restricted access ACONDA and ANACONDA: Social Change, Social Responsibility, and Librarianship

In the context of the declining legitimacy of the war in Vietnam and widespread challenges to the authority of established institutions and cultural norms, the American Library Association (ALA) was the target of criticism by a diverse coalition of librarians who asserted two broad demands; first, that the ALA expand the scope of its activities to include consideration of social and political issues that had not, to that point, been regarded as "library" issues by the established leadership of the ALA; second, that the ALA democratize its structure of decision making. This challenge led to the creation of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT), which is still active as a component of the ALA. It also prompted the formation of two committees in response to the above demands: the Activities Committee on New Directions (ACONDA) and the Ad Hoc Activities Committee on New Directions (ANACONDA). A central concept at play in the politics of these events is the notion of "social responsibility" and its meaning in time of war and social change. This article focuses on the discourse of the challengers to the ALA and the ALA's response through the work of ACONDA and ANACONDA to examine the contesting and contested meanings of the "social responsibility" of libraries, librarianship, and the ALA. These events and this discursive struggle established an explicit professional concern for and continuing conflict over the meaning and role of libraries and librarianship in the creation of culture that before these events had been merely implicit in professional discourse.