Friday, June 30, 2006

Univ Library Boss Cancels NYTimes in Protest

The Times has taken a lot of flack lately for exposing a secret U.S. government program monitoring terrorist financial transactions. The backlash has finally hit the library world. At the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, the dean of library services has canceled that library's sub to the Times.

Selection or censorship? That's easy. If you tilt left, this is blatant act of censorship. If you tilt right, well, you can't have EVERY newspaper, so some have to go and some can stay.

The howlers have stated that the Times was canceled for political reasons, and this is what singles out this decision as a bad one.

"The censorship is just unspeakable," Romo said. "There is no reason, no matter what your beliefs, to deny a source of information to students."

The removal also runs counter to the American Library Association's Bill of Rights, which states: "Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval."

Yes, but things can be removed, especially if like-sources are still available, if the source in question in deemed inadequate, unreliable, or unprofessional. This is done all the time. If you doubt this, you have really drank to much of the special Koolaid they hand out at library school.

This is part of the library dean's argument: that the NYTimes has completely dropped the ball on professional and ethical behavior. Any school can choose to have the Washington Post, and therefore, not take the NYTimes. I personally would not have done it, but it is within his rights.

Conservative publications disapear from the shelves all the time. If you press, you'll get the "we can't afford everything" excuse. I guess liberal publications are a lot cheaper. I've personally watched the journal of the National Association of Scholars vanish from a university library. The people who axed this quarterly journal of conservative scholars were only to happy to admit that it "didn't meet the library's standards of scholarship." Yeah, who are we kidding? The NAS journal was brought back after complaints.

Then, of course, there's the tried and true method of non-censorshop censorship: only "selecting" those sources that meet one's political approval. Since your library never ordered National Review (and never will), you cannot be accused of censoring it. Nope, no bias there.

Having said all this, I think the dean at Incarnate Word made a mistake. He politicized the source selection at his library, something conservatives have complained about for years when liberals (or radicals) are in charge of selection. He should not have done this. The university (and its libraries) are far too political now. If he thought the periodical collection lacked balance (or depth) he could look into adding new titles.

Besides, this just gives rabid, activist librarians another excuse to consider themselves as the last defenders of freedom.

Tom Rice, a recent graduate of the University of North Texas library sciences program, said that in pulling the Times, the library contradicted everything he learned in school.

We felt like we were in an alternate reality when we read the e-mail," Rice said. "Then we realized how serious it was."

When the Koolaid wears off, Tom, you'll realize that your library school was the alternate reality.


At 2:24 PM, Blogger fatwalker said...

Very wise comments. You are so right!


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