Remember when everything on the interwebz was supposed to be free? Just like a public library? Well, that ended fast, and even getting into a public library can be a challenge in this era of budget cuts. However this week, some things are still free. In celebration of National Library week in the United States, Oxford University Press is offering up its dazzling collection of online resources — for free! Go here for details. And have fun.
Now that we are talking about librarians and how much we love them: take a moment this week to think about all the things in your professional life that are facilitated by the library and the wonderful, knowledgeable people who work there. Librarians are the heartbeat of our universities. When we give students an assignment, it’s the librarians who often help them focus their topics, get them to the sources they need, and show them how to use the online indexes that have replaced the volumes that used to line the Reference Room.
And I am not even going to start on how much I heart archivists.
But did you know that becoming a librarian was a radical act? That librarians have been on the front lines of battles against censorship? If you didn’t, wake up! Check out K.R. Roberto and Jessamyn West, Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out (McFarland, 2003) and Roberto, ed. Radical Cataloging: Essays at the Front (McFarland, 2008.) Mosey on over to the Radical Librarians Collective; or to the Social Responsibilities Roundtable of the American Library Association, begun in 1969 to “promote social responsibility as a core value of librarianship.” Then there is the GLBT Round Table of the ALA that — among other things — dedicates itself to defending the presence of, and free lending practices for, queer library materials.
But the ALA defends all our reading practices: go here for the top ten most frequently challenged books. Guess which are the number one banned books? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the Fifty Shades of Time Consuming Sex books it’s a popular and funny series children’s series viewed by its critics as violent and age inappropriate. How can anything about fourth graders for fourth graders be age inappropriate? And the violence of fourth grade humor — well, I think that is mostly coming from the parental end if you ask me.
So take a minute this week to explore these resources; thank your favorite librarians and information technology specialists for everything they do. And while you are at it, go here to buy a present for your favorite Radical Militant Librarian.
Update: this post was updated at 2.20 pm to reflect Roberto’s co-author for the 2003 edition of Revolting Librarians and to clarify that Radical Cataloguing (2008) is an edited volume. Captain Underpants, originally described in this post as a series about potty training, is actually about fourth graders rebelling against authority.