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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Storytime Underground Librarians Speak Up For #BlackLivesMatter; July 12, 2016

Posted By: ZiLe Ohai - 6:18 PM

My school librarian was always telling me to be quiet. The "joint chiefs" who created and run Storytime Underground are the kind of no nonsense librarians to whom you want your kids exposed.  

"At their best, public libraries exist to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
-@StorytimeUnderground

I love the Storytime Underground librarians! You can visit their website by clicking right here.

A few hints before reading their tweets: Eid refers to a Muslim holiday and DDC is the Dewey Decimal System







StorytimeUndergroundStorytimeUnderground@StorytimeU · Jul 12
We've been seeing amazing #blacklivesmatter displays being made by YS librarians around the nation. We've also been seeing managers admonish


+ librarians to "stay neutral." This seems like a good time to state unequivocally that we disagree wholeheartedly with that approach.

LIBRARIANS ARE NOT NEUTRAL AND LIBRARIES ARE NOT NEUTRAL SPACES.

It's disingenuous to pretend that we have ever been. The DDC is racist and prejudiced against non-western religions.


In earlier days of our profession, we helped censor materials for the war effort. Now, freedom of information is our ethical code.

We fought the Patriot Act tooth and nail. We've been putting up Pride displays for how long? We fight book banning.


We teach immigrants to read and speak English, regardless of their legal status. We provide literacy training to poor, teenaged parents free


Collection development isn't neutral. Cataloging isn't neutral. Programming isn't neutral. Advertising isn't neutral.

Fine structures aren't neutral (ABOLISH FINES).

At their best, public libraries exist to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Libraries of all kinds exist to listen to the needs of the 99% and fulfil them.


When Trayvon Martin died, we said that the difference between teen librarians and other folks is, when we see a black kid in a hoodie,


We welcome him, and ask if the skittles in the snack machine need refilled.


We have these huge conversations about how to get more black librarians in the profession, but managers don't want to put up displays?

To tell black kids who might become librarians later that they belong here? THAT'S THE WHITEST SHIT I'VE EVER HEARD, and I'm real white.

Are y'all afraid we're going to scare away the bigots, and they won't come back? What happens when we stop lying about neutrality?


To all of you out there with admins telling you to hide the gay YA in the adult section, to take down your Eid displays,

(even though Santa was there 6 months ago)

To all of you out there making displays to tell the world that you think the lives of your black patrons matter, we have your back

Go ahead, tell your manager that the admins of the biggest(?) youth services librarianship group on the internet stand with you, if it helps

People make fun of being famous in librarianship, but yo, I started a movement that's 6,000+ strong, and what's the point...

Of having that platform if I don't use it to call out the dangerous, privileged, bullshit hypocrisy of "neutral"?

Libraries aren't neutral spaces, librarianship isn't a neutral profession, and black lives fucking matter. #noneutrallibraries

Libraries: "we need diverse books but, don't put them out front where people can SEE them."

Libraries: We need diverse books. . . Less than we need a 3D printer to bring in "different" patrons.

Libraries: MLK display? Yes. Malcolm X display? Reconsider. Ferguson display? Too risky!!

Libraries: we have a gay (white guy)! We hired a black woman once (as a circ clerk)!

The extraordinary @ScottyBonner once told me that he did what any lib'n would do, and I say, if you wouldn't do what he did, get a new job.

Also can we talk about the idea that by saying #BlackLivesMatter is taking a political position? That's some masterful derailing.

What position? The position that human life has intrinsic value including when it comes in black skin?!

Ok, Storytime Squad. We may talk the talk when it comes to diversity, but we want to know if you walk the walk. How do you spread diversity?

We want to see your kick-ass displays, learn about your diversity tips to caregivers in Storytime, and get tingly about your daily efforts.


We don't want them to be neutral to what is going on around them.


About ZiLe Ohai

Hi, yes it is really me, ZiLe!

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