Library Juice 2:16 - April 21, 1999This excerpt contains articles on Sanford Berman. For the complete issue: Library Juice
Quote for the week:
"The life of the man from Hennepin County has the resonance of the
heroes in Raymond Carver's short stories, or the individuals who
people Sherwood Anderson's America. There is such a close integration
of style and sincerity in Sandy's life and his work that he is a modern
day eccentric who, without the slightest hesitation, refuses to be
anyone but himself. Who is the persona? The quickest way to discover
the answer is to turn to his writings, and particularly this collection.
If anything characterizes his work it is high ideals....The difficulty
is that high ideals rarely make for high drama. Sandy may well be the
exception. He takes on the outside world with such vigor that his sense
of outrage, often tempered with satire and wit, gives anyone with a
sense of the ridiculous (and the sublime) pause.
-Bill Katz, in his foreward to Sandy Berman, _Worth Noting: Editorials,
Letters, Essays, an Interview, and Bibliography_, Jeffferson, North
Carolina and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1988.
4. Ann Symons "Libraries: An American Value," and a minority view
ALA President Ann Symons' basic statement "Libraries: An American Value"
can be found on the web at:
ALA's Alternatives In Print Task Force of the Social Responsibilities
Round Table submitted an alternative draft during the public process of
composing the statement. It can be found in Library Juice 1:41, at:
This alternative draft, as well as a fuller, collegial critique by
Sandy Berman, Carol Reid, and Charles Willett can be also be found in the
latest issue of _COUNTERPOISE_, Vol.2, No.4, October, 1998. For further
information see the webpage for _COUNTERPOISE_ at http://www.liblib.com
16. Sanford Berman has been removed from his job
Sanford Berman was told Monday morning in a meeting with Hennepin
County Library directory Charles Brown that he is being reassigned to
a "special publishing project" (which he couldn't be less interested in),
that Elizabeth Feinberg will become head of cataloging, and that his
office will be moved out of the department.
At the same time, Feinberg and her managerial colleage Sharon Charles
delivered the news to the catalogers. Chris Dodge (whom I have to thank
for this report) and the other catalogers asked them how they thought this
decision might affect staff morale systemwide, which has been damaged by
management's treatment of Mr. Berman for many weeks. Chris called the
decision "blatantly vindictive and designed to break up cataloging."
To support Sanford Berman in this mess you can write to the following
Jack Cole, Chair
Hennepin County Library Board
1536 Winnetka N.
Golden Valley MN 55427
Acting Hennepin County Administrator
Minneapolis, MN 55487
17. HCL's rosy press release
The following is the rosy press release from HCL spinning their attempt to
neutralize Sandy Berman:
Subject: HCL press release, 4/19
April 19, 1999
TO: All Staff
FROM: Charles M. Brown
I am pleased to announce that Hennepin County Library will be developing a
Cataloging Practices Manual to be used by staff and made available to
other libraries. Sanford Berman, HCL head cataloger, will dedicate his
time to this project. Elizabeth Feinberg will assume supervisory and
management responsibility for the cataloging unit, effective immediately.
The project gives us the capacity to market HCL innovative cataloging
methods and processes to libraries interested in enhancing their catalogs,
just as we currently market our cataloging output.
Please join me in congratulating Sandy on this new opportunity to expand
his considerable influence and leadership in the development of user
The following news release, announcing the project, will be distributed to
Hennepin County Library (HCL) today announced plans to produce a
Cataloging Practices Manual documenting the innovative cataloging
processes that have made HCL a leader in the modernization of library
subject headings. The Manual will be made available to other library
systems in a variety of electronic and print formats.
Sanford Berman, head of HCL cataloging and a nationally recognized expert
in the elimination of biases, prejudices, and cultural insensitivity in
library cataloging, will write the new Manual and ready it for
In making the announcement, Library Director Charles Brown cited
information requests from other libraries and results of a survey of HCL
staff involved in cataloging as the impetus for developing the
As a preliminary step in re-engineering HCLs cataloging process, we
interviewed staff about opportunities for improvement. Several staff
members expressed a need for clear documentation of the cataloging
processes unique to HCL. We also have requests for documentation from
other libraries interested in adopting some of our techniques. The
re-engineering process gives Sandy Berman the opportunity to expand the
influence hes had on library cataloging, Brown said. HCL currently makes
some of its cataloging output available to other libraries through a
licensing agreement with NoveList. The new product will make HCL methods
and processes accessible to library systems interested in enhancing their
HCL plans to offer consultative services and develop interactive training
and technical support products in conjunction with the new Cataloging
HCL estimates the first products will be available in the fourth quarter
18. Professor Robert Hauptman's angry letter of Feb. 26
February 26, 1999
To Whom It May Concern,
I am astonished and dismayed that the professional
perspectives, opinions, and considered assessments of
Sanford Berman, one of librarianship's foremost activists,
are not only not honored but rather disparaged. That his
voice, guaranteed its freedom by the Constitution's First
Amendment, is controlled and silenced in any venue is
illegal and unethical. That this occurs in the context of
the very profession that affirms itself through free
speech is unconscionable. Despite the fact that Sandy
acts as a gadfly in pursuit of justice and despite the
very real possibility that his points of view may differ
from other personnel assiciated with the Hennepin County
Library, there is no warrant for silencing him. He may
continue to argue, harrangue, disagree, confer, and
discuss in letters, articles, books, interviews,
listservs, email messages, films, and any other venue he
chooses. Some people may feel that Sandy's communications
are unfair, disruptive, disagreeable, or uncooperative.
Naturally! This is why freedom of speech is guaranteed.
If everyone agreed that the Library of Congress has
produced perfect subject headings, that pornography is
constructive, that North Korea's political system is
perfect, then we would not have to defend freedom of
The situations to which I am privy are simply
incomprehensible: How could someone counter an
individual's corrections to his own perspective in a
newsletter article? Why would an administrator object to
a person speaking out against error or injustice? Instead
of using coercive, threatening, and demagogic methods or
issuing reprimands against Sanford Berman and justice for
which he fights. Any reprimand tendered against Sanford
Berman should be rescinded; all censorious activities must
be elminated; and a sincere apology ought to be tendered.
These foolish and unnecessary altercations place the
Hennepin County Library and its administrators in a very
poor national light.
Robert Hauptman (PhD)
Coordinator of Reference
Editor, _Journal of Reference Ethics_
| Except where noted, items appearing in Library Juice
| are copyright-free, so feel free to share them with
| colleagues and friends. Library Juice is a free weekly
| publication edited by Rory Litwin. Original senders
| are credited wherever possible; opinions are theirs.
| Your comments and suggestions are welcome.
This page was created by SimpleText2Html 1.0 on 21-Apr-99.