2001-2002 ALA President-Elect


Mitch Freedman’s Answers to ALCTS Questions

  1. Please describe any experiences you may have had in performing or directing (or using) the work of acquisitions, cataloging, serials control, preservation or collection development.

    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 Catalog (Mansell).

    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, see http://www.mitch4pres.org.

  2. 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 challenges?

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 with them.

    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.

  5. 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 everyone’s concerns.

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 library workers.

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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