Library Juice 7:7 - April 2, 2004
1. Note to Library Juice readers
3. Salon's David Womack - interview with Rory Litwin
4. From Papyrus to Print-out: African library conference
5. New Yorkers for Fair Use Call to General Assembly
6. Moby Dick Used
7. Libraries Should Provide for the Reader Who Smokes (1919)
Quote for the week:
"The fetters imposed on liberty at home have ever been forged out of the
weapons provided for defence against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers
from abroad." -James Madison, 4th US president (1751-1836)
Homepage of the week: Maureen Robin Cusack
1. Note to Library Juice readers
To those of you who are still subscribed, thanks for having faith in my
dedication to librarianship and Library Juice! And thanks to all those who
wrote to me to say hello yesterday. It was nice to hear from you. I had
been wanting to play an April Fool's prank like this since issue one. I'm
glad you appreciated it.
Library Juice is alive and well, and I won't smoke my pipe until this issue
has been distributed.
This issue marks a couple of changes to the publication. First, it will
now be published late Thursday night and dated Friday, instead of Wednesday
night/Thursday. Second, I am discontinuing the monthly publication of
"amusing searches." They're only so amusing for so long, and they have
proven to have a certain, interesting sameness month to month which, though
something that might be worth reflecting on, makes them progressively more
boring as time goes by. I will maintain the compilation of amusing
searches on the website though; there are enough there to satisfy even the
most gluttonous appetite for sixth grade homework assignments, questions
about the legality of cannibalism, gas mask bongs, and comparisons of penis
length by nation.
If any of you are pipe smokers or interested in a pipe smoking session at
an ALA conference, get in touch with me.
- Rory Litwin
New on Libr.org
Information for Social Change No. 18, Winter 2003/2004
Has articles by John Lindsay, Martyn Lowe, Kjell Nilsson, Anders Ericson,
John Pateman, and an open letter from ASCUBI. Has special sections on
international trade agreements (and other international issues) and Cuba.
Koha 2.0 has been released
(The open source ILS now supports MARC)
[ found on librarian.net ]
Interview with SLLI's Coff Steveman
(By Joe Schallan, for April 1st)
[ sent by Nann Blaine Hilyard to the ALA Council list ]
P2P file sharing declared legal in Canada
The Federal Court of Canada denied the CRIA's (Canadian Recording
Industry Association) request to force ISP's to disclose the
identities of 29 file sharers...
The story in the Globe and Mail:
The 30-page decision:
Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic,
which fought the case against the CRIA:
Canadian File-sharing Legal Information Network:
[ info sent by Declan McCullaugh to his POLITECH list ]
John E. Buschman named Futas winner
[ sent by Kathleen de la Pena McCook to the PLG list ]
Library Instruction for Diverse Populations Bibliography http://www.ala.org/ala/acrlbucket/is/publicationsacrl/diversebib.htm
[ sent to me by Paul Kauppila ]
New entry on Librarians in the Bureau of Labor Statistics'
Occupational Outlook Handbook:
[ sent by Ross Bowron to the ALA-APA MONEYTALKS list ]
Library Underground website is going strong and updated:
[ from Chris Zammarelli to the LU list ]
Article on Rev. Junkyard Moondog (librarian Jim Dwyer)
[ sent to me by Jim Dwyer ]
Association of Public Library Employees
[ found surfing ... if anyone knows anything about them drop me a line ]
National Library Workers' Day (April 20th) website:
[ sent by Jenna Freedman to the MONEYTALKS list ]
U.S. shutters Iraqi newspaper
[ sent by Dana Lubow to the SRRT list ]
Bush, the Saudi billionaire and the Islamists: the story a British firm is
afraid to publish
Publication of book cancelled as libel laws blamed for stifling free speech
[ sent anonymously to the Anarchist Librarians list ]
Lawrence Lessig's new book, "Free Culture"
available online, for free, licensed under Creative Commons:
[ sent by Fiona Bradley to the SRRT list ]
An excerpt of the book, published in WIRED:
[ sent by Carrie Mclaren to her Stay Free! list ]
USA Today story on woman who died fleeing Cuba revealed to be a
[ sent to me by Lincoln Cushing ]
Official Weblog of Noam Chomsky
[ found surfing ]
Harold J Schmeltzer ... one man's idea of how to bust the stereotype:
[ sent by Greg[at]SHUSH to the Conservativelib discussion list ]
"Alternative Resources on Haiti" on the SRRT IRTF site
[ sent to the SRRT list by Tom Twiss ]
Screenplays for You - free movie scripts and screenplays
[ found surfing ]
3. Salon's David Womack - interview with Rory Litwin
David Womack, a contributing writer for Salon.com, was working on a story
about librarians and politics last year. He interviewed me last August
in preparation for writing this story. It was never published; I don't
know whether he is still planning to write it. But enough time has
gone by that I think it's fair for me to publish our interview.
Re: Interview questions
Date: 08/01/03 04:07 pm
From: Rory Litwin <rlitwin[at]earthlink.net> (Libr.org)
To: David Womack <david_womack[at]aiga.org>
It looks like this will be an interesting article. I have a lot to say in
response to your questions. My responses are interspersed below.
On Thursday 31 July 2003 03:01 pm, you wrote:
> Dear Rory,
> I am writing an article on librarians as social activists for Salon.com.
> I would be very interested in your thoughts on a couple of issues.
> -Do you feel that librarians, generally, are becoming more politically
> aware and active?
Definitely not - In fact I think I could prove that we are not becoming more
politically aware and active, by showing you the history of the American
Library Association's resolutions on political issues, both related and
unrelated to libraries. It extends far into the past, at least as far as
the 60's. The ALA has been slow to respond to some issues and quick to
respond to others, but I can think of no common denominator other than the
principles of American librarianship.
I can see that it might appear that we've become more politically aware and
active, and I can identify several reasons for this.
The first is that the core values of American librarianship have remained
constant while the country's have shifted in response both to terrorism and
in conformity with a very conservative administration. The American
Library Association (and please understand that I am speaking about them,
not for them) is controversial at the moment because it is not wavering in
its commitment to the core values that have animated American librarians
since the spread of public libraries in the 19th Century. The value of
Intellectual Freedom, best expressed in the Library Bill of Rights, which
you can find on the ALA website, is a principle that librarians understand
to be at the core of American Democracy. We are now finding ourselves in
the position of having to defend this value in libraries to an extent we
haven't had to do since the Communist witch-hunts. The positions we've
taken on library filters and on government censorship of information
ostensibly for security reasons don't indicate that we're more politically
active so much as that we've entered a time in which our longstanding
commitments have become controversial because of cultural changes.
Personal privacy is another longstanding core value of librarians, one
that's related to Intellectual Freedom, so our opposition to the Patriot
Act is also a result not of us changing but of society changing. (And no,
I don't think we should change with society in this case. The public can
be fickle, and part of our role is to preserve the conditions for American
Democracy during times when it's threatened.)
It's worth mentioning some other important values of librarians, which,
while perennial and unwavering, have become unpopular, and these are the
value of sharing (rather than buying and selling), the value of public
spaces and the public sphere (which require public financing), and, though
many might disagree with this, the values of professional authority,
rationality, studious and scholarly attention to problems, intellectualism,
and social equity. These values can have different political implications
at different times, but values do have implications, and these times are
no different than any other in that respect.
A second reason that we are now appearing to be more political is that the
Right Wing, starting with a few individuals who are dedicated to particular
issues, have launched a campaign against us based on the commitments I've
mentioned, and also based on what I regard as some minor statements made by
the Association (and again, I am speaking about them, not for them) on Cuba
and Israel, which are hot-button issues for specific conservative groups.
These statements were political, and indicate that librarians have a
political awareness. But these statements were also nothing new. ALA has
been making statements on political issues for decades, as I mentioned.
