Mitch Freedman’s Answers
to ALCTS Questions
- Please describe any experiences
you may have had in performing or directing (or using) the work
of acquisitions, cataloging, serials control, preservation or
Following are the full-time jobs I have
had doing or managing acquisitions, cataloging, serials control,
preservation or collection development. Almost half my extensive
career has been devoted to these functions as a line person,
manager, teacher, consultant, and writer. My doctoral dissertation,
1983, was, The Functions of the Catalog and the Main Entry
as Found in the Work of Panizzi, Jewett, Cutter and Lubetzky.
(Seymour Lubetzky, age 103, has endorsed my candidacy.)
1966: Assistant Head of the African-Asian
Exchange Section at the Library of Congress. Was immediately
responsible for all exchange relations between LC and African
libraries and research institutions.
1966-1968: Executive Assistant of the
LC Processing Department. Was part of the management team
responsible for all of LC’s acquisitions, cataloging, serials
control, overseas operations and binding at a particularly
fertile time for LC. In addition to reviewing all personnel
and financial transactions, I worked on two major projects
directly with the Processing Department’s director, John W.
Cronin. One was the establishment and operations of the Title
IIC – Higher Education Act funded National Program for Acquisitions
and Cataloging (NPAC)/Shared Cataloging Program; and on the
planning and preparation of the Pre-1956 National Union
Under NPAC, LC cataloged virtually everything
of research value acquired by the U.S.’s greatest research
libraries from specific foreign countries, and used as cataloging
source copy the catalog records produced by the respective
national libraries for those materials. The Pre-56 NUC
took 10 years to completion and is the single largest printed
bibliographical work ever produced.
1968-1969: Manager of Library Processing,
Information Dynamics Corporation as Manager of Library Processing.
Working with the MARC I Pilot Project Format, we created printed
book catalogs for NASA’s Electronic Research Center and for
the Polaroid Corporation, and pioneered in the development
and use of Computer-Output-Microfiche as a storage medium
for bibliographic information.
1969-1974: Manager of Technical
Services [and automation] at the Hennepin County Library.
Along with Jerry Pennington and Sanford Berman, created user-oriented
bias-free authority-controlled book catalogs. We transferred
the MARC field-recognition software pioneered by the University
of California’s Institute of Library Research to build a MARC
II database from the HCL shelflist, and The New York Public
Library’s automated authority control and book catalog software
to create a printed book catalog with user-oriented &
bias-free catalog records, and state-of-the-art photocomposition
and computer filing (e.g. we didn’t have to invert The
Club to Club, The so it would file correctly in
the ‘100’ field.)
1974-1977: Coordinator of Technical Services
at The New York Public Library’s Branch Libraries. This
was during the NYC bankruptcy era.
1977-1982: Associate Professor, School
of Library Services, Columbia University. Taught cataloging,
technical services, and technology. Also as an adjunct Associate
Professor at Pratt Institute’s library school, taught
cataloging and technology as applied to technical services
for the last ten years.
1982-Present: As Director of the
Westchester Library System, have maintained a cataloging
operation that still uses professional librarians to catalog
materials, a not so common situation in today’s public libraries.
See the cover story in Library Journal, September 1,
2000 for information about the resource sharing success enjoyed
by Westchester’s public libraries.
For more information, including information
about the extensive technical services consulting I have done
on four continents for every type of library, and the full-text
of many of my articles on cataloging, tech services and technology,
- What do you see as the greatest
challenges facing those engaged in these areas of work in the
near term future, and how can ALA assist them in meeting those
The greatest challenge today is continuously validating the
work done by collection development, acquisitions, cataloging
and serials librarians in the face of the pressures to supplant
them with commercial services or non-professionals. The outsourcing
of collection development in Hawaii is a prime example of the
lengths some management will go to cut costs, de-value core
professional functions, and reduce if not eliminate the need
for professionals in technical services and collection development.
ALA must play a proactive role by speaking
out strongly and clearly on the core values of librarianship
and the principal role that librarians play in the areas of
collection development and bibliographic control. ALA must
also condemn the elimination or reduction of professional
responsibilities and address issues of privatization and outsourcing.
As President of the Association I will promote
the core values that define our profession and ask ALCTS to
play a key role in the process.
- If you are elected, what will
be your prime focus? What brought you to decide on it? What
do you hope to accomplish with it? How does this relate to ALCTS,
and what role might ALCTS have in helping you achieve your goals?
I will address three primary issues.
