Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Booknote: Revolting Librarians Redux

Title: Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out
Editors: Katia Roberto and Jessamyn West
Publication Information: Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Librarianship, library science, essay and personal narrative

If nothing else, reading this book has made me question and reflect on my own practice. On a small note, a couple of pieces do seem dated, but the book as a whole remains very relevant. What I am wondering about is the notion of the librarian as an absolutely neutral and apolitical being. I am not saying that I am about to preach what little politics I have at work or to my patrons. It's none of their business, just like their politics are none of mine. For me, it's the old adage of things not spoken of in polite company. I am saying that the more I work as a librarian the more I see that librarians should be active participants in society. Maybe it's the educator in me. Maybe I still cling to the belief that libraries and schools should be shaping the well-informed and active citizens of tomorrow. Does this make me someone with an agenda, or a radical librarian? In a time when "radical" seems a dirty word, I find that I have been embracing the label all along and yet not enough.

The book has various passages worth revisiting. If you are a library student, and the book was a class textbook, you may want to keep it rather than reselling it. If you have not read it, you should. I found myself making notes of pages I wanted to reread; I borrowed the copy I read, so marking was out of the question. There are some things I would like to reply, and I will do so in upcoming posts. In the meantime, this is a book I recommend to any librarian.

On an extra note, apparently responding to the book is a common assignment in some classes at library schools. Well, it was not at mine. Mark Lindner wrote his response, so if you would like to read something a bit more thoughtful, feel free to go take a look over there.

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