But these statements became news because of a few people who objected to
them very strenuously - people who also had access to the press in one way
or another. So some articles started coming out, mostly in the right wing
press, and these naturally distorted many facts, as advocacy journalism,
especially, often does. So it began to appear that librarians were as a
group suddenly a Leftist force. This is extremely inaccurate given the
diversity of opinion in the profession and the conservative nature of so
many librarians. (Note: Initially, on the Cuba issue the complaint of the
anti-Castro activists was not that ALA made any disagreeable statement, but
that ALA did not make a statement supporting their cause.)
(I should also mention why I think it is that these groups had never brought
this kind of public attention to ALA's political activities in the past,
and I think it's simply that the conservative tide which has swept the
country gave them momentum and boldness and gave editors the sense that
these are the sentiments which will sell papers at the moment.)
A third reason it suddenly began to appear that librarians have become more
politically aware and active is the Presidency (in the American Library
Association, which, again I'm speaking about and not for) of Mitch
Freedman. He was elected because he's well-known and respected among
librarians, and because he pledged to make the issue of librarians'
salaries a top priority, as well as diversity issues. His progressive
politics were well-known and fine with the people who voted for him, but
his becoming President by itself doesn't indicate a groundswell of
progressive politics among librarians so much as the popularity of this
individual for a variety of reasons. But Freedman did bring some very
poltical speakers to ALA Conferences while he was President, and his
statements in support of the positions ALA took w/ respect to the PATRIOT
ACT, CIPA, Israel, and Cuba were clear and relatively uncompromising. So,
this (the political speakers especially) provided some fodder for activist
journalists who wanted to paint ALA as a hotbed of radicalism.
A fourth reason is the one that I have something to do with. There is, as
there always has been, a subgroup of the profession who are very
politically aware and active. But in the past five years or so we have
used the internet in a way that let us communicate our ideas more widely
than before (and also has made our ideas more easily available to
journalists who want to find them). This is how Ann Sparanese was able to
communicate to librarians the fact that Harper Collins had planned to pulp
rather then release Michael Moore's already printed "Stupid White Men"
(which was written about in Salon). It's not that Ann represented anything
new in the fact that she attended the meeting where Moore announced this.
What's new is how easily the news spread, and also how easy it was for
concerned librarians to lobby the publisher. The internet doesn't always
make activism more effective, but it certainly can, and in our case I think
it has definitely raised the profile of the "Library Left" as we call
ourselves. (Incidentally, it shouldn't surprise you to hear that we in the
Library Left believe we are defending the traditional values of
librarianship where many in the mainstream are content to go with the flow,
and that that is what we are all about.)
> -What skills, if any, do you think make librarians particularly effective
> as activists?
I don't know that we are particularly effective activists, but if we are, I
think it's because of the emphasis in the profession on something called
Information Literacy, which is what we try to teach library users.
Summarized, Information Literacy is set of skills that allow a person to
determine what information they need; get the information efficiently,
critically evaluate information sources (for bias, etc.), use the
information to accomplish a specific purpose, and understand the economic,
social, and legal issues surrounding information use.
> -Do you think that libraries or librarians that endorse specific
> political positions or agendas compromise their ability to be objective
> mediators of information?
This is a question that I've actually written an article about, which I hope
you will read. It's at http://www.libr.org/PL/21_Litwin.html . It states
what I think about that.
But more briefly, here's what I think about the question of our professional
neutrality, the question of objectivity, and activism. First of all, how
librarians do their job at the reference desk or in book selection is much
different from how we work in society to advance our professional values.
