“Librarians are Swiss Army knives for the #Resistance,” tweeted musician and activist Neko Case on January 27, 2017, a characterization both fortifying and thought provoking for library workers everywhere. Like any tool, a knife is useless without an agent to wield it—and destructive if applied incorrectly or to the wrong material. If library workers are instruments to be plied to all manner of social ills, what are the potentialities and limits of our agency, and how can we best equip those who would put us to use? This essay works to unpack Case’s metaphor within the context of Oregon libraries, casting its gaze back to Mary Frances Isom’s early push to democratize libraries, ahead to librarian Angelica Novoa de Cordeiro’s efforts to serve immigrant populations in rural areas, and around at evolving political discourses and circumstances as well as their precursors. In many ways, the challenges Isom identified and addressed were akin to those that now confront libraries on a national scale as they contemplate means of resisting the multiphobic, and shortsighted rhetoric and policy that suffuse the contemporary political climate while adhering to the ALA’s core values of democracy, diversity, equitable access, intellectual freedom, privacy, and professionalism.
The Right Tool for the Job? Ignorance, Evolution, Reflection, and the #Resistance.
© 2017 Lynne Stahl
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