Book cover: Questioning Library Neutrality, edited by Alison Lewis, 2008. Image from Library Juice Press.
It has already been “discovered” by particle physicists, anthropologists, and a range of other researchers, that it is impossible to be neutral. Even if it were possible for me to wash away all influences that sway me in a particular direction, I would not want to achieve that state of neutrality. From a moral standpoint, I have no desire to remain neutral when faced with a choice between science based on the scientific method or science based on theology, and between historical fact or hate speech. To hide behind the idea of “neutrality” in such instances is to be party to promulgating misinformation or worse.
~ Alison Lewis, “Introduction“
Currently, I am preparing to lead a class session with my groupmates in LIS590SJL: Social Justice in the Information Professions. We are tasked with covering the present historical moment of social justice in the library and information professions. My group just had its first two meetings. We’re finalizing our materials and will be meeting again this Sunday, February 23, 2014, to set everything before sending off our presentation slides. As the historical thread isn’t as strong for our set of required readings, we opted to use certain themes. Mine is “Moving Forward: Should we be activists? Is that our role?” I thought this was a significant question to ask, especially since what I want in a professional career is impact. Thankfully, my groupmates are supportive of me discussing the idea of library neutrality. Goody! Ideas have been germinating in my head for a while now, I’ve done some research, some thinking, and some writing, so I hope to go into our Sunday meeting with condensed ideas and discussion questions to pose within 2-3 presentation slides. Still, my head is swimming in so many different directions at once since this is a topic that I find very fascinating and exciting…
Here’s the gist of what I (think I) will be discussing:
- Librarianship: Roles and Identities — R. David Lankes’ (2011) The Atlas of New Librarianship: “Importance of Action and Activism“
- Library Neutrality, Professionalism, and Political Activism
- What is library neutrality
- What is professionalism
- History of political activism in LIS professions
- Q: “Should we be activists? Is that our role?” Short A: “Yes.”
- Go back to Lankes (2011) “Importance of Action and Activism”
We’ll be presenting on Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Got comments for me? I’d love to hear it here.
The fifth and final book of the Points of View theme is Fatima Mernissi’s Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood. Discussion events will be led by Dr. Patrick Wing of University of Redlands’s history department and held at A.K. Smiley Public Library. Please register online with University of Redlands Armacost Library.
LTAI:MJ Points of View theme: Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi
The fourth book of the Points of View theme is Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses: a Novel. Discussion events will be led by Dr. Patrick Wing of University of Redlands’s history department and held at A.K. Smiley Public Library. Please register online with University of Redlands Armacost Library.
LTAI:MJ Points of View theme: Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The third book to be discussed in the Points of View theme is Anthony Shadid’s House of Stone: a Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East. All discussion events will be facilitated by Dr. Patrick Wing of the University of Redlands history department. They will be held at A.K. Smiley Public Library. Please register online with University of Redlands Armacost Library.
LTAI:MJ Points of View theme: House of Stone by Anthony Shadid
This morning, I received an email from T160K: Timbuktu Libraries in Exile. Attached were a couple of photos of the archival book box that I supported, allowing the organizers to save manuscripts from the ancient city.
My archival box inscription: “For future generations of knowledge seekers, may you find the enlightenment you seek.”
One photo was of the outside of the book box, with the dedication that I submitted.
The other photo was of the inside of the book box, which had the manuscript that will be preserved in it.
Timbuktu is an ancient city of the Mali Empire in West Africa. T160K is an international effort to rescue and protect the information treasures of Timbuktu until they can be returned to the ancient city. To learn more about T160K, please visit their webpages and the Timbuktu Libraries in Exile Indiegogo page.
This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I thought to help build a library in a developing nation. And, yes, I’m still going to look for ways to help build a library somewhere else in the world. But T160K is an awesome, worthwhile project that means a great deal to the whole of human knowledge. Please consider contributing.
The manuscript inside the archival book box I helped fund.
Where is Timbuktu? In Mali, a country in West Africa. Image from the Atlanta Blackstar.
The second book to be discussed in the Points of View theme is Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Discussion events will be held at A.K. Smiley Public Library. Please register online with University of Redlands Armacost Library.
LTAI:MJ Points of View theme: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
First of the Points of View books to be discussed at A.K. Smiley Public Library is In the Country of Men. Spaces are limited. Please register online through the University of Redlands Armacost Library website.
LTAI:MJ Points of View theme: In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar