Many moons ago, when I was pursuing a PhD in political science, a professor I looked up to told me something that's stuck with me. Marxists, he said, don't often have the right answers, but they ask the right questions.Hey #critlib! I'm moderating the chat on 12/15 about #feelings, and it involves homework. https://t.co/SxN43wmvei pic.twitter.com/voZt12VOkI— Kevin Seeber (@kevinseeber) December 3, 2015
|Gif via ina.fr and gifwave.com|
- Because it's important to ask "who benefits?" and I wish more of us in the library and information sciences would follow in the footsteps of Sanford Berman, E.J. Josey, Hope Olson, Rory Litwin, and others in asking these kinds of questions.
- Because critical librarianship is, in large part, what you make it. It's one of the few places where I feel like I have a significant degree of agency in librarianship. I hear the critiques of the #critlib chats being an echo chamber, and while on some level I think that opinion is a valid one (this blog post might be evidence of that), if someone wants to propose a chat on a topic they think is under- or unexplored, they can and should do so. Last June I moderated a chat, attempting to critique whatever critlib is (movement, mindset, group, place,...) from the inside, and I suspect that with his questions above, this critique is something that Kevin would like to explore as well.
- Because I'm not neutral, and neither are libraries. There are intended and unintended policies and consequences that do real harm that I think we can mitigate. But only if we ask "who benefits, how, and why?"
- Because one of the highlights of my year, or any year, really, was being in a room with Jessica Critten, Donna Witek, Kevin Seeber, and Kenny Garcia, listening, talking, and learning. I've found fellow "critlibbers" to be friendly, kind, patient, smart, and caring, among other positive traits.
- Because as a community, critical librarianship keeps me accountable to myself, my ideals, and challenges me to continue to listen and learn and refine, among other things.
- Because before I lurked in critlib chats, I was a critical political science student. A professor introduced me to the work of Michel Foucault, and that was as close to an "a ha!" moment as I'll have (I maybe even crossed a threshold, if you will). I got to spend a day with James Scott, one of my professional heroes. And then I got to apply critical theories from the social sciences and humanities to libraries, in theory, and in practice, thanks to people like Maria Accardi.
- Because this is my life homey you decide yours.
Why do I identify with these ideas?
- Because I've never not been critical. I grew up in New York City in the 1980s. My parents told me not to walk on Amsterdam Avenue (also called Murderdam or Cracksterdam), to take Broadway instead, and I began to ask questions. I saw how people who weren't white were treated. By police, by teachers, by peers, by the law. That was the start. It took me a while to find the theoretical frameworks to help me process what I saw, but I'm glad I did.
- It's more often the case that I lurk, listening, liking tweets, saving things for later. I feel like I have a voice, however limited, in this profession, and I want to hear what others have to say. The last thing librarianship needs is another cis het white dude taking up space. That being said, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kevin for asking.