Feminism and Librarianism

While I was researching articles about museums and libraries (and museum libraries/art libraries), I came across an article called Library Feminism and Library Women’s History: Activism and Scholarship, Equity and Culture. I have been enjoying the independent article search for my foundations course because of articles such as this one which focuses on the status of women and the place of women in libraries and library history.  Not only have women suffered second class treatment and status in other professions, but also in libraries.  Men were often chosen for higher up positions, despite their lack of qualifications and education.  The common misconception is that women and men were equal in librarianship in America though there are few acknowledgments of women in the history of libraries until about the 60’s, with the rebirth of feminism and a spotlight on equality.

I was pleased to learn about the ALA’s Feminine Task Force (FTF) which formed in 1970, the independent Women Library Workers (WLW) founded in 1975, and a couple other organizations, publications and efforts by the professional organization (ALA).  There were also several women around this time who challenged the claims and accusations that existed prior to the 60’s.  The history of women in libraries was finally being written.  Despite the reform that was happening, women were still blamed for the low status and low salaries of (female) librarians.

As the 80’s progressed, so did women’s library history.  However, in the 90’s there was a decline in activism within librarianship.  The organizations that were so active in the 60’s and 70’s were far less active in the 90’s.  “Blame the women” resurfaced.

History is still being written, with an emphasis on the differences between the leadership of men and women.  In our class we discussed the lack of diversity that has played a part in libraries throughout history and this issue has become more prevalent.  I do remember reading about THIS issue in our book (briefly), but I hadn’t thought about feminism and the issues involving women in librarianship.   It’s an interesting thing to think about and something I would like to explore more readings about in the future.

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