent to the group."

Yes, one might think trying to address a shortage of library jobs might be pertinent, if one didn't know that SRRT has no interest in librarianship. I've been told that in its early days SRRT folks were indeed concerned about jobs for librarians. But as we all know, in the great scheme of things librarians are a relatively advantaged lot. They are obviously well educated, since they all have that rigorous MLS, and many of them make decent semi-middle class salaries. Librarians are the "Man," and it's no fun trying to help the "Man."

"I would feel more comfortable with the SRRT," Mr. Grooten says, "if they engaged in social activism as it relates directly to libraries and library workers. This is why I joined the American Library Association and many of the various divisions and interest groups. Many of the causes advanced by SRRT members have organizations or activist groups specifically targeted towards advocating those issues. I would seek these out first when and if I wanted to engage in this kind of activism."

Since that is almost exactly what I've been saying for the past year, I heartily approve. I also wonder if Cranky Marxist Dude, Snipey Fellow Traveling Dude, Nasty Bronc, and the Humorless Unionator will start attacking Grooten. SFTD can blog how stupid he is to think there's such a thing as a non-library issue and NB can post vile comments about him. The HU can point out how selfish he is, and also encourage him to join a union if he ever gets a job. CMD can write nasty things about him to the ALA Council listserv. Folks like that enjoy eating their own. Remember what happened to the Mensheviks!

I suspect, though, that the typical regressive irrational hypocrisy will prevail, and they'll focus on personalities, not issues. Since none of the regressive librarians has come up with any better refutation of Grooten's argument except SFTD's claim that if enough people believe something it must be true, they certainly can't address the issue. Since Grooten is obviously a SRRT member in good standing, they'll probably forgive him, and save their energy for attacking other people for saying exactly the same thing. Is it any wonder that I don't have any respect for these people?


the_upstart said...

As a recovering SRRT member, I feel I have some insight into this. You know how, when you read your fortune cookie fortune to your friends, you're supposed to add the phrase "in bed"? As in, "you will have great success this year...(in bed)"? Well, in SRRT discussions, you're supposed to add the phrase "in Cuba" if you want to get any kind of response. Todd should have started his email by saying something like: "The discrepancy between ALA myth and the reality facing new librarians borders on the disasterous...(in Cuba)." Then he would have landed on his SRRT compatriots' radar screens. Because we all know that the problems of US librarians aren't worth anyone's attention.

mdoneil said...

He should have saved his hundred bucks rather than joining the ALA or SRRT.

Jess said...

The ALA may take a stand on the Iraq war, but as far as I know their efforts aren't going to bring my brother-in-law back home from Afghanistan. Five of his company brothers were killed last week when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by enemy fire. Does everyone want to make peace and call this war off tomorrow?

The ALA makes reference to a librarian shortage, but people looking for a library job know the truth- there isn't one. In many ways the librarian shortage echoes the claim of weapons of mass destruction being kept in Iraq. Now we know they're weren't any.

If the ALA wants to talk about war, I am going to refer you to the ALA's placement stats for job openings/job seekers. Here's the link, folks:

Some people will note this isn't the best indicator of the job market, but I will make one argument. Look at how we were rolling before 9/11 with plentiful jobs and job candidates. Now, we all know what 9/11 did to the severly effected it. Hence, looking at these statistics you will see that library jobs seemingly disappeared overnight. Where there were once jobs and job candidates, not there are just candidates.

If the ALA can bring my brother-in-law home and bring everyone else's love homes, they deserve a medal. Until then, I hope they realize they have major issues they need to address in their field right now with people in the "real library world."


AL said...

If the ALA could end war and poverty, I wouldn't object either. But the regressive librarians seem to be more concerned with furthering their political agenda than in addressing library issues. There are so many library issues that could be perfectly respectable "progressive causes." Libraries in Africa. The plight of rural libraries in America. Librarian jobs and salaries. But those issues actually have to do with libraries, and thus are inherently boring. Nobody ever got brownie points at a regressive cocktail party by espousing library causes. (Perhaps regressive librarians don't drink cocktails, so if not you can amend that to hash parties or granola parties or whatever it is they do.)

Anonymous said...'s the on ALA's placement stats:


Anonymous said...

Isn't it fascinating that enervated and denervated both refer to a somewhat lowered entropy? Medically, however, I think the difference is like that between the lobotomized and the martini-ized. To paraphrase WC Fields "In the morning I shall be sober but you, Humorless Unionator de la McWhatever, will still be denervated."


contrarian said...

Actually the regressive librarians in SRRT have indeed come up with a refutation of Grooten's argument. It is this: never remain neutral, make every issue in the world a library issue, always take sides, but make sure it's the "progressive" side if you want to be part of SRRT. Also, if you think it's unprofessional to take sides & advance your own personal politics within ALA then something must be wrong with you. The regressives in SRRT like to enlighten others & backup what they say by pushing Robert Jensen's article called "The Myth of the Neutral Professional."

