My Comments: “The Battle for the Soul f the Library” (27 Feb. 2022) by Stanley Kurtz
My career has spanned some 40+ years as a librarian and library instructor, educator in two disciplines, and musician. My career has crossed between traditional and non-traditional. My work with the U.S. Air Force was non-traditional in maintaining a very small core collection necessary for developing, with database management practices, information about software engineering literature and the R&D projects to support military efforts in maintaining, during the Cold War, radar systems training simulators, and any type of equipment in support of aviation and for any branch of the military. The career path for me also went into years as a corporate librarian for R&D, executive management, engineering, and marketing, concentrated in the training department of the corporation. My career also kept me, practically all that time, in the academic field and in public libraries.
I have been a member of the Special Librarians Association (SLA, both Upstate New York and Florida & Caribbean chapters), American Society for Information Science (ASIS), Edison Electric institute (EEI) Library Division, American Library Association (ALA), Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), and state organizations, such as Florida Library Association (FLA), Florida chapter of ACRL, and New York Library Association.
In this career with professional groups, I have been an elected leader of groups and attended many conferences. Add to this my organizing of conferences in Florida, including a technology conference for libraries held in Miami Beach and working with the keynote speaker, Jamie LaRue, who eventually moved on to head the FTRF.
I have experience working with public libraries and the Florida statewide advocates of public libraries, including Bernadette Storck and others in the NEFLIN, TBLC, and SEFLIN library cooperatives.
Why do I have to explain these credentials? Because your newspaper publishes an article by Stanley Kurtz who appears to be from a conservative think tank and is critical of the very profession from where spent these many years. But all he has to do is be identified with POLITICS and POLITICAL IDEOLOGY and he is thus an “expert.” In the Air Force, we used to say that “an expert is a drip under pressure.” The rest of us in the professions are ignored and never get our material printed or published, especially if we worked in an academic area which does not place a requirement of “publish or perish” to appear on the shingle. That was the academic area where I worked as a professor and library instructor for 25 years of my career. No requirement for “publish or perish,” so I was ignored when I attempted to publish. Except for one time and it was by a publisher in a FOREIGN NATION under the BRITISH COMMONWEALTH. But not in American academics.
In light of all of this and the goofball chosen to write about “the soul of the library,” I also must add that my reading repertoire, since I was in the 7th Grade, has been across the board in terms of political spectrum. I read George Will as well as Paul Krugman or others. I never felt I had to massage my ego by only reading (or viewing on political analysis television) only what made me happy. “We’ll have fun, fun, fun til our daddy takes the T-bird away.” That was NOT my mantra. I also viewed CONSERVATIVE William F. Buckley, Jr. with his program called Firing Line. I would read Buckley’s op-ed columns, too and had an interest in his magazine called The National Review. I ALSO had an interest in the liberal publication, The New Republic, which challenged positions taken in the Buckley magazine.
Political ideology means nothing to me. My mantra is about humanism first. I don’t consider the Civil Rights Act nor the Voting Rights Act, from the 1960s, to be pertinent for politics because they concern humanist attitudes in the way we treat one another as human beings in a democracy. But alas, what choice do we have and LBJ was forced to force the American people to take a good long look at those two acts. What a shameful thing to say about America. But we had to come to grips with these issues, even if many of us merely define what we stand and pledge of allegiance to a flag, while too many people are nothing but hypocrites. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Now we have atheists who likely prioritize more the removal of “one nation under God…” (1950s addition under President Eisenhower) than to endorse and inspire that we follow the words, “with liberty or justice for all.” Or, such people don’t take and prioritize standing up for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Too many people are thinking on individualist terms, working to destroy. Such people do this, whether Trump, atheists, or the “woke librarians” identified by Kurtz.
This might be a problem. The bigger problem I have with Kurtz is his stereotyping of librarians as all of us being these “liberal” or “woke” librarians. What an insult. I have offered my credentials and must say that, should Kurtz not conclude that I am a “woke” librarian, he is a shameful and mentally deranged person who needs a lobotomy.
Issue. Censorship. Kurtz says that too many librarians put the 1619 Project book into the library, but don’t add Peter Wood’s 1620 book. Excuse me, Mr. Kurtz, but in your bias towards conservatism, you lump us all together as being people who don’t put books from a balanced view into a library. How insulting of the man.
And Kurtz’s stupefying idiocy continues with the phrase, “traditional ideas of liberty.” WHAT? So being a humanist, I ignore traditional ideas of liberty because I don’t like them to be tailored to white supremacists? It is not questions of liberty, just as much as it’s not a question of politics. It is how we treat our fellow human beings. So Mr. Kurtz can go stuff his bias where the sun don’t rise. He is insulting to good people in America.
