Notes from the April 9, 2016 meeting at Interference Archive


Alex, Bonnie, Charisma, Eamon, Ellen, Jaime, Jenna (note-taker), Leigh, Lucia, Meg, Melissa (facilitator), Sarah, Stephen


We started with a go around where people shared one thing that gives them joy about their library work and one thing that's challenging or that they'd like to change.


  • Student research topics (like patriarchal uses of power in literature)
  • Cool exhibits
  • Using radical examples in teaching
  • Students interested in Rad Ref
  • Help colleagues use technology, less dependent on bro-y IT dept
  • Strains of social justice emphases on staff
  • Getting to work with lots of departments, cross-pollination
  • Teaching LIS classes because gets to tell the truth
  • Office with window
  • Autonomy in work, budget. Making stuff about NYPL and prisons available to students
  • Work with students, helping them navigate new college experience
  • Sharing information 
  • Work with doctors and residents on their research projects


  • Overextended
  • Hierarchy
  • Only POC on "professional" staff
  • New director, administrative changes
  • Bureaucracy 
  • Reference/reading room overemphasiss  on security
  • No way to be more explicit about politics at work, e.g., city related things
  • Culture change, increasing detrimental attitude toward patrons
  • Large institution, evil
  • Underpaid
  • Wearing too many hats
  • Difficult to have influence beyond direct job
  • Dealing with existing standards

Melissa and Jenna gave a little history of the Radical Reference project--the protests against the Republican National Convention in NYC in 2004, the NYC local collective (and other local collectives), the website: national/international project. Everyone in the room had previously been aware of Rad Ref (one person used the website questions in their reference class and also assigned an article about RR; another person had first heard of RR when members protested at the NY Historical Society when Laura Bush was speaking there).


People threw out ideas of projects we might want to try, along with thoughts we might want to keep in mind.

  • How to make it sustainable
  • Use NYC RR as a way to bolster people's current projects that could use help
  • Website - what would be needed to get the online Q&A happening again? Is it needed?
  • Work with LIS programs
  • Supplying access to paywalled articles to activists and independent journalists
  • Subject guides (aka pathfinders!)
  • Tabling 
  • Wikipedia edithathons with radical librarian topics
  • Allied Media Conference libraries track
  • Work with teens
  • Language support: Tagalog, Chinese, Spanish, French
  • Spanish conversation group
  • Privacy workshop with Alison of Library Freedom Project and others
  • Work with Interference Archive, e.g., cataloging parties, thesaurus issues
  • Skill shares 
  • Left forum tabling?
  • Artist/technologist Ingrid Burrington made a field guide to NYC internet infrastructure - we could do a walking tour
  • Conference
  • Discussion groups 
  • peer education, à la the Learning Collective
  • Accountability writing group 
  • LACUNY report back


Melissa will create a new email list for the group. People from today's meeting will be added, and people from the old list will be invited to subscribe, as will people who expressed interest in today's meeting but could not attend.

Some people created accounts on the website. Not sure if you can create your own account right now--we may have shut that down because we were overwhelmed by spam accounts. Try if that doesn't work, email (goes to Jenna and Melissa)

Lucia will organize the next meeting.


Interference Archive spiel
Fortune Society exhibit at John Jay
Antiquarian book fair pass up for grabs
LACUNY Institute Race Matters: Libraries, Racism, and Antiracism May 20, 2016