Anonymous said...

AL, you will have plenty of fun & excitement at ALA. Look for another attempt to impeach President Bush. And here's the mentality behind SRRT's "thinking."

On 6/6/07 Alfred Kagan wrote to another member of SRRT:

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but one can make a case that
just about everything is related to libraries. It is up to ALA Council
to decide which issues are important enough to address. It is up to
SRRT to bring up issues that it wants ALA Council to address. For
example, last year we brought the resolution on the connection between
the Iraq War and the funding of libraries, and the Council passed it
because the mood of the country had shifted. The ALA Council as well
as SRRT has the moral right to do what is best for the association, the
profession, libraries, the country, and the world. The problem comes
when librarians think narrowly and only see their own self-interest,
and only address technical issues. We have plenty of folks like that on
ALA Council.

AL said...

As perfect an exposition of the blowhard fallacy as one is likely to find. "I am a librarian, and thus the center of the universe. If enough people believe something, then it's true." It hardly surprises me, as Kagan is the same guy who has shown in his IFLA letter on the Danish cartoons that he doesn't support free speech. I guess along with all the other regressives he believes intellectual freedom means the freedom to think like him.

Anonymous said...

Cranky Marxist Dude = Mark Rosenzweig

Snipey Fellow Traveling Dude = John Berry (former editor of Library Journal)

Humorless Unionator = the "distinguished" professor Kathleen de la Pena McCook

Nasty Bronc = ??

AL said...

One of the main people at the Progressive Librarians Guild who left such nasty comments on one of SFTD's blog posts. The PLG is based at what I think is his library at Rider University. I looked up Rider to see if they had a mascot, and it was the Bronc, if I remember correctly. Thus, Nasty Bronc.

Anonymous said...

10:38 anon you are a racist! DR. McCook's children must now suffer seeing their Madre's proud name sullied without it's proper and necessary diacritical mark. Oh the shame. Have you no decency Sir?

Anonymous said...

The letter "Ñ" has come to represent the identity of the Spanish language. Newsweek labeled Hispanic culture and its influence on the United States as “Generation Ñ”. Organisations like the Instituto Cervantes and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have adopted the letter as its mark for Hispanic heritage.

In 1991 the European Union attempted to commercialize keyboards in Spain without the letter "ñ". There was a regulation that prevented the commercialising of computer products that didn’t support all the graphic elements of Spanish characters. The Real Academia Española stated that the matter was a serious attack against the language. Nobel Prize winner in literature Gabriel García Márquez expressed his disdain over the offensive elimination of the eñe by saying, translation: “The "Ñ" is not an archaeological piece of junk, but all the opposite: a cultural leap of a Romance language that left the others behind in expressing with only one letter a sound that other languages continue to express with two”.[1]

Among other forms of controversy are those pertaining to the anglicizing of Spanish surnames. Such personal decisions can be perceived by the Spanish community as denying identity and heritage. The replacement of "ñ" with another letter alters the pronunciation and meaning of a word or name, in the same manner as replacing any letter with a different one would. Peña is a common Spanish surname that is often anglicised into Pena, which changes the name into the Spanish word for “embarrassment” and “sorrow”. In the Philippines, where "Ñ" is widespread in anthroponyms and toponyms, pronouncing the letter as if it were merely an "N" signifies pretentiousness (rather than just plain ignorance) on the part of the speaker, particularly if that speaker is considerably well educated.


(signed: Taupey)

Anonymous said...

Nasty Bronc = John Buschman!

Anon@1:09 PM:
How dare you assume I am a "SIR!" Only an oppresive, sexist, reactionary Republican would think like that. The nerve.

Anonymous said...

In all fairness, I didn't really know (or care) about the SRRT, until I read this blog. I have not now or ever been an ALA member either and it further advances my feeling that the ALA has nothing to do with librarians or librarian issues, I guess neither does the SRRT.

It is rather unfortunate that someone like Grooten can pay membership fees to these organizations and get zilch in return (like McDoneil stated at 12:47).

But what did he expect? A SRRT keychain? (or god forbid..!) actual job placement?

Guess I saved a lot of money over the years by not joining any such orgs.

grootent said...

Wow, imagine my suprise when I found your article after Googling my name :)

I am glad that you appreciated my POV. I didn't get any feedback from anyone on the SRRT list regarding my article. I guess I'm not too suprised considering the lack of response to my e-mail is what motivated me to write the article in the first place.

I should also mention that my ALA membership lapsed last year and I never renewed. The SRRT list people don't seem to be too diligent about making sure subscribers are still current members of ALA (you have to be a SRRT member to POST, but non-members can only read).

The dynamics of this list continue to amaze me (name calling, profanity, the amount of vapid, self absorbed bozos that love to listen to themselves yak about bullshit...) If I ever renew my membership, I think I'll pass on adding SRRT membership!

- Todd Grooten