How Scientology Drives Your Local Librarian Nuts
We've been hearing pretty regularly from librarians near and far who have had it with the aggressive tactics of Scientology.
[Credit: L.E. Baskow, Portland Tribune]
You see, as we learned Sunday with a story about "study tech," Scientology is like an octopus that wants to get its tentacles into as many places as possible through front groups and supposedly "secular" entities. So Scientology pushes L. Ron Hubbard's study materials into unsuspecting school districts, recruits kids to stand up for uncontroversial "human rights," runs drug treatment centers with non-medical personnel and unscientific vitamins-and-sauna regimens, sends "volunteer ministers" to disaster sites to wave their hands over people claiming to heal them, and all of it with the real goal of burnishing the image of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard, and, ultimately, Scientology itself.
But no one may be more fed up with Scientology's pushy Hubbard-PR than this country's librarians.
We hear from librarians from time to time about how Scientologists never take no for an answer and insist on sending them books they don't want. But recently, we heard from a Detroit-area librarian, Alan Naldrett, and felt compelled to share his story with you...
Scientology has a campaign to get their literature into libraries. Through Bridge Publications, they send out packages containing numerous Scientology materials, both books and DVDs. They then follow up with phone calls to see if the libraries received the items and shelved them. In our library the phone calls are usually forwarded to me, one of the reference librarians.
When I first talked to Bridge Publications I told them we were not interested in their books as they did not have scientific research available to verify their claims. Also, there was no peer review involved, that is, the books were not checked over by anyone qualified to verify the claims, such as a scientist or philosopher.
The employee assured me that there was research done by Mr. Hubbard and she would send it. What she sent me was testimonials to the scientific acumen of Mr. Hubbard, including the nuclear physicist bit. After I explained that this wasn't "research," and what I wanted to see was how many people were sampled in the surveys and how many were in the control group, and other examples of using a scientific method. I offered to e-mail her an example so she could see what most of the free world considers "research." I never heard from her again.
About every six months to a year, the whole process starts over. I did an e-mail search and there have been more than ten different people over the years calling and e-mailing trying to get their books into our library. One variation is to just promote L. Ron Hubbard's science fiction stories, with no mention of Scientology. The websites for this are quite folksy, kind of reminding me of sites that sell old radio shows...
That website includes a bio of L. Ron Hubbard with no mention of Scientology or Dianetics whatsoever (they must not want to alienate the librarians and science-fiction fans).
No matter how many times we tell them to please don't send any more crap, they keep sending boxes of material.
Alan included a copy of a typical letter he received from Bridge Publications, Scientology's publishing arm...
I work for a company and have a set of audio CDs that I would like to donate to your library. They are newly released and just becoming available to the bookstores. These come in individual plastic cases that are shelf-ready.
There are 26 individual lectures covering a variety of subjects such as: Family and Children, Money, Increasing Efficiency, Study and Education, the Mind, the Soul, Hope, Help and more.
I want to best facilitate your library's needs in accepting these donations and so would appreciate it if you'd spend a moment and write back to me on the following:
1. Would you want all 26 titles in one mailing (one small box)?
2. Would they be shelved by subject or by author?
3. Is there any other information you would need to accept these as part of your collection?
Thank you very much for your time.
Bridge Publications, Inc.
Alan also included the survey that he filled out and returned, with his responses in italics...
In an effort to better understand how libraries catalog and select audio/visual materials for their collection, Bridge Publications would greatly appreciate the completion of the following short survey.
What are the key factors considered in evaluating audio-visual for selection and shelving?
We mainly have audiovisual for faculty only and don't need anything about Scientology, so please don't send anything.
Do you shelf all the AV material you acquire?
No, especially not the Scientology ones.
What audio/visual properties makes (sic) them undesirable to put on the shelving?
Ones with no scientific research or backing noted, with no peer review process (clear that if you're not sure what I mean) or ones from repressive organizations.
Does the packaging need any specific information?
It must not say Scientology or Dianetics.
Does your library acquire AV self- help material?
Yes, but only actual, peer-reviewed items.
Is their (sic, they didn't clear this word either) any cataloging information we can provide that might facilitate the shelving process?
Just don't send any materials and that will help us by not having to throw them out again.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We have had your books on the shelf, no one checks them out. We put them in our book sale, no one buys them. We put them in the free box, no one wants them. So we give them to recyclers who give the money to the disadvantaged. You could skip the middle man and directly donate to an anti-hunger organization not connected to Scientology since that's what we would do. Or just don't send any more materials.
Thank you for your time. It is greatly appreciated.
Alan says he gets other letters that promote Hubbard, each one focusing on a different area of his output.
Another librarian we know sent us this note about a similar campaign to get Hubbard's pulp fiction into a college library, and sent us a copy of the e-mail he was sent...
Wrote the librarian, "This e-mail campaign is bothersome, since it paints librarians as witless accomplices in the campaign for global domination..."
Well, we've yet to meet a librarian who is witless. So maybe even more of them will think to answer Scientology's endless campaigns with smart-aleck responses like the ones Alan came up with.
We'd like to hear from other librarians about how they've handled similar entreaties from Bridge Publications or Galaxy Press. Let us know!
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories, which tend to come out each and every morning at 8 am, but can suddenly appear at any time of the day. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories. As for our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week's best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology's wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.
As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.