Ask A Librarian: Dealing with haters?

A lesbian pride flag with a little picture of Marx in the upper corner and the caption "My president is a Marxist lesbian"

A friend writes in: What are you doing about the idiotic book bannings and attacks on Librarians and what can I do to help? 

It’s a mess and part of the mess is that it’s really state by state, so what might make sense for you where you are wouldn’t be the tactic in Pennsylvania or Iowa or Arkansas.

The usual advice is still good. Consider joining your local school board or library trustee board. You could even pony up some money to your state library association and join (even as a non-library person) which would help them do this work. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: Dealing with haters?”

Lobbying my rep about the Move to Amend project

On Wednesday I spoke to the assistant to my congressional representative’s assistant encouraging her to be a co-sponsor of the We the People amendment. I prepared remarks because otherwise I tend to go on.

“I’m an elected official in my town, Randolph Vermont, and I work all the local elections. I also work in the public library where we struggle constantly against giant publishers who hold the ebook market under their absolute control, deciding prices and terms while also being the only game in town, not truly subject to market forces.

Nationally, public libraries are struggling under constant book challenges in public and school libraries. These challenges are frequently brought by centralized fake parenting organizations (in that the people who organize them may be parents but they are not usually parents of people in the schools and towns where they bring these challenges, they just find a local parent and tell them what to do) and are forwarding a dangerous white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ agenda while donating incredible amounts of money towards elections from school boards to Congress. It has to stop.

People need a level playing field so that we will truly live in a democracy and one person gets one vote and where corporate non-persons (that never die, that have special interests, that legally exist to accumulate capital, that *shouldn’t* have free speech in all cases) are suitably regulated and only enjoy privileges that are given to them by people and regulated by governments.

We are seeing, nationwide, situations in which a majority, a large majority, of Americans support or believe in a thing (abortion rights, legalized marijuana, the rights of our gay and trans friends and neighbors) but are having their voices drowned out by the “speech” of big money trying, and often succeeding, in influencing legislation via gerrymandering, fake grassroots organizations, and undue influence in elections.

And it’s a Vermont issue. Nearly one fifth of Vermont towns have passed resolutions at town meeting (over a decade ago) affirming that they feel money is not speech and corporations are not people.

Legal privileges for businesses, even non-profits, are subject to the political process already in place. Artificial persons should not have civil rights though the people who make them up absolutely should.

Money is not speech and corporations are not persons and people have rights over corporations which have the privileges we give them.

I work for my town. I believe in democracy. I want to live in a country where every person gets a vote and every non-person gets no votes.”

Ask a Librarian: the relationship of library work to social justice

scene of a protest with a woman holding a sign that says "Down with this sort of thing"

Email from a library worker, paraphrased: I am deeply committed to social justice and anti-oppression principles. I am radical in my politics. I am interested in literacy as a feminist issue. I am also interested in knowledge, access, critical thinking, community impact, etc. I worry there isn’t room to work at the intersections of these interests in library spaces…. Is there room for me in librarianship, and if so, where?

I feel like librarianship is a “big tent” sort of profession, especially public librarianship, so I often feel that there is space for people, but some of it depends not only on politics but on temperament. Continue reading “Ask a Librarian: the relationship of library work to social justice”

Personal Politics & ALA

I’ve been enjoying the Blatant Berry Blog. John Berry’s most recent post Personal Politics & The ALA is a short discussion of his view on why he thinks it’s okay for a membership organization to occasionally weigh in on political matters that don’t always seem directly relevant to the general topic of the organization. I am also a person who “mixes up” the personal and political and, like Berry, agree that the line that other people see clearly has not always seemed so clear to me.

Update: Rory has rewritten his earlier post which he took down about dealing with political issues while being on ALA Council. Many of his observations mirror my own.

USA PATRIOT Act extension one step closer

The House voted to make 14 out of 16 USAPA provisions permanent yesterday. The bill — HR 3199 –that they approved also proposed 10 year extensions to our favorite section, Section 215, with an interesting change.

One amendment, passed by a 402-26 vote, requires the FBI director to personally approve any request for library or bookstore records.