Category Archives: London Collective

Statement of RLC’s solidarity with Leicester Square School of English

The Radical Librarians Collective would like to send out fullest solidarity to the workers at the Leicester Square School of English. The owner, Craig Tallents, closed down the school without notice, owing staff thousands of pounds in unpaid wages.

On top of this, LSSE management literally left students out in the cold. Having not been told of the school’s decision to close, newly arrived international students came to the school on Monday morning, having already paid for and been promised accommodation that LSSE management knew they would no longer be in a position to provide. Luckily, occupying teachers were their to help them out, but LSSE management were perfectly happy to leave these vulnerable students stranded in central London.

In response to these injustices, staff occupied the school and have organised a campaign to secure their rightful wages. So far, they caused the owner, Craig Tallents, to resign from the posh Bancroft’s School and have caused him to take down the website of his company, Asparagus Management Consulting.


Journal of Radical Librarianship

An open access academic journal, created after discussions at the Radical Librarians Collective meetings, has now been launched. Here’s the call for papers:

Journal of Radical Librarianship is now open for submissions.

Journal of Radical Librarianship is an open access journal publishing high quality, rigorously reviewed and innovative scholarly work in the field of radical librarianship. It also publishes non-peer-reviewed commentary and reviews. The scope of the journal is any work that contributes to a discourse around critical library and information theory and practice. We are inviting article submissions on any topic which is related to this area.

The journal publishes on an ongoing basis, so you may submit articles at any time. Visit our Submissions page for further details.’

Join the Radical Librarians Collective mailing list

Radical Librarians Collective now have a mailing list.

The list is for anyone involved with or interested in RLC, and exists to develop ideas, facilitate discussion, stay up to date, and maintain contact between those supportive of RLC’s aims. In short it’s for discussion and announcements.

How to join

The RLC-DISCUSS list is on JiscMail. This is a private list, which means only list members can email the list and that list archives are not publicly available.


In using Jiscmail, you agree to the JiscMail service policies. To this we add that the RLC Safe Spaces policy applies to the mailing list as much as it does to RLC events.

We know we may need additional policies specifically for the list. If so we will develop these by consensus in consultation with RLC as a whole.


JiscMail lists have owners who administer them. For RLC-DISCUSS this is Anna Brynolf and Andrew Preater, you can contact us at:

Can RLC help support HE in refugee camps?

Dr. Gül İnanç from Nanyang Technological University is looking to design HE programmes for refugees. Please read these slides for further information on the back ground to the project

However, so for the role of librarians has been omitted from the discussion, and I see a great opportunity for RLC  to contribute…Basically, we reckon we can offer the sorts of things many of us do, but for refugees. Sounds good, right?

A few emails later, Gül has asked “how Radical Librarians can contribute to [planned] online courses, which will be designed for the refugee students.” This will be discussed at the SNIS Workshop ( in Geneva on the 24th of Nov.

I imagine some technical/infrastructure possibilities in terms of LibraryBox (although if the courses are online, possibly not… that might need some clarification, but a possibility?) , Critical Information Literacy, OA/information sources etc. Indeed, I recognize the limited information about infrastracture may make this difficult to form concrete ideas, but we may be able to help frame this if we can think of necessary tools etc.

So, how can we support Higher Education for refugees? Do you have presentations that could be used as a basis for the project, then modified as appropriate? Can you think how you of opportunities for learners in this context? Please feel free to chuck your ideas in and discuss in the comments here.

A statement against all forms of oppression and in direct support of #TeamHarpy

Sadly, even in 2014, manipulative behaviour by those in dominant positions of power continue to occur. Earlier in the year, several cases of men exerting pressure on women emerged from the vlogging community, and there is evidence from within the library and information profession that oppressive practices occur in our professional spheres.

