Opinion | ALA: Don’t Bother Us

To the average person, the American Library Association (“ALA”) does not have much relevancy, and, to the netizens of the internet, it has even less.  But when it comes to the First Amendment rights of library patrons, the ALA is a force to be reckoned with.

Quoting directly from the ALA’s Mission and History page,

Founded in 1876 in Philadelphia, PA, the American Library Association was created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

Case in point:  In 2001, upon the passage of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, the ALA was, and continues to be, a voice crying in the wilderness alerting the public, and standing up to, the excesses of government intrusion.  And while some of the national membership of the ALA may be comprised of public union employees with cush jobs, platinum plated benefits, and, six figure pensions courtesy of the taxpayers of their respective states, the ALA alone exerts a substantive influence over its membership when it comes to a three letter federal agency demanding the borrowing history of any given library patron without a warrant.  Indeed, one could say the ALA was quite instrumental in causing those of us who are civic-minded to become a lot more attuned to exactly how crucial the local library is to intellectual freedom. 

No doubt about it, the organization’s track record speaks for itself.  In fact, if you are not yet persuaded having read this far that the library is the single most important vanguard of a vibrant, functioning democracy, then you never will be.  But I’m not here to sing the praises of the ALA.  It is my intention to voice a complaint.

One would think that the ALA, being what it is, and, after having read the warm-and-fuzzy feel goodisms on the org’s site regarding National library and Banned Books week, that it would welcome communication from the public.  Even an inquiry as trivial as mine.  But one would be mistaken.  I suppose if yours truly was a child victim of cancer or a writer whose book had been banned, or had some other politically correct, sad tale of woe, then the ALA would have been more receptive to answering my question, but as is, not so much. 

What was I asking?  Oh not much, just the title of a little ol’ book that has evidently stumped the entire internet.  I’ve asked tither & yon across the tubes on popular, book-oriented websites touting impressive membership numbers.  I’ve even posted to a search engine’s “Answer” page, but all to no avail.  Apparently, I must be the only person on the planet to have read the book and forgotten its title. 

Having checked with the local library, which was a complete waste of my time, the ALA was the last remaining hope for help with finding the title of the book in question.  But since I’m not a dues paying member, the ALA was unwilling to help.  At least that was the gist of the reply I received.

Call me whatever you want, but I don’t think  it was out of line to contact the ALA for something as fundamental as the title of a book I was having trouble locating.  After all, if the American Library Association doesn’t know the answer, then who would?  But, as always, anything -even intellectual freedom- evidently has a cover charge.  And the American Library Association is no different than any other pay-to-play organization.  So much for that fluff & puff part about ensured access to information for all.  You can have it , but just make sure you pay for it first.

ADDENDUM 1

I found the title on my own and wrote a review.  Please click here to read it.

ADDENDUM 2

The ALA did contact me with suggestions as to going about ascertaining the title of the book in question, however, it was not until after I published this article.

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