When we're helping library users, we have a responsibility to respect their
right and their ability to completely think for themselves, so we don't try
to feed them ideas. Again, this is related to the professional values that
motivate us to be political, those values that are enshrined in the Library
Bill of Rights. That document promises that we will provide access to a
full range of ideas, and that's what we do. (I personally believe that in
order to fulfill that promise, librarians need to pay attention to the
effects of increasing centralized ownership of the publishing industry and
the increasing emphasis on profits, and how that makes the offerings of
small, independent publishers worthy of our special attention, but this is
an idea that hasn't really caught on.) It's a document that promises a
certain kind of neutrality in promising intellectual freedom, but it's
promise that can, ironically, require our political involvement to live up
to (especially when library funding is threatened).
At the same time we promise a certain professional neutrality, we have
training which allows us to look at issues and facts objectively. But this
objectivity is, I believe, what finally makes some of us activists as
professionals outside of our workplace. There is a very harmful fallacy in
popular thinking that says to be objective is to be neutral, that if a
person is passionate, they are not being objective. But there are
objective facts that a person can learn that motivate him to action.
Objectivity isn't a matter of giving equal credence to competing claims -
it's a matter of weighing evidence and surrounding considerations to see
what is in fact true. Now, it's important to always be willing to learn
from new information and accept the possibility of being wrong, but it's
equally important, once you've learned something significant, to respond to
it in the real world. Some librarians do this, and some don't do it so
much, or do it only in circumscribed ways. To the extent that librarians
are politically active, as long as it's based on objective information, and
as long as the values that movitate him along with the facts are the values
which have always defined the profession, I believe that that activism will
ultimately strengthen the profession and add to the confidence that the
public already has in us. But it is something that takes time.
> -What do you think the role of librarians will be in the future?
I don't really know how things will change. The social forces affecting
libraries are significant. There is pressure on the profession from a
number of directions. The growth of the internet is not, I believe, the
greatest threat, as people's need for professional judgment in information
organization and retrieval will persist and re-emerge. I think a much
greater threat is corporate globalization. That might sound crazy, but if
you look into it (a good starting points is my collection of links at
http://libr.org/GATS/ ) you might find it worth an article. The threat is
that the partial privatization which libraries have already undertaken will
be used as a wedge for foreign corporations to claim that our domestic
subsidies for information services amount to unfair competition. This
would result in the privatization of libraries, which would make librarians
employees of profit-making organizations. Some users might not notice the
difference, but librarians would inevitably find their professional
judgement compromised by the marketing needs of the owning company.
That's a pessimistic fantasy more than a prediction. My hope is that the
role of librarians will be as it is now only more definitive - to provide
access to a full range of ideas and creative works, to protect the freedom
to read, to preserve the record of the past in all its variety, and to
provide a public space unbiased by commercial concerns and partisan
> If you would rather follow up by phone, please email me your phone number
> and a good time to call. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
> Best wishes,
> David Womack
> Contributing Writer
4. From Papyrus to Print-out: African library conference
From Papyrus to Print-out: the Book in Africa Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
8th Bibliophilia Africana Conference, Centre of the Book, Cape Town
11th - 14th May 2005
First Conference Circular and Call for Papers
Every country in Africa is currently faced with the challenges of book
development, book pricing, preservation of books and oral literature,
public libraries, accessibility of literature, reading literacy, and the
impact of information technology on book development and on literature.
The 8th Bibliophilia Africana conference will focus on these issues and
how they are being addressed in various sectors and at various levels
across the continent.
Formal conference sessions are being planned to begin on the morning of
11th May 2005 and will end with a function on the evening of 14th May
2005. Day One will focus on historical perspectives, Day Two on the
present and Day Three on the future of the book in Africa.
This is a CALL FOR PAPERS . Those interested are invited to submit
abstracts on the themes listed below. If your interest area is not
listed below, please feel free to submit an abstract and it will be
considered - but inclusion will be dependant on time constraints.
* changes in the book industry
* electronic knowledge
* collecting and preserving
* changes in the collectors' market
* book access
* alternative initiatives in publishing
* the current and future role of national libraries in collecting rare
* literatures and publishing in Africa
* oral history, folklore, poetry
* religious books/publications
* South African struggle publications and the Exile Press
Paper presentations will be of 20 minutes duration or you may make a
Poster Presentation. We also envisage workshops, creative performances
Abstracts must include the following information:
* name and institutional affiliation of the author(s),
* address, e-mail address, phone, mobile and fax numbers
Abstracts should not be more than 300 words in length. The deadline for
abstracts is 31st May 2004.
Abstracts should be sent by e-mail to bibliophilia[at]nlsa.ac.za or by
8th Bibliophiles Conference
National Library of South Africa
P O Box 496
If you do not wish to present a paper or poster session, but would like
to attend the conference as a delegate, please e-mail
bibliophilia[at]nlsa.ac.za or visit the conference website at
Day registrations as well as session registrations will be available
and special concessions for students and pensioners will be considered.
You will be sent registration forms later.
Co-ordinators of the 8th Bibliophilia Africana Conference
* The Association of Friends of the National Library of South Africa
* Society of Bibliophiles in Cape Town
* National Library of South Africa www.nlsa.ac.za
* Centre for the Book, Cape Town www.centreforthebook.org.za
5. New Yorkers for Fair Use Call to General Assembly
Internet Commons Congress 2004
March 24-25, 2004, Outside Washington, DC
Please forward this call to any other concerned parties you might know.
Please visit the above links to register to attend and join in the fight to
preserve the Internet commons.
Today our commons is under attack.
The attack is wide and pervasive. Even our right to own and use computers
inside our homes and offices, is under attack.
The time has come to assemble and declare our rights. We call upon
advocates and organizers, authors and cow-orkers, readers and singers,
politicians and students, grandmothers and children of all ages, and all who
support the right of free human beings to the free dissemination and use of
information rendered to the commons for the benefit of the public, to join
us at the Internet Commons Congress outside Washington DC on March 24 and
We live in a time of vibrant prospects and shameful travesties, brought on
as we confront the implications of a new and broader and greater empowerment
in furtherance of our common wealth and in engagement in our common
Today we possess:
- The Internet: the means to disseminate and make use of published
information flexibly and powerfully, on a worldwide scale
- Computers: tools to process, select, combine, analyze and synthesize
information at the digital and logical level, and
- Logical Freedom: the power to devise means of applying these tools
through the free use and expression of logic in code
But today we also confront:
- attempts to create irrational and wildly artificial legal and regulatory
trammels on new conventions, such as VoIP, in order to keep control of the
world's communication channels in the hands of old oligopolies, monopolies,
and tyrannical governments
- an intransigent U.S. Federal Communications Commission, arrogating to
itself an unprecedented authority to declare exclusive rights policy and to
regulate the design of digital devices on that basis
- consolidated mass media and entrenched communications monopolies that
subvert principles of the public interest with the willing concurrence of
complaisant regulators and legislators
- elected representatives who have made plain their intention to enact a
new exclusive right to factual information in databases
- forceful attempts in Europe to subvert the law banning patents on
software, by patent establishment professionals and the large companies they
- specious arguments by public servants and privileged contractors for the
supposed reliability of "new voting technology"
- attempts by the Bio-Medical Cartel and others to seize the fruits of
logical, biological, medical, and pharmaceutical researches carried out at
publically financed institutions of science and learning
- an already well advanced and well funded plan to impose a redesign of
home computer hardware so that running software that you choose would be
made impractical, and analyzing and processing information in the manner you
choose would be made impossible; the new design, backed by laws such as the
DMCA, would result in the emplacement of wiretap and remote control hardware
and supporting software in every new low cost home computer sold in 2006
- massive ongoing and systematic violations of contract law and antitrust
law and consumer protection law by Microsoft and its partners, by means of
which most home users are left with no choice but to run Microsoft operating
systems: most people are not offered any choice of operating system at point
of sale of the hardware, and are therefore induced to employ systems that
are difficult to use and easily parasitized, systems that are indeed so bad
because Microsoft need not compete
- a hundred million dollar campaign of barratry and red-baiting conducted
by SCO, acting as agent for the convicted monopolist Microsoft, to induce
businesses and individuals to steer away from exercising free control of
their logic devices, away in particular from GNU/Linux operating systems;
the assault led by SCO is only one of many of similar scale
All these issues and more are part of a broad struggle by all the people, we
who treasure our freedom and who wish to remain free to use our Net and our
computers in all the ways that are both fit and just.
We call all ready advocates and concerned constituencies to assemble at the
Internet Commons Congress this March 24 and 25, 2004. Here we will forge a
bond in our common cause of information freedom, detail our missions and
callings and summon each other to join in common cause.
Please click here for details regarding venue, schedule, logistics:
Registration for attendance is free: http://www.nyfairuse.org/icc/reg.xhtml
Those in attendance will issue calls for action, as shall we. We call all
free citizens to join the struggle against englobulation of our Commons and
our computers by the loose association and alliance of cartels, oligopolies,
monopolies, and parts of governments, that seek to keep or take control of
all the communications systems of the world.
At the moment New Yorkers for Fair Use knows of a few efforts which we will
forward at the Congress:
- Continued Actions for Refunds: We hope to prepare materials to move the
FTC, Congress of the USA folk, the Federal antitrust team, and the judge in
the Microsoft case to consider effective action on the basis of gross
violations of both the 1994/1995 consent decree, and the recent conviction
of Microsoft. This effort needs several score affidavits dealing with
anti-competitive practices at point of sale of low cost computer hardware.
- Education of Regulators and Legislators and Attorneys about Home
Computer Hardware: We will explain and demonstrate the boot process today on
untrammeled hardware and what the boot process would be like on Palladiated
hardware, that is, hardware with hard DRM.
- Procurement Policy Education and Action: We seek to collect and analyze
the grossly inequitable policies and procedures by which vendors of source
secret softwares keep their special privileged position in the machine rooms
and desktops of government agencies.
- Education of Regulators and Legislators and Judges about the Net: We
will explain the fundamental principles which, for more than thirty years,
have supported the psychic and moral and legal and engineering foundations
of our Net. A popularly reported on issue directly connected with these
principles is the "issue of Voice Over Internet Protocol".
These four actions have been mentioned because organizations, tribes, and
individuals from New York City have recently been working on these four
efforts. We know that other efforts will also be carried forward at the
Internet Commons Congress. Come and help!
New Yorkers for Fair Use
[CC] Counter-copyright: http://realmeasures.dyndns.org/cc
I reserve no rights restricting copying, modification or distribution of
this incidentally recorded communication. Original authorship should be
attributed reasonably, but only so far as such an expectation might hold for
usual practice in ordinary social discourse to which one holds no claim of
6. Moby Dick Used
Date: 03/25/04 07:24 am
From: sharon butler <sb[at]writersarchive.com>
I'm an artist and I have on ongoing project that I want to exhibit in
library galleries around the country; I thought you might like to help
get the word to librarians interested in participating in the project.
Here are the details:
In this ongoing project, "Moby Dick, Used," I am trying to find copies
of all 256 Library of Congress entries for "Moby Dick." Last October, I
installed nearly empty bookshelves at Hygienic Art Galleries in the
whaling city New London, CT, and invited viewers to bring in worn
editions of Herman Melville's classic in exchange for limited-edition
digital prints made from the first edition in my collection. By the end
of the exhibition the shelves, which were nearly full, held editions
from as far afield as Japan, Spain, France and the Netherlands.
Currently, I'm looking for new venues to install the project and
continue the search/collection process. Would your institution be
interested in hosting an installation of the project, or do you know of
one that might be?
To see images of this project and links to past projects, please visit
In an essay about "Moby Dick, Used, Eastern Connecticut State
University's Akus Gallery director Marion Callis writes:
"...Sharon L. Butler's "Moby Dick, Used" reflects her fascination with
the notion of searching. In Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick,
Captain Ahab is obsessed with finding a singular creature, a great
white whale. Butler likens Ahab's search to our ongoing search for self
knowledge, and uses various editions and printings of the classic story
to suggest multiple forms for the search, that still arrive at the same
conclusion: each edition in Moby Dick, Used suggests a new possibility.
