Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A few thoughts on the book : Progressive community action: critical theory and social justice in library and information science

Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information ScienceProgressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science by Bharat Mehra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because I was looking for existing work bringing together critical theory, social justice and libraries for a degree I am doing. I wanted to see the current state of writing in this area, and this book contributed very useful information. I had already read some other material by some of the contributors.

It is published by Library Juice Press. They do a great job bringing together complex ideas in a way which makes sense. I had to resort to buying my own copy because at present three libraries in Australia are listed as holding this title. My copy has post it notes and annotations as I needed to connect the ideas to help with my own planned research. One of the ideas which came through strongly was that libraries themselves can be a 'type of tool to further social justice' (p17).

Reading this was a good reminder that there is value in reading more theoretical material to help us understand the very practical work of libraries. This book helps explore assumptions, which is the point of critical theory.

This work provides many more writers to explore and also challenges the reader to apply critical theory to the library they work in.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Toil Inntinn - bilingual local studies

An Lanntair has launched a 3 year arts-based ‘Dementia Friendly Community’ project in the Western Isles, in partnership with Life Changes Trust. The project will engage with people who are living with dementia and those in their circle of care, as well as reaching out to the wider Western Isles community, with the intention of building a bi-lingual dementia friendly community that reflects the specific needs of the place and its people (from An Lanntair https://dfclanntair.wordpress.com/about/).

You can read more about the grant here.

Toil Inntinn
Showing the cover of Toil Inntinn

Toil Inntinn
Showing some of the text
This seems an important project which used bilingual information as part of dementia care, but also as part of recording local studies information.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A few thoughts on Archiving the unspeakable: silence, memory, and the photographic record in Cambodia by Michelle Caswell

Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory, and the Photographic Record in CambodiaArchiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory, and the Photographic Record in Cambodia by Michelle Caswell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is about the archive of photographs from the Tuol Sleng Prison in Cambodia. These are photographs of people who were killed by the Khmer Rouge. These photographs, while documenting most of the people from one prison, represent a small number of the total people killed during the time the Khmer Rouge were in power.

This book is a detailed exploration of these photographs, how they have been used, and occasionally misused, including one art book which seemed to ignore the fact that these were real people who had been killed. This book also investigated the power of documentation as the approximately 17,000 people killed in the Tuol Sleng Prison in Cambodia is a small percentage of all the deaths during the time of the Khmer Rouge, but because they are documented there is a focus on them. There is an interesting discussion of how they were used during a war crime trial, with Duch, the person on trial arguing that if the person had not been photographed he was not responsible for their death.

There is very interesting discussion about the importance of provenance in archival collections, including the reason for the records being created. In this context these photographs were taken as part of documenting prisoners, only seven people living to actually describe their experiences.

This is a very interesting, and disturbing book to read. The detailed exploration of why the photographs were created and the many ways they have been used provides ways for thinking about other archives, and their potential use. It also highlights the need to collect a range of resources.

This is a useful book to read to think about the social justice implications of archives, and other historical collections such as local studies collections in public libraries as it really encouraged thinking about who is included and who is excluded.

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