Western Massachusetts Radical Reference Collective


Contact Debbie or Dena to get involved and reactive the group.

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June 29, 2009 meeting notes
May 9, 2009 meeting notes
April 4, 2009 meeting notes
March 9, 2009 meeting notes

Last updated 11/2/2012

Western Mass. Radical Reference Collective April 4, 2009 meeting notes

**Next meeting Saturday May 9th at Amherst Brewing Company (upstairs) at 5pm.**

Notes from the Western Massachusetts Radical Reference Meeting
Saturday, April 4th, 2009 Potluck at Dena's place


1. Introductions
2. Agenda review, facilitators, notes
3. Process, web/communication issues
4. Project discussion
5. Announcements
6. Next meeting

1. 6 people attended. Members of the meeting each brought food to share. We gave formal introductions at the start of the meeting.

2. We reviewed the agenda and added elements to the agenda. Members of the meeting volunteered to act as facilitator and note taker.

3. During the meeting, the group decided that decisions will be made by consensus. We will also post the link to our listserv on Western MA Rad Ref's Facebook page along with our current web site. Rad Ref will also continue to post meeting times to other listservs such as the ACRL website, WMRLS listerv, etc.

4. We discussed the purpose of Facebook. Our Facebook page provided a inviting, public space. We will use Facebook in addition to our other means of communication (website, listserv, etc) to post meeting schedules and other content.

Points about librarian turf came to the surface. For instance, attending events at UMass or on Amherst Common, either of which could be covered by librarians from the nearby institutions. This turned into a larger discussion of the mission of Rad Ref and how it differs from the traditional reference services of formal libraries. In brief,

* Rad Ref provides street reference services not necessarily in the mission of established institutions
* Rad Ref also acts as a specialized reference service for the activist community. We discussed the prospect of working with local activist groups or non-profits such as the Prison Book Project, Western Mass Independent Media Center, UMass anti-war group. We would aid those groups by:

- fact checking (possibly in the form of a workshop)
- act as a connection between activist organizations
- provide information on local niche issues. In order to provide reference service to the activist and/or non-profit community the group proposed to collect the names of organizations each member is interested in and share their list at the next meeting. In this way, Western MA Rad Ref can start contacting organizations we are interested in aiding.

The idea was also put forward to create our own content in the form of a website. The website would cover local issues and events. Western MA Rad Ref would also consider working with the local chapter of the IMC wmass.indymedia.org and provide fact checking for the content put up on the Western MA IMC website.

5. The Anarchist Book Fair took place in New York City on April 11th. anarchistbookfair.net

6. We decided the next meeting would be held on Sat. May 9th at Amherst Brewing Company (upstairs) at 5pm. It was also pointed out that having meetings in public places may increase attendance. ABC is in a central location and more inviting than someone's home. For the most part, future meetings will be held in public spaces.


7. 16 people have joined the listserv and 18 joined our Facebook group.

8. Clarification of answer to the question asked about what Radical Reference is:

* share info on the national listserv.
* answer reference questions submitted online, at events, etc.
* provide info/content through reference guides on different subjects which are posted to the reference shelf. www.radicalreference.info/readyref
* Some of the local collectives do workshops including fact-checking, archives for grassroots organizations, researching corporations, etc. Others support local activists/groups like Portland Rad Ref working with Bitch magazine, etc.

Western Mass. Radical Reference Collective June 29, 2009 meeting notes

Western Mass. Radical Reference
June 29, 2009, Monday, meeting notes

Since it was just a few of us we mostly socialized. We did look over a
list of activities that NYRR was involved in to help us brainstorm ideas
for WMRR's activities here in the Pioneer Valley. It was decided that we
would join the Prison Book Project at its upcoming Book Party since
they'll be dealing with their overstock of books and librarians will come
in handy sorting, weeding, and organizing the many books.

An event page for it has been set up on Facebook. Details are also below.
To learn more about Prison Book Project, visit their website at

A July meeting wasn't set.

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: [pbpamherst] Join us July 12th!

Who: You!
What: Prison Book Project Book Party
When: Sunday, July 12, 2009, 3-6pm
Where: North Hadley Congregational Church, 243 River Drive, Hadley

To prepare for re-opening this fall, Prison Book Project is having a book
party. And you're invited! Join us Sunday, July 12th, from 3-6pm to sort
through over 50 boxes of books. We need to arrange them by subject, remove
hardcovers and textbooks as well as any other books we can't use, and any
other tasks that come up as we spend the afternoon at the space.

Any questions, just send us an email. We look forward to seeing you and
getting PBP back in shape for sending books to prisoners.

Thanks for your support and stay tuned for when we'll be re-opening this

Prison Book Project
P.O. Box 396
Amherst, MA 01004
413-584-8975 ext. 208 (voicemail only)

Western Mass. Radical Reference Collective March 9, 2009 meeting notes

***NEXT MEETING 5pm SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2009. ***

Monday, March 9, 2009 Amherst Brewing Co.