The artist's continuing search for more editions of the book to add to
the partially empty shelves of "Moby Dick, Used" reflects the
excitement and anticipation inherent to the search; she combines logic
and chance to locate where and when another edition of the book will
surface, as in the search for revelations of the self. Butler notes
that the project has made her aware of "millions of Moby Dicks,"
potentially existing in other parts of the world, and translated into
languages other than her own...."
The project's space requirements are flexible, although I would like
one large wall (8' x 12') to mount all the catalog cards that I've
created from the online LOC listings. The bookshelf size can vary
depending on available space. Please don't hesitate to e-mail me if
you need more information.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sharon L. Butler
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Visual Arts
Eastern Connecticut State University
83 Windham Road
Willimantic, CT 06226
7. Libraries Should Provide for the Reader Who Smokes (1919)
San Francisco Examiner, February 20, 1919. p. 20.
Many a man has gotten the inspiration which shaped his life-course while
reading a paper or magazine or book that he had picked up because he had
nothing else to do.
We are not speaking now of spiritual regeneration, but of something of
value in this workaday world.
Many a man has spent minutes or hours in saloons drinking and chatting with
friends which he might better have spent over some newpaper, magazine or
book. After next July the saloon will be done and finished with. But
there will be just as much time in the circle of the clock. It will be
incumbent upon the community, as a public matter perhaps, to find an
opportunity for the spending of some of the leisure time which heretofore
has been spent by many in the saloon.
How about the libraries?
The question was recently brought up in the Book Review section of the New
York "Sun." They must be made more clubby, the writer said. The old idea
that libraries are storehouses of knowledge for folks already well-read and
cultured must go by the board. The libraries must be made "reading clubs"
and made especially comfortable for all the plain people who might be
induced to use them if they were made more inviting to them in particular.
In other words, the library folks have got to get away from the notion that
they are an ultra-cultured set whose ministrations are meant only for
similarly ultra-cultured folk. And the writer in the "Sun" made on
smashing suggestion, which, we will wager, strikes many of the readers of
this editorial right between the eyes. He suggested that libraries allow
smoking in specially designated reading rooms.
One can imagine the faint screams of astonishment with which this
suggestion will be greeted by some of our librarians. Of course, smoking
in the reading rooms. Those of us men folks fortunate enough to have
homes, whenever we sit ourselves down in them for an evening with a book,
never think ourselves quite fixed for it until there is a smoke going. Why
not similar comfort in the libraries?
Doesn't it sound meet and proper for the reader to be equipped with smoking
material when he opens a volume of Anatole France or of Flaubert, or let us
say, Rabelais? Even Emerson, for all his abhorrence of the weed, is more
easily digested, we think, if the reader gets an occasional lift from a
whiff of smoke. And as for such a chap as Henry James, we verily believe a
smoke is a first aid to comprehension.
And this writer in the "Sun" goes further and says we ought to instal
soda-fountains in the libraries. A chocolate soda or a nut-sundae might be
more agreeable to break up an evening's or afternoon's reading than plain
water in those spurty faucets they supply in our San Francisco libraries.
In the main library at the Civic Center and in all the branches there is no
regard for the smoking reader. If he insists upon a smoke, he must needs
pace the sidewalk outside. Up in the Mechanics' Library the only place he
may smoke is in the room where congregate theose genial one-idead gentlemen
who interminably play chess and checkers. Out in the reading rooms a
cigarette would be the signal for getting pitched out into Post street.
By all means, we think this matter of supplying a reading room devoted to
the cause and comforts of folks who like to smoke while they read should be
taken up seriously by the authorities on both the public and the Mechanics'
Maybe the soda-fountain might be good, too.
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