March 17, 2018

Erin Hoopes | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Community Builders

In April 2015, when a group of Philadelphia teens shared their distress over the death of Freddie Gray while he was in Baltimore police custody, Erin Hoopes found a way to help them voice their emotions by creating the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Social Justice Symposium for Teens. Library staff regularly converse with teens about issues such as police brutality and racism, and Hoopes, who has extensive experience designing programs for teens, sought to deepen the dialog.

Margo Gustina | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Change Agents

Librarianship was a natural fit for Margo Gustina, who has always loved connecting people with what they need but disliked the hard sell of bookstores or the bureaucracy of social work. Her first encounters with small libraries in rural western New York shaped her view of what good service should look like. She met directors with small staffs, tiny budgets, few open hours, and minimal digital resources who still brought their communities together with rich programming—not defined by their limitations, she says, but by their unique talents “and ability to translate those into strengthening the social connective tissue.”

The Power of Nonneutral Librarianship | ALA Annual 2017

While some believe that libraries should remain entirely objective, several speakers at an ALA annual conference panel stressed the importance of using exhibits and programs to express political opinions and take a stand.

Taking a Stand Against Islamophobia | ALA Annual 2017

Deepa Iyer discussed the hostility directed at Muslims and advised librarians on ways they could make a difference.

Why Social Justice in the Library? | Outreach + Inreach

Libraries of all types are reevaluating the role they play in their community, questioning whether it is still good enough to provide equal access, or if it is time to pursue an active equitable access that focuses on empowering the less powerful and amplifying the voices of the unheard.

Tolerance Is Not Good Enough | BackTalk

In early 2017, a call for chapter proposals began circulating on library Listservs for a forthcoming book titled Tolerance: Social Justice and Activism in Libraries, Moving Beyond Diversity to Action. The aim of the book is to discuss how librarians can take diversity, social justice, and social change to the next level and promote tolerance in libraries. As a librarian, scholar, and educator who specializes in issues of diversity and social justice, and how to integrate them into LIS pedagogy and education, I was instantly taken aback by the use of the word tolerance. Tolerance and diversity are not words I regularly put together; in fact, I view them in opposition to each other.

Public Librarians Launch Libraries4BlackLives

On July 21, the Movement for Black Lives’ National Day of Action, a team of four public librarians with backgrounds in social justice launched a new initiative, Libraries4BlackLives (L4BL). Jessica Anne Bratt, branch manager at Grand Rapids Public Library, MI; Sarah Lawton, neighborhood library supervisor for Madison Public Library, WI; Amita Lonial, learning experiences manager at Skokie Public Library (SPL), IL; and Amy Sonnie, adult literacy and lifelong learning librarian at Oakland Public Library, CA, joined forces earlier in the summer to create a website that would bring together library-based advocates who want to support the ideals and activism behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Documenting the Now Builds Social Media Archive

Partners from three universities across the country have joined forces on a new project, Documenting the Now: Supporting the Scholarly Use and Preservation of Social Media Content, that will collect, archive, and provide access to Twitter feeds chronicling historically significant current events, particularly around issues of social justice.

Amita Lonial | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Advocates

New to her position as a comanager of Learning Experiences at Skokie Public Library (SPL), Amita Lonial dove right in and “ramped up our programming by 50 percent,” she says. Lonial brings to the job her passions for social justice and community engagement.

Taneya Gethers | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Community Builders

Taneya Gethers isn’t just an advocate for culturally empowering programming. She is passionate about the community she serves—where she, her husband, and her four children reside. At the Macon Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), located in the borough’s largely African American Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Gethers has become known for her popular programs that combine a commitment to celebrating culture with a strong dose of literacy as well.