Attended: Dena M., Bob S., Adam W., Grant G., David P., Barbara G., Miranda S., John R.

We started with beer and food and introductions. We had a decent turnout for a snowy Monday; we managed to have representatives from academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, library school students, and an unemployed librarian.

We discussed the history and purpose of Radical Reference, and referred people to the website for more information. From the website:

Mission Statement

--Radical Reference is a collective of volunteer library workers who believe in social justice and equality. We support activist communities, progressive organizations, and independent journalists by providing professional research support, education and access to information. We work in a collaborative virtual setting and are dedicated to information activism to foster a more egalitarian society.

Radical reference originated as a service provided by volunteer library workers from all over the United States to assist demonstrators and activists at the convergence surrounding the Republican National Convention in New York City August 29-September 2, 2004.

We are evolving, expanding our services, and continuing to utilize our professional skills and tools to answer information needs from the general public, independent journalists, and activists.--

People had questions about how RadRef operates and what kinds of projects other local collectives are engaged in. Radref members

* answer reference questions that come into the website www.radicalreference.info;

* have provided on-the-ground street reference services in the middle of large demonstrations;

* have presented on a variety of topics at library conferences and other activist conferences;

* have provided fact-checking workshops and fact checking services specifically to activist media and independent journalists; and

* flyered and leafletted in activist spaces and at activist events in order to get the word out that reference services exist specifically to serve the needs of activist communities

Some people seemed interested in learning more about answering questions on the RadRef site. We talked about the possibility of being our own independent group of radical librarians from western Mass, and not affiliating with the national RadRef group. People seemed to like the loose organizational structure of RadRef, however, and we decided that we did indeed want to be part of it. Dena will look into posting our meeting notes on the RadRef site, and getting those who wished signed onto the RadRef listserv.

We started discussing what we hoped to do as a local collective. Some ideas that came up:

Let’s pick some issues we are interested in and think about how we can work on them locally:

* Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

* War in Palestine

* Economic issues, including issues around credit cards

* Issues around broadband connectivity (or lack of it) in some of the smaller communities of western Massachusetts

* What can we do as librarians to support our local activist movements?

* Maybe we can help the Western Mass Prison Book group with fundraising or help that project in other ways?

* We could begin tabling and flyering at a host of activist events that are likely to come up in the Spring.

* There will be a Forum on the Solidarity Economy happening at UMASS, on March 19-22. www.populareconomics.org/ussen/?q=node/99 It’s coming up very soon (before our next meeting) but we talked about possibly having a presence there.

We agreed as a group to establish an open Facebook group as our means of communication. Grant volunteered to set it up.

We agreed to meet again on Saturday, April 4th at 5:00 for a potluck in Pelham. Folks should come with food and ideas about what we might begin working on. Email Dena for details.

Western Mass. Radical Reference Collective May 9, 2009 meeting notes

*** Next Meeting/Social will be at 6:00 on Monday, June 29th, at
the Northampton Brewery. Meet on the deck upstairs, unless it's
raining, in which case look for us near the bar. ***

Western Mass Radical Reference
May 9, 2009 Meeting Notes

So, we had a small meeting in May at the Amherst Brewing Co, and
discussed a number of things:

1. seems like folks are still not so clear about the radref mission of
providing reference services to our local activist communities - see

2. we have not yet figured out what are the pressing issues for local
activist communities are that our group might address. There seems to
be a sense that interest in the group is waning because we do not have
a project we are currently working on.

3. a number of ideas continue to be tossed around including:

a. rad ref can assist local groups like the western mass prison book
project (or others) in various ways
b. local rad ref members can become involved with the larger group by
contributing to the rad ref website (e.g. the reference shelf, or our
western mass group page), answering reference questions, and meeting
with rad ref folks at national meetings.
c. western mass rad ref can continue to try to map out and make
connections with local activist communities in order to try to be of
d. It might be worthwhile to have more of a presence at local library
related as well as activist events.

4. Decisions

a. There seemed to be agreement that it was valuable to maintain a
local radref networking base, through meetings, our (fairly inactive)
listserv, our Facebook and local RadRef collective page. Keeping
these in place will allow us to mobilize when an issue presents itself
that members would like to work on. Other folks felt it was
worthwhile to keep meeting socially once a month. Next RadRef Meeting
will be at 6:00 on Monday, June 29th, at the Northampton Brewery.
Meet on the deck upstairs, unless it's raining, in which case look for
us near the bar.
b. we are planning to have a Librarian Work Day at Western Mass Prison
Book Project
. This seems like a good tangible project to get radical
librarians involved and would really help out PBP! PBP needs help
weeding, sorting, and shelving books, among other projects. Date is
still to be decided.