Take this even further. A university in Florida and a college in Michigan where conservatism prevails over liberal. The one in Florida is a very large one, too. Yet, those in Florida who must believe in white racist forms of “liberty” which should prevail over all, makes claims that the university in Florida has too damn many liberal professors. Really? I have spoken with graduates of that university and they speak about conservative professors who cram their ideas down their throats.
What about conservative MIT? It has engineers who look the other way regarding global warming and claim it does not exist. They put out fake stuff in this regard, ignoring the facts so as in the Trumparian way, they put their own spin on the issue. Meanwhile, sea levels are rising in Florida and some are fearful of the levels becoming too high. Hopefully, this never happens during our lifetime.
But what about words in the preamble to the U.S Constitution? “Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” Posterity? Does Kurtz even realize that this is a LIBERAL, PROGRESSIVE THOUGHT about our descendants, not some asinine traditional thought about “traditional ideals of liberty.” Being the conservative and disgusting anti-humanist Kurtz demonstrates that he is.
In reading this Kurtz article, I am struck by his statements to stereotype all librarians as liberal and where he gets his proof and evidence of this? In America today, there are too many who simply speak off the cuff and never provide detailed evidence. Kurtz speaks about an ALA conference as if it is mush to not be considered. Let me see. So, the ALA conference I once attended about 2007 was nothing but mush and no one spoke there except “liberals?” Funny, but I find the man with a mentally deranged mind in saying such a thing. I suppose that Julie Andrews speaking at an ALA conference means she is nothing but a liberal? Where is Kurtz’s damn proof of this? Julie Andrews did not speak about politics. She spoke about her work with writing childrens’ books and working with childrens’ theatre. This is “liberal,” you damn SOB, Kurtz? What a lousy thing to say about someone who spends her time, since losing her voice due to a surgery which went sour. I applaud her for her performances on Broadway and in The Sound of Music. I suppose Kurtz just cannot handle the fact that Julie Andrews also appeared in Victor Victoria? What a dolt and scumbag.
Yes, Bobby Kennedy, Jr., spoke at that conference. Big deal. A liberal with whom no liberals even pay attention to him, particularly in the Democratic Party. But he is stereotyped and smeared by Kurtz?
Some of the others who appeared at that 207 ALA conference and I don’t recall who was there. But I KNOW they were not all liberal and there were a number of conservatives, too. Perhaps the liberals outnumbered conservatives? But when I don’t consider ideology to be important, I would not even pay attention.
In a later ALA conference, I heard a black man speak on a HUMANIST topic, describing growing up in Michigan in the late 1950s and being force to carry Mason jars in the car so they could pee while traveling. Why? Because of gas stations and other lavatory facilities where only white people were accepted. In other words, hold your pee if you have color on your skin. So, this guy, speaking about historical accounts of Jim Crow-like attitudes among whites in America and he is a liberal? More like Kurtz and others are as shameful about all the things which happened and wishes to keep it covered over. He is being like a teacher who had sex with young girls and wished to keep it hidden and out of sight. Such people are mentally deranged sickos. And there are some issues for which I find this black man to be a tad on the conservative side. But he is not liberal just because he stands up for human rights. He is called a human being.
Kurtz says, “Librarians should be politically neutral. Too many aren’t.” Maybe I could say, “Writers accepted for publication in the New York Times should be politically neutral. Too many aren’t.” I have no proof this statement is accurate because I don’t bother to count.
Perhaps Mr. Kurtz needs to learn by reading a series of books written by the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Daniel J. Boorstin. Dr. Boorstin wrote a a series of books titled The Americans. One book had the sub-title of The Democratic Experience. Dr. Boorstin was appointed by Republican CONSERVATIVE, Ronald Wilson Reagan. I suppose Mr. Kurtz would consider a chapter in Boorstin’s book about how a 19th-Century Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner exposed the corruption in the life insurance industry and made changes to it. Too liberal for Mr. Kurtz because he supports corruption and one is liberal if one takes on corruption? Explain this to me because Kurtz stereotypes all librarians as “not being neutral” and as being “liberal.” Wrong, even if he says, “too many aren’t [neutral].”
Also added to this discussion is the reporting of a conversation with someone of the FTRF. We did have a somewhat contentious argument because I felt there needed to be a moderation of what gets published or warning notes and disclaimers, or other methods of moderating the content or else we need to consider censoring books like the one Timothy McVeigh read in order to make bombs. The person at FTRF stood staunchly behind the position of lawyers at the ACLU and protecting books from being censored. But that was only one example. Kurtz makes it sound like there are dozens and dozens and dozens of such examples. Even then, the discussion did center on my suggestions as to how to tone it down when it came to consideration of censorship or not.
