Critical Librarianship Symposium (Boston)

Boston Radical Reference Collective presents

Practical Choices for Powerful Impacts: Realizing the Activist Potential of Librarians

Saturday, November 17

9:30am - 1pm

Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

About | Schedule | Registration | Transportation | Contact


We often hear about librarians as neutral purveyors of resources providing communities with uninhibited access to information. This conveniently glosses over the library’s vulnerability in mirroring and perpetuating systems of oppression found throughout the rest of society. We rarely hear about or have the opportunity to learn from librarians who are actively working within and outside of information institutions for social change. Librarians who understand that choices we make in collection development, responding to research queries, collection of archival materials, training people in technology and developing community programming all have social, political, cultural and economic ramifications.

This free symposium is the first in a series of skillshares, workshops, roundtables and panel discussions that will focus on similar themes of critical librarianship, hosted by the Boston Radical Reference Collective.


All Sessions will be held in the Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis University

930am - 10am: Registration
Registration & networking (light refreshments will be served)

10am - 11am: Symposium Panel
The panelists are librarians who use their skills to undertake consciousness-raising in libraries and within the LIS profession; actively participate in anti-oppression and empowerment work; and develop programming that supports the library as space and library as a means of liberation.

Panelists include:

11am - 1230pm: Discussion
Breakout sessions (includes time for a break)

1230pm - 1pm: Wrap-Up
Reconvene and share ideas for moving forward


Please click here to register for "Practical Choices for Powerful Impacts: Realizing the Activist Potential of Librarians" symposium. The event is FREE, but registration is required.


The Women's Studies Research Center is located in the Epstein Building on Brandeis University campus. Directions to Brandeis can be found on the Brandeis University website. (Includes public transportation options.)

There is free parking located directly behind the Epstein building. A parking pass is not required to park in the Epstein lot. There is plenty of accessible parking available.

If you are interested in carpooling, please indicate your preference on the registration form.


If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to the Boston Radical Reference Collective at (The email will only go the planners, not the entire collective.)

Critical Librarianship Symposium (Boston) - Panelist Bios

Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter
Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter is Director of Libraries for the City of Somerville, MA where she advances and manages library services and programs for a diverse community of 76,000. In her role she directs three libraries with 40 staff members and oversees a 1.7M budget.

She completed her Master's in Library and Information Science at University of Pittsburgh and received her B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan U. She is a member of Phi Beta Delta, the honor society for International scholars and an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar. She studies leadership in the Managerial Leadership in the Information Professions doctoral program at Simmons College. Her research interests include entrepreneurial leadership, service to diverse populations, and managerial leadership in libraries.

In addition to her library activities, she is a registered yoga teacher and is a second degree Reiki healer in the Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition. She is a also a member of Boston Korean Adoptees, Inc.

Akunna Eneh
Akunna Eneh has been a teen librarian at the Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library since 2008. She has worked with several community organizations and schools in and around the Roxbury neighborhood and, more recently, has been a part of an outreach program to teens in juvenile detention centers in Boston. She is interested in finding more ways for social justice organizations to utilize library resources and to connect with the community through the library. She contributed entries to the recently published 101 Changemakers, a biographical anthology of lesser known changemakers with a "people's history" approach for middle schoolers. In 2010, as the BPL branches and jobs were threatened with cuts, she organized with her fellow union members and library patrons throughout Boston to stop the cuts. She is also an activist in the Boston branch of the International Socialist Organization, has been a part of organizing annual Marxism conferences for people interested in reading and discussing the roots of oppression and inequality in society, and has participated in local struggles around LGBT rights, foreclosures, and police brutality.

Laura Foner
Laura Foner's first library work experience was in 1965 in Gould, a small town in Arkansas. As a civil rights worker with SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), she helped set up a lending library of donated books in the Gould Freedom Center, where young people saw books written by African Americans for the first time.

After many years of activism in the anti-Vietnam, women's and labor movements, Laura became a professional librarian at the age of 50. Since 1996 she has worked as a children's librarian in her local Boston Public Library branch. She is a union representative on the BPL Health and Safety Committee and was active in the 2010 campaign to keep the branch libraries from being shut down.

Since 1975, she has been a member of City Life/ Vida Urbana, a radical community organization dedicated to social justice and currently fighting the banks to prevent post-foreclosure evictions.

Susie Husted
Susie Husted is a Somerville-based activist focusing on anti-oppression organizing in and around greater Boston. She graduated from the library science program at CUNY-Queens College with a focus on young adult services. Along with other members of Radical Reference, Susie helped found the library at Occupy Boston.

Alana Kumbier
Alana Kumbier is a Research and Instruction Librarian at Wellesley College, where she serves as a liaison to several interdisciplinary departments on campus, and with Student Disability Services. She is also the coordinator of the library's zine collection. Alana is interested in critical, anti-oppressive, and feminist pedagogies in research instruction, and is co-editor of the collection Critical Library Studies: Theories and Methods. She holds a PhD in Comparative Studies from Ohio State University, and is currently revising her dissertation, on queer grassroots archiving practices, for Litwin Books' series on Gender, Sexuality and Librarianship.

Ryan Livergood
Ryan Livergood is the Director of Libraries for the Town of Arlington. Ryan's library experience includes everything from 'temporarily joining the dark side' by working for a library automation vendor, working in a large urban library system, and working in a very small rural library setting. He believes that the public library is no less than a magical place, a cornerstone of every community where all people are empowered to change their lives for the better. He feels that the current model of how we provide econtent to our communities is a threat to the mission of libraries. The libraries of Arlington have partnered with Library Renewal, a grassroots non-profit for libraries by librarians, to further the mission of libraries as it relates to econtent.

William D. Mongelli
William (Bill) Mongelli has worked for the MA Department of Correction, serving as the Librarian at three correctional institutions. In his current position, he teaches inmates in an eight-week Law Clerk Training course, a book discussion course, and introductory/advanced courses of the ABLE MINDS bibliotherapy program. He is the author of CONSentrating on the Law: A Program of Self-Directed Legal Research for Prisoners, which was published by F&W Associates in 2001. Since 2001, Bill has lectured on Correctional Library Management for the San Jose State University SLIS graduate school, and teaches online courses for Simmons: Censorship and the Prison Library (which he offered in 2012) and Correctional Libraries and Positive Life Change, forthcoming in Spring 2013.

Critical Librarianship Symposium Boston - Live Recording

On Saturday, November 17, 2012, the Boston Radical Reference Collective hosted a free symposium, Practical Choices for Powerful Impact: Realizing the Activist Potential of Librarians, focused on how librarians actively work within and outside of information institutions for social change. The event began with a panel of librarians who use their skills to undertake consciousness-raising in libraries and within the LIS profession; actively participate in anti-oppression and empowerment work; and develop programming that supports the library as space and library as a means of liberation. More information about the symposium and its panelists is available here. Notes from the symposium break-out sessions are forthcoming.

A video-recording (in seven parts) of the Practical Choices for Powerful Impact panel is available below.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven