When my daughter was in kindergarten, she often spoke of her favorite classmate, a girl named Alice. Alice was really nice. Alice liked to sing. Alice helped her clean up after a messy art project. Alice was funny. We finally got to meet Alice and her mother at a school parents’ night. She was black. Our daughter had never mentioned that; of all the many things she’d told us about Alice, this detail had seemed too trivial to mention, if she’d noticed it at all. In my daughter’s regard of Alice, of the qualities that made Alice Alice, the color of her skin had counted for nothing. I cannot say how strongly this affected me. These little girls, unconscious of each other in this one way, revived the vision of a possibility that I hadn’t been aware I’d stopped believing in—a land not of races but of brothers and sisters. That was Martin Luther King’s dream, and it is still a dream. It will never be anything more than a dream until we stop pretending that we have already attained it.
Too many see the idea of a radical librarianship as a sort of extreme political partisanship. That is wrong. Radical librarians see librarianship as a chance to make a positive difference in their community. They see their mission to not simply promote reading, or to inform a community. Instead radical librarians, the kind we need, see their mission as the improvement of society. They see their role and the instruments of their institutions as engaging a community and addressing the issues that have exploded in Ferguson. Addressing these issues not with tear gas and rubber bullets, but through pizza, magic shows, and learning.
Some may see summer programs and juice boxes as distractions, or as weak tools in comparison to body armor, but they are wrong. An engaged community, a library dedicated to learning, and making a difference is a powerful deterrent to violence. The deterrent is not a threat of force, but the promise of opportunity and a better tomorrow.
I ask you to support the work and librarians of both Ferguson Public Library and the Florissant Valley Branch. Help through donating time, money, food, books, but also with your voice. Let them know that this is librarianship.
With a book in hand, a child can sail off ‘through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year’ to a place where things are better, gentler, more in-control.
Libraries are organizations or buildings, and can do nothing but exert gravity and shield you from the rain. It is librarians, and more broadly library staff that make the difference.
Hamm even channeled Don Draper to defend the game of baseball on behalf of all its most loyal fans. If it wasn’t the Kodak Carousel presentation, it was close. “I was just reading an article, I think it was it the New York Times Sunday, it was all about the pace of play, and the new commissioner coming in, what to do about it, they’ve got to grow the game with the younger fans and everything,” Hamm said. “And I was like, it’s still the same game that I liked when I was a little kid. I mean, the world moves a little quicker, but it’s kind of nice that baseball slows everything down a little bit. At least for a couple hours a day.”
by Howard Megdal
August 19th, 2014
This is an interesting repurposing of a platform that was shaped by the same assumptions about what motivates us as Facebook. It enumerates your followers and counts retweets as if fame is the reward you’re seeking. But it’s relatively hands-off, no algorithms telling you what to read, no one manipulating what you see in order to study how to influence your emotional state more effectively. it turns out that Twitter is not just a place where scholars take notes publicly at conferences, it’s a medium that does a better job than most of including the voices of African Americans, and that matters. To a large extent what has been happening in Ferguson is the result of white folks’ near-total deafness when it comes to the lived experience of being black in America. It’s where news breaks and is analyzed before the first news reporter is assigned. #Ferguson made the evening news almost before Ferguson did, because it trended on Twitter. One of the founders of Twitter even showed up to join the protest.
Newspapers have been called the first draft of history. It now seems they are the second draft, updated and corrected, though often missing the nuance and sometimes (when relying too heavily on official reports) missing the point.
What does this mean for us as academics, as librarians, as educators? How do we prepare students for a world in which the news is participatory and the medium matters?
The News from Ferguson - Live, on Twitter by Barbara Fister
August 17th, 2014