ALA intros "Radical, Militant Librarian" buttons

mdoneil writes "The ALA changed the home page recently and the top news item is their introduction of a button.

That sure champions the cause of libraries and librarians. Lets make librarians more of a fringe group than they already are. Rather than a shushing Nancy Pearl, lets all become Abbie Hoffman.

I don't know about anyone else but I am not a radical militant librarian. I am a patron serving, responsible librarian.
When will the ALA ever learn to stick to its core mission as expressed in the original charter?"

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When serving patrons responsibly is radical

I don't know about anyone else but I am not a radical militant librarian. I am a patron serving, responsible librarian.

With all that's going on in the country, we can certainly differ on whether featuring "the button" is the best use of ALA's web space.But I think the point of the button is to point out that our traditional mission of serving patrons while respecting their privacy is now labelled as a radical act by conservative pundits and elements of the Administration.In the context of the quote that give rise to this button, what is our radicalness? We want any access to patron records to be by a supeona from an open court and that any patron whose records are requested be suspected of a crime. This to me is the height of responsibilty. A person's reading or viewing habits shouldn't matter unless the executive can make a showing to the judicial branch that a person's privacy must be pierced because that specific individual is suspected of a specific crime. That I believe is the view of ALA and likely 70% of the profession. But this is the very view labelled "radical and militant" by at least one FBI agent and FrontPage Magazine. By that definition, I don't think a librarian can be responsible about patron privacy without being "radical and militant" in the eyes of the Administration.ALA wants to capitalize on the irony that having expectations of patron privacy has been branded "radical and militant" by agents of the government and their supporters. I see no problem with that.

A day late and a dollar short

Ha! I had the Radical Militant Librarian buttons up weeks ago. (*And* in additional colors)

Re:When serving patrons responsibly is radical

I think that is where we differ. I am comfortable with the USA PATRIOT Act. I am comfortable with the oversight of the FISA Court and the the issuance of subpoena pursuant to the Act.

However I do believe that I am one of the few (present company excluded) who have actually read the act and all of the laws it amends to see a totality of the effect.

Two rather political points come to mind. Since the implementation of the Act we have not experienced another terrorist attack, unlike London, Madrid, Indonesia, and many other places. Secondly the Act was certainly more above board than the previous administration's Echalon which spied on everyone and yet failed to produce useful intelligence.

I don't consider my safeguarding of patron records to be radical or militant, I just consider it to be what librarians have done forever. It us unfortunate that the ALA finds the need to engage in hyperbole and pandering to a political faction when it is failing in its core mission to support libraries and librarians. When sewage treatment plant operators get paid more than masters degreed librarians it is obvious our professional organization has taken the wrong track... and for quite some time now. Melville and the others must be spinning in their graves.

Re:When serving patrons responsibly is radical

Since the implementation of the Act we have not experienced another terrorist attack, unlike London, Madrid, Indonesia, and many other places.

Correlation does not imply causation.

Radical and Militant...but not a Librarian

I'm not even a librarian, but if I were, I'd be radical and militant (though non-violent). MDoneil, could it be that you're lacking a sense of fun/mischief on this subject?

Re:When serving patrons responsibly is radical

I'm willing to believe that you are one of the few to have read through USAPA. You strike me as a very thorough and prepared person. I also acknowledge that many people on both sides of USAPA have not. For that matter, I conjecture that most Congressmembers did not read USAPA before it passed.In regard to your statement:

Since the implementation of the Act we have not experienced another terrorist attack, unlike London, Madrid, Indonesia, and many other places. Secondly the Act was certainly more above board than the previous administration's Echalon which spied on everyone and yet failed to produce useful intelligence.

I'd like to point out that we had no instances of successful Islamic terror attacks on US soil from 1993-2001. Counting the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as a major terror event, we had no major terror events between 1995 and 2001, even though we had thwarted terror attacks in Seattle and Los Angeles. During that period we had no USAPA, but we did have terrorists foreign and domestic trying to kill Americans and yet no successful attacks for six years. If you only include international terrorism, we had no attacks for eight years. So I don't think USAPA itself can be used to explain the lack of attacks for four years and a few months.You note that Indonesia had a terror attack. Indonesia has much less freedom than we do, as noted by its 2004 State Department Human Rights report:

The law requires judicial warrants for searches except for cases involving subversion, economic crimes, and corruption. The law also provides for searches without warrants when circumstances are "urgent and compelling." Security officials occasionally broke into homes and offices. The authorities occasionally spied on individuals and their residences and listened in on telephone calls. There were reports that the Government occasionally infringed upon privacy rights of migrant workers, particularly women, returning from abroad.

So, abridging freedom is no guarantee of safety from terror attacks. Given that, I'd rather have higher levels of privacy.Finally, as far as I know Echalon is an urban legend whose existence has never been admitted by the government. If it existed and if it truly vacuumed up all communications from US citizens, then the program should be declassified and the people responsible for it punished. As I've mentioned before, it doesn't matter whether it's a Democrat or Republican assaulting our liberty.

Re:A day late and a dollar short

Since ALA took so long to start selling the thing, they could've at least designed a button that looks less sucky.

I recently joined ALA because I'm going to PLA in March, and ALA/PLA membership plus member's registration saved my library $30 compared to nonmember's registration. I'll soon be putting a button up on my CafeShop that says something like:

"$30 whore ... I joined the Association only for the conference discount."

Re:When serving patrons responsibly is radical

Since Bush became president, we have not had a nuclear bomb test, a large meteor strike NYC or a new Ice Age! I see no correlation between the Patriot Act and no attacks on the US!Being a librarian is a subversive act if you are doing you job!

Re:When serving patrons responsibly is radical

Nor does it exclude it.

Re:When serving patrons responsibly is radical

But since Clinton was president we have an increase in STD infections in the throat among those under 18. Is there correlation there?

Re:When serving patrons responsibly is radical

I'll have to give you that about Indonesia, I'm not considering that as a retirement home. Freedom is not top of the pops there.

I'm more offended at the nonsense inspections and restrictions at the airport than I am offended by the USA PATRIOT Act. Then again I don't care if the FBI wants to see that I'm re-reading an Agatha Christie this week. I do however hate removing my tennis shoes at the airport. It seems to me that targeted privacy intrusions are more palatable to the masses, and especially to me. If I fit a profile then fine, target me, but I am a middle aged balding librarian with a valid US passport with no stamps from Yemen or Pakistan.

I'm OK with the Act, many others are not, frankly if it is repealed or let to expire I don't think we will lose a great deal of domestic security, but I think every little bit helps so why tinker with it.

Now when they start tinkering with the UNDHR then I'll get upset and I don't think the Act is a violation of § 12 (especially with many nations egregious violations of dozens of the principles embodied in the Declaration.)

Agreement on airport

I'm with you on your comments about airports. It unquestionably affects more Americans than USAPA. But I still want the FBI to keep their mitts of reading lists without probable cause and a specific suspect. There is simply too much history of unnecessary investigations and harrassment. Did they really need to compile a 142 page dossier on Lucille Ball?As far as UNDHR, while I'm critical of where our country is going, I'll never imply that the US is in the bottom half of human rights in this world. One of my tasks as a citizen is to ensure we never get there.But you are far more familar with UNDHR than I am. What is Article 12 anyway?If I haven't said so for awhile, I really appreciate being able to discuss issues with someone who can remain civil with me even when they strongly disagree.

Re:Agreement on airport

Article 12 is he one that says persons should be free in their homes, personal effects and communications.

I think the FBI did the big report on Lucy because J Edgar liked her outfits, or maybe her hair.

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