Revolution #241, July 31, 2011

Taking BAsics to Librarians

July 19, 2011

I was happy to hear that people took BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian to the American Library Association conference in New Orleans and I welcomed the call for people to take BAsics to librarians in their areas. I’ve been talking to librarians in this city about BAsics and would like to share some of my experience.

One way to reach a lot of people with BAsics is through the library and our past experience with librarians convinced us that they would want to know about this book and could play an important role in promoting it. So we decided to take BAsics to librarians.

I work in a city that has a big public library system with many branches. The city library has a centralized ordering system and it’s difficult for branch librarians to get books that are not on the “monthly order sheet” so my first step was to get BAsics onto the order sheet. I set up an appointment to talk to the head librarian of the main branch about BAsics, why the library should add it to its collection and make it available to the branches as well. This public library already carries Bob Avakian’s memoir From Ike to Mao and Beyond, Away With All Gods, and the Revolution Talk DVD in its collection. The head librarian believes libraries should make books available to the public from all points of view, across the whole political spectrum, about every topic under the sun, and from all kinds of writers. From that perspective he welcomed the conversation and the recommendation to carry BAsics. He noted that the library carries other books by Avakian and said it was “a no-brainer” to add BAsics to the library collection. He did not have the authority to put BAsics on the monthly order sheet for the branches but just the fact that he was adding it to the central collection carried some weight and we were successful in getting it listed on the order sheet. The fact that a major city library is carrying this book also makes librarians in other public libraries in the area sit up and take notice.

I then went out to talk to individual branch librarians about why they should order BAsics and put it in their branch collections. I put together a packet that changed over time as more materials on BAsics came out but generally included an issue of Revolution, a poster size “You Can’t Change The World If You Don’t Know the BAsics,” the review by Herb Boyd, and comments on BA and BAsics from artists, writers, prisoners and others. I wanted librarians to know that this book is part of a movement for revolution that we are building and that is growing.

I spoke to the librarians about Bob Avakian and about what’s concentrated in the book. I opened the book and had them read a quote or two. And I talked about the people who needed to read/hear these quotes. Many of the librarians I spoke with are worried about what they see around them; they want to see young people more politically active and thinking critically about the world. That desire to move young people seemed to be the main reason they wanted to order BAsics. As I talked with one librarian, a high school volunteer came by. The cover of BAsics caught his eye. I turned to him and said, “I’m trying to persuade your librarian to order this book. What do you think?” He looked at the book, the table of contents, flipped through the pages and read some quotes and declared, “I would read this book.” That sealed the deal for the librarian. A few librarians offered to hold discussions of BAsics in the library. One librarian who works in a poor Black neighborhood where unemployment is very high, missed the deadline to order BAsics from the central order sheet so she bought BAsics on the spot for her library.

The packet also helps because librarians have very limited funds and have to pick and choose what books to carry, so reading what other people think about the book makes a difference... and it helps them to have materials that can persuade their higher-ups that this is a book worth buying.

When you talk to your librarian tell them they can get BAsics and many other books by Bob Avakian through Baker & Taylor. It is the nation’s largest distributor of books to libraries and other institutions.


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What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond