Library group’s DC branch taps first pro to fight back

WASHINGTON, DC: Facing heat from conservative critics, the American Library Association (ALA) is searching for its first-ever press officer in its DC outpost.

WASHINGTON, DC: Facing heat from conservative critics, the American Library Association (ALA) is searching for its first-ever press officer in its DC outpost.

WASHINGTON, DC: Facing heat from conservative critics, the American

Library Association (ALA) is searching for its first-ever press officer

in its DC outpost.



The move towards PR reflects the new challenges libraries are currently

facing. While the post does not pay especially well - starting salary

will be in the dollars 40,000-dollars 50,000 range - it promises to be

an interesting one.



The successful candidate may well find him or herself on the frontline

of the so-called ’culture wars,’ sparring with the likes of talk-show

host and best-selling author Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The conservative

Dr. Laura, whose syndicated radio show attracts millions of listeners

every day, has often painted libraries as a foe of the American

family.



The DC office of the Chicago-based ALA is adopting a more ’outward

looking’ approach under executive director Emily Sheketoff. Libraries

hoping to upgrade their image are being forced to confront issues

ranging from bridging the digital divide to copyright concerns.



Advances in technology, however, have inflamed debate about whether

filtering devices should be used to eliminate viewing of sex-related

sites on libraries’ computers. Schlessinger, in her magazine Dr. Laura

Perspective, criticized the ALA for having become ’one of the leading

protectors of pornography.’ While the ALA has no explicit authority over

public libraries, Schlessinger argued they exert strong influence over

the education and hiring of librarians, and thus should take a stand on

the controversy.



Sheketoff countered by repeating the ALA’s belief that the issue should

be addressed locally. That said, she acknowledges that the group isn’t

currently winning the PR battle.



To fill the post, Sheketoff is looking for someone with extensive media

relations experience.



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