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Information for Social Change

Information for Social Change

"an activist organisation that examines issues of censorship, freedom and ethics amongst library and information workers..."
 

ISC 17. Activism & Archivist

Martyn Lowe

A few personal notes about just why I find it difficult to take an objective view upon this area of work.

Just yesterday I was talking to someone who is doing her doctorate upon a couple of people I knew and someone that I see from time to time.

This is something that is not new as an experience to me.

Just spend enough time within radical circles, or engage in activist activities, and you too can have the same kind of thing happen to you.

Be involved within any organisation for too long, & you too will find that many enquires about the organisation, or the people that were involved within it, are passed your way.

Today it is 17 years since I first become a volunteer within the International secretariat of the War Resisters International (WRI).

So increasingly I tend to be the one that enquires about the history of WRI are initially directed towards.

Now I can live with this, but it makes me increasingly realise that I really should get around to doing some oral history.

I am planning to engage upon this within the next half year. In part this is because of a realisation that I should do it at some stage, but by doing it now, then I can get on with the rest of my life, without feeling that it is how I'll have to spend my old age.

In any case - There is a lot of other things that I want to do in the future, & so I should clear things up so that I am able to get on with something new.

At least I have managed to keep my personal archives in order, & so that is something that I don't have to worry about.

So that's the background for you.

But - - -

there is a concept within the library world that the provision of information by librarians & information workers should be neutral.

Something that I take as essential to the work of those of us who work within Public Libraries.

Yet there is a double think to this. If I am ever to be asked to provide information about people I know or knew, then is it ever possible to provide neutral information?

For Example.

I'll give you an example of how this works for me.

From 1968 to 1972 I worked within a theatrical costumiers, which provided the costumes of the first Monty Python series.

Thus if I ever get asked about any aspects to the above, then it becomes very difficult for me to be neutral without some kind of personal background being added.

likewise - I knew the singer Alex Harvey. - So - Ditto.

So here is my question for you all.

Do any of the readers of ISC find that they sometimes land up within the same situation, & how do they deal with it ?

I would be interested in hearing from them.

Martyn Lowe

December 15th 2002

"I am an Anarchist not because I believe Anarchism is the final goal, but because there is no such thing as a final goal." - Rudolf Rocker, The London Years

 

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