Saturday, August 13, 2005

Libraries and Archives: Complex Temples of Ideology

In the last two days, we have seen stories that show how important libraries and archives are to maintaining mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual landscapes - sites of intersection for powerful ideologies and cultural traditions.

The 9/11 Archives and the Counter-Clinton Library news stories are conflict-ridden examples of this political nature of building and/or maintaining respositories.

Vast Archive Yields New View of 9/11

This article was reported by Jim Dwyer, Kevin Flynn and Ian Urbina and written by Mr. Dwyer.

Faced with a court order and unyielding demands from the families of victims, the city of New York yesterday opened part of its archive of records from Sept. 11, releasing a digital avalanche of oral histories, dispatchers' tapes and phone logs so vast that they took up 23 compact discs.

And then....

Counter - Clinton Library Group Folds

Published: August 13, 2005

Filed at 5:18 a.m. ET

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A group that had hoped to build two museums to rebut the displays at the Clinton Presidential Library is folding.

''I'm giving up,'' said Houston businessman Richard Erickson, who established nonprofit Counterlibe Inc. last year to fund construction of a Counter Clinton Library in Little Rock and another in Washington.

Erickson said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he had been naive about fundraising procedures. He said the project's Web site also would be shut down soon.

In a separate e-mail Wednesday, Erickson informed one of his key supporters, former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., that he couldn't raise enough money to continue.

''Nearly every dime raised has gone to professional fundraisers and lawyers,'' he said.

Erickson partnered with former U.S. Rep. John LeBoutillier of New York to start planning the response library idea three years ago.

Skip Rutherford, president of the foundation that built the $165 million presidential library in Little Rock, said he was ''not surprised'' by Erickson's announcement but declined to comment further.

The closing of any library, including PWL, changes the channels of communication, thought, and availability of free and open information. Perhaps PWL was not the best temple to the M.L.S.-world it could have been, but "office space" is in its very structure going to produce different results that I hope will be as carefully watched and scrutinized as PWLs use statistics, budgets, and other monitoring devices.

Wasserman statistics were once posted outside on a bulletin board. Will the same transparency be available when the competition of researchers plays a new role in the justification for space? Will students benefit equally? These are each questions that could contribute to a substantive, educational, team-building dialogue.


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