Tell Me So: Riot Grrrl Library Manifesto

Last year my archivist friend Marie Selavy and I co-wrote a manifesto of feminist librarians inspired by the Riot Grrrl Manifesto.  It was published in the amazing punk feminist zine International Girl Gang Underground co-edited by Kate Wadkins and Stacy Konkiel. It’s been awhile since Marie and I wrote the manifesto, but I wanted to post it on my blog, as well as encourage you to check out International Girl Gang Underground- I’ve read my copy so much that it’s quite tattered. We titled it “Tell Me So” after a Bikini Kill song.

  • Because we not only shush, but shut up and listen
  • Because Hypatia of Alexandria died for her brilliance, Jeannette Howard Foster midwifed queer studies, and Audre Lorde shaped our feminist consciousness
  • Because we still hate capitalism and want to connect people seeking to dismantle it with the information they need to achieve this goal
  • Because you bet yr sweet ass we were the first against the wall when the government came looking for yr information, and we’d put our jobs on the line again for yr privacy and freedom
  • Because librarians love authors, artists, musicians, and performers and want their artistic legacy to grow, spread, and inspire the masses
  • Because this profession is still dominated by straight, middle/upper class white women & we need library staff to better reflect the demographics of the people they serve
  • Because we remember the lonely, scared, anxious, passionate, angry, loving children and teens we once were, and we know the books that inspired us to “keep on, keep on living,” and want to share them with a new generation
  • Because as long as there are people out there who try to ban books we are needed to defend yr intellectual freedom
  • Because when libraries team up with nonprofit support systems and social services to serve our communities, we are even stronger
  •  Because populations like homeless people and prisoners are often ignored (even though they are as entitled to library services as anybody else)
  • Because we support open information access & want our papers & zines & art, etc. in open archives where anyone can access them
  • Because we want to harness the incredible potential of the internet while maintaining a safe community and spirit of integrity
  •  Because we forgive but won’t forget the sins and omissions of feminist movements before us, and strive to be inclusive, democratic, giving, and receptive as we move forward with a class-conscious, transnational feminist agenda
  • Because we discovered Riot Grrrl, anarchy, Operation Beautiful, culture jamming, class wars, peaceful protests, political art, herbal medicine, alternative education and subversive literature in the stacks
  • Because we are storytellers with a wreath of children at our feet, taking the old kyriarchal[1] narratives and turning them on their heads with lush, new inspiring tales
  • Because we are the human face in an increasingly corporate higher education system, with a hand and a heart and database access for struggling students and exhausted professors
  • Because we believe that librarians can play a vital role in changing the world for real

[1] The term kyriarchy was coined by feminist theologian Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza to describe all systems of hierarchy in which people interact as the oppressor and oppressed


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