I. First I want to do something
about the low pay for library workers. As a past chair of
the ALA Pay Equity Committee and an administrator today, I
know that one of the major problems librarians continue to
face is low salaries. I also have a daughter, Jenna, who after
ten years of working in the theater went to library school.
She is currently making about the same money on unemployment
from a theater-related position as her take-home pay would
have been from a NYC public library.
This relates to ALCTS and to every other
unit of the ALA. Pay for library workers does not discriminate
by division. ALCTS will be called on to help in developing
job-specific and generic tools that can be used by library
managers and staff in U.S. academic, public, school and special
libraries to improve salaries.
II. Another focus will
be the struggle for intellectual freedom and fair use. Fighting
off the Feds and others who want to impose filters on libraries
will be crucial for learning and continued access to constitutionally
protected speech. When coupled with the threat to fair use
by licensing contracts and the excessive restrictions built
into UCITA and advocated by the information industry (Pat
Schroeder of the AAP, the latest example), the threat to intellectual
freedom and library service in America is real.
ALCTS may not have a unique role here, but
it is important that all librarians fight for intellectual
freedom, access to constitutionally protected speech, and
fair use. These are fundamental values of our profession we
must all defend.
III. The third focus will
be information advocacy and literacy. It is crucial that all
Americans, be they on college campuses, city streets or elsewhere,
have access to information and the skills to use it. My lifelong
commitment to the library as a democratic institution requires
that the information riches available on-line and elsewhere
must be made accessible to everyone, and in turn people must
have the information literacy skills to be able to avail themselves
of this information.
Bibliographic and information control have
rightfully been the province of ALCTS. I will count on ALCTS
to provide policy and technical support in dealing with the
information issues that must be addressed.
- How can ALA make certain that
members whose primary affiliation is to a "type of activity"
division feel connected to the concerns of the organization
as a whole? How might their involvement be increased? How might
ALA’s awareness of their concerns be increased?
The issues that the President establishes
as crucial for America’s librarians and libraries must be
clearly identified and there must be a consensus that they
be priorities of the Association. Members of ALCTS and other
type of activity division members will feel connected to the
organization as a whole if the issues identified resonate
I believe that the primary issues raised
by my presidency: better salaries for library workers; intellectual
freedom and fair use; and, information literacy and advocacy,
are as important to ALCTS members as they would be to the
members of all of ALA’s divisions and units.
Getting ALCTS members more involved in ALA
activities should follow naturally from ALA’s concern with
issues that ALCTS members care about. (Certainly, some of
the seemingly endless debates in ALA Council would attract
little or no interest among ALCTS or any other ALA members.)
ALCTS members concerns will be addressed by my establishing
an advisory group of division representatives that will help
with the development of policy, identification of member concerns,
and getting action on the platform issues I’ve adopted.
- In recent years ALA has engaged
in a variety of public relations and visionary activities such
as Goal 2000; Libraries: an American Value; and task forces
on core values, core competencies, etc. In some of these efforts
it has been difficult for ALCTS members to "see themselves"
or to see that the Association embraces issues that are critical
to ALCTS. Is it inevitable? Is it bad? What steps will you take
to increase ALA’s inclusiveness within its own ranks?
When it comes to the Association embracing
issues that are critical to ALCTS, ALCTS will have an ALA President
who, because of his career-length concern with technical services,
understands those issues and will act on them. During the great
debates on the adoption of AACR2 and the closing of the catalog,
I organized some of the most successful institutes ALA has ever
seen—in terms of quality of speakers and attendance—to address
The outsourcing and privatization of work
typically associated with ALCTS members’ jobs are issues critical
to ALCTS members and they are critical to me. I will make them
critical to the Association too.
I have to believe that ALCTS members will
"see themselves" in the primary issues that I raise—as librarians
they know that their salaries need improvement, and that they
must fight for filter-free access, fair use, intellectual freedom,
and information literacy and advocacy. These issues impact all
One of my most important initiatives for inclusiveness
will be the establishment of an advisory council comprised of
division representatives. I will do my utmost to ensure that
for the appointments I make, that ALCTS will be well represented.
As the only candidate whose career is so related
to the careers of ALCTS members, I understand their work, their
problems and their frustrations. See my web site http://www.mitch4pres.org for some
of the articles I’ve written on cataloging and technical services.
And I’ve been a member of ALCTS for 30 years.
As the ALA President, I will be someone who
will be responsive to and understand the work, the issues, and
the aspirations of ALCTS members. I labored in those trenches
for half my career. I am proud of what I accomplished during
those years, and I am proud of my identification with cataloging
and technical services work.
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