Monday, January 19, 2009

ALA Silent As Obama Nominee Expects to Adopt USA PATRIOT Act Bush Position

The American Library Association [ALA] is suddenly silent as the nascent Obama administration "expects" to adopt the Bush administration's position on the USA PATRIOT Act. Yet again, the ALA exposes just why it should not be considered authoritative.

The ALA is known to be one of the major opponents of the USA PATRIOT Act. The ALA frequently attacked the Bush administration for supporting Section 215 of the Act. For example, one prominent ALA member writing in the ALA's American Libraries called the Act "treason pure and simple."

The ALA sometimes goes further, actually supporting the interests of terrorists over those of Americans. For example, the de facto leader of the ALA was opposed to the violation of a library patron privacy law that involved a 9/11 terrorist's library activities immediately before 9/11.

If your library destroys book lending files, web site logs, and computer signup sheets, it is likely due to your library's adherence to ALA efforts to thwart the effectiveness of the USA PATRIOT Act. Further, that is likely in total defiance of your own community's wishes and interests since the ALA effectively squelches local control over local libraries nationwide. Consider regaining control over your local libraries, but I digress.

Along comes a new president with a new attorney general, people who are near total political opposites of their predecessors. The new attorney general has said he "expects" to uphold Section 215.

Uphold Section 215? The ALA attacked the Bush administration for years on this. Now that the Obama administration "expects" to follow the Bush administration's lead, is the ALA again leading the charge to decry Section 215 and the Obama administration?

No. Silence. No more "treason pure and simple." No more "rebuking both Inner and Outer Ashcrofts." Another ALA double standard. Another reason the ALA is no longer authoritative.

Please read the following for additional factual information and confirmation of the above:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ALA Uses Common Sense on CPSIA Child Safety Issue; Congratulations to Emily Sheketoff and the ALA Washington Office

The American Library Association [ALA] is using common sense on a library child safety issue, and I congratulate Emily Sheketoff of the ALA. A proposed federal law would require children's products, including books, to be checked for lead, and libraries may be held liable, even if no child gets lead poisoning. I know, sounds silly, doesn't it? But see: "Congress Bans Kids From Libraries? New Safety Law May Prohibit Children Under 12 from Libraries–or Make Many Books Illegal," by Lissa Harris, The Boston Phoenix, 9 January 2009. Quote, emphasis mine:

Is it possible that Congress has just inadvertently turned millions of children’s books into contraband? .... “We are very busy trying to come up with a way to make [the proposed law] not apply to libraries,” said Sheketoff. But unless she succeeds in lobbying Capitol Hill for an exemption, she believes libraries have two choices under the CPSIA [Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act]: “Either they take all the children’s books off the shelves,” she says, “or they ban children from the library.”

SafeLibraries is very concerned about child safety in the public library. But CPSIA is overbroad. The ALA is right for taking a stand against this legislation. Way to go, Emily Sheketoff and the ALA Washington Office!

For more on how CPSIA is overbroad, see: "CPSIA: Furor Builds Over Toyless Shelves," by Walter Olson, Overlawyered, 11 January 2009.

NOTE ADDED 13 May 2011:

Good news:  "Good News for Libraries, Bad News for Publishers in Proposed CPSIA Amendment," by Karen Raugust, Publishers Weekly, 13 May 2011.
A proposed bill that would amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 is giving hope to many of the industries affected by the Act, including children’s libraries and used booksellers. “It solves our problem,” says Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington Office.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New OIF Blog Deletes Free Speech

The American Library Association 's [ALA] so-called Office for Intellectual Freedom [OIF] has a new OIF blog. For a few days, the new blog contained a means for commenting just like most other blogs. I know because I used it to respond to an existing comment—to no avail, as it turned out. Days after the blog was launched, the ALA removed the comment feature from the blog and removed at least one existing comment.

With ability to leave comments excised, the "blog" is little more than an organized collection of OIF pronouncements. For example, here is the most recent blog post: Code of Ethics 70th Anniversity Celebration at Midwinter. It's dated yesterday, January 9, after the date of the promised new blog, yet it does not allow for any comments: "Responses are currently closed.... Comments are closed."

People can do whatever they like on their own blogs, but they are not claiming adherence to a near century of ethics, decrying censorship, nor promoting intellectual freedom. Isn't it hypocritical for the OIF to even appear to suppress intellectual freedom, to censor out existing comments?

Is there anyone at the ALA who cares that the OIF squelching free speech or giving the appearance of censorship weakens the ALA's claims about the censorship of others? Is this double standard acceptable, particularly from the OIF? Has the new OIF Blog deleted free speech?

In the interests of intellectual freedom and freedom of speech, feel free to leave any comments you wish.

UPDATE 29 SEPTEMBER 2010:  I now confirm the OIF Blog is finally allowing comments, even mine.

UPDATE #2 29 SEPTEMBER 2010:  My comment has again been removed! Further, another OIF blog post had six comments from known ALA members, I left one only quoting Judith Krug that was in moderation phase, but that has disappeared as well as the six comments!  So, about two years after my original post, the ALA OIF is again removing comments!!