February 17, 2018

Lia Friedman | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Activists

Lia Friedman, University of California, San DiegoArtful Resistance

It isn’t just her experience managing a food co-op, playing the musical saw, working in public radio, or promoting music for the label Kill Rock Stars that makes Lia Friedman an outstanding collaborator, promoter, and head of public services at the UCSD Arts Library. It’s that Friedman “is an unbelievably strong advocate for whatever she believes in,” says nominator Char Booth, e-learning librarian at UC-Berkeley (and a 2008 Mover & Shaker).

Friedman, who dropped out of high school and finished college at 30, admits that academic librarianship is “far from where I thought I’d end up” and says her résumé “reads like a Michael Chabon novel.” She pursued an MSLIS envisioning work “in research or production, most likely in public radio,” she says. “Lucky accident! I get to teach—and learn—for a living.”

Now, Friedman advocates causes both artful and activist. When not teaching information literacy or maintaining blogs (for instance, blog.ucsd.edu/artslib and www.theexperiment.org), she acts as staff librarian for Make/shift, a magazine on feminism, and contributes to and moderates Radical Reference (radicalreference.info), a site offering “answers for those who question authority.”

In her coauthored International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) presentation, “The Sidewalk Is Our Reference Desk,” Friedman highlights Radical Reference’s activist mission (see the article in the March IFLA Journal). Now, she is co-organizing a nonhierarchical “Preconference Unconference,” concurrent with the 2009 Association of College and Research Libraries meeting, on social justice and radical collections in academic libraries.

Fighting injustice all the way down to the details, she says, “Cataloging systems have to come to terms with the racism, classism, sexism, and religious intolerance that are so enmeshed in metadata currently.” Stay tuned—cataloging may be in for an overhaul, with Friedman leading the way.


University of California, San Diego

POSITION Head of Public Services, Instruction and Outreach Librarian, Arts Library

DEGREE MSLIS, Pratt Institute, 2005