Activist Methods for Librarianship

Course Information

Instructor: Marshall Weber
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Mode: In-person
Dates: August 19–23, 2024
Tuition: $1200.00


This is five-day, 6 hour a day workshop on-site at Booklyn, Inc., 140 58th St., Building B, 7-G, Brooklyn  

Making the assumption that most librarians are already activists, this workshop will collectively explore methods to catalyze and/or meet public and student demands for current materials that model activist, creative, non-violent, direct action and political organizing methods. This complex pedagogical proposition will frame the class’s examination of the use of creative materials across disciplines especially those that address the topics of climate change, decolonization, economic inequity, and the resistance to the normalization and perpetuation of genocide, mass incarceration, gun and sexual violence.  

For four days the class will focus on topics that will be illuminated with materials from Booklyn’s collections of archives, artists’ books, ephemera, and zines. On the third the class day will be spent at the Interference Archive at 314 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215. 

Day 1, part a. If every home is on fire, then we are all firefighters. 

Introductions and a conversation about the concepts of activism and ‘passivism’ within the context of global events, librarianship and pedagogy.  

Day 1, part b. Artists’ Books to the Front 

Artists’ books are useful and effective aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual tools with which to introduce and engage students in both complex subjects and activism. We’ll look at some important artists’ books that have been used in numerous instruction settings and as primary research material across disciplines.  

Day 2, Prioritizing the collection and dissemination of current political ephemera. 

Street protests, independent print media, and social media campaigns form a crucial and intersecting part of activist strategies. These social movements are often directed by students and youth, so how do we honor and support and assist youth movements in honing their skills in order to make their campaigns more impactful? These campaigns also produce both digital and physical material that need to be both collected and conserved. We’ll also explore how every academic and public library can be a depository and programming space for local organizing, educational, political and protest materials. 

Day 3, Community Archives, living archives, and activist archives 

We’ll look at different ways to use contemporary archives in the classroom, library and in other research and exhibition spaces, as well as partnering with local, national and international groups and organizations on archival preservation and access. We’ll consider examples of how we can or have activated our own academic, personal, and professional networks to take on public stances on social issues or to provide mutual aid to our communities. 

This class will be held at the Interference Archive in Brooklyn, 314 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215. 

Day 4, Zines and artists publications 

We’ll start with an anarchist critique about the institutional appropriation of the communal and communitarian origins of zines and continue to explore ways in which community centered publications can be effective educational, empowerment, and organizing tools. We’ll also discuss how every library can also be a zine access and publication center. We’ll look at a lot of zines, please bring in your favorites if you like. 

Day 5, Artists’ Books to the Front Again! 

We’ll do an overview and evaluation of the class, share our resources, and our ideas of how to move forward and look at a very diverse selection of artists’ books and ephemera that will support (and expand upon) the concepts explored in the previous four days. 





Completion of this course helps to meet requirements for one of the following certificate requirements:

  • 1 of 3 elective credit courses for Certificate in Rare Books and Manuscripts, or
  • 1 of 2 elective credit courses for Certificate in Librarianship, Activism, and Justice