Then there is the librarian in Florida who told about a local evangelical fundamentalist church which came to the library and insisted the director toss out any books which contained stories of sex or violence. The director took this group to the shelves, pulled Bible after Bible off the shelves and tossed them in a waste can. The group shrieked in dismay! “How can you throw out all of those Bibles!” The library director said, “well, you asked me to throw out all books which contained stories about sex and violence, so that is where I am beginning. Now show me the other books.” The churchy folks simply departed without another word.
Furthermore, there are those who believe the Koran (Islam) should be removed. Likely Rick Santorum would like to see such a book removed. Yet, this book has no content promoting violent terrorism. Muslims tailored to Saudi Arabia (ISIS, Taliban, and what not) mis-use documents like that the same way that many who call themselves Christians do with the Bible. Most notably, the Southern Baptists once changed the Bible to make it fit their white supremacy ideas.
This question Kurtz poses presents many aspects about life and for all of us living together. Yes, perhaps if 1619 Project is in a library, perhaps Wood’s book, 1620 should be there. But even then, I really am opposed to having any book with hatred and promotion of white supremacist ethnic, religious, or sexual identity bigotry should be allowed in a library. The litmus test should be about humanism. Historical humanism reports on the good and the bad. I have no idea about a comparison of either 1619 Project or 1620, so I cannot comment. But if either one does not live up to the standards of humanism and a lack of hatred and bigotry, I would not choose one which is based on such content. Does Kurtz have specific details and examples for either of these books? If so, I would thrilled to discover what the content is about. And that is how I approached my collection development activities at a library. I was assigned religion, philosophy, music, art, and literature areas, plus areas related to these subjects. For some subject areas, such as philosophy, students often took an interest, so I would speak with them and consult with the philosophy professors. Thank goodness I was never assigned the political science area of the collection!
As a retired librarian and educator, this article by Kurtz insults and irks me. Oh, well, who cares because I am not that important, right? It provides little information with proof and evidence for what Kurtz makes a claim about my profession.
Happy 4th of July – with NEWSPAPERS! NOT!
Shame on you for discontinuing all Saturday and holiday print publications. In fact, GODDAMN the fat pigs who have manipulated this market for more than 10 years, purposely attempting to eliminate local news coverage and local political issues, whether it be newspapers or the loss of local broadcasting. If they only regulate themselves there could be no need for the common folks of America to demand government regulation.If they would only regulate themselves, by the examples of Binghamton-area folks from the past like George F. Johnson (be sensitive to community and employees and call this industrial democracy, based on the moral sentiments expressed by Founding Fathers contemporary, Adam Smith). We wake up this morning with our minds, “set on Jesus.” But we are no longer to wake up this morning on the 4th of July with our minds set on reading the newspaper, unless we get it FORCED and CRAMMED down our throats electronically. Piss on the fat pigs for doing this.
And there are those who scoff and laugh at me for being so adamant to stand up and turn this thing around. I do have experience in this line and a wisdom of age.
More recently, in an economics magazine, there was an article titled, “Culture vultures.” The article identified this yanking of local news with digital bullshit activities (my words, not the magazine’s words), to have reduced the ability of people to understand and to know the people running for Congress unless they listen to the bullshit ads on television with lies and tarnishing of images rather than a discussion of issues. The lowest level of intelligence focuses on tarnishing images and the highest level of intelligence is to focus on issues. We have people seeking huge increases in their income, with bonuses, who have inundated the newspaper ownership with their lousy attitudes towards consumers and a push for digital. The discriminate against those who are unable to read on computers unless they spend tons of money to wire their home so as to sit in a recliner and read the morning newspaper. Let alone the discrimination against senior citizens and those who either don’t want computers or just plain cannot afford them. And don’t look for handouts to solve the problem by purchasing computers for such folks because it drives up the costs all around for all of society. Keep it SIMPLE STUPID. Stop the bullshit of sensationalist news on digital access. The visually impaired are also discriminated against with this digital bullshit. We don’t want handouts when the KISS of all of this is to simply have a printed copy of a newspaper. This 4th of July, the Gannett Pravda of Binghamton (Piss & Sun-Bullshit) tells us all to read it online. Well. Piss on you, Fat Pigs of Gannett – the modern-day versions of ROBBER BARONS and FAT CATS.
