Friday, October 27, 2006

JCLC Conference Notes, Day Two: Session on Librarian and Social Movements

Session Title: "Librarians and Social Movements."

Elaine Harger, SRRT Coordinator, spoke with Isabel Espinal and Kathleen De La Peña McCook.

Ms. Harger opened the session with a historical introduction.
  • Librarians and social movements have their roots in the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement. SRRT moved on then to give a place for feminists, gays and lesbians, and other underrepresented groups as well as for social activists.
  • Librarians today are not that much different from those in the 1960s. The question is if the librarians now are upholding their responsibility of providing the information needed for an informed democratic citizenship?
  • Harger proposes that the professional is political. The big question is what side should we take in the politics. Asking these questions does not mean we don't provide information for all or make sure all points are represented.
Professor de la Peña McCook told the audience about the loss of affirmative action in Florida and the FCAT implementation. Librarians should be examples of people who can put data and facts together to see a broader picture. Librarians need to be aware, if not us, then who? A sample question to ask, why the sudden change of the 21st century IMLS grants to the Laura Bush 21st Century grants?
  • We must develop services for patrons as well as for employee empowerment. To the professor, the second part means unions. She is calling for librarians to commit to working on social issues.
  • Suggested display topics: the secret detentions, torture, the denial of habeas corpus, including the definition of what it is and why it is important as well as its significance over time.

Isabel Espinal, who spoke of her experiences as a recent SRRT member, compared that renaming of the grants to Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, when he renamed cities and things with his name (Readers interested in a good fictional account of the dictator could look up Mario Vargas Llosa's La Fiesta del Chivo, available in translation as The Feast of the Goat. Readers with further interest can find a small note of mine on an interview with Vargas Llosa here).

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