Ten Things I Love About Sandy Berman
1. He looks great in a dashiki
2. The Joy of Cataloging: Essays, Reviews, Letters, and Other Explosions
3. The toilet he made of the Library of Congress's water closet
4. He added "coprophilia" to my vocabulary
5. He adds more subject headings per capita than any other cataloger
6. He disseminates knowledge as fast as a speeding postal carrier will allow
7. He leaps tall bureaucracies in as many bounds as it takes
8. He makes libraryland safe and accessible for the Acronymically challenged; Belly dancers; Chan, Jackie; the Decriminalization of marijuana; Erotic humor; Frisbee; Gay poets, prisoners, & socialists; Heterosexuality; and much, much, more
9. I've learned more by his example than I could ever learn by the teaching of any LIS program [if only I were in an IS program!]
10. He wears LOVE in his love beads
- Jenna Freedman
I've been in the library profession since 1965. There are a number of things I've done that I'm proud of. One of the best professional decisions I made as head of technical services at the Hennepin County Library was to hire Sandy Berman as Head Cataloger. This gave Sandy, until Hennepin's recent and permanent grotesque shame, a secure platform from which he could provide librarians everywhere an inspired and brilliant example of how cataloging can serve people rather than degrade and insult them, and one must not omit, he demonstrated that cataloging actually can help people find what they are looking for.
We had good times back then. Professionally and politically we shared the same agenda, and Hennepin had the resources to support the wonderful things that Sandy and the cataloging staff were doing, as well as the technology tasks that Jerry Pennington (the assistant head of tech services and super computer person) and I tinkered with that incidentally facilitated the cataloging changes that Sandy made.
The irony and ludicrousness of HCL's malevolence toward him and his work-despite Hennepin's protestations to the contrary-is that HCL is getting $100,000 in royalties from the database created under his leadership and direction.
Following is an e-mail message I sent to Chris Dodge, a cataloger at Hennepin, on the prospect of Sandy's leaving HCL; Sandy had not yet resigned.
"It is crucial that Sandy not see himself as the victim that they subdued, but the shining example for everyone of what was possible, what everyone talked about, but what he actually did--and those miserable monsters were too venal and craven to appreciate and recognize the gift they had.
"They are the losers and Sandy always will be the winner--he has created a legacy of ideology, principles, practice, and hundreds of thousands of living and breathing cataloging records. In sum this record of achievement will transcend the lilluputian thugs at HCL who are messing with him and the fools who support them either for their current actions or for the policy of slavish adherence to LC, all sense and sensibility be damned.
"When I left Hennepin in 1974, Sandy said it was the end of Camelot. Well, when Sandy goes, it is going to be the end of brilliance, innovation and social responsibility in cataloging for the world. I mean no disrespect to all of you who have labored with him to create the grand record of Hennepin cataloging, but it is hard to see how any individual person or group of people will be able to impact so very many different aspects of our overall professional mission.
"God, it sounds like an obituary or as if I am convinced he is leaving.
"Sorry for the ventilating, but I feel so sad and angry. I also hate to see him treated so badly. He is so strong in ideology and principle, but he's also extremely sensitive and I'm sure badly hurting on the personal level. For that matter I can't imagine any human who could survive such a nasty, vicious and totally inhumane onslaught without feeling some pain."
[This was followed by a couple of other remarks that concluded the message.]
He has two wonderful children, Jill and Paul, a lovely daughter-in-law, Kristi, and a delightfully cute and smiley granddaughter, Jasmine. I wish him the joy of his loving family, friends and his colleagues of the library profession whose lives he has so enriched.
Sanford, have a wonderful retirement, but don't go away.
Mitch Freedman, Hennepin County Library, 1969-1974