- Letter from the Editor
- Coordinator's Column
- Councilor's Report from ALA
- Minutes from Action Council
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force News
- International Responsibilities Task Force News
- Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty Task Force News
- ALA's Newest Roundtable Grew Out of SRRT: SustainRT
- Safe in the Stacks
- Media Review: Bidder 70
- Call for Submissions
- Publication Information
by Amy Honisett
I can’t believe September is already coming to an end. It’s been a busy summer for me; I’ve moved from Utah to Oregon and started a new job, making the transition from librarianship in a health sciences library to librarianship in a public library system. I’m enjoying working towards serving patrons with a wider variety of information needs, as well as learning about the similarities shared between the two kinds of libraries. My new position allows me to travel between 19 libraries in a county system and I’m getting to know about neighborhoods in my home state that I’ve never visited before. I’m so excited for the opportunity that this profession allows me to be part of these communities and to serve in such an important capacity.
While I miss my old job and my former library, beginning again somewhere new is a great reminder of how powerful libraries are, what important services we provide and what a wonderful profession we have chosen!
This issue of the newsletter includes information about the important work SRRT task forces have been doing, news from Annual and exciting information about a new round table. You’ll also find a review of a film about Tim DeChristopher and his act of civil disobedience and a piece from Julie Winkelstein and Jama Shelton discussing the power of collaboration and the benefits of trying something new.
Please share your story with SRRT Newsletter readers. We’d love to hear how your library experience supports social justice. You can find submission information at the end of this newsletter.
by Nikki Winslow, SRRT Coordinator, Branch Manager - Spring Valley Library
I think I’ll kick off my first column as Coordinator by saying what a humbling experience it has been serving on the Action Council for the past two years. I have learned so much about the process of ALA governance and participation through the dedicated work of the members of this round table and want to thank each and every member of SRRT for your passion. It is an honor to coordinate this year and I beg your patience, as I go into this endeavor with very little experience. I would also like to thank Laura Koltutsky, the past Coordinator, for all of her knowledge and for sharing it with me!
I am fortunate to have just returned from the inaugural ALA Leadership Institute, held in Itasca, IL. ALA Past-President Maureen Sullivan earmarked money from her Presidential Initiative to bring this program into life, which was a goal of Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels for the past decade he has served in his position. Forty of us were selected from a national pool of candidates, and let me tell you what an amazing group of librarians from all types of libraries we were! The workshop was done by Maureen and Kathryn Deiss, ACRL Content Strategist, both of whom have years of training experience in leadership and librarianship. I share this story with you because I don’t feel that we always focus on the positive things our association does and this is definitely a success story. As Coordinator for SRRT, I was able to talk about our efforts and philosophies with the up-and-coming leaders in our profession, which I think is key to getting awareness of issues out there and hopefully nurturing curiosity and support of these issues.
I will continue this advocacy for open and free access to all throughout my year as Coordinator, as well as into the long and distant future. Please know that I am open and available to help in any way that I can this year so don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
by Al Kagan, SRRT Councilor, African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration Emeritus - University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign
The 2013 ALA Annual Meeting started on a high point for SRRT, but gradually went downhill. SRRT brought three resolutions to the ALA Membership Meeting (and later ALA Council): Support for Whistleblower Edward Snowden (2012-2013 ALA CD#39), Support for Whistleblower Bradley Manning (2012-2013 ALA CD#38), and Divestment of [ALA Endowment] Holdings in Fossil Fuel Companies (2012-2013 ALA CD#42). The divestment resolution was narrowly defeated by a vote of 44 to 46, but we were heartened when the Snowden resolution passed by a large majority. I think that the Membership at large is upset by Snowden’s documentation showing that all of our phone calls and internet activities are routinely being monitored. Since the meeting was scheduled for only one hour, we never got to the Manning resolution. SRRT had a pretty good turnout at the meeting, but the attendance of only three more SRRT members could have won the divestment resolution. I have been making a call for more SRRT members to take the ALA Membership Meeting seriously, and to try hard to attend. Our partial success this time is an indication that more folks are coming, but we need to continue to urge our members to come and vote.
