Stand, Fight, Resist

 

December 16, 2016

 

The idea that libraries are neutral spaces has been well and disabused over the last few years. From the services we offer to the collections that we curate, the decisions that libraries and librarians make are political ones that reflect values. Sometimes those are the values of the organization, sometimes the values of the individuals, and sometimes they are the values of the communities that the library serves. Those values are illustrated by our technologies, our ontologies, and our descriptors. Those who attempt to hold that “neutrality” of information access is an ideal for which to strive have had a hard time holding to that stance as increasing numbers of librarians question and deconstruct our profession. I would like to suggest something even stronger…that even if it were possible for libraries to be neutral spaces, that to create such a space would be morally questionable, and potentially actively morally wrong.

I say this as someone who firmly believes in the maxim of combating bad speech with more speech. I am not here advocating controls or restrictions on speech. But it is not the responsibility of every library to collect and distribute literature of hate, or falsehoods, or lies. Some libraries do need to collect everything, the good and the bad, for archival and historical study purposes, but those libraries are fairly obviously identified in practice and the vast majority of libraries should and could take a stand with their actions, programs, policies, and collections to be on the side of justice and scientific fact.

Neutrality favors the powerful, and further marginalizes the marginalized. In the face of the current political climate, with the use of opinions as bludgeons and disinformation as the weapon of choice for manipulation and intellectual coercion, it is up to those who value fact and believe in the care of those in need to stand up and positively affirm that to do otherwise is evil.

I say this as someone who firmly believes in the maxim of combating bad speech with more speech. I am not here advocating controls or restrictions on speech. But it is not the responsibility of every library to collect and distribute literature of hate, or falsehoods, or lies. Some libraries do need to collect everything, the good and the bad, for archival and historical study purposes, but those libraries are fairly obviously identified in practice and the vast majority of libraries should and could take a stand with their actions, programs, policies, and collections to be on the side of justice and scientific fact.

Neutrality favors the powerful, and further marginalizes the marginalized. In the face of the current political climate, with the use of opinions as bludgeons and disinformation as the weapon of choice for manipulation and intellectual coercion, it is up to those who value fact and believe in the care of those in need to stand up and positively affirm that to do otherwise is evil. Read article

 

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Google can’t compete with a skilled librarian steeped in information technology

I think of my job as very much going to the root of librarianship, which is facilitating learning … and creating community. The main difference is that I (and my library) are moving well beyond just books, as are many other libraries.” — Mikael Jacobsen

 

“I think of my job as very much going to the root of librarianship, which is facilitating learning … and creating community. The main difference is that I (and my library) are moving well beyond just books, as are many other libraries.” — Mikael Jacobsen

In the six months Mikael Jacobsen has worked as learning experiences manager at the Skokie Public Library, his days have come to include everything from teaching classes to producing movies and offering information about Microsoft Office products. He oversees the library’s digital media lab, coordinates its digital literacy offerings and introduces ideas in hands-on learning for non-traditional items, such as video cameras patrons can check out.

On top of that, Jacobsen oversees the library’s computer areas and study rooms and helps patrons find materials and research any given topic.

“I think of my job as very much going to the root of librarianship, which is facilitating learning,” said Jacobsen, 38, who earned a Masters of Library and Information Science from Dominican University in 2008. “We are facilitating learning and creating community. The main difference is that I (and my library) are moving well beyond just books, as are many other libraries.” Read more…

2014 SLA@Pratt Skill Share – Librarians in the 21st Century

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Library Community Member’s Quality of Life Bill of Rights

Library Community Member’s Quality of Life Bill of Rights.

There are times when I wish our library building and equipment could provide a better user experience simply by virtue of consistently and successfully delivering on the most basic set of user expectations. The building is past its prime, gets heavy use and as much as we’d want it to always meet those expectations we occasionally fall short – and we do our best to remedy what we don’t get right. What are those basic user expectations? I refer to it as the library “quality of life.” That’s the term the director at a previous place of work used, and I always thought it aptly described that most basic services that we needed to consistently deliver with high quality – and certainly free of breakage. Read more….

 

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