“Who are your guys?” some radical librarian resources

books are weapons in the war of ideas

cc image from Wyoming_Jackrabbit

I listen a lot to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast about comedy. He interviews pretty much everyone you’ve ever heard of in the comedy world (and some people you may not have heard of) and one of the things he always asks people are “Who are your guys?” like who did you come up with in the comedy world and who did you identify with or look up to when you got started? I recently got an email from a library school student who is an anarchist librarian wondering a similar thing basically who my guys were and what resources were out there for radical librarians. The people who were my guys when I got started are all doing different things right now, interesting things. I wanted to share an amended version of the resource list and email I sent her. These are just people in the radical librarian niche, there are a lot of other people who have influenced me in many other ways. Who are your guys?

Sandy Berman was one of my original guys. I was lucky enough to get to know him when I was a library student and was active in my local SRRT chapter.
http://www.sanfordberman.org/zine/zine1.htm

I think the work that Radical Reference is doing is important. It’s sort of distributed often crisis or demonstration-based reference services and they also do some email and other support.

http://radicalreference.info/

It’s a neat project and the takeaway for me is the idea of “just in time” reference or event-based reference especially at large events like marches and demonstrations but this could be anything really.

There used to be a much more active anarchist librarian community on a mailing list and forum

http://forums.infoshop.org/viewforum.php?f=6

I’m not sure where that bunch of people gets together, but Chuck Munson who runs that site is worthwhile to talk to.

The big takeaway is that there are a LOT of people doing this sort of work, the profession attracts folks like us.

Rory Litwin and the Library Juice Press put out a lot of worthwhile information about the more radical aspects of the profession as well as professional development opportunities.

Library Juice Press
http://libraryjuicepress.com/blog/
Library Juice Academy
http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/

The FreeGovInfo people spend a lot of time making sure that government information is available to ALL the people. It’s interesting since, well, it’s very involved with government, but making the current government we have accountable and responsible is a worthwhile goal

http://freegovinfo.info/

Other people who are doing “free the information” activities include

The Internet Archive & Open Library & Archive Team
http://archive.org
http://openlibrary.org
http://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

The Prelinger Library
http://www.prelingerlibrary.org/home/

Carl Malamud and Public Resource
https://public.resource.org/

Open CRS
https://opencrs.com/

The Social Responsibilities Round Table and the Progressive Librarians Guild
http://libr.org/srrt/
http://www.progressivelibrariansguild.org/

are both groups that take a fairly radical approach to what is a library issue and work within big organizations like the ALA to be on the record about things that matter. There’s some pushback to this, but overall I think they are worthwhile. Not everyone is an anarchist, there are varieties of left-wing thinkers (and some libertarians? I don’t know) but worthwhile to get to know and worth seeing if there are people in your area.

More recently the Occupy Libraries put an organized face on the idea of a protest library. Many places to read more, here is a current blog and wiki about the Occupy Wall Street library.

http://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/
http://olan.wikidot.com/
(not to be confused with “occupy your library“)

There are also mutual aid type societies of groups of librarians working towards a common cause without the more formalized structure of a state or national organization.

Urban Libraries Unite
http://urbanlibrariansunite.org/

Rural Libraries Unite
http://www.rurallibrariansunite.org/

Some individual librarians are people I met early on and are still continuing to do great stuff. I’m also most hesitant to mention anyone for fear I’ll leave someone out, but here are two folks

Julie Herrada
, curator of the Labadie collection
http://www.lib.umich.edu/users/jherrada
Lincoln Cushing, archival consultant, All Of Us Or None collection (among other things)
http://www.docspopuli.org/Personal.html

But at some level I think the best way to start mutual aid projects from within the library context (in my personal opinion) is to try to work FOR

- fewer limitations on content (against DRM even if you may not be able to eradicate it)
- fewer copyright restrictions and be careful about self-censoring
- access to library materials to more people including historically disadvantaged groups such as language minorities, people in prison/jail, homeless people, people with disabilities
- sharing the community resources that you hold in the widest way possible

And while I think it’s important to be upbeat, it’s also important to understand what the threats are in the community and trying to work AGAINST