Passage of a Membership resolution automatically places it on the agenda of the ALA Council and the Snowden resolution got priority treatment at Council I. It was terrific that it also passed Council with a large majority. But the counter forces regrouped. The ALA Washington Office, Committee on Legislation and Intellectual Freedom Committee, was very upset that they did not get a chance to discuss the resolution before it came to Council. They were also upset that it named a specific person as a whistleblower rather than the usual broad support of the concept of whistleblowing, as seen in various ALA resolutions over the years. It seems the Washington Office thought such a policy might negatively affect their other activities. (I learned from a trusted source that they were even opposed to ALA Council’s original resolution against Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act!)
At Council II, the Committee on Legislation (COL) and Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) jointly moved to reconsider and refer the Snowden resolution back to these two committees. The Manning resolution was also referred to these two committees by a vote of 90 to 56. We noted that now was the time to act on Manning, since he is currently on trial, but many Councilors bought the line that the resolutions would have unintended consequences. These two committees then presented a substitute resolution at Council III, Resolution on the Need for Reforms for the Intelligence Community to Support Privacy, Open Government, Government Transparency, and Accountability (2012-2013 ALA CD#19.4 & 20.4). In keeping with ALA’s recent tradition, that resolution stripped out names of individual whistleblowers and just made broad policy statements. There is nothing wrong with the generalities in that document, but it will have little or no effect in supporting the people who are taking huge risks to bring out the misdeeds of our government. I stated that I could not support this resolution as a substitute for the Snowden resolution, and a small number of Councilors agreed with this position and voted against the substitute resolution. Nonetheless, it passed by a very large majority. It now appears there may have been some parliamentary irregularities in this unprecedented action. The motion should have been to refer and substitute, not refer and reconsider. Perhaps the Parliamentarian will have something to say about this unfortunate maneuver. It is interesting that the Snowden resolution that was originally approved immediately went up on the ALA website, but has now vanished!
The Fossil Fuels Divestment resolution was originally submitted at the 2013 Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, but was astonishingly ruled out-of-order because of a false claim that it was not first submitted to the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) to determine its financial implications. This was the first time in my experience that a resolution was not even discussed before it was officially referred to BARC on the Council floor. Nevertheless, BARC did look at the resolution. They said it was outside their purview, and further referred it to the Endowment Trustees. The Endowment Trustees issued a confusing and contradictory report just before the Chicago meeting recommending against divestment for financial reasons (2012-2013 ALA CD#16.2).
Several SRRT members had made excellent statements at the Membership Meeting showing that the argument should be turned on its head, that, in fact, fossil fuel investments were becoming more and more risky and it made perfect investment sense to sell off fossil fuel investments. It has become obvious that oil spills result in stock price plunges. As drilling in difficult places becomes more and more risky, we are likely to see more environmental catastrophes. Others pointed out that ALA is supposed to be a socially responsible organization, and that the endowment should not be excluded from our mission. Unfortunately, these voices were stifled for the Council debate. We asked the Council to permit two members to speak but they refused in both cases. These SRRT members are divestment expert Terry Link and a Sustainability Round Table organizer Melora Ranney Norman. Although SRRT modified and limited the resolution to holdings in only the “Filthy Fifteen,” it failed in the Council 56 to 82.
SRRT members also worked on a Resolution on Digitization of U.S. Government Publications (2012-2013 ALA CD#49). It sought to oppose the practice of destructive digitization of depository government documents, which is a national trend, and may also be illegal. It was referred to COL and has not yet been reported back to the Council.
ALA Council committees normally introduce the large majority of resolutions, but not this time. Unusually, there were a number of other resolutions moved by individual Councilors. Those that passed with large margins include: Resolution Reaffirming ALA’s Commitment to Basic Literacy (2012-2013 ALA CD#37), Declaration for the Right to Libraries Resolution (2012-2013 ALA CD#40), Resolution on Library Service to the Community in a Disaster (2012-2013 ALA CD#41), Resolution Commending the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) for Defending Videogames (2012-2013 ALA CD#47), and Resolution to Decrease Printing for Council Meetings (2012-2013 ALA CD#50). The last resolution requests an opt-out program for Councilors to receive electronic-only Council documents. The Resolution on Prayer in ALA Meetings (2012-2013 ALA CD#44) provoked much debate and passed by a very close vote (70-64). It prohibits prayer but allows moments of silence.
The only other approved resolution of substance was the COL’s Resolution Urging Congress to Designate the Government Printing Office as the Lead Agency to Manage the Lifecycle of Digital United States Government Information (2012-2013 ALA CD#20.5).
