Uncategorized | November 16, 2005

Radical Reference, a group of librarians “who believe libraries have a duty to be actively involved in the day’s social issues, including feminism, poverty and racism,” are out to prove that “the stereotype of the quiet librarian is just that.” Created during the heated election year of 2004, Radical Reference currently aims at taking on local legislators who attempt to censor “books with gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual issues.” They work in the spirit of the grandfather of library activism, Sanford Berman, who “proactively worked to improve the catalog by applying subject headings that would be more accessible to the patrons, but were not authorized by the Library of Congress.” A less radical group, part of the American Library Association (ALA), is the Social Responsibilites Round Table (SSRT). Working to make the ALA more democratic, the “SSRT believes that libraries and librarians must recognize and help solve social problems and inequities in order to carry out their mandate to work for the common good and bolster democracy.” One of their current projects is to advocate the “local selection and cataloging of materials from small and alternative presses and independent producers.” Nowadays, according to Carla Hayden, a leading librarian activist, “librarians are more freedom fighters than shushers.”

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