What’s information got to go with it? (editorial)

Bossaller, Jenny (2011) What’s information got to go with it? (editorial). Information, society and justice journal, 4 (2). pp. 1-3. ISSN 1756-1078


The call for papers for this issue referenced the Arab Spring as an example of what happens when people come together to overthrow an oppressive regime. As 2011 comes to a close, it seems that the entire world is fighting something - but what can we truly name as a success? At the time of this writing, we have seen governments overthrown in Egypt, Tunisia, and there have only been partial (if that) resolutions to the problems in the Middle East - violent eruptions have occurred periodically since the Arab Spring and true democracy isn‘t yet in place. Around the world, the Occupy Movement is fully underway, illustrating the breadth of the struggle against the capitalist machine that separates the 1% from the 99% - the very small number of haves against the languishing middle and lower classes. It seems that democracy is elusive around the world, even as people who turn a blind
eye to the realities of the poor celebrate its triumph. This issue is the result of an international exchange that occurred last summer, when Melanie Brooks and I took twelve students from the University of Missouri to England and Scotland to visit libraries and learn how libraries in the United Kingdom are working with, and for, social change in the midst of an economic crisis. One focus of the trip was social justice, specifically related to libraries and information work. Class readings covered social change in both the British and U.S. contexts. We were fortunate to be able to talk to librarians who had participated in the Quality Leaders Project - Skills for a Globalised World: Relevant Skills for Public Library Staff at the Barking Learning Centre. We participated in a workshop led by John Vincent and Anne Harding, and visited several other libraries that had won CILIP‘s Libraries Change Lives Award. In the end, though, what affected the students most deeply wasn‘t planned; the riots that erupted in the boroughs of London while we were there explicitly addressed the concepts of social exclusion in British society that we had been reading about. We moved out of London and watched buildings burn on TV for the next several nights, from our rooms in Leeds, Edinburgh, and York. The riots, spurred by anger about inequalities and cultural differences, rattled our nerves and provided food for thought that we hadn‘t anticipated.

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