Of the many memorial resolutions, one is particularly noteworthy for this report. Carolyn Forsman’s untimely death was honored, but the resolution did not note that she was one of the founders of SRRT. I went to the microphone to acknowledge her SRRT contributions.
Finally, it is worth noting that the decline of the economy has hit ALA with a projected deficit of $1.9 million. This has resulted in not filling many open ALA staff positions and the elimination of 1% raises. The administrative staff took a 10% pay cut.
As always, I will try to respond to any questions.
submitted by Laura Koltutsky
ALA Annual Social Responsibility Round Table Action Council Meetings
Saturday, June 29, 2013 8:30 AM to 11:30AM Action Council I McCormick Place Room S 504bc
Sunday, June 30, 2013 1:00PM to 4:00PM Action Council II McCormick Place Room S 503b
SRRT Action Council I
Introductions: Laura Koltutsky, Nikki Winslow, Deidre Conkling, Al Kagan, Maria Ryman, Ginny Moore, Mark Hudson, Mike Marlin, Fred Stoss, Gary Colmenar, LaJuan Pringle, Jane Glasby, Tom Twiss, Elaine Harger, John Berry
Laura volunteered to be Secretary for the next year following this conference.
Michelle Harrell Washington: We should let OLOS know if we need their help to promote our round table. Hoping to start doing quarterly Webinars with the round tables - let her know if we have any ideas for sessions or topics to be covered. Al brought up the struggles we have had with the financial reporting in the past and hopes Michelle can help improve that. She will look into it.
Edward Snowden: Two versions were handed out by Tom Twiss. They dropped the second resolved clause from the original in hopes that it would be more likely to be passed. It will be submitted at the membership meeting and Council meeting. Jane Glasby suggested keeping the second resolved clause since it will continue to be debated and edited. Start off the last resolved as "the SRRT opposes….” Elaine Harger wants us to keep the words privacy, free speech, free thought from the original as it goes to the heart of the issue. Everyone agreed and Tom will make edits to it. Al moved that we support in principle the resolution and LaJuan seconded. Resolution passed.
Bradley Manning: Tom asked that we vote to endorse both this resolution and the Edward Snowden resolution. Al moved to endorse the resolution as amended and have a version for SRRT, Jane seconded both. Al suggested that all of us go to the general membership meeting to support it - not a lot of people go, so we might be able to pass it there if enough people go. Debate of individual vs. concept of whistleblowing. Elaine asked about the Whistleblower Protection Act, but those in the military are not protected by it. Mark is going to post an article on our Facebook page about support for Bradley Manning. Charles said that we are the conscience of ALA and it’s important that we continue fighting this battle. LaJuan mentioned how we need to make Council see the parallels between Ellsberg and Manning or Snowden. Resolution passed.
Prayers at ALA Meeting: Resolved adopts as policy. Mike moved that we endorse it and Charles seconded. Discussion of whether this applies to affiliates, as well; Deidre said that it does not. Affiliates can choose to follow ALA policy or not – just a guideline or precedent. Resolution passed.
Divestment of Fossil Fuels: At Midwinter, this resolution was endorsed by SRRT but deemed out of order by Council. Endowment Trustees looked at it since then and suggested that ALA not divest in fossil fuels because of how it would be perceived not to impact our finances (want to maximize their investments). Changed the resolution from last time to include the report provided by the Endowment Trustees that will show little to no negative impact. Al mentioned a little change to the first resolved clause to be a little more specific. Led to discussion of how these will not be good long term investments and are not socially responsible. Suggestion by Charles to add a “whereas” that involves Obama's administration. Jane moved to endorse the resolution as amended, Nikki seconded, resolution passed.
Digitization: Destruction of print after moving to digital format. Resolution would resolve that ALA not support destructive digitization of US government documents. Al asks that we endorse this principle that government documents should not be destructively digitized. Al moved and Mark seconded, endorsement passes.
Task Force Reports
Task Force on the Environment: No meeting last night. Fred hasn't heard anything since Midwinter. Did meet in Seattle. Mike suggests waiting at least another meeting. Sustainability Round Table formed at last Conference. Laura will email the chair of this group to see if they can come to our meeting tomorrow.
Feminist Task Force: New people involved and joining lately. Featuring a new woman each week, already have enough into December. Talk of adding some of that information into Wikipedia. Also promoted their programs at this conference- lots of good stuff.