However uncomfortable these revelations have been for us as a community, it is important that we can freely challenge, critique, and debate such behaviours. Radical Librarians Collective strongly believes that this is the way a resilient and supportive community can evolve towards true equality, and this cannot be achieved reactively. Radical Librarians Collective believes in creating and propagating safe spaces by consciously examining our relative positions of power.

We believe that the lawsuit launched by Joe Murphy against Lisa Rabey and nina de jesus  sets a dangerous precedent of hampering open discussion of such issues. Litigation will put many more women at risk and will alienate those whose voices vitally need to be heard in order to ensure safe spaces. Abuse in itself occurs under domination. Stripping victims of their means of defence amounts to victim-shaming, and that is the message that this litigation sends.

We therefore issue our full support for #TeamHarpy. Litigation in the face of allegations of sexual harassment is an assault on the rights and freedoms of women. We urge that this action be halted and, furthermore, that all conferences and gatherings within the profession provide a strict safe space policy that is stringent and binding to all who attend. Safe space policies must be articulated and consciously accepted by all members present. Anything less amounts to complacency, and allows only the loudest voices to be heard. A recommended policy can be found here, and the Radical Librarians Collective have effectively used this for our own previous meetings.

No matter the setting, everyone should feel not only able to voice concerns about harassment in all its forms, but to expect that such concerns are tackled head on rather than ignored or overlooked.

Radical Librarians Collective 22/09/2014



Radical Librarian Collective in London – What Now?

RLC in London

We would like to thank you all for a most fantastic day at LARC last Saturday. Thank you for your participation, your ideas and conversations. We feel very optimistic that good things will come from this.

If you have blogged about the day, please send/tweet us the link (Lauren Smith is writing some excellent pieces about the day here). If you would like to write something for this blog, just let us know and we’ll put it up. We’ll also put up photos and anything else from the day so send them in if you’d like to share.

With many thanks to Sara, the various mind-maps and notes from the day have been digitised and are available as follows:

Tweets and discussion from the day can also be found on the Storify we created here.

Local RLC Groups

There was a will in the plenary session to look at the creation of localised groups (LOCALISM FTW!) that would meet up, arrange similar events locally and help to establish networks of like-minded radical librarian folk across the country. Some preliminary discussions and organisation are beginning emerge, with local networks beginning to organise themselves in the north east, south west and south east. We want to facilitate this as much as possible, so if you are interested in either beginning to organise a group or wish to be involved in one, get in touch and we will do our best to connect you with others. The key to all these groups is to stay true to the ethos of the ethos of the first Radical Librarians Collective gathering in Bradford (and subsequently in London). In other words, they must be radical, open and horizontalist; they just reflect a rejection of the marketisation of libraries and the profession; must adhere to a safe space policy and must avoid any form of sponsorship (no “This event is brought to you courtesy of [insert name of faceless corporate entity or professional body here]” please!).

Aside from putting you in contact with emerging local groups, please do feel free to contact us if you require any advice/support/guidance etc and we will do our best to help out.


The Wiki

Related to the above, if you wish to build on some of the things discussed at the gathering, create projects collectively etc, don’t forget to make use of our Projects wiki (see here for information). There are already some interesting ideas being developed there so do request membership and get involved.

Obligatory non-capitalist financial information section

We paid for the venue with the remainder of the donations from the Bradford RLC: £80 (£40 venue hire + £40 donation – LARC are always struggling financially so we wanted to contribute more to the frankly low venue cost).

Donations on the day totalled £175 which covered lunch from Shambhu‘s plus a small extra donation to LARC (£15).


If not now, when? If not you, who?

Research at the Radical Librarians Collective in London

We received the following request via one of the delegates for the gathering on Saturday. If you are uncomfortable with being observed for research on the day, please approach one of the organisers or Katherine in person so that we are aware of your concerns. The priority is to ensure that everyone is able to attend whichever session they wish without being made to feel uncomfortable. To that end, Katherine has agreed not to conduct any observations in sessions where people have made it clear they are uncomfortable with her doing so. We will reinforce this once more on the day.

