I spoke with a woman who works for a website that is frequently cited on Wikipedia as a source for a particular kind of data–think IMDB for a different sector. They want to make sure their data is helping to increase representation of women and facts about women on Wikipedia but don’t know that much about the culture there and wanted some pointers on how to get started. We had a Zoom chat and then I sent along a list of links.
Every page on Wikipedia has a page (the main article) and a talk page (for kibitizing about the article). This includes even user pages. So here is my page and my talk page
So talk pages can be good about getting what the “backchannel” discussions about pages can be. If you look up a controversial or hot current topics you can see people talking on them. Here’s one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Simone_Biles
Note also that since Simone is a living person that there is an even tighter set of restrictions that are for Biographies of Living people. Since you will likely be working in this space, good to know about it. Not too tough for the work you’re doing but just good to know. Here’s a zillion damned words on it.
I am usually a librarian without a library. This despite the fact that I’m working actually IN a library this month until they hire a permanent librarian, and I’m also paid by my local library to do tech drop-in time work a few hours a week until the library opens up. My main thing besides technology work has always been outreach; if I am not trying to get people into a single library, I can always try to get them into libraries generally. Last October, in response to a local mailing list post, I decided to sponsor a racecar driver, a young woman from my community whose dad also drives. When I mentioned this online, the response was not only positive but also “Take my money!” So I did, and together we pooled our money and came up with some slogans. I wrote a check in February and kind of forgot about it. I just checked back in to the Chambers Racing facebook page and hey hey there’s the finished car and it looks great! The cost of this advertising is less than a quarter-page newspaper spot and probably is seen by more non-library-goers than the newspaper. Pretty tough to determine any real return on investment on this one, but it makes me happy to look at.
(note: this idea is not mine, I am merely running with it after it was mentioned on a mailing list I am on)
In these weird times where people are very unsure who to trust and even less sure how to feel about the government, the Library Freedom Playbook should exist and doesn’t. We have a few directions where we should be highlighting the important role of libraries.
1. The library is authoritative
2. The library is safe
3. The library is also the government
The last message is tricky. Many if not most public libraries are municipal organizations. The library is for everyone in the good ways that government is supposed to be but increasingly is not. Blind hatred/fear of government can keep people from getting services they deserve. We need a nuanced message here. I am aware this is not simple.
Things like Tor are a huge deal for libraries because the libraries can do the work one time but ALL the patrons benefit. Raising awareness for libraries why this is useful is part of it (like Library Freedom Project). Giving talks that outline practical approachable solutions that aren’t overwhelming. Building plug-ins for common software like Chrome, WordPress, Firefox and common ILSes.
I remember when there was some weird post-9/11 concerns about certain publications from govdocs organizations being possibly “dangerous” and tried to recall them and then-head of Boston Public Library Bernie Margolis basically “letter of the law” complied (took them out of govdocs) but “spirit of the law” did not (put them in circulating collections). That highlights what high profile librarian actions can also
do for morale in addition to access, both of which are important parts of this.
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?
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
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
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.
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