International Responsibilities Task Force: Still going strong but looking for a new leader for next year. Showing a film with the Gaming Round Table this afternoon.
The Rainbow Project: Report submitted; Laura will email this out to everyone. Amelia Bloomer project may combine with the Rainbow Project to promote both lists and initiatives together.
We move that no SRRT activities be scheduled at any hotels involved in labor disputes. Al moved, Mark seconded. Motion carries.
Mark: Progressive Librarians’ Guild has a meeting tomorrow, then an event tomorrow night.
Fred: Fred will bring report on SRRT New York to Midwinter.
Currently 867 members; down a little from last year. Debate of if it’s 1% to have a councilor to the Council. 201 students. We should better market to students to try to increase membership. Thank you to Jane for setting up the membership meeting and social here in Chicago.
SRRT Action Council II
Attending: Jane Glasby, Tom Twiss, La Juan Pringle, Julie Winkelstein, Al Kagan, Charles Kratz, Maria Ryman, Diedre Conkling, Laura Koltutsky
Task Force Reports
Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force: Video tributes are to be filmed at the conference Sunday afternoon from 3:00-5:00, but can be added after Annual. Videos may be posted to YouTube.
For Midwinter 2014 a service day activity has been proposed, perhaps a book drive at the local food bank. There will be development of a template for program planning created, which will be shared amongst other Task Forces.
There has been interest in resurrecting the Multicultural Idea Exchange for Annual in 2014.
Hunger, Homeless & Poverty Task Force: The Human Library panel discussion is happening today from 4:30PM to 5:30PM.
After the success of the Toolkit produced by HHPTF and OLOS, Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement and the webinar that followed its release, the HHPTF has been asked to create another webinar. http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2012/10/new-olos-toolkit-provides-powerful-new-tools-library-service-poor-and
International Responsibilities Task Force: Had success at the Membership Meeting where the Edward Snowden resolution was passed. The Divestment of Fossil Fuel resolution failed by a very small margin (2 votes) at the same meeting. The Bradley Manning resolution was not heard due to a lack of time.
Al Kagan will take the Bradley Manning resolution to Council Forum and hoped to discuss that and the other resolutions in that venue.
Marketing: We need to either print off more brochures or produce a new SRRT brochure. Julie Winkelstein volunteered to try developing marketing resources and to help develop our current resources. The SRRT Facebook page, managed by Diedre Conkling, and the SRRT website, managed by Laura Krier, were two resources that were discussed. Approaching school chapters and other outreach efforts were also discussed.
In the submitted Rainbow Project Task Force report, it was requested that we ask for a change in the mission statement to reflect SRRT’s contribution to the work of the group. Laura Koltutsky will raise this with GLBTRT leadership. Motion made by Diedre Conkling, seconded by La Juan Pringle.
Virtual Action Councilor: Several ideas were discussed about how we could accomplish the goal of bringing new individuals to Action Council. There was recognition of the costs involved with attending and it was proposed that we set aside up to $1000 to assist early career SRRT members who would like to serve on Action Council with travel expenses. An ad hoc committee was created to develop some strategies to financially support Action Council members who could not otherwise attend ALA conferences. Moved by Julie Winkelstein, seconded by Jane Glasby, who will also serve on the ad hoc committee along with Laura Koltutsky.
by LaJuan Pringle, Library Manager - Charlotte Mecklenburg Library & Julie Ann Winkelstein, Postdoctoral Researcher - University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force met with a busy agenda in Chicago. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Video Tribute project kicked off with a host of video contributions from individuals including:
•Michelle Harrell Washington, Director, Office for Diversity and Office for Literacy and Outreach Services
•Ginny Moore, long-time MLK, Jr. Holiday Task Force Coordinator
•Mary Biblo, long-time MLK, Jr. Holiday Task Force member
If anyone is interested in sharing a video that reflects how Dr. King inspired you, we encourage you to email your clip to John Amundsen (firstname.lastname@example.org). Clips should be limited to three minutes or less.
The MLK, Jr. Holiday Task Force also participated in the Diversity and Outreach Fair at this year’s conference. The task force presented one of the 27 presentations selected to highlight the fair. We would like to thank Ursula Jacobs Guidry from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for her invaluable assistance for both the video project and the fair. The Human Library, co-sponsored by the MLK, Jr. Holiday Task Force, went very well. There were some great questions from the audience.
At our meeting, we discussed future plans for the task force. As a group, we decided we would celebrate the spirit of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday with a service project in the Philadelphia area. We discussed the possibility of participating in a food drive or volunteering at a local pantry during our time there. We may also add a book drive component to the outreach. More information will be coming regarding this project. The task force also discussed the possibility of reintroducing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multicultural Holiday Exchange, which highlights the many ways that libraries across the country celebrate the King Holiday. If anyone is interested in working on this project, you are encouraged to contact LaJuan Pringle at email@example.com for more information.
Next up, we begin to plan for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunrise Celebration that will take place in Philadelphia. We look forward to this annual celebration, which has become a staple of the Midwinter Conference.
by Mike Marlin, IRTF Co-Chair, Director - California Braille and Talking Book Library
On June 29, at the 2013 ALA Annual conference, IRTF presented a program entitled Returning Fire: Culture Jamming, War, & Militarism in the Online Gaming Sphere. Approximately 50 attendees viewed the film Returning Fire (http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=152)and a provocative panel afterward that featured the film’s director, communications professor Roger Stahl from the University of Georgia-Athens, and culture jammer and Digital Media/Fine Arts Professor at the University of Nevada-Reno, Joseph Delappe.
This program on militarism and war propaganda was the first in a series covering various aspects of social responsibility as it relates to online gaming. The Feminist Task Force is developing the next series installment with a program regarding female tropes and stereotypes in gaming, which they hope to present at 2014 Annual. Several SRRT task forces hope to combine to present, in 2015, a program on racism and classism in gaming.
IRTF is busy working on ideas and research for our program for the 2014 ALA conference in Las Vegas, further details of which will be forthcoming in future SRRT newsletters. Meanwhile, if you are interested in joining IRTF and especially in helping to coordinate conference programs, please email current IRTF co-chairs Al Kagan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mike Marlin (email@example.com) or Tom Twiss (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I also recommend reading about Joseph Delappe’s most recent intervention: Project 929: Mapping the Solar (http://project929.tumblr.com/), which can best be summarized by the headline “Artist surrounds military base with 460 mile long chalk line.”
Julie Ann Winkelstein, Postdoctoral Researcher - University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty Task Force (HHPTF) was busy during this past conference. Our meeting at the SRRT All Task Force get-together on Friday night was well-attended, with new people eager to work on issues related to poverty, homelessness and libraries. We also had a visit from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ “Help for Homeless Veterans” program. They are reaching out to public libraries as one way to provide support and information for veterans who need housing. They are eager to hear from librarians. Contact representatives from this program at (877) 424-383 or find more information at va.gov/homeless.
HHPTF also co-sponsored a panel discussion on creating a Human Library. Representatives from libraries across the country, both public and academic, were on the panel and audience members asked great questions.
HHPTF also organized and participated in a panel on homelessness and libraries. Based on the new Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) Toolkit: Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement, this panel offered first-hand information from three libraries: San Francisco Public Library, Richland Public Library and San Jose Public Library. Each library representative offered insights, suggestions and guidance on ways public libraries can help those who are experiencing homelessness get the supportive services they need. It was exciting to bring together these committed professionals, who are actively addressing a frequently divisive issue that continues to challenge communities.
by Mara Egherman, Collection Management Librarian - Central College, Pella IA
The new ALA Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) grew out of SRRT’s Task Force on the Environment (TFOE) during a four-part webinar series called Libraries for Sustainability in 2012. New leaders emerged from our virtual grassroots collaboration. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition to create SustainRT. At Midwinter 2013, SRRT leadership supported our efforts and ALA Council approved the round table.
SustainRT invites librarians and library workers and friends from all sectors and employs a broad, holistic definition of sustainability. One member wrote in her institutional newsletter, “SustainRT will give us a place within ALA to share best practices, research and help galvanize our efforts.”
The mission of the SustainRT is to provide:
- A professional forum for ALA members to exchange ideas and opportunities regarding sustainability, in order to move toward a more equitable, healthy, and economically viable society.
- Resources for the library community to support sustainability through curriculum development, collections, exhibits, events, advocacy, communication, library buildings and space design.
Specific goals and priorities are still being set and we’d like to harness the energy of all interested parties.
