May 31, 2012

Libraries and the Alternative Press – an online course

Simmons College’s continuing education program is offering a course in Libraries and the Alternative Press in August, taught by yours truly. This course is a good professional development activity for those wanting to do something to enhance their professionalism without the expense of attending another conference. Simmons’ other courses also look very interesting (especially Maria Accardi’s course which starts tomorrow, “Changing Lives, Changing the World: Information Literacy and Critical Pedagogy.” Enrollment is presently open for both of these courses.

Starting probably in September, Library Juice Academy will be offering courses along these lines. Watch this space for news.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt files for bankruptcy protection

Big news in publishing: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Files for Bankruptcy. This doesn’t mean they are going out of business, but it does mean their business and ownership may radically change, and it is a big bellwether for the publishing industry…

May 29, 2012

Call for Papers: Informed Agitation: Library and Information Skills in Social Justice Movements and Beyond

Call for Papers

TITLE: Informed Agitation: Library and Information Skills in Social Justice Movements and Beyond (An Edited Collection)

EDITOR: Melissa Morrone is a librarian at Brooklyn Public Library and has been involved in Radical Reference as well as other social justice groups.

BOOK ABSTRACT: In librarianship today, we encourage voices from our field to join conversations in other disciplines as well as in the broader culture. People who work in libraries and are sympathetic to or directly involved in social justice struggles have long embodied this idea, as they make use of their skills in the service of those causes. Following in the tradition of works such as Activism in American Librarianship, 1962-1973; Revolting Librarians; and Revolting Librarians Redux, this title will be a look into the projects and pursuits of activist librarianship in the early 21st century.

POSSIBLE TOPICS: Essays should describe specific activities undertaken by the library worker and how the work was received by fellow activists and/or the constituents of the project. Such activities may include:

– Programming and collection development that gives voice to underrepresented communities and subjects.
– Conducting community-based reference or other information services outside of any institutional affiliation.
– Setting up libraries or archives in political organizations and contexts.
– Doing research on behalf of social justice campaigns.
– Training people in technology and content creation with the goal of community empowerment.
– Other creative ways of using library and information skills to support activist causes, both inside and outside of conventional library settings.

Essays should also include analysis of the ways in which these activities are in sync with but may also challenge the “core values” of librarianship.

OBJECTIVE OF THE BOOK: This edited collection, to be published by Library Juice Press in June 2013 asks: How and to what end are people using their library skills in the service of wider social justice causes? What do these activities say about the future of library work, both inside and outside of traditional institutions?

– People interested in going into librarianship who want an idea of nontraditional and activist areas in which librarians operate.
– Practicing library workers seeking inspiration for ways to combine their expertise with their political interests outside the library.
– Practicing library workers who want articulations of how their work fits into a broader context of power structures, politics, and social justice.
– Activists interested in collaborations with library workers and/or projects related to literature, information, education, and documentation in social movements.
– People in other fields who want to draw connections between their own work and social justice goals, and are looking for supportive literature.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Please submit abstracts and proposals of up to 500 words to informed.agitation AT gmail by July 15, 2012. Notifications will be sent by September 1. A first draft from 1,500-7,000 words will be due by November 15, and final manuscripts will be due by January 15, 2013.

May 26, 2012

Allie and the Monster Who Said Blah Blah Blah

Allie and the Monster Who Said Blah Blah Blah

Author: Rory Litwin
Illustrator: Ginny Maki
Price: $18.00
ISBN: 978-1-936117-58-1
8.5″ by 8.5″
Published: May 2012
Printed on acid-free paper.

For children aged 3 through 6.

Allie has a monster problem. A monster is preventing her from sleeping, terrorizing her with his scary “Blah Blah Blahs” that sound like the incomprehensible things that adults say (often recognizable to parents). Her mom helps to solve her problem with a magic book that causes the monster to shrink and go away. But Allie’s problems are not over yet. No longer bothering her, the monster seems to be threatening her parents in their bedroom. Allie takes care of the monster herself this time, in a surprise ending. (Hint: it has to do with the TV.)

Entertaining for children and parents alike, this book features the warm and subtle illustrations of artist Ginny Maki.

May 25, 2012

Former NYPL employees silenced by non-disparagement agreement

Robin Pogrebin has an article in the New York Times from Wednesday, titled, Former Employees Feel Silenced on Library Project. They don’t just “feel” silenced though. First two paragraphs:

The New York Public Library’s plan to turn part of its flagship Fifth Avenue research center into a lending library has unleashed a torrent of commentary, with scholars, writers, artists and students signing a petition and writing articles, many of them critical. But one highly informed contingent has been notably silent: former curators, department heads and librarians.

That’s not because this group has no opinions. On the contrary, some former employees say they are eager to participate in the debate over the $300 million proposal, known as the Central Library Plan. But they say they can’t because they signed a nondisparagement agreement when they left, promising not to criticize the library in exchange for the additional pay known as severance.

May 23, 2012

Librarianship and “Tactical Urbanism”

Shannon Mattern, a faculty member of the New School’s School of Media Studies, has a new and wonderfully wide-ranging article about “little libraries” that gets into a number of issues about public space, community involvement, and the essence of librarianship. (Disclosure: I’m quoted in the piece, but that’s not why I like it.) “Little Libraries in the Urban Margins” is published in Places, “an interdisciplinary journal of contemporary architecture, landscape and urbanism,” but I think that she “gets” the human aspects of librarianship in an important way (I mean, not that architects and planners don’t think about people, too). And if you’ve been trying to keep all these DIY library projects straight, this is the resource for you. Of course there’s discussion of the OWS libraries (with quotes from the excellent OWS librarians as well as one of my heroes, Barbara Fister). Then there are descriptions of little libraries all over the world (shout-out to Baltimore’s Village Learning Place, which I have visited and donated to!). I especially appreciated the extensive section about the Uni Project. As Mattern describes, they have collaborated with my employer, but I learned quite a bit here.

From Mattern’s conclusion:

Material protected by stringent copyright and held in proprietary databases is often inaccessible outside libraries, even to the most “connected” among us; and as digital rights management becomes ever more complicated, we may come to rely even more on our libraries to help us navigate an increasingly fractured and litigious digital terrain. Many communities rely on their libraries to collect their local histories. And in cities and towns across the country, our public libraries are often one of the few — sometimes the only — freely accessible public spaces in town. In other words, the continued relevance of the public library means that it’s not worth nostalgizing yet. These little libraries are perhaps less “heirloom,” less “vintage” — less exercises in nostalgia — than we might assume.

Yet regardless of their aims — whether aesthetic or political or tactical or civic — these projects can’t help but raise big and important questions regarding the protocols of access, the ideals of knowledge and rules of intellectual property, the health of public institutions, the viability of public space and public life, and the definitions of civic values.


This is the second such article I’ve contributed quotes to. I don’t know how coherent I sound here, but I definitely have mixed (albeit mostly positive) feelings on the phenomenon of these “little” libraries. Really I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. But you should read this article.

May 17, 2012

Bivens-Tatum Book Signing – Discounts in Advance

At ALA in Anaheim, Wayne Bivens-Tatum will be signing copies of Libraries and the Enlightenment, from 10am to 11am on Saturday the 23rd at the Litwin Books/Library Juice Press booth (booth 2769).

We are offering a discount on this book if you purchase it between now and the conference and bring it to the book signing. You can purchase it here:

For more information about the book, you can read the preface online…