Thoughts on Radical Reference

If you haven’t heard of Radical Reference, it’s a group of librarians dedicated to providing information and supporting social justice. The thing that appeals most to me about the organization is the event-based work they do. The whole thing started with the 2004 Republican National Convention, where a group of librarians provided assistance to demonstrators (you can read more on their ‘about’ page).

I can just imagine being at a big group gathering, providing any information I can to whomever walks up to me. I suppose one interpretation of the ‘radical reference’ term is that it’s no-holds-barred, street reference. I figured the librarians would have to do some research beforehand to be as well-versed as possible, then use their wits to answer questions. Perhaps they could be in cell-phone connection to people at home in front of computers to answer more detailed questions.

Yesterday it occurred to me that with an iPhone, I can provide answers to practically any reference question, on the fly. The thought gave me (good) chills.

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