SustainRT’s first face to face meeting at ALA Chicago on July 1 was well attended. We are grateful for the guidance provided by Fred Stoss and Terry Link, long-standing members of TFOE, and for advice from Michelle Harrell Washington of ALA. We’ll be electing SustainRT officers in March 2014 and are excited to literally take the sustainability agenda to the next level. Program planning for ALA 2014 has led to a partnership with the Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) for a panel on water quality.
Get in touch with SustainRT officially via our listserv on the ALA list of lists: http://lists.ala.org/sympa/info/sustainrt-l and ALA Connect at http://t.co/Z98qZhutYB. Whether you’re an ALA member or not, join us via Twitter at #alaSustainRT, our Facebook group (SustainRT), or on LinkedIn http://t.co/Ww4pRvuaN0.
by Jama Shelton, Director of the True Colors Fund’s Forty to None Project and Julie Winkelstein, Postdoctoral Researcher - University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Two Perspectives on the panel discussion entitled Safe in the Stacks: Community Spaces for Serving Homeless LGBQT Youth.
When I was invited to join the panel Safe in the Stacks: Community Spaces for Serving Homeless LGBTQ Youth, I thought, “Hmmm, interesting. Librarians? LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness? What will I talk about?” That question quickly faded. Sixty seconds into my first planning call with Julie Winkelstein and it was clear that we had a lot to say.
I have been working with LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness for 10 years, and not once did I stop to consider the role that libraries can, and often do, play in the lives of these young people, nor did I think of librarians as a captive audience to which I could speak about the needs of homeless LGBTQ youth or the daily challenges they face. I was mistaken.
Part of my job as the Director of the True Colors Fund’s Forty to None Project is to think creatively and practically about how we can end homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Currently, up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. This is wildly disproportionate, considering LGBTQ youth make up only 5 – 7% of the general youth population.
There is a clear intersection between libraries and LGBTQ youth homelessness. Libraries, and librarians, can play a critical role as community partners in raising awareness about and providing support for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.
I am grateful to Julie and to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) and the American Library Association for welcoming our panelists, including two formerly homeless LGBTQ youth and two service providers. Julie and I plan to continue the important work of creating bridges between libraries, homeless LGBTQ youth and service providers in communities around the country. If you would like to learn more about how your library can help support LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, visit fortytonone.org. Also, sign up for our newsletter.
This fall, we will launch the Forty to None Network, a professional membership organization for individuals who are working to address lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness, or whose work has the potential to impact the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth homelessness.
At ALA annual 2013, I was fortunate to be the moderator for, as well as a speaker on, a panel sponsored by GLBTRT, Safe in the Stacks: Community Spaces for LGBTQ Homeless Youth. My recent dissertation research was on public libraries and homeless LGBTQ youth and I was excited to be able to share what I’d learned in the years I spent on my case study. I’m also currently a postdoctoral researcher for a three year IMLS grant that will provide training modules, workshops, web materials and a summit for public librarians in California and Tennessee.
But I was nervous about being on a panel with people who knew much more about the lives of these youth, since they either worked closely with them or were young people who had been homeless themselves. I know public libraries well, but the world of homelessness and service providers and wraparound care and all the other terms that have become part of my vocabulary the last few years is still new to me.
However, this panel was exactly what I hoped it would be: an opportunity for librarians to hear from people outside of the library world, to hear their stories, their experiences and their thoughts on how libraries could work with them to create a safer and more welcoming environment for youth who are unstably housed and who identify as LGBTQ. My contribution, offering suggestions on specific actions librarians could take, fit well with the needs described by the other panelists.
This experience was exhilarating for me. When Jama and I talked afterwards, I realized this panel represented the direction I’ve been moving toward for the last few years. I’m excited about creating opportunities for librarians to work side by side with others, like Jama, who are as committed to creating vibrant and thriving communities as librarians are.
DeChristopher, T., Gage, B., Gage, G., & Bullfrog Films. Bidder 70. Oley, PA: Bullfrog Films, 2012. http://www.bidder70film.com/
Reviewed by Elaine Harger, Librarian, Washington Middle School (Seattle, WA)
On December 19, 2008, 27 year old University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher entered a room in which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was conducting an auction of 150,000 acres in southern Utah for oil and coal companies. He’d been following news regarding the BLM’s decision to sell this land, a decision rushed through as the Bush administration prepared to leave office, and was drawn into the bidding room out of concern for the natural beauty that would be destroyed, the damage to the planet’s atmosphere that would result from burning the fossil fuels extracted and the fact that he believed the auction to be illegal.