My experience and knowledge is like this. I observed as many of us who are trainers, educators, teachers, professors, librarians, healthcare workers, and many other LOW-PAID people who help people and society (as their goal) to be laid off and the jobs destroyed. I was one of them, for the sake of fat pigs at the top of the corporation who kept many high-paid lawyers and accountants on while the rest of us were screwed. Librarians, too, in newspapers. Their jobs to assist reporters (also losing their jobs) in local news. The LOCAL would not only include political news. It would also be sections in the newspapers on local food culture, arts, entertainment, restaurant reviews, health issues, business issues, personal finance issues, and don’t forget the comic strips. The list goes on and on of what WAS once provided by LOCAL newspapers and local BROADCASTING. All have been replaced by a communist style nationalization of newspapers done in the name of capitalist monopolization. The company where I lost my job as a corporate librarian was one of many across the land which got rid of librarians, in the name of deregulation and monopolization (supply side Reaganomics). In each case, whether a deregulated company or newspapers, the purpose was to eliminate the demand side of the market. The newspapers have done a swell job in accomplishing this task.
I knew someone who was laid off at a Florida newspaper in 2008, after working there for 33 years. His local television TV grid, one of many things he did, was curtailed and quite possibly, eventually eliminated. All in the deliberate attempt to strategize to help Rupert Murdoch and others eliminate local broadcasting in favor of Fox News. I don’t dream this up about Rupert Murdoch. He is actually quoted, from which I paraphrase. Recently, the Piss & Sun-Bullshit (Gannett’s local Pravda) eliminated local TV grids completely. I have suggested that if it’s too much to put in a grid with ALL those thousands of channels (most of which are shallow and useless, for which we pay Spectrum and others), that the Piss & Sun-Bullshit just compile the schedules of all the local broadcast channels and provide a listing of all the local radio stations (no need for schedule), identifying what music or news stations are provided by local radio. As people who moved to this area in 2019, we rely on those things. Instead, what did Gannett do? Offer us a separate “TV Weekly at cost. Right. As Barbara Ehrenreich wrote in her book, “nickeling and diming” Americans. This nickeling and diming of Americans does one thing and that is not to increase profits, but to make HUGE profits and line the pant pockets of the fat pigs at the top. That has been proven, too, and needs to stop.
As a customer on the demand side of this market, I have purchased newspapers for many years and have observed the deliberate condensing of newspapers for the sake of ONLY those people at the top. At one time, I did the advertising for a group in South Florida. We put ads in the local newspaper there and were very pleased with the turnout we received. A great capitalist return on investment. FACT: Newspapers operate by selling more advertisements and the prices are based on circulation numbers. This newspaper raised its advertising rates AND its circulation rates. The organization with which I worked decided they were not going to pay those high prices because the return on investment for us was reduced, as the prices of subscriptions and single copies went up. The net result was lack of money because the circulation numbers went down. So, what is done? Raise the advertising rates. It becomes a catch 22 for which lainbrain fat pigs running these organizations running them were blinded. Or were they blinded?
When attending classes at UCF in Orlando, I noticed that the newspaper there was giving newspapers to students. With the “Knight card,” we could obtain a free newspaper. One had to get there to find a newspaper or they were all snarfed up. In other words, to sell more advertisements at a decent cost and to sell more tailored to the young age market, that newspaper could watch its circulation numbers go up.
When I returned to my home campus in South Florida, I suggested the local newspapers there do the same thing. Having been with an organization which yanked our advertising for our LOCALLY PRODUCED concerts, I thought, as a professor at a college there, the same thing could be done in South Florida. I was scoffed at the suggestion by lainbrains.
Then I move back to New York and discover, the thickest “papers” in the area and the only one of about a half dozen subscription-based weekly newspapers which failed, was one which had ALWAYS been available free of charge, even back to the days when I was a kid here. They succeeded with the same model of a “pape” which was done at UCF Orlando. Since my earlier days, they had added “news” items as well. Local news. Such things did not exist. The local supermarket keeps this newspaper, but does NOT have the Piss & Sun-Bullshit nor the Ithaca (another Gannett in a monopolized world) Journal available. One does the grocery shopping and has to walk down the street to get the others. The local newspaper which does NOT rely on selling subscriptions, gives it away free of charge and likely has a far larger advertising revenue to pay for the printing. And as far as I know, this local newspaper is NOT digital. So Piss & Sun-Bullshit loses readers with its lainbrain fat pigs who FORCE digital down our throats.
I have some suggestions, but if one wants to simply scoff at my suggestions, then go to hell.
