Fiction and Fact about the “Independent Librarians” of Cuba: ONCE AGAIN

Fiction and Fact about the “Independent Librarians” of Cuba: ONCE AGAIN

Prepared by Ann Sparanese, MLS
ALA Councilor
August 6, 2006

A version of this paper was prepared for the June 2006 ALA Annual conference. At that time the ALA Council was being pressured by a group of anti-Cuba activists, led by Robert Kent, to require the ALA President to vote affirmatively on a controversial resolution against Cuba coming to the floor of the August 2006 IFLA conference in Seoul. This demand, which never made it to the ALA Council or any membership meeting, was another attempt by Robert Kent and his “Friends of Cuban Libraries” group to convince ALA to do what it has refused to do in prior years: condemn Cuba for persecuting the so-called “independent librarians” and to demand the freedom of those in prison. The FCL had maneuvered certain other library associations to do what they have not been able to get the ALA to do, and this issue is scheduled to come to the floor in IFLA — and will hopefully be rebuked. The justifications that have been made for years by the FCL are answered below.

The bottom line is this: these people are neither “independent” nor “librarians.” They were convicted of taking money and support from the United States toward the goal of destabilizing their own country. They are a paid political opposition, but they are not librarians. They are pawns in the game of the unending quest by the United States government for “regime change” in Cuba.

FICTION: ALA needs to come to the defense of “our colleagues” in Cuba.

FACT: Not even one of the “independents” has ever been a librarian, library worker or has even been associated with libraries in any way. Not one genuine Cuban librarian or library worker has joined the “independent librarians.”

The demand, therefore, is really that ALA – and IFLA — come to the defense of anti-government political activists in Cuba, who have been convicted and imprisoned for activities that are also illegal in the United States. These activities include taking money, equipment and political direction from an enemy foreign government. These activities are crimes in most sovereign nations, including the U.S., for obvious reasons. This is not a question of “credentials”. If you committed this crime in the US, it would not matter if you called yourself a “librarian” and ALA and IFLA would likely not defend you or demand your release from prison. Furthermore, even their defenders do not actually deny that these so-called “independent librarians” actually did take money and materials from the U.S. They like to argue that it is irrelevant that they did so.

The recent “Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba,” issued by the Bush Administration on July 10, 2006 ( ) documents the fact that not only have these dissidents been supported by the U.S. over the years, but that the U.S. intends to increase funding, ( 2006/07/20060710-1.html ). This will be done despite the fact that some of the most outspoken leaders of the Cuba opposition have denounced this practice as counterproductive to their goals and have refused funding from the U.S. As Wayne Smith, former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana (in effect, the U.S. Embassy), says, “?¢‚Ǩ¬¶when the U.S. says its objective is to bring down the Cuban government, and then says that one of its means of accomplishing that is by providing funds to Cuban dissidents, it in effect places them in the position of being paid agents of a foreign power seeking to overthrow their own.” ( Commission_Response.pdf .)

The hypocrisy of the US government on the issues of “meddling” is breathtaking. (Remember the flap over the Chinese contributions to the Democratic Party some years ago?) Unless we are prepared to ask the US government to change it’s laws against foreign subversion by funding, why would we demand it of Cuba?

We do indeed have “colleagues” in Cuba; they are the real librarians with whom we can profitably interchange on all issues of mutual concern, including intellectual freedom.

FICTION: This is about bringing “uncensored information” to the Cuban people.

FACT: Press reports profiling these private book collections frequently note that there is little found on the shelves of the so-called “independents” that could not be found in real Cuban libraries – except perhaps some reprints from the US Interest section (embassy) in Havana. There are, however, expensive fax machines and computers which most Cubans cannot afford to personally own. We should also ask ourselves the question: how many political tracts and reprints from the Cuban Interest Section (embassy) in Washington, DC do American public libraries have in their collections? International delegations, with members from the US, have found Kent’s alleged “banned books” (which include works of George Orwell, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cuban dissident writers) in the catalogs of Cuban public libraries, as well as on the shelves and recently checked out.