Entering the room, DeChristopher was asked if he was there to bid, he simply said “yes” and was handed bid-card number 70. Protesters of the auction had gathered at the site and DeChristopher describes the “palpable feeling of helplessness” as bidding proceeded. But he also knew that, with the bid-card in hand, he could disrupt the auction. He realized he could go to prison, but also knew that if he didn’t take this opportunity, he couldn’t live with the consequences. As he began to bid, winning more and more parcels, he says, “A real feeling of calm came over me. And the feeling of conflict was gone.”
Bidder 70 is a new documentary about environmental activist Tim DeChristopher. DeChristopher spent 21 months in federal prison for bidding under false pretenses in auction of oil and coal extraction leases by the BLM. The auction was later determined to be illegal. Towards the end of the film, DeChristopher’s mother says:
What benefit is it to the government to send Tim to prison for interrupting a process that they already declared was illegal, unless their message is 'We’re gonna put down anybody who tries to challenge us, even if we’re breaking the law.'
This act launched the economics student’s life onto the honorable road of civil disobedience and the award-winning documentary follows him over a two year period as he awaited trial.
The film does a superb job describing the legal process and the arguments used by a judge who was clearly determined to convict DeChristopher for interfering with the BLM auction, despite the fact that the Secretary of the Interior, Anthony Salazar, reported that the department had investigated the auction, found irregularities in the process and withdrew all the lands from future consideration for oil and coal extraction.
Over the course of the next two months, Salazar decided to indict anyway. Despite DeChristopher’s faith in the process of trial by jury, what defense arguments and evidence could be presented lay in the hands of a biased judge. Judge Benson denied the jury to consider:
- the illegality of the BLM auction,
- the fact that the land being sold was adjacent to several national parks,
- that DeChristopher was motivated partially from concerns regarding climate change,
- that he had willingly violated the law in order to prevent an even greater criminal and immoral action (in legal terms known as a “choice of evils” defense), and
- that the government was biased in pursuing prosecution of DeChristopher, when there had previously been at least 24 other violations of BLM bidding processes in recent years, none of which had resulted in any indictments.
Segments of the film cover the history of civil disobedience, local solidarity groups that supported DeChristopher, national environmental actions, a subsequent congressional race that DeChristopher launched using Craigslist, a road trip he takes to his childhood home in West Virginia with scenes of mountaintop removal by coal companies. The film also includes interviews with poet Terry Tempest Williams, actor Robert Redford and Nobel Prize winning scientist Terry Root of the International Panel on Climate Change.
This story of DeChristopher’s act and personal experience of civil disobedience, of the support this act galvanized and of the powers arrayed against him is a must for every library collection – public, school, academic, and especially law school libraries and every U.S. Attorney’s office.
The SRRT newsletter is always looking for good articles, essays and letters to the editor. The next submission deadline is November 22, 2013.
Submissions to the SRRT Newsletter may be made by any current SRRT Member or SRRT affiliate. Please send your submissions electronically in one of the following formats: MS Word, RTF, PDF, or plain text pasted into the body of an e-mail. Submissions should be 500 to 1,000 words. Graphics are encouraged. If using images that are already on the Internet, the URL of the image and a caption or description may be added to the text of the submission.
Please send original submissions and inquiries to SRRT Newsletter Editor Amy Honisett at email@example.com, indicating "SRRT Newsletter" within the subject line of your e-mail. A confirmation of receipt will be sent in a timely manner.
Submissions for book reviews should be submitted to the Reviews Editor, Candise Branum, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should be sent electronically in MS-Word format or a Word compatible format. Reviewers should keep their reviews to 300-500 words; any length much shorter or longer should be discussed with the reviews editor prior to submission. Reviewers should avoid conflicts of interest. Full disclosure should be made to the book reviews editor when appropriate.
SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright : 2013 by the Social Responsibilities Round Table. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without permission.
Editor: Amy Honisett, email@example.com.
Reviews Editor: Candise Branum
Editorial Board Members: Gerardo Colmenar, Heather Edmonds, Erik Sean Estep, Rebecca Martin, Julie Winkelstein, and Sara Zettervall.
Views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of ALA/SRRT.
The editors reserve the right to edit submitted material as necessary or as whimsy strikes.