Gavia Libraria

Silencing, librarianship, and gender: the case of Sandy Berman

By complete coincidence, the Loon was pondering a lengthy and detailed post on the silencing of Sandy Berman when the man himself turned 80.

Co-opting Berman’s birthday for the Loon’s own agenda seems a poor return to him, so the Loon has spiked that post. Nonetheless, she will make bold to point out this oral history to those wishing real-world examples of silencing within librarianship.

The Loon couldn’t help noticing all the mentions of “inspiration” in the comments to Berman’s birthday tribute. As she has previously noted, that word is code, and it turns up an awful lot around the Bermanesque. Now, it takes more than the Loon to anoint a “library hero.” The Loon does herself consider Berman a library hero, but that’s different. Whether he is or he isn’t, the oral history makes clear that librarianship generally and Hennepin County Libraries and the Library of Congress cataloging establishment particularly acted abominably toward him.

We do not smell of roses when we treat our avowed heroes and inspirations this way. Let us please stop.