1. Gannett do what was done in the Tampa Bay area where they went from two newspapers (St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune) to one which incorporates the Gannett newspapers in the small cities of Binghamton, Ithaca, and Elmira. Call it the Southern Tier Press, Sun-Bulletin, Journal, Star-Gazette. Or simply shorten it to The Southern Tier Press because Binghamton is the largest of the cities. The Sun-Bulletin consists of a name from the Endicott Bulletin, but most young people probably don’t even know such history. Or simply create a new name completely, like The Southern Tier Newsday. But don’t make it sensationalist like the bullshit in The Daily News or The New York Post. More like the tabloid called Newsday.
2. Make The Southern Tier Newsday a tabloid, but not sensationalist.
3. Bring back local community information besides just the news. Bring back local columnists which write non-biased observations about what is happening. Bring back a food column. With such a newspaper, the school at Cornell University which gave us upstate NY style BBQ chicken or Endicott-style spiedies, etc., etc., etc., could be part of such a food culture and recipe column. Bring back entertainment reviews, including concert reviews, theatre reviews, restaurant reviews, recreational reviews (not sports), etc. And there are many other local community events and reviews, including restaurant reviews, as well. We don’t need Facebook to do this, but open it up for all of us to read, whether we are wealthy and can afford the best computers and over-priced Internet service, or less advantaged.
4. Bring back local delivery of the newspapers by kids. Make certain these kids collect the money from the customers and have an advantage to expand their routes. These things have been removed by communist-style centrally located Gannett Pravda and others. What do we wish to do? Emulate freaking lousy Putin who needs to be pissed on? He leads a nation which has ALWAYS been governed by vicious and lousy individuals who are more like Genghis Khan than like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, and others in our long line of good leaders. Allow the carriers to pay a wholesale cost and sell at retail so as to learn what COMPETITIVE capitalism, not the fat pig version of a monopolistic centrally-controlled economics which is NOT capitalism. And if these young people need to go door-to-door to collect for the papers, then they should be required to have two people at any time when knocking on doors. Of course, if all newspapers were distributed at no per-copy charge, then there would be no collections at the door, but customers encouraged to leave a tip for the carriers which would be paid according to the number of newspapers delivered. The higher the number, the more the kids would be paid. Thus, such “business” enterprise could be taught so as to teach what it means to market and distribute newspapers.
5. Newspapers could increase the circulation numbers by selling both print AND digital copies. But those receiving print copies would get them free. The method now is to treat customers like shit unless they USE the digital copies. That is NOT SUPPLY and DEMAND capitalism. That is fascist rule from supply side economics. That is NOT capitalism.
Recently, I contacted a newspaper publisher which was advertising its need to get delivery people. I am too old to do door-to-door, even by car. But I suggested, since this newspaper was from out of town and only one store was carrying it, I would be willing to diver to stores in western Broome and eastern Tioga Counties so as to deliver to those stores. Having more newspapers in a store CAN attract customers, especially those who are being screwed by not getting home delivery, or having a really lousy home delivery. The newspaper is at a store at a neighboring county and stores in this county have mentioned how they would love to have this newspaper available for their customers, but cannot get it. Smart and intelligent people would say this, recognizing that, even though they don’t make a profit from the newspapers, the store has a good means for expanding their own customer base – with newspaper availability. Smart people at the supermarket which is part of a chain which bought out another chain. To date, I have had no “call back” from this newspaper.
Ben Franklin had a newspaper. He even promoted the building of libraries, as did Thomas Jefferson. Today, many librarians have been axed, in the name of high-paid lawyers and accountants – bean counters – who remain. Personal injury and workman’s comp lawyers are lousy and need to consider taking on an issue such as this. But no. They are too damn lazy to do this, as they milk customers and U.S. taxpayer money from the court system. Meanwhile, we have a politicized U.S. Supreme Court in this polarized society which has been decimated by nationalized newspapers which do not cover local areas properly. Ben Franklin did. Thomas Jefferson started the Library of Congress and sent the Marine Corps to Tripoli to counter pirates from a Muslim government which had deposed a much more humanitarian Muslim leader. “… to the shores of Tripoli.” Besides those soldiers who fought in Europe during World War I & II, as well as the many who fought in the Pacific, I honor them on this 4th of July. I can only hope that their sacrifices will not be town down by nationalistic fat pigs and younger common folk who don’t even acknowledge what they have today because of promotion of being individualistic fat pigs, snots, and spoiled brats. They should listen to my grandparents and parents talk about the Great Depression and those wars, and all with which our society had to suffer. The GODDAMN Bible thumpers and their ideas that the only part of the Bible important to them is “an eye for an eye,” even after Jesus Christ taught us we should NOT follow those things. However, these GODDAMN Bible thumpers ignore the fact that parts of the Bible tell us to “honor thy father and thy mother.” Honor those who came before us and left us with good along with the bad. Examine the good, you bastard SOBs.
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