FICTION: Robert Kent and his “Friends” group are “independent human rights activists.”

FACT: This “library” campaign is part of the broader, well-funded strategy, outlined in documents of the US State Department — only most recently in the Commission report cited above, to bring about “regime change” in Cuba. It is given the nicer sounding name of “transition” but it is a regime change offensive. Millions of dollars are spent each year by we, the US taxpayers, towards funding these so-called “independent” institutions in Cuba (“independent journalists,” “independent trade unionists,” etc.) The cofounder with Kent of the “Friends of Cuban Libraries” is a Cuban expatriot economist, Jorge Sanguinetty, who himself is on the payroll of the USAID (United States Agency for International Development (one of the main recipients of regime change funding) as a “consultant.” (NY Times, June 28, 2003 p. B7). When Kent says that the FCL only receives money from its “members,” is he referring to Sanguinetty, who receives income from the US State Department? Kent has admitted that he himself has been involved in anti-Cuba activities for quite awhile: he served as a courier for Freedom House (one of the earliest recipients of Helms Burton money) which paid for his trips to smuggle money and equipment to Cuban dissidents (not “independent librarians” at that time, because they did not yet exist). After Kent was discovered and deported from Cuba, he and Sanguinetty founded the so-called “Friends.” His organization is a front for the stated US policy of attempting to destabilize Cuba by openly and covertly funding anti-government activity there.

The idea of calling longstanding political oppositionists “librarians” was brilliant; it is a strategy that trades on our good name to gather sympathy and solidarity for people who have never had anything to do with libraries in their lives. (This includes Ramon Colas, the “founder” of the “Independent Library Movement” – a psychologist by education, who then migrated to the US and was immediately employed by the rightwing Cuban American National Foundation – and not as a librarian.)

FICTION: The issue is intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, which is all we librarians should be concerned with – not foreign policy.

FACT: Anyone in the US being funded by a hostile foreign power to actively oppose our own government would probably be in jail. There are people serving time in US prison for just that: including an Iraqi American “journalist” to whose defense the ALA did not come. e.g. LA Times, April 1, 2004, p. A17.) The US protects the sovereignty of its political processes with laws, even though we are the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world, not a small island like Cuba with a long history of domination by and conflict with the US. The US has several federal statutes to insure that no US citizen takes so much as a pencil or a dollar from the Cuban government, without being subject to criminal prosecution. US citizens and residents can even be fined and/or criminally prosecuted for simply traveling to Cuba (that is, contributing money to the Cuban economy!) which is surely a violation of intellectual freedom and Constitutional rights. The new Bush Cuba Commission Report cited above also strongly recommends intensifying criminalization of “unlicensed” travel to Cuba, and this may very well happen.

Any American seriously wishing to see dissidents in Cuba freed from prison would begin by putting pressure on our own government to repeal the Helms Burton Act, which makes funding the political opposition a mandate of US law, and the true source of the problem. We would focus on ending the US embargo against Cuba, condemned annually at the United Nations. We would focus on our own government’s action rather than on Cuba, where our opinions do not carry the weight that they presumably do in our own country.

Elizardo Sanchez and Osvaldo Paya, two prominent and acknowledged leaders of the political opposition in Cuba, have also acknowledged the problem of US funding of the opposition. They have criticized this US policy and called for its end for the sake of legitimate political opposition in Cuba. Sanchez and Paya (and others) are not in prison. ( , , )

FICTION: Because Amnesty International has taken a position on this case, ALA must follow the lead of Amnesty International.

