Response #8: Kyle Olmon

Great to get an introduction to RadCat and its major proponents like Sanford Berman in ‘Radical Cataloging’.  I also appreciated the dialogue from the same book between Webster and Doyle as they discussed the endless marginalization of Native American resources in the current dominant classification systems. While these two chapters expose a biased system and rage against the library machine, I found more to love in the ‘Cutter & Paste’ article by Freedman and Kauffman. Sticking true to the DIY aesthetic, they provide concrete examples for  catalogers to follow and build upon when dealing with zines or other unorthodox library materials. In stark contrast is Jonathan Furner’s “Dewey deracialized” article where I got lost in the endless discussion of semantics, perspectives and definitions related to CRT. My favorite takeaway from his paper was his examination of US public libraries from before and after WWII. It looked like a very stark world through these lens:

The emphasis was on the librarian’s responsibility to select the “best” books for an elite minority of middle-class scholars, while providing the masses with a harmless source of recreation and entertainment that would keep them too busy to harbor ideas of insurrection, and inculcating in new immigrants the morals of the American who is “sober, righteous, conservative, patient, devout” [21, p. 2510].

And yet I feel that after 1945, the “ideal of freedom of access to all recorded knowledge for all people” is a worthy goal, but still currently beyond our collective reach as noted by the cats preaching RadCat the world over.

~Kyle

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