Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

And you thought academia was bad

The latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education features an article entitled "The Loneliness of a Conservative Librarian" [sorry, subscription required]. Last year David Brooks investigated the ratio of Kerry campaign donors to Bush donors within academia, and it was in the neighborhood of 11:1--but among librarians it was 223:1.

The author of this piece, David Durant, knew back in 1997 that the profession he was getting into was made up predominantly of liberals and leftists. That didn’t matter to him--he prized himself on his ability to get along with everyone. The problem arose after September 11, and particularly after the Iraq War. At that point, he writes, the profession became "overtly politicized":

One of the most disturbing aspects of the situation is the way in which the supposedly nonpolitical American Library Association has become a platform for left-wing partisanship. The ALA’s Council, its elected governing body, is dominated by left-wing activists who recently passed a resolution calling for the United States to leave Iraq.

It is, of course, the right of the vast majority of my colleagues to hold positions I disagree with. But it’s a very different matter when the major professional association in librarianship takes openly political stands on issues that have no direct bearing on the field.

Proponents of the resolution on Iraq argue that abandoning the country to Al Qaeda would allow us to spend lots more money on libraries here at home. I believe that allowing radical Islam to run rampant in the Middle East would be utterly disastrous for libraries and intellectual freedom, both here and abroad. It is for individuals to choose between those positions; a professional organization like the ALA has no business adopting such a blatantly partisan resolution.

Discussions - 7 Comments

No subscription required! This article is free at the Chronicle web site:

Keith Morgan

Not only is the ALA liberal, they are also pro-pornography. See the uproar over the public libraries in the Denver area for proof.

Goodson - are you the one that keeps coming into our library and checking out all of those naughty Spanish novellas, "to protect the kids"??

And how. As an academic librarian whose political views are center-right, I can sure relate. In fact, I am so alone in these views at my library that I haven’t a single sympathetic library colleague to whom I could even forward the article. (Center-right, who am I kidding anyway? Such distinctions are meaningless where I work, where if you’re to the right of Joe Lieberman you’re considered a Nazi.)

So like Mr. Durant, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. What else can I do? I suspect that if word got out that I was conservative, it might affect my prospects of advancement in the organization. It sounds paranoid, but from candid remarks that some of my superiors have made about job candidates, I believe it to be true.

Well, boo-hoo-hoo, M. Bernard!! Sounds like someone has a bit of a persecution complex along with their paranoia! Why don’t you just be the best librarian that you can possibly be, and I’m sure that the only limits you’ll experience will be the ones that are self-imposed. First off, instead of forwarding articles, why don’t you put those books back on the shelf??

And don’t forget, our current First Lady is (was) a librarian. And I don’t think she is exactly a leftist, a liberal or even a Kerry voter! Clearly, the sky is the limit for conservative librarians.

Jamie O’Neill: you’re right, I was whining. Sorry. Lots of people, left and right, have to keep their political opinions to themselves at work for fear of reprisal. Guess I should just learn to live with it.

Laura Bush was a school librarian for a minute about a million years ago. While it’s nice to have a former librarian as a First Lady, her rise to fame has exactly nothing to do with her being a librarian, or even a conservative, for that matter.

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