FACT: Even Amnesty International does not refer to the people in question as “independent librarians,” but calls them “private librarians.” If ALA has the obligation to do as Amnesty does in this case, does it also have the obligation to do so in ALL cases, even those involving the US — of which there are now many? AI has lately identified the US as a major violator of human rights, especially in Cuba at the Guantanamo prison. While we should have respect for the opinions of AI, their sphere is different from ours, unless the ALA has now decided to become a human rights organization with the same mission as AI. AI’s purpose is to identify prisoners of conscience throughout the world, regardless of political or economic context. AI itself has analyzed the contribution of the US embargo ( Index/ENGAMR25017200 ) and the Helms Burton Law on restricting political space in Cuba over the years. Before the Helms Burton Law was passed, AI was reporting a broadening of political space in Cuba. As soon as large-scale funding of “transition” activities began, that space narrowed. AI has never had a complete analysis of how economic blockades, such as the one against Cuba, impacts on human rights situation. That is not their purpose. But as US citizens, it certainly should be ours.

FICTION: Cuba burns books.

FACT: Cuba prints books, Cuba sells and promotes books through island-wide festivals that are international in scope and travel around the island. Cuba is a literate nation, full of readers and has just lately won the 2006 UNESCO literary prize for its literacy programs which have been used in many countries of the developing world. ( ev.php-URL_ID=33384&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC &URL_SECTION=201.html ) Anyone who has traveled in Latin America knows that Cuba arguably has the best system of public libraries in all of Latin America. One of the continually repeated allegations claimed by Kent is that Cuba has “burned” the collections of the “independent libraries.” He cites an anonymously funded site of mysterious provenance called “Rule of Law in Cuba” ( ) that claims to have sentencing documents that prove their claims. But even this site claims only two of the dissidents as having something to do with independent libraries! Not one is claimed to be in jail because he had books! The proof that Cuba does not “burn” the collections of “independent libraries” and that such libraries are not illegal in Cuba, is that many still exist and are publicly identified on websites. They still have their collections. Wouldn’t they all be closed if they are illegal? Can it be that the Cuban police can’t find them? Why aren’t all the “independent librarians” in jail? Because having a library is not the crime for which they were convicted. For example Gisela Delgado, the “director” of one of these libraries, is not in prison. But her husband, Hector Palacios, is, because he was found with thousands of dollars in his closet and actually signed a receipt for funds! It is not against the law to have a shared private book collection in Cuba; it is a crime to take money and equipment from an enemy nation to carry out anti-government activities in Cuba – no matter what you call yourself. The same is true in the US.

It seems that we have our own cases of book removal to contend with. Recently a children’s book about Cuba created quite a furor in Miami and was removed from all school libraries in Florida’s Miami-Dade County. So much for the freedom to read in south Florida! Were those books to be “burned,” dumped, stored (in anticipation of saner times) or offered to other libraries as donations? A judge has ordered them back on the shelf temporarily, as the case continues in the courts.

FICTION: ALA has pushed aside the case of the “independent librarians” and refuses to consider it.

FACT: This issue of Cuba has probably been among the most studied and seriously
considered in ALA history. ALA has spent significant energies since 2001
( alacubanlibrariesreportcuban.htm )
and throughout numerous conferences considering this case. ALA arrived at its final statement at the San Diego Midwinter conference in 2004. ( prjan2004/alacounciladopts.htm ) Two high level ALA committees, the International Relations Committee and the Intellectual Freedom Committee formed a joint task force to consider it. They investigated deeply, listened to many members, considered all the aspects and their context, to come to a statement that expressed our concern with the imprisonment of those who call themselves librarians, but stopping short of saying that they are librarians and demanding their immediate release. It was the correct position and should not be altered because of the strident objections of others.

ALA does not routinely demand the release of US political prisoners either, of which there are some calling themselves journalists and poets, if not librarians, at this moment. ALA has never made a commitment to defend, or campaign for, librarians who break US law – even the USA PATRIOT Act, which we opposed! — there is no reason for us to do so regarding the citizens of a foreign country, who broke their country’s laws regarding foreign funding of their activities, and whose imprisonment is directly related to US foreign policy for which we are, indirectly, responsible.