The Radical Librarians Collective

Hi! I’m an MA student studying Librarianship at the University of Sheffield doing research on the effects of marketisation in UK HE libraries. I’m really interested in engaging in the attempts that are being made to counter these trends by groups such as RLC.

My working title is “Resisting Neo-Liberalism: The challenge of activist librarianship in the UK HE context.”

As well as carrying out semi-structured interviews with a variety of library workers and academics in the future, I would also like to carry out some unintrustive observations at RLC on Saturday, and therefore would like to let you all know of my plans, so that you opt out if you aren’t comfortable!

–          In accordance with the University’s Research Ethics Policies, these observations would not encroach on the privacy of any individuals and no individuals would be identifiable from my observations. I will not use anyone’s names or place of work (unless anyone would really like to be named!) but rather will be anonymising names to categories when it comes to interpreting the data. Rather than using individual pseudonyms, by anonymising to categories (eg. subject librarian, library assistant etc) there is no risk of it being possible for readers to link up quotations to ascertain who might have said what. With categories, several individuals’ quotes will be scrambled up together, so your confidentiality is guaranteed.

–          I am happy to make myself known as a student researcher (as well as aspiring radical librarian!) at the start of the camp, and to give people the opportunity to refuse consenting to being included in any observations. If anyone has any problems with my presence at any of the workshops, I’ll go to a different one so as not to inconvenience their enjoyment of the day.

–          Observations will be mainly noting down the events of the day, workshops/speeches delivered, and pertinent contributions and discussions.

–          Data may be collected via voice recording on a Dictaphone, (if I can get hold of one/a smart phone before Saturday…) or through observations noted by hand.

–          Following collection, all paper copies will be kept in a secure locked room and data held digitally will be saved on a password protected university drive, password protected laptop hard drive, and backed up on a usb which will also be kept in a secure locked room.

–          Data will not be shared with third parties and any reuse will only be by me for future research.

I would be happy to provide additional information on my research if you would like, as well as the results of my research once it’s completed.

I also just want to reiterate that I have chosen this to be my topic of research because it’s something that concerns and excites me, and I don’t consider myself an outsider observing RLC proceedings, but rather as a contributor. With that in mind I really hope nobody feels uncomfortable by my observations, and would be happy to chat to anyone who might have concerns!

Cheers, and see you Saturday!



Two days until the Radical Librarian Collective hits London

With just two days to go until RLC at LARC, here’s some last minute information.

The day starts at 10am with the first half hour for pitches and general information. If you can, aim to arrive before 10am so you’ve got time to get a cup of tea or coffee before we get going. The sessions start at 10.30am sharp.

Preliminary itinerary

We’re expecting people to pitch sessions at 10am but there’s still time to pitch in advance.

The after event social will be a donations bar at LARC where we’ll mingle, carry forward exciting discussions from the day, and have fun! This starts pretty much as soon as the sessions finish, but you’ll have a chance to pop for some fresh air and to get some food. There are plenty of food options in the local area and we’ll have information about this on the day.

The social will be open for non-RLC attendees as well, so feel free to invite your library friends.

If you have any questions at all, please get in touch, and also take a look at:





See you on Saturday!

Radical Librarian Collective in London…two weeks to go

The clock is ticking down to the next Radical Librarian gathering, we’re looking forward to some interesting and stimulating discussion on the day and hope you are too. There are a few things we thought it would be worth reminding you of as the day gets ever nearer:

  • Most importantly, if you either know now that you cannot make it, or you find out between now and the day, please release your ticket as soon as possible. You can do this by contacting us via email or by following the instructions on Eventbrite. The waiting list has been building up and we want to ensure as many people as possible can make it so, if you can’t, it would  be great if you could make your ticket available to the next person in the queue.
  • Although you can pitch your sessions on the day (there is no obligation to do so beforehand!), it would be great if you could pitch your session in advance to get people interested and to help with the running of the day. Head to the pitches page and throw in your ideas (no matter how half-formed – it only need be a nugget of an idea, not something fully formed!).
  • If you have difficulties with travel and accommodation, please feel free to use the space on the wiki to make arrangements!
  • Aside from the above, if you are interested in writing something of a radical nature for this blog, regardless of whether you are coming to the gathering in London or not, please do get in touch.

