Rad Ref online reference on hiatus

Since 2006, Radical Reference has been providing online reference services to activists, journalists and researchers who requested help looking for information and resources. Over the years, we've answered questions that have ranged in scope from mail tampering in prison to the history of radical education to the future of librarianship. Yet as we’ve evaluated the quality and efficacy of this service, we’ve been confronted with difficulties of providing in-depth answers in a timely way. As a result, we've decided collectively to suspend this service indefinitely.

This decision was not reached easily, as for many of us, answering reference questions has been a vital part of fulfilling the Radical Reference mission statement of supporting activist communities, progressive organizations, and independent journalists by providing professional research support, education, and access to information. Nevertheless, we've decided to suspend reference services in order to concentrate on other areas of activism, including connecting activists to librarians on a local level, maintaining and developing information resources on the website, and using social media to connect people interested in information activism.
For general online reference support, we can point you to ASK NYPL, your local public library, the Internet Public Library, or Ask MetaFilter.

Advice from Social Movement Archivists

Earlier today, Temple University hosted a talk with a series of archivists and librarians about documenting and preserving social movements. Speakers included Bergis Jules (University of California Riverside Libraries), Meredith Evans (Washington University in St. Louis) and Ed Summers (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities), who described their work archiving protest movements surrounding Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter, and Margery Sly and Justin Hill from Temple Libraries, who shared experiences from archiving Occupy Philly. It was a really rich discussion, covering pragmatics of data scraping tools as well as advice on how to build ties with communities whose lives are being preserved. Here are some highlights that I wanted to share!

  • Bergis Jules highlighted the accessibility of social media as a source for data, calling it “a new layer of documentation quality" that has “left an extremely rich trail of documentation in one of the most rich and accessible” platforms. Jules also noted that social media content can be used against protesters in prosecution, which is crucial to consider in policies of collection and access.

Reading Guide for Race and Social Justice

Tomorrow is a international day of action for demanding social justice in the wake of systemic disregard for black lives. We've pulled together some reading sources for people interested in learning more about social justice, race and the police. Feel free to add more in the comments, see you in the streets!

Blog posts and online news media

Colorlines. (2014, October 14). Race, policing and civil rights: A community town hall. Retrieved from http://colorlines.com/archives/2014/10/watch_town_hall_on_race_policing_and_civil_rights_in_the_us.html
Video of a community meeting in Brooklyn, featuring panelists Esmeralda Simmons, Center for Law & Social Justice, Medgar Evers College; Lumumba Bandele, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Jumaane Williams, City Council Member; Rinku Sen, Race Forward (publisher of Colorlines); Linda Sarsour, Arab American Association; and Anthony Miranda, Latino Officers Association.

Garza, A. (2014, October 7). A herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Retrieved from
The origin story of the #BlackLivesMatter, which started with the organizing efforts of three black queer women.

TRGGR Radio. Weekly radio broadcast. http://trggradio.org/
Topics covered in recent episodes include: reports from protests and actions in Ferguson & western Massachusetts, student activism, prison abolition and activism, movements for solidarity with Palestine and Cuba, and updates from Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Academic articles and policy reports

We Are All Suspects: A Guide for People Navigating the Expanded Powers of Surveillance in the 21st Century

A group of Rad Ref librarians recently put together a zine for librarians about surveillance. Includes "know your rights" info; suggestions for applications, browser plug-ins, and other tech tools for online privacy; and, of course, a reading list!

To transform this PDF into a zine, first print the odd pages. Then flip over the pages and print the evens on the reverse.

If you have comments or want to get involved in other such projects, get in touch with Alison at alisonmacrina at the gmail.

404 Day: A Day of Action Against Censorship in Libraries and Public Schools

Tomorrow is 404 Day, an effort from the Electronic Frontier Foundation to raise awareness of online censorship in libraries and public schools. They’re running an online info session today at noon, PST, and they’ve reached out to librarians and information professionals to share experiences with online censorship.

Know Your Dossier: FBI Files and FOIA Requests

Know Your Dossier: FBI Files and FOIA Requests
Saturday, February 8, 2014, 2-4pm
The Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
(A/C/G to Hoyt- Schermerhorn; B/D/N/Q/R/2/3/4/5 to Atlantic Ave)

The specter of the surveillance state looms over every aspect of radical organizing and community building. For most of us, Edward Snowden's revelations only confirmed what we suspected all along; the state has access to almost everything we create electronically, and they have the capacity and will to retain it indefinitely. Yet all surveillance is not created equal, and it's useful to remember that while we may never know the full extent of the information collected from us, FOIA, FOIL, and sunshine laws do entitle the public to see the investigative files collected on us.

Join Radical Reference and Mutant Legal for a night of information sharing and collective information seeking about the state of state surveillance and how to obtain your FBI files. Paper, envelopes, and snacks will be available by donation!

QUESTION: WILPF U.S. Section Executive Director during the 1960s and 1970s

question / pregunta: 

I would like to find out the name of the Executive Director of WILPF U.S. Section during the late 1960s and early 1970s when the national office was located in Philadelphia. If available, I would also like a brief biography.

Radical Reference Conference Call 8/25/13

On August 25th, 2013, we had a conference call to discuss the future of Radical Reference. 8 members participated in the call.

These are the action items created during the meeting:
Action item: Jessica will draft language for sending out on the list and putting on the website (re: suspending reference question answering on the site)
Action item: Asking James or another website-savvy person about disabling or altering the submission form.
Action item: Looking for someone to put together the website-focused call, ideally with folks with tech experience and an interest in working on the website
Action item: Send out a call for FB and Twitter updaters.

QUESTION: Introverts vs. Extroverts

question / pregunta: 

How can introverts and extroverts use their strengths and weaknesses to create synergy in the workplace?

QUESTION: Sanctuary/Religious activism in Dallas, TX

question / pregunta: 

I am currently researching Quaker culture in Dallas, TX. I discovered that in 1983 the Dallas Quaker Meeting House agreed to provide sanctuary to Central American Immigrants in need. I am wondering if there is any record of an immigrant taking sanctuary through the meeting house, or any conflict with local law enforcement regarding a claim of sanctuary.

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