Spotlight on the Dynix–ALA-APA Award for Outstanding Promotion of the Salaries and Status of Library Workers
This year, two people were chosen by the jury to receive the first award, Maurice J. “Mitch” Freedman and Dorothy Morgan. We thought they deserved more space than we gave them in the coverage of the award in the June issue of Library Worklife. This month, we continue the interview with Mitch Freedman, which focuses on h ow to get involved in the pay equity movement in libraries and Mitch’s life after retirement.
LW: Mitch, what pay-related trends do you see in your community or in the nation with regards to library workers?
MF: There is a dreadful anti-worker and anti-union movement ruining today’s workforce’s efforts to provide for itself and its families. Rollbacks of benefits, particularly medical insurance payments, are some of the worst manifestations of this trend. It is affecting library workers, too. Individually and collectively we must mobilize against this effort to reduce the overall compensation of library workers. It is a dreadful comment on the U.S. that the minimum wage provides nowhere near a living wage for most such wage earners in the country. Perhaps in the most rural areas people can live on it, but for urban and suburban folks, the minimum wage is a ticket to poverty.
LW: How can we move the issue forward?
MF: The ALA-APA will have to promote the hell out of it. I also am available and will be happy to speak and to proselytize on behalf of library worker compensation and the ALA-APA, as are the current leadership of the ALA-APA committee and task forces. They will have to continue to speak out, publish, and have national, regional, and local workshops, programs, etc. The combination of these things will help move the issue forward.
LW: How would you recommend that others get involved?
MF: Go to the ALA-APA website and volunteer for any of the task forces that are of interest, attend ALA-APA committee and task force meetings, and send a donation to ALA-APA.
LW: What resources do you recommend?
MF: The Advocating for Better Salaries Toolkit is the single most valuable resource. In addition to it, the ALA-APA website, www.ala-apa.org, (as well as www.mjfreedman.org) contains a wealth of resources. There also is the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, which is dedicated to the support of library workers and all other skilled employees and crafts people. The AFL-CIO DPE website is www.dpeaflcio.org. It is a fine resource, and the DPE has been a strong supporter of the library worker salary efforts.
LW: What other areas of librarianship are you passionate about?
MF: I care deeply about the free public library remaining free and continuing to be the people’s library . I am passionate, too, about intellectual freedom and the privacy and confidentiality needs of library users.
I also have been successful in the areas of library management, information technology, and technical services. I strongly feel that these major areas of library functionality and service must be dedicated to serving the library patrons. Libraries don’t exist in a vacuum. They are here to meet the information, education and cultural needs of the people-when they stop doing that or introduce barriers to the patrons’ access to them, they fail and are not worthy of support.
LW: What have you been up to since your presidency (President-elect 2001–2002, past-President 2003–2004) in the salary improvement and pay equity arenas?
MF: I retired from my position as director of the Westchester Library System on August 30, 2005. Prior to retiring, I went back to being in my office essentially five days each week-that wasn’t true when I was president of ALA. In addition I continued to do speaking in the U.S. and overseas talking about salaries and other library issues.
LW: You are highly visible in the field, having been profiled extensively, held important positions within the American Library Association and other associations and written throughout your career. Please tell us something that hasn’t been covered thus far—an interest, a passion, a hobby or a particularly illuminating experience.
MF: Music means a great deal to me. I never travel without music on a computer or an Ipod to which I can listen. My favorite is Frank Sinatra and I am a great jazz fan. My jazz favorites are Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Clifford Brown and countless others.
My other avocation is photography. I am an amateur photographer with a great deal to learn. Having said that, I have had a couple of shows in libraries and have actually sold a few photos. In my retirement I will do much more with photography, including taking some courses in digital techniques.
Lastly, and most importantly in terms of financing my retirement, I will see how I far I can go as a library publisher with the U*N*A*B*A*S*H*E*D TM Librarian, the ‘how I run my library good’ SM letter, which I publish with my wife. I will work very hard to impress upon librarians how invaluable and unique this publication is in terms of one’s day-to-day work and overall library service.
Increasing subscriptions will be the first priority. We also will work on converting the back issues to electronic format. We also will begin a publication series of such practical guides to basic library issues as advocating for libraries and public relations for libraries. For more information, the reader is directed to www.unabashedlibrarian.com.
I also will spend more time consulting for libraries and library companies on board, management, human relations, resource sharing, information technology and technical services.
I have been a consultant for libraries or a speaker about library issues on five continents. I look forward to continuing this work.
Thank you, Mitch!
We would love to have your feedback on this article(s)!
Posted in Spotlight |
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