No doubt there will be more communiqués between now and the day itself so stay tuned!

Radicalising the library professional route…

The following is a guest post by Ian Clark fleshing out the motivations behind his pitch and setting out the areas he is interested in discussing. If you would like to expand on your pitch or if you would like to contribute a more general guest post, please contact radicallibs[at]

For some time now, I’ve been interested in the more political aspects of the profession and how they can be brought to the fore a bit more. From my perspective, the profession in which we work is inherently political. Everything about what we do is political, particularly when we live in an era where information is repackaged as a ‘commodity’ that has a price. Under such conditions, how can we consider ourselves anything other than political?

To my mind, however, there are many aspects of the profession that do not reflect this central political element. The degree, the professional body, the institution of the library. We are rapidly, in my opinion, undergoing a process of depoliticisation. This, for me, is a dangerous proposition. As the belief that information is a commodity continues to grow, our rapid depoliticisation removes any obstacle in the way of a very neoliberal conceit. I would argue that in the face of the neoliberal assault, a process of radical politicisation is not only desirable, it is essential.

This process of radical politicisation must begin in our universities. As has been repeatedly argued, there is something missing from our library qualifications. There is not, I think, enough emphasis placed on the political aspects of our profession. We are not schooled to understand the political environment in which we exist. We are not appropriately equipped to comprehend the political and cultural battles that are being waged around us, let alone how to respond. The result is that, as a profession, we find ourselves acquiescing to the destructive ideologies that run counter to our own ethical beliefs. But how do we tackle this? How can we engender the changes we desire when universities themselves have capitulated in the face of the ideological assault? What actions should we, as professionals, take to ensure that future LIS graduates are properly equipped to deal with the political challenges we face?

Then there is the professional body. I have written about this several times before and I continue to believe that it needs to open itself up more to its members, become more transparent, more democratic and be led by its members, not from the centre. As I wrote for InfoToday Europe last year:

“It should ensure all meetings are recorded and publicly accessible, publications should be open access by default and all decision making processes should be transparent and engage with the membership. In an age of rapid communication, organisations should be member led rather than led from the centre. The internet provides an important opportunity for such professional organisations to open themselves up and allow the membership to lead on the direction it is to take. The information profession should be bold and radical in seeking out ways to embrace the new landscape and incorporate it into its structures.”

So what would a radical professional body look like? If we were to create a radical professional body right now, what would it do? How would it be structured? What exactly is the radical alternative? How would it differ from bodies such as CILIP and the SLA? Is an alternative even desirable?

And then there are the libraries themselves. Are they not rather conservative in nature? Aren’t the solutions that are offered to create a “21st century library service” rather conservative? Maybe we could offer something different, something radical, a more co-operative approach to the delivery of library services? Something that is a true partnership between the user and professionals. Is there anything we can learn from, for example, the higher education co-operative of the University of Mondragon? If we can democratise the institution of the library, perhaps it is possible to create a true alternative to the conservative models adopted and advocated. Is it possible, within the hierarchical structures in which libraries reside, to create something where the hierarchy is significantly flattened? And if it is not possible within the overarching hierarchical structure, how can we best tackle and challenge this to create something democratic, co-operative and radical?

Ultimately, I would like to explore the alternatives and see how it would be possible to construct an alternative path for the profession in general and the institution of the library. This may, of course, have overlaps with other sessions attendees may wish to propose, in which case I would happy to cede to others or to find ways to accommodate similar themes into a single session.