When attending library school a few years ago I was surprisingly and naively blindsided by some of the insular discussions taking place in library schools, many of which primarily focused on librarians justifying their continued relevance to one another in the ‘information age’. Clearly, librarians are being acculturated early in their careers to justify their relevance to one another…. and this lingers throughout the rest of our library careers. This is something we, as librarians, need to move on from. If we spent as much time focusing on working with communities of interest, and putting theory into action, we would not have to engage in these internal, ad nauseam discussions.
Last month, in one of her final postings, Devon posted a blog on how academic librarians annoy academics. This article, to date, has been accessed 3,560 times…
The outcry from both this posting and another from a former college at Halifax Public Libraries has really shone a light on the need to focus future blog postings on the Social Justice Librarian on the issue of social justice – not just for us as librarians – but for the communities we are meant to serve.
Future Directions for the Blog
Over the course of the next few weeks there will be a few new writers on the Social Justice Librarian blog, which will expand the scope of the blog beyond the Canadian context. I am very excited to let readers of this blog know that John Vincent, networker at The Network in England and John Gehner (previous coordinator of Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force – SRRT/ALA) from Urbana, Illinois have both accepted invitations to become writers on this blog! In the next few weeks I am hoping that at a minimum you will become acquainted with both of them. I believe we will all learn from their perspectives – and hopefully, at a minimum, consider the perspectives they bring in our daily work.
Additionally we will be also introducing some guest bloggers – from time to time.
As we all know, the world is continually expanding, while at the same time contracting – so we and many of the community members we work with (or are supposed to be working with) are facing many of the same SOCIAL and JUSTICE issues, regardless if they living in London or Chicago, Vancouver, Lisbon, Melbourne, Mumbai, Abuja or Beijing.
Social Justice is core to librarianship. Once again, to source one of our new contributors – John Vincent -“unless one puts some values at the core of librarianship (such as fighting for social justice), then it’s just an empty box of gadgets – which is why, I think, people get so het up about challenges to their “usual” role – if you aren’t clear what your role is, so you construct one based on professional identity”.
Therefore, one of the main questions which needs to be discussed is – what is the role of librarians in discovering and responding to these external (yes, and at time internal) needs? We hope to focus future discussions on a wide range of topics and issues including (but not limited to):
- Critically questioning current approaches and roles taken on by library systems,
- Proposing innovative approaches which could be tried, adjusted and implemented in progressive library systems,
- Discussing why and how to address barriers to working with underserved individuals [which by the way could and should also be viewed as a large segment of potential library users], and of course
- Celebrating best practices [while also acknowledging that each community needs to be responded to, based on their own distinctive needs]…
I hope to leave a profession, in about 30 years, where conversations are happening between library staff and communities… instead of us taking internally created messages to communities – and ourselves – to justify our existence.
Just a reminder – a week from today is UNESCO World Literacy Day – we have a lot of work to do!