metaphor vs. reality: no further comment

From the Library of Congress Subject Headings Weekly List for February 27, 2008:

150 War on Terrorism, 2001- [sp2001000148]
* 680 Here are entered works on the events, metaphorically referred to as a “war,” consisting
of military operations, diplomatic activities, and other counterterrorist measures
undertaken by the United States and allied countries in response to terrorist attacks that
began September 11, 2001.
* 680 Here are entered works on the military operations, diplomatic activities, and other
counterterrorist measures undertaken by the United States and allied countries in
response to terrorist attacks that began September 11, 2001. CANCEL

radical thinking

I realized earlier today that although I mentioned it in passing on my other blog (which is read by about three people–what the world needs now is not another RSS feed, but I try not to let that stop me), I haven’t actually gotten around to talking about it in this rather more visited, and relevent, venue.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Salt Lake City to attend Thinking Ahead 2008, a conference put on by the Salt Lake City Public Library and the Weber County Library. I’ll be there on behalf of Radical Reference and will be one of a number of far more accomplished Topic Facilitators. My topic is Democracy in Libraries, and you can read a little about some of the things I’ll try to talk about with regard to Rad Ref, many of them suggested by other volunteers. I’m looking forward to see what develops in many of the conversations at this conference, and I’ll report as much as possible here.

If by any chance you are reading this and are going to be at the conference, please come say hello. I will be the one who sounds like she’s getting over a bad head cold/sinus infection, which, in fact, I am.

Also, can I just say that I love that I’m going to a conference whose website url is I love it.

anti-poverty @ your library

There are things I don’t really like about the American Library Association, but the rest of the biblioblogosphere pretty much has that topic covered. But there are some things I do like, and one of my favorites is ALA Policy 61, the “Poor People’s Policy,” which states

The American Library Association promotes equal access to information for all persons, and recognizes the urgent need to respond to the increasing number of poor children, adults, and families in America. These people are affected by a combination of limitations, including illiteracy, illness, social isolation, homelessness, hunger, and discrimination, which hamper the effectiveness of traditional library services. Therefore it is crucial that libraries recognize their role in enabling poor people to participate fully in a democratic society.

Its first policy objective is “Promoting the removal of all barriers to library and information services, particularly fees and overdue charges.”

I am happy to report that my library recently made several strides in that direction.

In past years, we have held a food-for-fines program from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. People can bring in a non-perishable food item and have their fines waived. Many people donate additional items so that we are able to waive the fines of every patron (some patrons already depend on the goods they receive from the Community Cupboard, and I am glad that we are able to make donations on their behalf).

First, we lowered the fines on all children’s materials from 10 cents a day to 5 cents a day. It has always seemed to me that library fines are particularly regressive toward children, who are often among the poorest of our library users. A child may take out a whole stack of picture books, whereas a grown-up might take out only a couple of books, yet the fine on the child’s ten picture books will be five times that on the two novels the adult got. In a family with several children, the fines double, triple, or quadruple quite easily.

Neither lowered fines nor waived fines help if a patron has lost a book. It breaks my heart to see a kid unable to use the library because of a lost book she cannot pay to replace. In my branch, we recently asked the Friends if they would be willing to pay for just such a lost book, and they said yes. In the course of discussing this at a staff meeting, we decided to start a small, separate donation fund just for that kind of occasion.

If you’re looking for more ideas on poverty and libraries, please check out the Homelessness, Hunger, and Poverty Taskforce.