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
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
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