Abolitionist De-Escalation and the Library is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.
Presenter: Katy Anastasi
Track: Academic Library
As calls for abolishing the police gain momentum in the United States, academic libraries and library workers are confronted with our own relationship(s) to white supremacy, racist policing, and the prison-industrial complex (PIC).
Without awareness of police violence, deescalation tactics, and alternatives to policing, library workers may feel that dishing off an issue in the library to armed security or police is the safest or easiest option (or, even, a policy). Increasing the presence of officers with lethal weapons and track records of racist, sexist, and ableist violence, however, can further endanger the lives of many library patrons and staff — and especially our Black and disabled community members.
The grassroots abolitionist organization Critical Resistance reminds us that PIC abolitionists strive to “create lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.” Abolitionists call for investing in community-based systems of care, support, safety, and accountability. As most libraries remain physically closed due to COVID-19 while local police and federal officers brutalize Black Lives Matter protesters across the country, I argue that libraries have not only the opportunity, but also the responsibility, to take steps towards eliminating our complicity in the PIC.
Drawing from my experience as a new-to-the-field, part-time reference librarian, my presentation explores PIC abolition and deescalation as they relate to libraries. Grounded in an abolitionist framework, I propose possible steps and resources for library workers interested in joining the movement to abolish policing as we know it and, together, build a safer and more just world.
- Video recording of the presentation “Abolitionist De-escalation & the Library”
- Transcript of “Abolitionist De-escalation & the Library”
- Collaborative Google Doc ” Abolitionist de-escalation resources for library workers: a starting point”
About the Presenter: Katy Anastasi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an academic librarian and advocate of open educational resources (OER). She most recently worked at Portland State University as a part-time Reference Librarian and OER Publishing Assistant. In 2019, she graduated from the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) at Queens College, CUNY. During her time as a CUNY student, she also worked as an Adjunct Librarian and OER Fellow at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). Katy is a weaving novice, a seasoned basketball player, and a fiction-lover. She will join Clark College as a Reference & Instruction Librarian in September 2020.