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Presentation given September 10, 2010 as part of Library History Seminar XII: Libraries in the History of Print Culture. For associated paper, see:

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  1. 1. Meta-Radicalism:The Alternative Press by and for Activist Librarians The Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America Library History Seminar XIILibraries in the History of Print Culture Alycia Sellie Brooklyn College September 10, 2010
  2. 2. One of the ways inwhich thisresearch began…
  3. 3. Meta-RadicalismMy focus is upon publications that have the following four criteria: 1. “Alternative” Periodicals 2. Created by Librarians 3. That promote the collection of alternative publications in libraries-- 4. as a form of library activism
  4. 4. “Alternative to what?”
  5. 5. Meta-RadicalismI’m also interested in how these publications have or have not beencollected and preserved within libraries, and what collectiondevelopment decisions—and “inside” censorship can tell us about thepolitical landscape of librarianship as a whole.
  6. 6. The Three Waves of Alternative Librarian Publications: 1. Revolting Librarians 2. Riot Librarrrian 3. Hacktivists
  7. 7. 1. Revolting Librarians: The Undergrounds AKA: “Where have all the flowers (and political leaflets, social protest pamphlets, movement literature, and fugitive materials) gone?”
  8. 8. “Commercial library journalsalready in existence are mired incoverage of ALA, articles by maleadministrators who lay down thelaw or show off their academicterminology, ‘non-biased’ blandreviews of trade books, and non-recognition of the significance ofindependent publishing. At leasthalf of their pages are devoted toadvertisements for the same tradebooks they ‘objectively’ review.”--Valerie Wheat, The PassionatePerils of Publishing
  9. 9. Themes from the Revolting Library Literature:1.“Conglomeritis”2.Outsourcing of CollectionDevelopment3.Definitions of the alternativepress and its culture4.How-To’s5.Cataloging (ethical subjectheadings)6.Indexing of the alternative press7.Lists and reviews of alternativelibrary literature (how I chosewhich titles to focus upon)
  10. 10. 2. Riot Librarrrian
  11. 11. Librarian Zine-Makers
  12. 12. Zine Librarian Zines
  13. 13. Zine Themes 1. How-To’s 2. Creating a collection/getting permission 3. Cataloging (technical detaisl of how to do it and the lack of pertinent terms more so than ethics of subject headings) 4. Reviews of other zines, and reading lists 5. Defining zines, zine culture and zines are not blogs
  14. 14. 3. Librarian Hacktivists
  15. 15. Library Holdings What has been collected?If it wasn’t collected, was there a deliberate act of “inside” censorship involved?
  16. 16. (Why) Libraries Should Collect Alternative Materials “Why collect such apparent oddities, low- circulation photocopied items the likes of which few have seen? Simply this: because they are a part of culture and history. Let’s not attempt to sanitize our culture, but let future historians see for themselves the true diversity of interests and modes of expression that thrived for a time. After all, imagine being able to read a list of titles, but not being able to examine them. The vaunted freedom to read means nothing if the things we want or need to read are unavailable.” --Chris Dodge, Collecting the Wretched Refuse: Lifting a Lamp to Zines, Military Newspapers and Wisconsinalia
  17. 17. Jane Goodall Would Collect AlternativesBILL MOYERS: So, what do we lose if the last chimp goes?JANE GOODALL: Well, we lose one window into learning aboutour long course of evolution… What are our great-grandchildrengoing to say if they look back and-- I felt sad that the dodo hadgone. But those people didnt understand. They look back, thechildren in the future, at our generation and say, "How couldthey have done that? They did understand. There were lots ofpeople out there telling them. How, why did they go on nottrying to do anything about it?"BILL MOYERS: And when I told someone yesterday that you werecoming, he said, "Well, you know, I just read that there are 3,200tigers left in the world. And that their Asian habitat isdisappearing very quickly." And he said, "But, you know, whenthe tigers are gone, will they be missed any more than the dodois missed? What difference does it make?" he said.JANE GOODALL: Its just that, you know, if you have this hugerespect for the natural world that I have. I mean, the wonder ofall these different forms of evolution. And these fantasticecosystems where everything depends on everything else. Wedont know what difference it might make if some of thesecreatures that were pushing to the edge disappear. You can takeout a tiny insect from an ecosystem. Who cares?Well, it may turn out that some other creature depended on thattiny insect. So, that will disappear. And goodness knows whateffect that one had on something over there. So, that willchange. And so, in the end, you get whats been called, youknow, ecological collapse.
  18. 18. The Opposition?“We librarians are not free agents or beatniks,but tax-paid servitors, and the institutions wework in have traditions and enjoy a respect thatone would hate to see jeopardized. Manylibrarians are idealistic, and tend to respondsympathetically to any cry for freedom, even thecry of the drunk and homosexual writer, or thegreedy cry of a publisher impatient of anyobstacles to quick profits.”-- Robert D. Franklin, “A Game of Chicken,” Library Journal,
  19. 19. Holdings of Revolting Librarian Era Most-Cited Periodicals Rough OCLC Started Ended Title Holdings 1971 current Unabashed Librarian 836 1973 1998 Emergency Librarian (Canadian) 407 1973 1976 Booklegger Magazine 205 1970 1995 Sipapu 187 1984 1999 SRRT Newsletter 145 Counterpoise: For Social Responsibilities, 1997 current Liberty and Dissent 137 1967 1973 Synergy 131 1990 current Progressive Librarian 122 1970 Women in Libraries 71 1969 1979 Women Library Workers 58 1977 1978 Collectors Network News 25 1973 1979 Young Adult Alternative Newsletter 22 1970 1975 Liberated Librarians Newsletter 13 1970 1976 Top Secret 101876 current Library Journal 8000+1939 1995 Wilson Library Bulletin 1895+
  20. 20. Title OCLC Zine World 29 Zine Librarian Zine Xerography Debt 16 8 Holdings ofLower East Side Librarian Winter Solstice Shout- Out 7 Librarian Zines Durga 5 Library Bonnet 5 How to be a good library patron/ Associated How to be a bad library patron 5 Title OCLC Monograph Dwan 5 56 for Cometbus I Dreamed I Was Assertive 3 Cometbus 11 Omnibus Zine Capsule 3 108+ for Stolen Clutch 3 Brainscan 8 Sharpie Barnard Zine Library zine 3 Thoughtworm 3 Baltimore County Public Library Zine Collection 3 Browsing Room 3 Riot Librarrrian 2 The Borough is My Library 2 Biblio-Zine 2 Library Urinal 2 Meta-Zine 2 Ghosts of Ready Reference 1 Object Lesson 1 Secret Adventures of Library Pages 1 America? 0
  21. 21. Alycia Sellie Brooklyn Collegeasellie@brooklyn.cuny.edu