Refugees, racism and us: acting on library values in the face of passivity, politics and pepper spray [slides]

ALIA Library

Beatty, Caroline

Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference 2018, 30 July - 2 August 2018 Gold Coast: Roar Leap Dare
This conference presentation (PowerPoint slides) supports the talk in reaction to current refugee crises, manifestations of racism, and prevailing public policy contexts. Drawing on codes of ethics and core values of librarianship, it raises fundamental questions for our profession. It challenges our role and responsibilities in responding to these critical issues of society, advocating for a greater level of visibility and activism. At its core, librarianship is both radical and subversive, and this may be manifested at macro and micro levels; locally and globally. Choosing when and how to be radical and subversive is an ongoing issue facing information professionals. Radical librarianship is wide-ranging, sometimes directly political, and in other contexts can be simple acts that impact individuals’ lives. Questioning the status quo, and attempting to overthrow existing norms, can be seen in actions by librarians at the local level, and on broader stages.
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has outlined some efforts of libraries, around the world, to respond to the refugee crisis, and enable equity of access to information. The Association of Public Libraries in Berlin (VÖBB) is the first German Library Association which provides library cards to refugees without demanding an official certificate of registration. A temporary resident permit or a certificate of the accommodation facility is sufficient. Refugees are allowed to check out items from any public library in Berlin and access digital services such as ebooks and music streaming. In our region, are we roaring loudly enough, and actively working towards justice and support for refugees? Are we constantly questioning the status quo, to avoid institutionalising bias, cultural stereotypes, and offensive attitudes? What levels of political pressure do we face in acting on our core values? Are the stories of what we are doing being told? Do we share our efforts and initiatives, to encourage and inspire others? When people think about who stands for refugees, and against racism, do they think of librarians? If not, why not? 

Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association
Librarians for Refugees