Well, I’m back from my residency at the Roberts Street Social Centre. Basically, I spent the last two weeks starting a series of zines dedicated to the notion that information literacy can be freeing, engaging, and radical. The Curiositer is a mini-zine where each issue addresses some aspect of research, whether it is how information is organized or simply how to get started. Each issue will also be posted here, for you to print on yer own. If you read ‘em, I’d love to hear what you think. It is a place for me to sort out some thoughts about research, what I can share with my community as a librarian, and the olde “information environment” we all swim around in.
In addition to making the first four issues of the Curiositer, I browsed and read zines from the Anchor Archives. I taught an info lit session about doing research using print sources. (It’s super fun to do library instruction to people who 100% have chosen to be there; who are drinking beer; who are doing research on topics that they really care about for projects that are completely intrinsically motivated.) I met a lot of librarians and non-librarians, and got to talk about the limitations of search engines, the thrills of serendipity, and what to do when you get stuck. I made plans to make a compilation zine about librarians who date other librarians (so start thinking about what you want to write for that). I got to fangirl about the Anchor Archives’ awesome subject thesaurus with its architect. I thought a lot about how I teach lifelong learning skills as if they only matter for a college assignment. I went to the annual Free School in Tatemagouche and learned about consent and non-violent communication, and thought about the pedagogy we use to teach self-selecting students compared to in traditional schools.
Unlike going to a conference or a workshop, where my aim is generally to absorb as much of someone else’s wisdom as I can in a short period, this time was dedicated to exploring a single creative, educational project of my own design. I don’t remember the last time that I found myself accidentally working on a single piece for 10 hours, forgetting to eat — let alone having several days in a row to dedicate to a project like that. I know it is cheesy, but that time was a gift. One of my goals moving forward is to create mini-blocks of time for these projects. The thoughts I got to think also helped me refresh for other projects: I owe some of y’all some emails, and please expect them to start coming soon.
Mostly, I am glad that I took the chance to fill out an application — I don’t consider myself an artist, so I’d never thought about doing an artist’s residency before, but knowing about the Anchor Archive zine library inspired me to think creatively. Also, I’m not the first (or last!) zine librarian to do a residency — the resident directly after me is Erin Fae, of the Alphabet City Zine Library in New Zealand. So, thanks to the AWESOME folks at Roberts Street for supporting my project, and to MPOW for giving me the time off, and specifically to my colleagues for not throttling me for missing the first two weeks of classes.
TL;DR - Find a way to work on slow-simmering projects, the ones that don’t have a clear outcome. Look in unexpected places and seek support from your communities in order to TCB.