- more restrictions on copyright and/or internet freedom
- people meddling in childrens’ rights to read or intellectual freedom generally
- internet filtering
- publisher’s harassment of librarians and others for telling the truth about their practices or business models
- increasing push towards rental/lease of content and away from purchasing it and the rights that first sale gives us

a few from the feed

As may be obvious, I’m a little behind on my feeds. The good news is that there’s a lot of good stuff there. The bad news is that you may have seen some of it. Here are a few quickie notes that I think merit some attention. My apologies if you’ve all seen them before. My personal goal is to be all caught up on feeds by the time I leave for ALA — Thursday morning — and don’t get behind again. I think it’s doable.

some links for National Library Week

Between taxes and travel and houseguests and springtime, I’ve been reading less and posting less than usual. This week is National Library Week. Is there a good-looking National Library Week website that you’ve found? Post it in the comments please. I’ve been enjoying the AL Focus NLW videos which you can find on AL Focus and also at their account on blip.tv.

My “to post” bookmarks list is longish and though I try to spare you just a del.icio.us linkbarf, here are some links I’ve liked.

Balanced Libraries, a new title by Walt Crawford

Mazel tov to Walt Crawford on the publication of his new book Balanced Libraries. Walt published this book via Lulu Press and has devoted some space in his most recent issue of Cites and Insights to discussing how the Lulu Experience worked for him.

I’ve spent some of the last week going back and forth with editors of various things I’ve written. In one case an article I’d written had a blurb that I felt totally missed the point of my article, and in another case the changing of an ellipsis to a period made the last paragraph of a book introduction I wrote come across in a way I hadn’t intended. I decided not to continue co-editing a column for Serials Review because the sheer amount of process involved in communicating with Elsevier — making sure each web-page citation was in proper CMS style, getting a ton of automated email, most of which I was directed to ignore — wasn’t worth it for me. Every time, I was working with great editors, but there is only so much they can do between the time an article is written and the time it appears in print. No one enjoys being edited, but I think for most of us it’s the cost of doing business.

Between Walt’s Lulu experience and the books that Rory has been putting out as part of Library Juice Press — which I shamefully confess to having received and not yet had time to read but man do they look lovely — there are now alternatives to the slow intractable schedules and my-way-or-the-highway agreements that print publication has given us. Granted, these may not be legitimate in the eyes of tenure-granters, but not all of us are looking for tenure nowadays. I wish this shift were giving more of us bargaining power with existing print publishers, or changing the way they do business somewhat, but my feeling is that it will.

what ALA is doing, from a current ALA Councilor

I have no idea how long I stay on the ALACOUN, the mailing list for Councilors, but I’m definitely not on Council anymore. Whether I’ll let my membership lapse in December is anyone’s guess. This has been a big few months for shakeups. Rory has a post over at Library Juice which has links to the sorts of reports Councilors get from the organization. If you’re ALA-curious, they’re worth a look.

Both Rory and I have been involved in working on some of the ALA-related Wikipedia articles and it’s clear that there is a small (one person? more?) and vocal (fanatical?) faction who believes that one of ALA’s primary claims to fame is as a “sexualizer of children” and other related issues based on ALA’s Library Bill of Rights which includes a statement of right of access to libraries for children as well as adults. I don’t feel the need to chime in on that particular topic, my feelings are probably obvious. However, one of the side effects of the move towards the democratization of information production of the type we see in Wikipedia, means that people with serious axes to grind, a lot of time, and ability or willingness to circumvent or constantly challenge community norms, guidelines and rules get a much larger-seeming platform for their ideas than they would have under more “traditional” publishgin methods. Whether this is the good news or the bad news depends in a large part on which side of the particular debate you’re on.

In this new world, it seems to me, we need libraries and their librarians more than ever.

Library Juice ceases regular publication, for now

Rory’s putting an end to Library Juice for now and working on some other publishing-type ventures and maybe coming out with a blog in the future. Library Juice was one of very few regular online publications that I would read every time it came out and I’ll miss the combination of interesting one-off links and more thoughtful pieces both by Rory and the people who wrote for him and/or were quoted there.

library juice has an rss feed!

Good news, Library Juice has an RSS feed. Rory has also lowered the markup on his cafe press items to only ten cents above Cafe Press minimums so if you were contemplating a purchase, now’s the time.