Ousmane Sembène 1923-2007. No. 6.12.2007. 125.

Source: Librarians @ http://librarian.lishost.org/?p=787 (external link)

Librarians and the US Social Forum: Another World is Possible - Another U.S. is Necessary !

No. 6. 12. 2007. 126.

  • Another World is Possible - Another U.S. is Necessary! June 27-July 1, 2007- Atlanta.

Librarians with two organizations based in the U.S., the Progressive Librarians Guild (external link) and ))RadicalReference(( (external link), will attend the US Social Forum to engage in four primary activities. Our work will be framed by the question: In what ways can the field of librarianship help realize the goals set by the social forum movement?

Already librarian colleagues in several parts of the world are involved in the social forum movement in different ways:

  1. collecting publications from social forum participants to document and preserve the memory and history of this important social movement, and in doing so to continue work begun in Nairobi in establishing the WSFLibrary;
  2. informing social forum participants on the role librarians and libraries can play in communities to support social justice and, conversely, inquiring of participants how librarianship might best serve their needs;
  3. in providing library services during the social forum itself to media workers;
  4. in sharing our experience as activists engaged in opposing and exposing privatization of public services, disinformation, and censorship; and
  5. engaging in dialogue with colleagues attending the forum on how we can bring the message, spirit and goals of the forum into the field of librarianship. Both the Progressive Librarians Guild and Radical Reference want to participate in the U.S. Social Forum in order to support the work begun by our colleagues within the context of the World Social Forum.

We hope to connect the idea, the potential, and the reality of libraries as vital hubs of knowledge and information within all communities. We share with the Social Forum a commitment to building bridges between peoples and cultures, with an internationalist perspective and a desire to put our skills at the service of grassroots initiatives. The overall theme of the U.S. Social Forum — if another world is possible: another US is necessary — reflects much of the work both groups have engaged in over the past years within the field of librarianship, PLG for 17, RR for 3 years. We consider the opportunity of the U.S. Social Forum a vital step in the development of our work as librarians who are opposed to neo-liberalism and imperialism, and dedicated to political, economic and cultural democracy, and to the building of infrastructures that heal the environment so badly damaged by industrial nations in the past century.

The primary goal of our participation has three aspects: (1) to engage in the collection, and later the organization and promotion, of material from social forum workshops and other activities; (2) to assist at the media center with fact-checking if space and equipment allow; and (3) to dialogue with our colleagues attending the USSF about bringing the forum's goals into our profession.

The workshop we propose would have a two-fold purpose. First, we will need the assistance of anyone interested in collecting documentation. At the workshop we will explain the process to volunteers and establish a schedule for material collection. Secondly, we will use the workshop to organize our other forum activities.

The documentation project, begun at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, is still at the developmental stage, but many experienced librarians are involved, and we see the USSF as a venue in which to continue this valuable work. Information about the WSFLibrary is available at the following website: http://www.wsflibrary.org/index.php/Wsflibrary.org (external link)

Our work will be conducted in English and, depending on who is able to attend, we might have Spanish translation. We do not have equipment for interpretation. At this point, handouts will be available in English, perhaps inSpanish and other languages.

The greatest challenge PLG and RR face is reaching out to grassroots social activists and building alliances both within and outside the field of librarianship. We believe that taking this step in helping with the WSFLibrary project, fact-checking, and dialogue will give us an opportunity as organizations to develop outreach strategies to grassroots activists and groups (external link).