LISTen Special Edition -- The Intersection of Librarianship and Politics

Originally the interview found in this special episode was supposed to air in the next regular episode. Being overtaken by events is never fun. As such the interview is being released in a special edition now.

Dr. Stanley Kurtz made an attempt to seek access to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge collection of documents at University of Illinois-Chicago. After initially being granted access, such was taken away. With conflicting answers Dr. Kurtz wrote a piece for National Review Online.

The production team contacted both the University of Illinois-Chicago as well as Dr. Kurtz. Dr. Kurtz responded to the request for an interview. The only contact from the University of Illinois-Chicago was to be told there was no statement and no comment.

In a case where we're left with only more questions, the interview is presented for consideration. The audio engineer's question that he requested be put is: was this incompetence or a bungled covering up?

Comments

Back in my day, sonny

If even a member of MoveOn.org is bothered by the matter then I feel okay with running this.

Yeah, what guts! Thata way! Hold that line and block that kick!

4/5ths of the way thru the previous century, Judy Krug and company always told us little librarians we didn't gotta have the Moral Majority's permission to question censorship.

But of course that was the Moral Majority, which was bad whereas here we're talking about the socially responsible standard of debate offered by ... MoveOn.

uses of time

When Obama made his first run for political office, articles in both the Chicago Defender and the Hyde Park Herald featured among his qualifications his position as chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation where Ayers was a founder and guiding force. Obama assumed the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office, and almost certainly received the job at the behest of Bill Ayers.

Six months after graduating from college and working in the building next door to the National Review I was given a job molesting horses, almost certainly at the behest of Stanley Kurtz.

With a writ to aid Chicago’s public schools, the Annenberg challenge played a deeply political role in Chicago’s education wars, and as Annenberg board chairman, Obama clearly aligned himself with Ayers’s radical views on education issues.

Clearly. So clearly Kurtz feels no need to present any evidence. And who gives a yahoo about radical views on education? I thought this was about scary black Mugumbo terrorists?

Chicago, the top library officials mysteriously intervened to bar access. Circumstances strongly suggest the likelihood that Bill Ayers himself may have played a pivotal role in this denial.

Or Daly himself. The dead one. Or the President of Mexico, for all Kurtz knows.

I encourage everyone to read the article. The sight of Kurtz admitting he doesn't know something an then asserting it to be true IN THE SAME SENTENCE will either delight you or sicken you.

Professionally: no one should be prohibited access to archival materials for political or ideological reasons.

Personally: they should have thrown his clown-ass in the street for wasting their time with this bullshit.

My money is on "incompetence." UIC archives didn't want a bunch of loony, wingnut-welfare funded pseudo-journalists screwing around in their shop, making spectacles of themselves and preventing the proper functioning of the archives.

They tried to give it a nice sounding lie and failed.

Wow

Chuck, what can I say? The production team is somewhat bipartisan where Democrats outnumber Republicans. We actually have a member of the netroots as part of the production team. If even a member of MoveOn.org is bothered by the matter then I feel okay with running this.

You bring up a point that gives me pause. My engineer is old enough that he lived through the time of the Weathermen. The Weathermen were a white organization. There were not black terrorists involved. What you say above is simply idiotic with regards to that.

As I have said, I still would have went with this if it were a Democrat researching a Republican. Just as much as we worry in librarianship about what job candidates have done outside libraries and take that into account this is barely any different. Frankly, the scope of inquiry laid out by Dr. Kurtz seemed fairly limited and measured as it was. It did not appear that Dr. Kurtz was looking necessarily for "gotcha" materials but instead trying to gain an appreciation for how someone vying to lead a massive federal bureaucracy with several departments and thousands upon thousands of employees led one small charity.

While the worries over connections to a former Weatherman as well as concerns over leadership style exist, that is not why we went with this. The ALA Code of Ethics is pretty clear about a situation like this. Even if we do not like someone's politics, we still answer their reference desk questions. Even if we do not like someone's politics, we still interact with them in special collections departments. Even if we do not like someone's politics, that does not mean we throw them out on their hind quarters in the street. When you work in a library, you have to check your politics at the door so that you can provide equitable access. Having worked in the private sector in public contact situations, I can say that checking your politics at the door is often a written requirement there while librarians are simply expected to do such out of good judgment.

Dr. Kurtz is just one man who has a fairly loud megaphone at his disposal with National Review and its online properties. The matter was only amplified after Rush Limbaugh picked up on it. I caught wind of such before Mr. Limbaugh and aired what I had when I did. Coverage of the matter has been mixed where LISTen was given a no comment while other media outlets were told the institution never had legal ownership of the materials.

We often worry about digital "memory hole" situations. Dr. Kurtz was lucky insofar that he found an analog one. Having worked as a member of the fourth estate off and on for ten years, I can say that what the podcast production put forward was hardly unique. In a culture today in which "history started ten minutes ago" however, we sometimes forget that issues like this can happen. Considering the way the library there handled this and the way their PR team handled it, it is fair to say that this analog memory hole case is going to be just as messy as such things have ever been in the United States.
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Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

well-played

It did not appear that Dr. Kurtz was looking necessarily for "gotcha" materials but instead trying to gain an appreciation for how someone vying to lead a massive federal bureaucracy with several departments and thousands upon thousands of employees led one small charity.

That was the sense you got from Kurtz? Really?

You bring up a point that gives me pause. My engineer is old enough that he lived through the time of the Weathermen. The Weathermen were a white organization. There were not black terrorists involved. What you say above is simply idiotic with regards to that.

Sorry, that was unclear. I meant that "negro" and "terrorist" together (as in Obama associated with Ayers = terrorist) is a National Review Double Word Score of sorts.

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