Friday, January 05, 2007

Cuban Book Burners Invisible to ALA

Why am I not surprised? This alert is from Steve Marquardt, Dean of Libraries Emeritus, South Dakota State University, and Amnesty International USA Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota. Librarians with a brain and a conscience should be outraged at the transparent, pro-Castro apologetics emanating from the American Library Association.

Every time I read about such nonsense from the ALA, I'm reminded of the Library Science professor I had who declared that he would never write a recommendation for any student who didn't belong to the ALA.

So, in effect, students who do not want to support or collaborate with an organization that runs interference for Cuban book-burners may find their career adversely affected.

Please read, then act:

If government-ordered book burning is OK with you, you need read no further. Have a nice day.

If, however, ALA's refusal to post such news on its "Book Burning in the 21st Century" web site concerns or at least puzzles you, then I ask for your help in restoring the integrity of ALA.

Cuban courts in April 2003 ordered the incineration or destruction of the entire holdings – thousands of items – held in six independent libraries. You can read the documentation for yourself as follows, as the Rule of Law and Cuba web site of the Florida State University, by using the following key words: Search for "incineration." Search for "incineration." . Search for "destruction." Search for "incineration." Search for "destruction." . Search for "destruction."

After 18 months of repeated requests to post news of this crime against intellectual freedom on its web site devoted to "Book Burning in the 21st Century" (
ALA has yet to do so. We have supplied a paragraph for posting, complete with links to the court documents (see final page of attachment), but Don Wood of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom continues to say that he needs verification of the book burning from a major news source (despite posting news on his web page from small local newspapers). We have sought this coverage, but there is understandably little interest in "news" that is now nearly four years old!

Reputable and objective verification does exist in the total of 151 direct references to Cuba's sentencing documents in the comprehensive reports published by Amnesty International (
and the Organization of American States ( ). The details are in the attachment.

This issue is important to the reputation of our profession and the integrity of our Association. Reasonable people can differ about the legitimacy of Cuban laws allegedly violated by persons operating independent libraries and accepting information materials from the US Interests Section in Havana, but if government-ordered burning of thousands of "subversive" books is not worthy of mention, then our professional association has indeed turned a new ethical corner.

I urge you to send a letter, preferably a letter on your letterhead and in your own words, asking ALA President Leslie Burger why, given reputable and objective documentation at the international level, the Office for Intellectual Freedom refuses to post news of the book burning in Cuba. Even a quick e-mail will help.

Please send the letter SOON – preferably no later than January 11, to be sure that she gets it before leaving for ALA MidWinter in Seattle.

Key points:

• Evidence of the court ordered book burning is found in the sentencing documents posted at the Rule of Law and Cuba web site hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University.

• This documentation has been accepted by and referenced 151 times in comprehensive reports issued by Amnesty International and the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

• It is easy to post links to these reports by respected human rights and international organizations on the Book Burning web page. Why has ALA OIF not done so?

• Ask for a reply and an explanation from our ALA President.

The ALA President's address is:

Leslie Burger, ALA President
Princeton Public Library
65 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
609-924-8822 ext. 253
FAX: 609-924-7937

AND please send a copy of your letter to the editorial page editor of the Seattle Post Intelligencer or the same officer at The Seattle Times, in the hope that they also may pose the same question during the ALA MidWinter conference:

Mark Trahant
Editorial Page Editor
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
101 Elliott Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119

James F. Vesely
Editorial Page Editor
The Seattle Times
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111
Phone: 206/464-2132
Fax: 206/382-6760
E-mail: opinion@

I thank you for your support, participation and commitment to intellectual freedom!


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