September 18, 2020

Special Libraries Association (SLA) Takes Stands Against Diversion of Information

From the Special Libraries Association:

Where does information go when it leaves a library or information center? In the past three weeks, the Special Libraries Association has taken two public stands against the diversion of information from its intended audiences—in both cases, diversion by government decree.

On July 23, SLA issued a news release calling on China to cease removing books written by pro-democracy dissidents from libraries and bookstores in Hong Kong. The book removal resulted from the enactment of a new security measure that enshrines new crimes, including separatism and subversion, in Hong Kong’s legal structure. Several works by pro-democracy dissidents have been removed from library and bookstore shelves, ostensibly to verify their compatibility with the new security law.

“Information and ideas are the currency that powers a free, vibrant, and just society,” says 2020 SLA President Tara Murray Grove, librarian for Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures at Penn State. “We oppose attempts to limit access to information and ideas, and we call on China to cease punishing the people of Hong Kong by forcing libraries and bookstores to remove literature written by their fellow citizens.”

On July 27, SLA published another news release, this one urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to withdraw a directive it issued requiring hospitals, hospital laboratories, and acute care facilities to report COVID-19 data to HHS rather than to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, SLA joined more than 25 other organizations, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Union of Concerned Scientists, in arguing that reporting COVID-19 data to HHS will reduce transparency and accountability because it restricts access to such data by those who most need it—namely, scientists, doctors, and researchers.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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