FICTION: Those who have opposed ALA action against Cuba are a small group of left-wing “extremists” in “control” of ALA and who support dictatorships.

FACT: ALA Council which adopted the 2004 report consists of 170 members. There were only three dissenting votes on the issue. ALA is obviously not controlled by “extremists,” but Kent/FCL are one-issue extremists with an agenda that has nothing to do with libraries or intellectual freedom. They have never been active in ALA on any other issue. They have no interest in the Association on any level other than coercing a condemnation of what they perceive to be a “communist dictatorship” that needs to be overthrown. (This is also true of the library association who is bringing the resolution coming before IFLA this month.) They never champion the opposition leaders who also call for an end to US intervention in the internal opposition in Cuba; they only support those who are jail because they on the receiving end of that strategy.

Those of us who have come to the defense of real Cuban libraries and librarians do not do so because we believe that Cuba has all the political democracy it needs. On the contrary, we believe that the political space that Cubans need will only be able to be realized once the threat of US aggression is ended. We take no pleasure in seeing presumably “non violent political opposition” in prison. But as Americans with some knowledge of history, we are painfully aware of the violent nature of US policy towards Cuba over 50 years. The latest Cuba Commission report reiterates the intention of the US to impose a totally different economic and political system on the Cuban people, as if these people and their sovereignty do not exist at all. That the US would attempt to buy a “fifth column” of dissidents – such as the so-called “independents” of every stripe — ready to assist in any way necessary in these plans for “transition” should not be in doubt. Self-defense is not only the right of some nations in this world; it is the right of all nations.

So far the ALA has not allowed our good name as the largest library association in the world to be used as an instrument of US foreign policy toward Cuba.

I hope this can be said of IFLA as well, as events unfold this summer.

10 comments on “Fiction and Fact about the “Independent Librarians” of Cuba: ONCE AGAIN

  1. A few observations:

    The Rule of Law in Cuba website to which Ann refers has at least three sentencing documents which order that the confiscated books, magazines and other materials of the defendants are to be destroyed by means of incineration. Would that not be book burning? There are at least two other documents in which it is stated that the confiscated materials are to be destroyed, which I presume would be by incineration as well. There are other sentencing documents in which the fate of such materials is not stated. That there may be a lively literary culture in Cuba does not contradict the fact that the government also destroys literature it considers subversive or counter-revolutionary.

    I have not examined this website closely enough to know how many of the defendants were involved in the independent library movement, but the website is an incomplete listing of cases; the Amnesty International report on the 2003 trials provides a more comprehensive summary of the 75 cases, and the involvement of some with libraries, which can be found at: I found ten people listed as operating libraries.

    Regarding the fact that this Amnesty International report referred to “private” rather than “independent” libraries, this is a meaningless distinction. Amnesty International is a human rights organization, and its report determined that none of the 75 defendants received fair trials and that all of them should be considered prisoners of conscience, as they were engaged in the non-violent, “legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms as guaranteed under international standards.”

    As to the claim, “Not even one of the ‘independents’ has ever been a librarian, library worker or has even been associated with libraries in any way,” that is assuming that the collections these individuals manage do not qualify as libraries, even private libraries. A contrary view was expressed by Susanne Seidelin, director of the IFLA’s FAIFE, who after a visit to Cuba in 2001, said these libraries provided an alternative source of needed information in Cuba, and that “the argument that they are not ‘professionals’ is largely irrelevant.” See:

    Finally, regarding the report of the ALA International Relations and Intellectual Freedom committees approved at the 2004 Midwinter meeting, it is regrettable that the report did not call for the immediate release of the prisoners. It is also unfortunate that the committee did not even respond to Holly Ackerman, an academic librarian in Florida who is the Cuba country specialist for Amnesty International USA and who offered her assistance. Her insights could have been very helpful to the committee in this highly polarized debate. Nevertheless, this report does say that it:
    “joins IFLA in its deep concern over the arrest and long prison terms of political dissidents in Cuba in spring 2003 and urges the Cuban Government to respect, defend and promote the basic human rights defined in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    “ALA supports IFLA in urging the Cuban government to eliminate obstacles to access to information imposed by its policies, and IFLA’s support for an investigative visit by a special rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights with special attention given to freedom of access to information and freedom of expression, especially in the cases of those individuals recently imprisoned and that the reasons for and conditions of their detention be fully investigated.”

