Question from a soon-to-be library school student: as a white person, how can I go about this in a way that promotes inclusivity and justice for all people? I really want to help people with this profession by helping create and facilitate a space of accessible education but I also want to make sure I’m doing it in the right way.
I think it’s tricky, I sometimes refer to this diagram about white people in social justice work generally (above). That is, there are a lot of contradictions to the work of being a good ally and otherwise trying to support justice for everyone. I see it as having two main directions
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.