Notes from the Chair

by Barbara Walden

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2001, Vol. 25, no. 1

Association of College & Research Libraries
© American Library Association

Dear Friends,

The message I was planning to send to you, full of news of plans for the Paris Conference of 2004 and other WESS initiatives, has been overtaken by the tragedy of Septermber 11, 2001.
As you are reading this, these days of September have receded further into the past than they are for me now as I write this message after my return from the University of Wisconsin’s service of remembrance for the victims of that day. As I stood on the Library Mall with thousands of others and listened while representatives of the University and the Madison community spoke of unity, strength, and healing, each person in their own words offering a hope that peace and justice can prevail over hatred and terror, I found myself thinking about the many e-mail messages that have crowded my mailbox this week, full of concern, condolence and unity from colleagues of the library and book trade community around the world.
In a long career, one begins to reflect on and to value those of one’s activities which affirm peace and life. I vividly remember the frightening days at the height of the Cold War when it seemed that the United States and Russia might annihilate one another. I worked in Interlibrary Loan then; all through those frightening times my institution routinely exchanged interlibrary loans with the Lenin State Library in Moscow. I have walked the shelves in three of North America’s largest research libraries, examining their German imprints from the era of World War II and seeing written in these books the accession code and date which tells me that they were received from Otto Harrassowitz in times when it seemed that the world had gone mad. I have seen library material exchanges function continuously and successfully with nations with whom no other contact was possible, and have witnessed these contacts sometimes serve as the opening for other kinds of peaceful relationships. Today, we use the technology of the electronic revolution to span the gulf of geography and ideology.

Dear colleagues, as the months roll on and our lives return, we hope, to a more normal routine, let us never lose sight of these things which we do so routinely and everyday which bind us together in a peaceful network than spans boundaries and transcends ideology. Let us, as we go about our work as members of this global community of the printed and electronic word, affirm by doing so our own hope that peace and justice will prevail in the world.

Barbara Walden

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