August 31, 2007

What's New in the Catholic Library Association

In 2006:
At the last ALA (American Library Association) meeting, the CLA (Catholic Library Association) asked for affiliate status with ALA and was turned down because the CLA indicated that its purpose was to further the beliefs and values of the Catholic Church (yeah, duh). Numerous council members felt
that ALA should not affiliate with a sectarian organization. CLA responded that it is discussing revision of its constitution and may reapply after this occurs.--
West Virginia Libraries Newsletter

This year, CLA was granted affiliate status with the ALA. It makes me wonder what CLA did to get affiliation.

What is an ALA affiliate?

ALA Affiliates are nonprofit membership organizations, either national or international in scope, that have interests consistent with those of ALA. Affiliates are elected by the ALA Council upon submission of an application that includes, among other criteria, evidence of interest in libraries and librarianship or information science and a statement of ways in which the applicant visualizes cooperation with ALA. The Catholic Library Association is the 24th organization to achieve Affiliate status with the ALA.

What does ALA say about the CLA after they granted CLA affiliate status?

Established in 1921, the Catholic Library Association is an international membership organization providing its members professional development through educational and networking experiences, publications, scholarships, and other services. The Catholic Library Association coordinates the exchange of ideas, provides a source of inspirational support and guidance in ethical issues related to librarianship, and offers fellowship for those who seek, serve, preserve, and share the word in all its forms.

Do you see the words: "Catholicism" or "Catholic" anywhere in that ALA description of the CLA outside of the organization name itself?

The rumors are that ALA granted the CLA affiliate status after CLA promised to incorporate "ecumenism" in its constitution. The word "ecumenism" is now in the CLA constitution. However, the only remotely faith-like words I see in their ALA affiliate description are: "inspirational" "ethical" and "fellowship". Gosh, even the ALA thinks it's inspirational, ethical, and provides fellowship. I think the CLA promised to be more spiritually vague in order to get affiliate status. Even if CLA promised to be more ecumenical; WHY, if the word "CATHOLIC" is in your name is the pursuit of ecumenism to be given precedence over your Faith?

Why would a, supposedly, Catholic association WANT to be affiliated with the ALA anyway?

The ALA does many good things. However, they have many agenda items that would appear to contradict the mission of a, truly, Catholic library. The ALA has, historically, been opposed to Internet filters-even in Children's areas of libraries. They tend to think every book should be in every library-if not, it's censorship and censorship is always bad. The ALA thinks all library collections should foster diversity and multiculturalism. Diversity and multiculturalism can be very good things. However, the ALA has a strong history of pushing GLBT materials for inclusion in library collections in the name of diversity. What if a Catholic library really doesn't want to include a selection of books on Islam or Judaism or Calvinism? Is that refusal going against the CLA vow to be ecumenical in regards to their ALA affiliation?

I think rather then trying to change the ALA by seeking affiliate status, the CLA changed itself.

Well, I should backup a little. The CLA has not always been the most orthodox Catholic organization on the planet. At least, in recent history they have not been. The list of CLA Aggiornamento Award winners, in many cases, is a who's-who of dissenters. The CLA refuses to index certain publications in their Catholic Periodical and Literature Index (CPLI): among them, The Wanderer and, recently, New Oxford Review-both conservative publications. CPLI is heavily used by Catholic libraries since it is a major index-flawed as it is. However, I think the granting of ALA affiliate status to the CLA was the moment the CLA completely crossed over to the darkside.

The CLA sold out. Pure and simple.

Why should we care? Because the CLA is the professional organization for many of the librarians in our school libraries, parish libraries and seminary libraries. The CLA positions are "pushed" to their membership at every meeting, at every convention, in every newsletter, in every issue of Catholic Library World. Many librarians are already members of the ALA as well, but how much more of the ALA positions are going to be openly incorporated into the CLA now? How much easier will it be for ALA platforms to insinuate themselves into Catholic libraries with that professional bond?

A lot of Catholics worry about the Catholicism of the people teaching the Faith-and rightly so. However, did you check the library collection at your school/parish/seminary while you were at it? Did you know that many school librarians are also teachers? In many schools, the librarian is required to have a state teaching license or certificate because sometimes they are called upon to teach classes or sub when needed. Do you know what kinds of materials are being selected for your Catholic library and why? Do you care? Do you know what your Catholic librarian really believes and what he/she thinks should, or should not, be in your library? You should.

I'm sure there are CLA members who look upon these recent events with troubled eyes but feel they have little choice since there are no professional library associations for their subject specialization out there that are really any better. Is it time for a Magisterium Catholic Librarian Association?


Blogger Ray from MN said...

Among many Catholics working for the Church or its educational institutions, an approving mention in a publication of an elite university would be far more desirable than just about any other earthly reward.

August 31, 2007 6:01 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Interesting. I had never thought to join the CLA, since I don't work for a Catholic institution. I knew of the association, but I didn't realize they were trying to become an affiliate. Do they benefit in membership numbers, or in discounted ALA dues for CLA members? I'm curious what both sides get out of the relationship.

I wonder, though, if they have the same problem as ALA and some of the state associations at this point--being led by baby boomers. I"ve let my ALA membership go for the time being since I was so annoyed at some of their recent actions like passing a resolution against the was in Iraq (I'm against the war, but who gives a flip what the ALA thinks about it? Don't they have something more worthwhile to do?) and their insistence that there's an upcoming librarian shortage and that we must cram the graduate programs full of more students who will be unable to find full-time jobs in the field after they graduate.

September 02, 2007 1:21 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Laurie: I don't know that either gets discounted dues from the affiliation. I don't think so. As far as I know, the affiliation means, they are in agreement on their missions.

I agree with your statement about who cares what the ALA thinks about the Iraq War. That resolution is far outside their purpose.

September 02, 2007 1:25 PM  

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