    I agree with the ALA and IFLA on these points.

  2. From the Friends of Cuban Libraries:

    Ms. Sparanese’s analysis of the Seoul conference, as in the case of her other writings on this subject, is rife with factual errors and failures of principle. This response will focus on a few of the more obvious ones. (NOTE: The wording of Ms. Sparanese’s comments was taken from another text, so wording may vary slightly from her message to Libray Juice)

    >What happened at the IFLA conference is an indication of the growing
    >awareness of the library community worldwide….

    Ms. Sparanese states a partial truth, although not in the way she intended. The Seoul conference was indeed helpful in increasing awareness on the part of the world library community regarding the only nation in the world where people are persecuted for the alleged crime of opening uncensored libraries. Like the free libraries themselves, this important issue refuses to die, despite the intense efforts of the Cuban government and its supporters abroad.

    >The resolution against Cuba proposed by the Latvians
    >could not even get a second!

    Wrong again. First of all, the resolution was not against Cuba. On the contrary, it was in defense of the the right of Cubans, and by extension the people of all countries, to enjoy intellectual freedom, honored as the most basic principle of the world library community. And the resolution was placed on the IFLA agenda after complying with with IFLA regulations. Due to confusion and a lack of information on the part of the Lithuanians, the resolution was withdrawn by one co-sponsor, leading IFLA to remove it from the agenda for technical reasons. Next year is a different story.

    >The reason for this is that it is becoming well-known and understood that
    >this “library” campaign is part of the broad well-funded strategy… to bring about “regime change”
    >in Cuba.

    As in her previous comments on this subject, Ms. Sparanese again fails to specify how reading uncensored books can be a threat to anyone. Cuba’s innovative independent library movement was founded by Cubans in 1998 to challenge a national system of censorship. The movement serves as a model for other nations where rulers seek to suppress their people’s right to intellectual freedom. The independent librarians receive support from many nations, just as Cuba’s “official” librarians enjoy support from other countries. Does Ms.Sparanese believe that Cuba’s official librarians, like the independents, should be sentenced to life imprisonment and have their books burned for the “crime” of receiving donations from abroad?

    Discerning readers will note that Ms. Sparanese tries to focus on library aid sent to the independent librarians from the U.S. while ignoring aid sent to them from other countries, just as she ignores the fact that books donated to Cuba’s independent librarians from other nations are treated no differently than the ones sent from the U.S. That is, the books are seized and burned by the Cuban government. And the librarians who commit the “crime” of accepting them are sentenced, after one-day trials, to prison terms of up to 26 years. All of the librarians arrested during Cuba’s 2003 crackdown have been named as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, which is calling for their immediate release. They are also being defended by other prominent human rights groups, such as Pax Christi Netherlands, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.

    >Cubans who accept this cash AND equipment from the US government are in
    >violation of Cuban law….

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone in the world the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” It cannot be a crime to send books to other nations, no matter what any government may claim to the contrary.

    >By US law, foreign governments are not allowed to fund the
    >political process in our country and we have laws to make sure
    >that they don’t.

    Once again, Ms. Sparanese fails to specify how reading uncensored books can possibly be a crime, political or otherwise.

    >“Trading with the enemy” is a criminal offense in the US.

