Western Mass. Radical Reference Collective March 9, 2009 meeting notes

***NEXT MEETING 5pm SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2009. ***

Monday, March 9, 2009 Amherst Brewing Co.

Attended: Dena M., Bob S., Adam W., Grant G., David P., Barbara G., Miranda S., John R.

We started with beer and food and introductions. We had a decent turnout for a snowy Monday; we managed to have representatives from academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, library school students, and an unemployed librarian.

We discussed the history and purpose of Radical Reference, and referred people to the website for more information. From the website:

Mission Statement

--Radical Reference is a collective of volunteer library workers who believe in social justice and equality. We support activist communities, progressive organizations, and independent journalists by providing professional research support, education and access to information. We work in a collaborative virtual setting and are dedicated to information activism to foster a more egalitarian society.

Radical reference originated as a service provided by volunteer library workers from all over the United States to assist demonstrators and activists at the convergence surrounding the Republican National Convention in New York City August 29-September 2, 2004.

We are evolving, expanding our services, and continuing to utilize our professional skills and tools to answer information needs from the general public, independent journalists, and activists.--

People had questions about how RadRef operates and what kinds of projects other local collectives are engaged in. Radref members

* answer reference questions that come into the website www.radicalreference.info;

* have provided on-the-ground street reference services in the middle of large demonstrations;

* have presented on a variety of topics at library conferences and other activist conferences;

* have provided fact-checking workshops and fact checking services specifically to activist media and independent journalists; and

* flyered and leafletted in activist spaces and at activist events in order to get the word out that reference services exist specifically to serve the needs of activist communities

Some people seemed interested in learning more about answering questions on the RadRef site. We talked about the possibility of being our own independent group of radical librarians from western Mass, and not affiliating with the national RadRef group. People seemed to like the loose organizational structure of RadRef, however, and we decided that we did indeed want to be part of it. Dena will look into posting our meeting notes on the RadRef site, and getting those who wished signed onto the RadRef listserv.

We started discussing what we hoped to do as a local collective. Some ideas that came up:

Let’s pick some issues we are interested in and think about how we can work on them locally:

* Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

* War in Palestine

* Economic issues, including issues around credit cards

* Issues around broadband connectivity (or lack of it) in some of the smaller communities of western Massachusetts

* What can we do as librarians to support our local activist movements?

* Maybe we can help the Western Mass Prison Book group with fundraising or help that project in other ways?

* We could begin tabling and flyering at a host of activist events that are likely to come up in the Spring.

* There will be a Forum on the Solidarity Economy happening at UMASS, on March 19-22. www.populareconomics.org/ussen/?q=node/99 It’s coming up very soon (before our next meeting) but we talked about possibly having a presence there.

We agreed as a group to establish an open Facebook group as our means of communication. Grant volunteered to set it up.

We agreed to meet again on Saturday, April 4th at 5:00 for a potluck in Pelham. Folks should come with food and ideas about what we might begin working on. Email Dena for details.