Monday 27 June 2011

Libraries and Democracy

Staying with the theme of libraries,  here are a couple of articles that I found interesting on the question of libraries ad democracy ;

Ian Clark - Libraries : The Foundation for a Democratic Society, 22 Sep 2010 at .

Anita Sethi - Dispatch from Iraq, 23 May 2011 at

There are, of course, many online sites providing information relating to the future of libraries in the UK and elsewhere, including and  the newly-relaunched .

Monday 13 June 2011

Mr Kennedy Goes to the Library

American Channing Kennedy has attracted some attention with his recent online article, `Libraries Are Part of the Safety Net...`, which appeared online at recently. Colorlines*, which is a new name to me, is a Civil Rights-type organisation and is Mr Kennedy`s employer ( ).

A large part of the reason for the attention his article has attracted is the fact that he has included an interview with his mother, Barbara Jean Walsh, who spent two decades running libraries in small-town America. Her experiences and reminiscences, he argues, have "stark parallels" with the campaigns going on today.

His mother emerges as a very strong person.  I don`t think it would be excessive to describe her as an inspiring person, one  who had to deal with some harsh realities ; she cites the case of one woman attending literacy classes at the library whose husband beat her because he didn`t want her learning to read and write.

In fact, Mr Kennedy  has contributed two articles about libraries to the Colorlines site, `Libraries are Part...` (2 June 2011) and `Is Anyone Fighting for your Town`s Library ?` (5 June 2011).

`Libraries are Part...` has been reproduced at (posted by Lindsay Spangler 7 June 2011 in `education blogs`), and is quoted with an accompanying link by British author Alan Gibbons under the heading `Is This Why Governments Hate Libraries ?` ( 7 June 2011 ) at .

I gather Mr Kennedy`s local library campaign is , whose site is well worth a visit.

I like Channing`s article and, while he doesn`t really seem to need my help, I`m only too happy to bring him to a wider audience to the best of my limited ability.

Should you be interested in other issues affecting Oakland, or campaigns concerning library provision in the UK, you might like to visit You might need to search around a bit, but you should find what you`re looking for if you persevere.

* The phrase `color line` is one associated very much with W E B Du Bois, who popularised the phrase in his book The Souls of Black Folk (1903). For an interesting explanation of his uses of the phrase you might like to search for `color line (civil rights issue)` on Wikipedia. The  very interesting article that appears there shows that Du Bois actually used the phrase three times in that one book, each time with a different meaning, according to context.

Victor S Weeks Okrafo-Smart - Okrafo - Palm Tree Publishing, Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire - 2006 - Signed Copy

Victor S Weeks Okrafo-Smart - Okrafo : Over a Century in the Lives of a Liberated African Family, 1816 - 1930 - Palm Tree Publishers, Cotgrave, Nottingham - 2006

An inhabitant of Nottingham, UK, Victor S Weeks Okrafo-Smart began work on this book after taking early retirement from the Queen`s Medical Centre, even going so far as to take a Master`s Degree in history to learn the skills of historical study.

 He benefited from the advice of Christopher Fyfe, at that time Reader in African History at the University of Edinburgh, who has contributed an introduction to the book. Fyfe states that the book is notable for "bringing to life  the ideas and activities of his family members and, in addition, making a valuable contribution to the historiography of Sierra Leone."

The book can be found at 4077 in our listings.Please note that the title on the cover is given as `Okrafo`, but internally it is given as `Okrafo-Smart Family`, which is the title the way it tends to be refered to within the book trade.

Any questions, just ask. 

Why `webdub` ?

This blog began life as an online tribute to W E B Du Bois, "an eccentric fan`s labour of love" as I called it at the time.

As it happens, my life has changed a lot since I started it and it`s become obvious that I can`t really do justice to the original idea, due to work and family commitments.

I`m a bit reluctant to give up on it altogether, so I`ve decided to go with a slightly different approach, a `wider interests` sort of thing which will sometimes look at the life and times of Du Bois, but will also carry more general articles likely to be of interest to anyone who is also interested in Du Bois. Articles will tend to be shorter and I`ll be making more use of links.

As a general thing, my approach to more topical matters is that I`m not someone who seeks out controversy - there are few things more tiresome than intentional `controversialists` - but I don`t shy away from it either. I may occasionally touch on what I call `real politics`, but I won`t be involving myself in party politics as such, for the simple reason that I`m British and, as is well known, we don`t tend to be fond of politicians !

I will be using this blog periodically to plug books I have for sale, where relevant. I`d have preferred not to do that,  but in these are troubled times we`re living through and we all have to make our accomodations with the world we live in.

Lastly, the new `beyond left or right` tag - which I know is a bit of a cliche - just reflects my personal feeling about the modern world, given that the left has been in sharp retreat ever since I was a teenager (and trust me, it`s a long time since I was a teenager !), but also that, particulary in the OK, we`re living in a world in which the old rules don`t apply.