    Informational materials such as books, magazines, newspapers, recordings, art works, etc. are exempt from the U.S. trade legislation on embargoed nations such as Burma, North Korea and Cuba. It is true that trade in computers and software is not presently exempt due to the fact that these laws were passed decades ago, before computers became widely used. We in the Friends of Cuban Libraries support abolishing the present ban on computer sales to Cuba. Besides, these trade restrictions on computers distract attention from the fact that surfing the World Wide Web or owning a computer is a crime in Cuba, except for the privileged few who receive government permission.

    And where would South Africans and Eastern Europeans be if their peaceful efforts for freedom had not benefited from the moral and material support sent from abroad? It cannot be a crime to aid the victims of human rights violations, no matter what any tyrannical government may claim to the contrary.

    >The site ( that claims to have the actual
    >sentencing documents is of mysterious provenance for the simple reason that
    >it is funded anonymously.

    Ms. Sparanese wants to shoot the messenger while ignoring the truth of the message. What matters is the accuracy of the court documents obtained by the FSU website, not who funds the website. The court documents published by FSU prove, in the words of the Cuban government itself, that the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment and had their book collections burned for the alleged crime of opening uncensored libraries. And if Ms. Sparanese has any question as to the funding of the FSU website, she is free to send them an inquiry via e-mail: ( ). Sadly, the independent librarians, like the rest of the Cuban people, enjoy no such right, as they can send e-mail only with the permission of the Cuban government

    >But a detailed reader will also see that when you
    >read the descriptions of individual dissidents, only TWO of them actually
    >have something to do with “independent libraries”!

    Another factual error. Steve Marquardt of the Freadom organization ( has made an extensive study of the trial documents of the independent librarians, approximately 12 of whom are still serving 20-year prison terms for daring to challenge censorship. He also analyzes the court documents to detail the titles of some of the library books seized or burned by Castro’s secret police, such as Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    >In fact if one were to believe
    >Kent’s press releases about over a hundred “independent libraries” existing
    >on the island, one would have to conclude that most of their owners are NOT
    >in jail.

    So they have no right to complain until all of them have sentenced to life imprisonment? In fact, over 200 independent libraries were reported to have been open in Cuba before the 2003 crackdown, when many of them were raided by the secret police and shut down. Despite the determined efforts of the Cuban government to crush the movement, new libraries continue to be founded by brave people who boldly defend the right of the Cuban people to enjoy intellectual freedom.

    >NOT ONE of these library “operators,” (to use Mr. Marquardt’s term) has EVER
    >been a librarian, library worker or even associated with libraries in any
    >way before their incarnation as “independent librarians!”

    Another factual error. The court documents identify many of the prisoners as independent librarians and name the institutions they founded. For a partial directory of the libraries still open in Cuba, please refer to the Address section of the Friends’ website (http://www.friendsofcuban

    >And NOT ONE
    >genuine Cuban librarian or library worker has joined the “independents.”
    >That should tell us something.

    Not true. At least two “official” librarians that we know of have joined the free library movement since going into exile. And more importantly, all library workers, whether or not they have a library degree, have a right to defend intellectual freedom. And who, exactly, qualifies as a “genuine” librarian or library worker? For example, the director of Cuba’s National Library does not have a library degree. In the view of Ms. Sparanese, does this fact make him a criminal, too?

    >Of course, Kent already admitted… [and] I quote, “Kent told LJ his group was ‘ad hoc’
    >and did not have official members but that it was funded by supporters, though he later
    >acknowledged it receives U.S. government funds” (p.42).

    Not true. The Friends of Cuban Libraries are funded entirely by our members, although we defend the right of all libraries to accept donations from any source.


    The Friends of Cuban Libraries

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  4. Well, hey, Amnesty refers to dissidents having a “private library” nine times in this report:

    and not once to an “independent library.”

    But really, this is trifling, except to say that the word “independent,” given everything that is known about them, is a little tricky. By the way, Amnesty has also called for “the immediate lifting” of the economic embargo against Cuba. I haven’t read that call lately on Mr. Steven’s blog or coming from the FCL. Or have I missed something?

