". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Orleans: A Sorry Tale of the Public Library System

That is being 'run' by a musician, one Irvin Mayfield, 30 years old, a crony of Mayor Nagin's, and deeply disliked by the New Orleans musicians' community. From their perspective he's a politico, not a musician -- his chops are not up to the general standards of the average NO player. He has used the music community as a political career builder as he is now doing with the city's public library system, with Nagin's approval and assistance.

Now Irvin's widely perceived as building a political career by wreaking further destruction on a library system nearly undone entirely by the levees' failures in 2005, when Katrina devastated the Gulf.

It's happened before in many communities, that the public library becomes a playing field for the town or city's political rivalries and power struggles. But these plays have hardly ever been done so flamboyantly, with so little disguise anywhere else. This is New Orleans.

Full story here.

Needless to say that neither Nagin nor Irvin have an iota of library experience. They are turning the entire decision-making apparatus of New Orleans library system over to others without any library experience or training. This is reflected in their fund-raising and financial planning. Not a word there about personnel who are librarians, who do the work of a library, about the absolute necessity of institutional memory for a system anywhere, but particularly in this city where so much memory is living, and it has been forced out to the four corners of the compass, to never be retrieved again. There is no recognition in their planning of what a library actually does.


K. said...


They could hire me. At least I have an MLS...

Foxessa said...

I as well, the masters of infromation and library sciences.

I bet our Irvin doesn't even know what proquest and ebsco are. Has never heard of them. Or how to talk to them. As the article takes notice of, vendors aren't being paid .... Dealing with the vendors, database management, making budgets, acquition and paying the bills are the biggest jobs of a librarian.

Plus fund-raising. But that's supposed to be the job of the Director and the board. How much money for NO system did Irvin raise, hmmm?

These folks do not run the branch members of the system -- that is to be done by the admin librarians on the ground there.

Love, C.