November 17, 2017

Ann Sparanese | Movers & Shakers 2003

Small and Large Acts of Resistance

2003_Ann_Sparanese

Ann Sparanese doesn’t have an up-to-date résumé because she is exactly where she wants to be. “I think I have the best of all possible worlds,” she says. “I serve my own
community (which is diverse, exciting, and challenging), in a profession that I consider to be essential to democracy, education, and building community.”

She came to the profession late, after raising children and working various low-wage jobs; upon taking the library job she became shop steward for the union. These experiences gave her a personal interest in building her library’s collection on labor issues and union history. She won a grant from the state library and built the largest labor collection in the area.

Sparanese doesn’t just believe in “diversity” and the “education for democracy” function of libraries. She has won grants to build collections in Hispanic studies, African American studies, and Jazz, Blues and World Music; another grant she wrote funded additional library services to the Spanish-speaking citizenry.

Now a vice president for organizing in the Bergen County Central Trades & Labor Council, she considers this extracurricular union participation among the most satisfying aspects of a life devoted to social activism. She has also worked with Cuban librarians to protest the U.S. embargo of Cuba and is active in a local antiwar committee.

You may know Sparanese’s name because Michael Moore says she saved his book, Stupid White Men, which his publisher refused to release because it was critical of George W. Bush. The publisher disputes that this is the reason the book was finally distributed, but when Sparanese raised the alarm, librarians swamped the company with complaints and orders. Sparanese sees this as proof that librarians can fight back – and win – against the squashing of dissent.

She thinks librarians’ commitment to free expression is needed now above all, because the USA PATRIOT Act has “put libraries in the crosshairs of its new homeland security policies. It is clearly a time…for small and large acts of resistance to the erosion of our rights.”

Some people still believe librarians are quiet, harmless folks who don’t make waves. Some people, especially those whose rights are threatened, need to meet Ann Sparanese.

 


Vitals

 

Current Position: Head of Adult and Young Adult Services, Englewood Public Library, NJ

Degree: MLS, Rutgers University, 1990

Professional Activities: ALA Council, Social Responsibilities Round Table, Progressive Librarians Guild, AFL-CIO/ALA Joint Committee on Library Service to Labor Groups

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