She Was A Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West at Bitch Magazine

Bitch magazine has a lending library in Portland Oregon. The library has a blog and they would like your zine donations. They make posts about books in their collection and today’s post is about Celeste West and a new book out on Library Juice Press celebrating her life. [via]

She Was A Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West is a collection of essays, excerpts, and photos that attempt to capture the spirit of Celeste West, a woman whose influence on feminist librarianship, publishing, journalism, and activism was monumental. After West passed away in 2008, a few friends and admirers (Toni Samek, Moyra Lang, and K.R. Roberto) decided to embark on a project that would honor West’s work and life. This book, which acts as a comprehensive and compassionate obituary, was the result.

personal improvement projects and some links

So, I’m officially on a vacation which means I’m tootling around Portland Oregon visiting libraries and seeing friends. I am pleased to report that I am liking this vacation business and will endeavor to do more of it. My project as I mentioned earlier was to stay caught up on RSS feeds because I was starting to become one of those “who’s got time for all this?” people which was simply unacceptable. To that end, I used some stuck-in-airport time to cull down my list of RSS feeds I was following — deleting blogs that haven’t updated since 2005, removing blogs whose feeds have moved — and make sure everything I was following I was actually reading. I suggest you take some time to do the same. For the record, I follow about 150 feeds total. That includes friends, family, librarians, a few music blogs and some MetaFilter-work stuff. My next project is to catch up on all the music that needs listening to.

I have a short list of links to make sure I mention and then I’m all set and “caught up” in whatever that means for someone like me. I hope your Summer is treating you well.

in memoriam, Celeste West, revolting librarian

I was saddened today to hear of the death of Celeste West; my sincere apologies if you are hearing about it here first. Celeste, no relation to me, was one of the two fiesty authors of the original Revolting Librarians back in 1971. She wrote the introduction to our follow-up, Revolting Librarians Redux and really pushed us to think about ideas such as copyright and the whole idea of publishing through another company as opposed to doing it ourselves. Her answering machine, which I frequently spoke to in those days said something to the effect of “Send me a sunbeam” and though I’d like to think our back and forth conversations about licensing and releases fit the bill, I suspect they may not have.

In addition to her library writing with dry titles such as The Public Library Mission Statement and Its Imperatives for Service, she also wrote Lesbian Love Advisor and Lesbian Polyfidelity. She was also the first editor of Synergy a newsletter for SFPL’s experimental Bay Area Reference Center. Celeste discussed the relationship between the city’s transforming culture and the local library activities.

She described the city as “a trend-mecca–whether it be communal living, campus riots, gay liberation, independent film making … you name it and we’ve got it.” But what San Francisco had, she argued, was not reflected in library collections unless somebody took the time to pull together “the elusive printed material.” Thus, Synergy began examining the nature of library card catalogs, indexes, and selecting tools because its staff believed that such tools were mostly “rear-view mirrors” that provided little or no bibliographic access to the public’s current information needs. [library juice]

And, like any activist, her accomplishments expand well beyond this brief list of specifics. As her friend Judy said in her email to me “I hope someone will do a piece on her pirate queen life and what she has done to make libraries a little bit freer.” and I hope the same. There is a brief piece on the SF Zen Center blog, where she was a librarian from 1986-2006, with a grinning photo of her and a bit more information about an upcoming memorial service, should you be in the Bay Area and want to pay your respects.