friday evening linkdump of sorts

So, I don’t make you all sit through my deli.cio.us links auto-posting, but sometimes I have a few unrelated things to share that don’t really have their own full posts to go along with them. So here are a few things that are only sort of library related that I think you might be interested in.

Baghdad Day to Day: Librarian’s Journal

The New York Times discusses the day to day activities of Saad Eskander, the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive in Baghdad, as detailed on his blog at the British Library.

In mid-January, he published a chart on the impact of sectarian violence on his staff for just the month of December. It included 4 assassinations of employees and 2 kidnappings, 66 murders of staff members’ relatives, 58 death threats and 51 displacements.

The newest entries, posted on Thursday, take readers through Wednesday, Jan. 31. Dr. Eskander writes that the week started off quietly: Most of the staff couldn’t get to work because of blockades and military checkpoints.

books building bridges

Books Building Bridges is a group of librarians, booksellers, activists and others who use literature and community events as a way of helping bridge the gaps between people in Iraq and the U.S. They create curricula, produce teaching guides and sponsor events among other things. Inspired by the book The Librarian of Basra the self-described “small but intrepid” group is always looking for people to lend a hand, or just to get on board.

Books Building Bridges is a community-building project developed in order to acknowledge and foster a common human desire for learning, authentic connection and a healthy society while transcending political divisions in the United States and the geographic and social distance between the United States and Iraq. Books Building Bridges was inspired by Jeanette Winter’s book, The Librarian of Basra, which chronicles the work of Basra librarian Alia Muhammed Baker who, with her community, saved 30,000 volumes from being destroyed during the current war with Iraq.

some ALA resolution information

Rory includes the full text of the Iraq resolution that passed through ALA Council this past session. He’s also included the Resolution on Disinformation & Media Manipulation and the Destruction of Public Information and the Resolution on Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation. Remember, ALA isn’t a legislative body and so these resolutions are, at best, statements of good intentions, position papers if you will. If any of these resolutions [and I'll be trying to find the text of the rest of them this week] are applicable to your library situation, feel free to print them out and tell whoever needs to know “The largest library association in the world thinks this is important” James Casey who serves with me on Council and always distributed his post-Council reports widely, had this to say about the importance of wide-ranging resolutions.

Discussions were intense and substantive (most of the time), but there was a surprising tendency in this session for the Councilors not to worry about straying from “Library Issues”. In fact, I don’t recall hearing that term : “This is not a Library issue.” even once from the floor of Council during the whole of this Conference. There was a clearer connection in the minds of Councilors — at least in my own mind — how the manipulation, destruction and spinning of information can result in wars, ecological disasters and other calamities that were previously thought best to be left to the “experts” who supposedly run our government on our behalf. Librarians who believe in the value and importance of access to accurate and truthful information may come to view government actions predicated upon an endless tapestry of lies and misinformation, to be a matter relevant to their professional concerns. Instead of a “leftward tilt” on Council evident, I detected more of a realization that what you don’t know — or aren’t allowed to know — can literally kill you and a lot of other folks as well.