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For “Diversity,” but Not for Intellectual Diversity

In a New Oxford Note (Jul.-Aug. 2004, pp. 12-13), we noted that The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index (CPLI), published by the Catholic Library Association (CLA), has refused to index The Wanderer and had recently eliminated the NEW OXFORD REVIEW from its list of titles indexed.

We didn’t ask our readers to do anything about it, but one of our readers, who is a retired library director, took it upon himself to protest. He wrote to the “Chair” of the CPLI, saying: “As a library director who abided by Article Two of the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights (provision for all points of view)…, I am at a loss to understand why you dropped the New Oxford Review and did not add The Wanderer to the CPLI.” And he asked the “Chair” to send him a copy of the Guidelines for inclusion/exclusion for the CPLI.

The “Chair” sent the Guidelines, which is one page long. The pertinent parts read: “The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index provides indexing of currently significant Catholic periodicals of permanent value…. The reputation of the periodical, its editorial policy, contents, and its contributors are indicative of its scholarly or substantive nature.”

What is “significant,” of “permanent value,” and of a “scholarly or substantive nature”? It’s not hard to determine, for the National Catholic Reporter, a liberal weekly newspaper, is indexed. Then why isn’t The Wanderer, a conservative Catholic weekly newspaper, indexed? The Reporter and The Wanderer do the same thing. Clearly it’s censorship to exclude The Wanderer, just because it’s traditional. Likewise, Commonweal, a liberal Catholic magazine, is indexed. The NOR does the same thing as Commonweal, but from a traditional Catholic perspective.

Our reader, the retired library director, read the Guidelines, and wrote back to the “Chair”: “After reviewing them carefully, I see no reason whatsoever for excluding the New Oxford Review and The Wanderer from the CPLI. Their continued exclusion is a violation of Article Two of the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association, which mandates full provision for all points of view.”

Will anything come of this? Who knows?

If you want to vouch for the NOR’s (and/or The Wanderer‘s) “significance,” “permanent value,” and “scholarly or substantive nature,” you can write to the “Chair”: Cecil R. White, Gellert Library, St. Patrick’s Seminary, 320 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park CA 94025. Or you may wish to call him at 650-321-5655.

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