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Title: Librarians or revolutionaries? The debate about Cuba’s independent library movement
Authors: Farrar, Paula
Keywords: Library and information science
Issue Date: 2004
Source: Farrar, P. (2004). Librarians or revolutionaries? The debate about Cuba’s independent library movement. Library and Information Science Research E-Journal, 14(1), 1-13.
Journal: Library and Information Science Research E-Journal 
Abstract: In 1998 this statement sparked the creation of the Independent Library Movement in Cuba, a movement that quickly grew from one library to more than one hundred libraries. In spite of the fact that there already existed a well developed library system in Cuba, these libraries claimed as their mandate that they would supply the Cuban people with material not available in the national system. In essence they were putting Castro’s conviction, that there are no censored books in Cuba, to the test. Over the years since their opening, the independent libraries have reported various instances of harassment from the Cuban government, and most recently, in the spring of 2003, fourteen independent “librarians” were sentenced to long prison terms. I put librarians in quotation marks as the individuals running the independent libraries are not certified librarians. According to John Pateman of the Cuban Libraries Solidarity Group, “[a]ll of the main people involved in the project belong to ‘independent press agencies’ and ‘oppositional political parties’. None of them are qualified librarians or members of the Cuban Library Association (ASCUBI)” (2000, p.1). The sentencing of the “librarians” was a result of “…a major government crackdown on dissidents in the country. Cuba says the dissidents were arrested for accepting U.S. government money, a charge U.S. officials deny” (McClelland, 2003, p.3). This statement highlights the key element of the controversy surrounding the Independent Library Movement in Cuba: are they revolutionaries trying to overthrow the Cuban government or are they persecuted librarians taking a stand on intellectual freedom? This essay strives to present the major issues involved in this controversy by examining the current political and economic situation in Cuba, the state-run “official” libraries, the independent libraries, the groups that support either side of the debate, and the response from the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and American Library Association (ALA), as well as the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
DOI: 10.32655/LIBRES.2004.1.3
Rights: © 2004 Paula Farrar. All rights reserved.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:Library and Information Science Research E-journal (LIBRES)

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