Instant review of THE LIBRARY IN CRISIS

Steve Fesenmaier (
Wed, 7 Aug 2002 06:31:18 -0700 (PDT)

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

THE LIBRARY IN CRISIS - an instant review
Tue, 06 Aug 2002 21:49:24 -0400
Steve Fesenmaier <>

The Library in Crisis
2002 46 mins. Filmakers Library Cost - ?????

Julian Samuel, an Asian-Canadian filmmaker, has made the most
comprehensive film to date about the gigantic challenges facing the
modern library. Using both Canadian and American libraries, and scholars

on the history of libraries from around the world, he gives an exciting
tour of some of the very real problems facing libraries in our
information age. One very poignant story is that of a small college
library being destroyed. As the creator of the library, the professor
says profoundly, " They used to burn books - now they deaccession them."

One library expert talks about the leaders of the Canadian library
association as being "entrepreneur types." ( I myself was told my first
day in library school that we new library students would probably have
to invent our own jobs since there were none - this was in 1978
Minneapolis.) I certainly wish that the film was much longer. I enjoyed
the library history, but it was not really needed. Samuel has told me
that he is planning on making a second part of the film, and that he may

include interviews with people like Sandy Berman, who certainly has
written and taped some even more powerful criticisms of the current
"library in crisis." I also told Samuel about Nick Baker's landmark
"Double Fold." There are about ten different library experts who do
briefly talk about threats including the WTO - which is seldom mentioned

in American library circles. Another expert points out that in 1976 the
Copyright Law was expanded to include software, thereby creating Bill
Gates mamouth fortune. Lots of nice libraries including Vancouver's new
library are shown, and current optical printing techniques are used to
create nice floating images. Sally Mason at the National Video Resources

project in NYC is compiling a list of contemporary films about
libraries. This one should certainly be at the top of the list. I myself

would like to see a four-part, four-hour PBS series hosted by Berman,
with an hour spent on at least four areas - privatizing libraries and
the WTO; the librarian profession - qualifications, pay scale, etc; Post

9/11 Threats to Libraries including Berman's concept of "inside
censorship"; and how to limit computerism. Until this fantasy series is
created, all librarians, library board members, and all library users
should watch this film and discuss it. Also, librarians should acquire
Altera Vistas two one-hour programs with Berman on some of these same

- Steve Fesenmaier

From the Subtle Technologies Conference, May 9th to 12th 2002,
Innis Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue, University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

The Library in Crisis
Julian Samuel, Canada, 2002, video, 7:00 excerpt

This history of libraries is also a history of bibliocides. The
destruction of libraries such as Alexandria's, The Library in Crisis
argues, anticipate the contemporary privatization of information; each
case represents the need of the powerful to control access to knowledge.

In Samuel's modest formal interventions, "attention is constantly drawn
to the contrast between fragments of digitized information with their
immediacy, and the organization of texts, which necessarily require more

time and patience" (Vinita Ramani). The excerpt foregrounds the lively,
ecumenical, and intercultural libraries in India in the 5th century.

Julian Samuel - Biography

Julian Samuel was born in Lahore, Pakistan 1952, lived in the UK as a
child, and moved to Canada in 1966. He has since resided in Montreal,
where he gained an MFA degree from Concordia University. Samuel has made

numerous documentaries on colonial histories that extend into the
present, including The Raft of the Medusa: five voices on colonies,
nations & histories (1993), Into The European Mirror (1995), City of the

Dead and The World Exhibitions (1999) and Fatwa 447 (1999). He is also
the author of the novel Passage to Lahore.

Content-Type: text/x-vcard; charset=us-ascii;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Description: Card for Steve Fesenmaier
Content-Disposition: attachment;

n:Fesenmaier;Stephen L.
tel;work:1-800-642-9021 ext. 2015
org:Library Development;West Virginia Library Commission
adr:;;1900 Kanawha Blvd. East;Charleston;West Virginia;25305;USA
title:Research Librarian
fn:Research Librarian