Starting a Local Collective

Radical Reference local collectives are independent from one another and from the international group, which admittedly, is mostly dormant right now. (That could change; all it takes is people to make it go!)

Each group can activate/resist/support as it wants, as long as members act by the Rad Ref Points of Unity. Following this photo of some cuties in the Boston collective, here are some general guidelines for getting started:

Call for Participants

Solicit participants by email, social media, Meetup....whatever works for you! Your opening message might be something like

Dear Library and Archives Workers & Information Enthusiasts,

I/we am feeling _______ about ________ and am/are hoping to start a Radical Reference collective in order to have some way to make a concrete difference in our community. Let's use our skills in cataloging, public services, information architecture, systems, circulation, preservation, research, etc. and activism. [List whatever specializations you want; just make it clear that this isn't just for reference librarians, or even just for MLIS holders]

Things we could do include, but are not limited to

  • participating in protests
  • doing research for incarcerated people
  • helping people make FOIA requests (and their state equivalents)
  • developing research guides
  • supporting other activist projects with technical and research support
  • peer education about library issues
  • teach ins on open access, digital privacy, local issues
  • fact checking for radical journalists
  • digital archiving for activist groups
  • cataloging activist groups' libraries

If you are interested in working under the banner of Radical Reference on these or any other projects, please fill out this poll [use whatever polling software you like or put the dates in your message and ask for responses there] to determine a first meeting time/place.

Pick a site for your meeting that is accessible. If you can't find a free space, chances are participants will be willing to contribute $1-5 each, especially if your host is an allied project.

Your first meeting agenda might look something like

  • soliciting a facilitator and a note taker
  • ice breaker
  • setting ground rules
  • brainstorming projects you might like to work on
  • developing an action plan for one project
  • assigning tasks
  • post-meeting recap/go-around about how the meeting went: share something that felt good, and something that could have felt better
  • soliciting a volunteer to schedule, agenda set, and facilitate the next meeting

You can start a local email list, and people should also join the (very low-traffic) main email list.

Repeat! Check in! Be good to each other!


Let the admin posse know what you're up to so we can set up a section on the site for your local collective. You can use the main website or your own, but if it's the latter, we need to link to yours from the main site.