Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Fighting Back: Submit your stories of “Inclusive Creativity” to the 2017 Library as Incubator Project

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We at believe libraries are a place to connect and create.

Since we launched in 2011, the Library as Incubator Project has worked to share inspiring stories of how libraries can bring communities together around the shared experience and practice of creativity– whether through formal arts or craft programs, makerspaces, or free exhibitions and performances. We put no limits on who may connect or what they may create together when we seek these stories; in fact, we believe the library is one of the last truly democratic spaces in America, where every person, regardless of race, gender, class, or any other identifier, is welcome to learn and participate in the intellectual life of their communities in the spirit of ongoing education and exploration. 
We are frustrated and scared by the results of the 2016 election and the way in which the President Elect’s racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and misogynist rhetoric, as well as that of his appointments, has galvanized hate groups and bigots, empowering those who harass and assault their fellow Americans to see their actions as warranted and just.  We are also deeply worried about impending policy changes that will erode the rights of women and marginalized groups to be at liberty to pursue their passions and ideas equitably, to exercise their right to vote, to be compensated for their work, and to be in charge of their own bodies and minds.

We are a small group (three of us build, maintain, and run the Library as Incubator website and our social media channels as an ongoing volunteer project), but we are committed to using the tools we have to do everything we can to fight back against this disturbing trend.

 In the past, we have made editorial commitments in order to explore and more fully represent certain projects on our site, in addition to our regularly-scheduled features. The goal with these initiatives is always to make the Incubator more inclusive and useful for everyone. In 2016, for example, we made a goal of connecting with more academic librarians in order to share how they use the Library-as-Incubator concept to support student learning and curricula on their campuses. Because of that focus, we have been able to share remarkable stories this year, from Temple University Libraries, North Carolina Wesleyan College‘s Pearsall Library, The University of Minnesota, and others. This not only helped us add more stories from an underrepresented library type on our site, but it also encouraged other academic librarians to get in touch, because they saw academic stories included. 

The moral of the story is representation matters. And we can make a difference.

To that end, we are formally announcing our 2017 Editorial Focus on “Inclusive Creativity.” This post is a formal call for submissions about library/arts programs that respond to the following criteria:  
  • We want to see features that highlight creativity, art, performance, and making in the library space, or through library sponsorship, support, and partnership. 
  • We want to see programs and initiatives with a clear goal of engaging, supporting, and unifying marginalized groups that are in danger post-election. These groups include but are not limited to: queer communities, POC communities, non-Christian communities, immigrant communities, and women.
  • We want to see artist features and program submissions from artists, librarians, and other community organizers who identify as a member of a marginalized group. 
  • We want features with faces that are diverse and impacts that aim toward social justice, inclusivity, education, and tolerance.  
We have proof that we can influence how our readers think of the library-as-incubator concept and what it means to support creativity in the library space simply by highlighting certain stories.  We recognize that this is a huge responsibility, and we believe an editorial focus on Inclusive Creativity is the right way to use the reach and the weight of the Incubator for the greater good.  That said, we want to make clear that this initiative does not discount other submissions or stories from our site; the intention is to deepen our offerings and encourage librarians and artists to work together to build strong, inclusive communities one small, creative step at a time. 
We welcome your comments and ideas.  Please see our submission guidelines to share your stories of Inclusive Creativity today. 
In solidarity, 
Erinn, Laura, and Holly. 

from Library as Incubator Project

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