Women and Youth Librarianship

On this the first day of Women's History month, the issues of gender and power are much on my mind.

Hi Miss Julie just wrote one of the most powerful posts I have read on the issue of the politics of this power and how woman are pushed towards silence. She turns a burning light on this in particular in her own life and then in relation to the world of children's work within librarianship.

This post links directly with her earlier post on recognition and youth work. For those in youth work who read this earlier post's comments section, it was stunning how utterly and completely some of the comments missed and blew past the point of her post. Dear Abby advice on how to "put yourself out there" wasn't where Julie's post was going. My read was she was calling out the larger world of librarianship for the disregard and disrespect for the marvelous and powerful work youth librarians are doing (although one commenter insisted that youth librarians don't really do anything innovative...oh, why yes, that *is* the sound of my teeth grinding).

There have been some ugly bullying of women bloggers, FBers and tweeters in the recent past - most swirl around the picayune-ness; the paltry-ness; the unimportance of our concerns - from Arcgate to our observations on how we appropriate cultural touchpoints. It's ok to provide book recommendations for another librarian's offspring but shut-up will you in the world of politics and opinion. Smile and be nice.

It is the subtle and not so subtle pushing women back and down - and in youth work, where our clientele is devalued because of their powerlessness in the larger society, we work under the burden of powerlessness by association in the eyes of some in our profession. Is it reflective of the larger society that so devalues women by insisting our little minds can't handle our own decisions on our lady parts? That continues to put roadblocks to upward mobility and insists that we need to be uber people that parent, work, achieve, clean, and look fetching and smile, smile , smile all the time? Um, yes.

The discussions on blogs and twitter have been painful and eye-opening. Here are some of the links that have particularly made me think deeply and know I - and many other women and youth library workers - are not entirely nuts in thinking "What the deuce is going on with our colleagues?" I thank Kelly Jensen and Sophie Brookover for some of these links.

Kelly over at Stacked
Kristin at Action Librarian
Ingrid at Magpie Librarian
Nicolas at information.games 
Jacob at Beerbrarian
Me (I know this is so self-regarding)

There are more posts out there on the issues of women and librarianship, power and gender. Please share and let's keep this conversation going. These are issues of long standing, my friends, and battles that have been going on since long before I was a SLIS student and young librarian decades ago (I'll share those stories another day). I am just discouraged that 40 years later, we see the same poor behaviors.

Gender matters. Being supportive matters. Making sure there is an interlocutor between brain and mouth or fingertips matters. Let's get started on supporting each other and celebrating the work we all do on behalf of varied clienteles. Nobody is better than anybody. We are all in this together. Like that.

Image: 'The Hidden Beauty!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/44345361@N06/5929570738 Found on flickrcc.net


  1. Thank you very much for the linkage but I'm Jacob, not Justin.

    1. Of course you are (head desk). Ok, I fixed it. That's 5am blogging for you. Sorry!

  2. I am in fantastic company. Thank you for this.

    1. You have been putting it out there and I got yer back!

  3. There are a group of us over on Twitter talking about leading a discussion forum in the Uncommons at Annual on this topic. If you want to help plan, email me (librariankate7578 at gmail dot com) and I will put you on the list.

  4. Every time you link to one of my posts, I have a Moment. Thank you -- I am SO looking forward to connecting with out within our own shared home state.

    1. It has been a pleasure getting to know you in internet-ville...and yep IRL is going to happen!