Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility in American Librarianship, 1967–1974


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About the Book

Between 1967 and 1974, a number of librarians came together to push for change in the American Library Association. They soon prompted a majority of the profession to examine their role in the dissemination and preservation of culture and to ask basic questions about the terrain that the profession defends. A particular concern was the limitations to intellectual freedom (if any) that might arise in the pursuit of other perhaps equally worthy goals. The questions raised by this advocacy group were based on a relatively new concept of librarianly social responsibility that was partly an outgrowth of the civil rights and antiwar agitation of the period and partly a continuation of the proud traditions of the alternative press movement in the United States. The resulting dissension and turmoil exposed an inherent discrepancy not only between the rhetoric of ideals within the profession and the reality of practice but between librarians as agents of change—librarians’ having a social agenda—and professional “neutrality” or the provision of information for all sides without taking sides. These conflicts have never been resolved. The reader will find in this book a fully researched presentation of the years of ferment and political infighting that brought the issues into such sharp focus.

About the Author(s)

Toni Samek is a professor and chair of the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. A convener of the Canadian Library Association’s Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom and a two term member of the Canadian university academic freedom and tenure committee, she is on the Advisory Board of the new Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University and lives in St. Albert.

Bibliographic Details

Toni Samek
Foreword by Sanford Berman
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 197
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0916-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5073-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments       vii

Foreword by Sanford Berman       xi

Introduction       1

1. The 1960s and the Alternative Press       13

2. The Ethos of Intellectual Freedom       29

3. Calling for Change, 1967-1969       46

4. Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility, 1970       74

5-The Changing of the Guard, 1971-1972       101

Epilogue: Reaffirming “Neutrality,” 1973-1974      127

Appendix       147

Bibliography      153

Index       173

Book Reviews & Awards

“meticulous detail…the fullest account ever…a very important contribution”—Library Journal; “an excellent, very readable introduction to the interplay between the two main themes of American librarianship”—ARBA; “takes the reader to the tumultuous era of the 1960s…. There are still lessons to be learned from the past…excellent and timely”—Libraries & Culture; “important…required reading…what librarianship is all about…tremendously readable…comprehensive and rousing”—Progressive Librarian; “the author tells the story in artful fashion”—Portal; “first-rate…solid scholarship…meticulous detail…invaluable set…comprehensive bibliography…well documented…a very important period of history in librarianship…well written and highly recommended…all libraries should have this”—Counterpoise; “successfully organizes and distills data…into an orderly narrative…a good start for understanding how American libraries and librarians responded to the tumult of the 1960s”—Public Libraries; “truly exposes the soft underbelly of our profession during the so-called ‘Revolutionary Sixties.’ Highly recommend[ed]”—Library Juice; “dense in thought and information…beneficial”—The Unabashed Librarian.