For years, libraries have presented themselves as neutral and apolitical spaces. But with the American Library Association's recent attempt to change the language in an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights to allow groups openly espousing hate speech equal access to public meetings rooms and with members of our communities - immigrants, women, people of color, and queer folk - feeling especially vulnerable in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, can libraries afford to stand on the sidelines? My guest, Alessandra Seiter, argues that libraries are - and always have been - inherently political institutions, and that it's time to abandon the myth of neutrality and acknowledge the role libraries and library workers play in helping to redress fundamental imbalances in society and improve the lives of those we claim to serve.
Alessandra Seiter is an MLIS candidate at Simmons College in Boston, Massachussets. Her paper, Libraries, Power, and Justice: Toward a Sociohistorically Informed Intellectual Freedom, won the Progressive Librarians Guild's 2018 Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize, and her piece in response to the American Library Association, "Libraries Can't Afford to Welcome Hate," appeared in the July 13, 2018 online edition of Socialist Worker.