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.

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