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In Our Own Voices

Neely, Teresa Y. (Editor)
Abif, Khafre K. (Editor)

Scarecrow Pr
Published:December 28, 1995

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Description: From Library Journal
This volume is the result of a laudable idea: find 25 young librarians of diverse backgrounds to write about their experiences in entering the library profession. Since almost all the contributors who submitted their experiences to the editors via the Internet are people of color, the work was an intended benchmark on librarianship's commitment to "fairness and opportunity," how far we have come, how far we have yet to go. As editor Neely (who is pursing her Ph.D. degree in library science at the University of Pittsburgh) writes in her introduction, "if we step on some toes in the process, we've done our part." Of course, a good foot-stomping is valuable only insofar as it leads to new insights and points toward change. It is precisely here where the book fails to deliver. While many of the writers are full of youthful enthusiasm and passion, they tell us very little that cannot be found in many other works. After detailing his struggle to get through college and library school and enter reference work, a young Mexican American concludes that "my life has been the result of hard work, family support, and not giving up on myself." A documents reference librarian lists the many times she has been poorly treated because of her mixed racial background and concludes that, while "not bitter," she is "irritated and disappointed" with many she has dealt with while establishing herself in the profession. Who can argue with either conclusion? Who can find real inspiration in them either? A few of the essays may do more mischief than good. One librarian, a black man, remarks that he has experienced more discrimination for being male than being black and concludes that "you don't have to be a maidenly little old lady with glasses and a bun to be a librarian." Another complains that most of the help she has received in school and the workplace is the result of colleagues "using my minority status to prove they were doing something noble." Overall, the book is weak, its contributors too new to the profession to offer much insight to our troubled times. It would be interesting to wait 25 years and then ask some of these young men and women to rewrite their reminiscences. In the meantime, only large universities with library programs should consider adding this work to their collections.?Terry L. Shoptaugh, Moorhead State Univ. Lib., Minn.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description:
In Our Own Voices is a timely and intellectually stimulating collection of essays by twenty-five culturally diverse librarians who share their experiences in the transition from library school to library work. These librarians detail their introduction to librarianship, their encounters with racism in its many forms, and their desire to succeed in a profession that has not always lived up to its pledge of fairness and equal opportunity. They write about their experiences without rancor, and, in this way, provide new librarians with practical information and advice not always available to the contributors as they were choosing their career. Includes an appendix of ethnic and professional associations and library school programs for use in professional development and financial aid.

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