    As for Mr. Kent’s comments: None of my points was answered in a straightforward manner. And as for where FCL gets its money, I quoted only the NYTimes and Library Journal — information for which I have never read a retraction.

    So I’ll just say this:

    The funds and equipment that are allocated for the “independent libraries” in Cuba by the US government have NOTHING WHATSOVER to do with building library services in Cuba or providing “uncensored information” to the Cuban people. These funds are appropiated for TRANSITION, aka regime change, plain and simple.

    Read the Commission report. It’s all pretty much there, except for the ultra-secret, classified appendix. The report been denounced by the political opposition leadership in Cuba who are not on the US payroll, but not by those who are on the “favorites” list of the FCL.

    Another illuminating piece on this subject — albeit the flip side of the coin — was blogged by Rory yesterday and I wrote a little comment to that as well.

  5. Ann, if you read the Amnesty International report you cited you will notice it considers all 75 defendants at the 2003 trials to be prisoners of conscience, who were engaged in the non-violent, “legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms as guaranteed under international standards,” and who should be released immediately. That would be opposite of your view.

    From the citations of Jack Stephens, it should be clear that from Amnesty International’s perspective, there is no difference between private and independent libraries, since it has employed both terms in recent reports.

  6. I remember checking out rare materials from the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. It had to be read on the spot.

    If there is truely genuine concern about the scarcity of specific authors and titles in real Cuban libraries, I urge you to do as I do and donate, as many copies from the list as you see fit to amply fill the more then 400 public libraries in Cuba to meet your concern. I know they will be gladly accepted and appreciated by real Cuban librarians. dl

    Reinaldo Are̱as Рonly represented at the National Library to be read on spot.

    · Lino Novas Calvo – one title at the National Library

    · Maria Elena Varela Cruz – no titles found

    · Jesus Diaz – eight titles at the National Library and in another library

    · Vaclav Havel – no titles found

    · Guillermo Cabrera Infante – three titles at the National Library and in another library

    · Mario Vargas Llosa – five titles in two libraries

    · Carlos Alberto Montaner – no titles found

    · George Orwell – three titles at the National Library, were on loan to the director as he was working on an Orwell essay.

    · Lesandro Otero – one title at the National Library

    · Heberto Padilla – two titles in two different libraries

    · Octavio Paz – complete works at the National Library; two titles and a poem collection in another library

    · Zoe Valdes – four titles at the National Library, two titles in another library: one on loan the other on request

  7. Of course, at any library or archive it would be normal that rare materials could be read only on the spot. So that isn’t a very relevant analogy.

    The availability of certain authors’ books Dana cites is from a 2001 report of FAIFE director Susanne Seidelin whose URL I listed above. According to her, Cuban regulations on public libraries “suggest that should a work hold opinions that contradict the cultural or educational policy of the country it is not likely to be selected and made publicly available. On this ground, Cuba’s government politics provides a fixed framework for the selection of materials and thus the possible infliction of censorship in various degrees through selection policies. From what we learned, there is no doubt that a wide range of information or literature expressing current opinions is unavailable in the libraries of Cuba. Even when publications are held, their use may be restricted or monitored to the extent that ordinary people may be inhibited or even prevented from gaining access to them.”

  8. One of my favorite experiments in the NY Public Library is to try to check out ORIENTALISM by Edward Said… it’s fairly futile: patrons and librarians have made sure that it can never be found despite being one of the most important texts in Middle Eastern studies, historiography, literary studies, and the humanities in general. No burning necessary.

  9. Came into this very late, sorry, but I’m curious about the last comment, left by Stephen Jones – can anyone shed light on this comment? Is it true? Truly sad, if it is … I’m tracking the various editions of Orientalism over time for a little uni research project, and this is news to me … rather strange for NY, actually … Being so far away means I can’t verify it myself … I’d appreciate any further comment. Cheers

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