Sunday, January 5, 2014

Progressive Librarians Hit the Pavement

When people think of librarians, they may envision cardigan-wearing introverts huddling behind a towering stack of books. Or perhaps, in their mind's eye, they see a stern matronly figure glowering over her glasses at patrons. It can be hard to imagine librarians pushing aside book carts and picking up picket signs, but that's precisely what the members of the Progressive Librarians Guild do.
Progressive Librarians Guild members take part in an OccupyMN protest in 2011.
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The Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) was formed in 1990 in New York City. According to its "Statement of Purpose," found on its website, the PLG does "not accept the sterile notion of neutrality of librarianship, and we strongly oppose the commidification of information which turns the 'information commons' into privatized, commercialized zones. We will help to dissect the implications of these powerful trends, and fight their anti-democratic tendencies."

With chapters across the United States and Canada, the PLG takes part in a range of political actions in order to combat "anti-democratic tendencies." Among these actions are supporting Occupy Wall Street; fighting against censorship; resisting the privatization of public libraries; condemning the blocking of Wikileaks by the Library of Congress; opposing book banning, including Tuscon, Arizona's ban on Mexican-American books in its schools; addressing issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and privilege in its journal, Progressive Librarian; being antiwar; and affiliating itself with the group Librarians for Peace.
PLG buttons made by the London, Ontario, chapter.
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In addition to maintaining a website, issuing bulletins and journals, printing buttons, and picketing, the Progressive Librarians Guild also gets its message across through social media. The PLG has a continuous presence on Twitter, and its many North American chapters are active on Facebook. 

If you would like to know more about the Progressive Librarians Guild, you can check out its website, follow it on Twitter, find a chapter on Facebook, subscribe to the PLG list, or write to the following address for general information:

Progressive Librarians Guild
MLIS Program
St. Catherine University
2004 Randolph Avenue, $4125
St. Paul, MN 55105

If you want to become a member of the Progressive Librarians Guild, you can do so at THIS LINK. Membership dues are $20 for individuals and $10 for students and those who are low-income. "Please note," says the website, "that if you are joining a chapter - either an existing one or one that you are creating - half of your dues are paid to the PLG chapter you join and half get sent to the PLG. If you are a regular member, $10 stay with the chapter and $10 get sent to the PLG. If you are a student or low-income, $5 stay with the chapter and $5 get sent to PLG."

OK, fellow librarians and library students: Out of the stacks and into the streets!

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