librarians’ search for neutrality a precursor to debate over Google rankings

“The idea that search engines can, or should, be neutral can be traced back to a movement of leftist librarians in the 1970s. Led by Sanford Berman, one of the first to bring social rebellion into the library, radical librarians argued that the system used to organize books was inherently biased and racist because it reflected a Western perspective.”

please send Sandy Berman a get well card

Jenna Freedman has information about the serious car accident Sandy Berman was in. Please send him a get well card, or if you’re not postally-enabled, leave a comment for him on Jenna’s blog.

Library of Congress Subject Heading Suggestion Blog-a-Thon

Between now and Sunday, April 27, Radical Reference invites you to suggest subject headings and/or cross-references which will then be compiled and sent to the Library of Congress. You can either choose one previously suggested by Sandy Berman (pdf or spreadsheet) or propose your own.

As someone who has been the recipient of Sandy Berman’s cc’s on letters to the LoC, I think this is a great idea. Still waiting for SEX TOY PARTIES and TRANSHUMANISM in my classification schemes, I am.

“authorities” and strap-on sex

On my fridge I have a photocopy of a letter that Sandy Berman sent to the Library of Congress this August suggesting that they establish dildoes as a LCSH. I got many fascinating photocopies along with it for supporting evidence. I enjoy being on Sandy’s mailing list. Today, vickiep from del.ico.us sent me a link to “strap-on sex” as a new Library of Congress subject heading. Hooray! Unfortunately, links that go into the Library of Congress Authorities searches aren’t permanent but I was able to replicate the search and find the listing for dildoes in the weekly list for September 26th. Of interest to me particularly is that the authority record for strap-on sex contains Wikipedia, Google and “LC database” as notes in the 670 field. update: Tim at LibraryThing has a post showing the record.

Library Juice interview with LoC’s Barbara Tillett

I get mail from Sandy Berman almost once a week. In envelopes with interesting stamps and adorned with rubber stamped images, he sends a pile of photocopied news articles, printed out web pages and cc’ed letters that he’s sent to the Library of Congress, to Barbara Tillett specifically. In his ongoing quest for LCSH reform — continuing even after his forced retirement from Hennepin County Library system — Sandy keeps up a regular correspondence with Tillett, the chief of the LoC’s Cataloging Policy and Support Office. Some of these letters are amusing, all of them are good reading. Tillett writes back.

Rory Litwin of Library Juice has interviewed her for the Library Juice blog, where they discuss cataloging reform, God, Zionism and, of course, Sandy Berman.

Most of our correspondence contains helpful and constructive suggestions – what criticism we receive is simply not as he characterizes it. There is no onslaught of letters and emails and faxes from outraged librarians or researchers. For the most part, public criticism comes from Mr. Berman or other individuals he has urged to write to us. We’re more inclined to react favorably to constructive suggestions than to coercive techniques such as petitions, hostile articles in the library literature, emotional attacks, or letters of complaint to members of Congress. Methods such as these are almost always counterproductive, whereas more cooperative and positive approaches usually produce good results.