Libraries are a place where people come together. They are gathering spaces, hang out spots, safe places, and fun areas. Many things take place in a library on any given day. The one thing that all libraries have in common is that they all provide access to information. Right now our country is going through a very new, and sometimes trying time. One of the most common motifs we see in today’s news are protests. Protests and libraries have a very long and complicated history, and chances are, a few of your patrons have been involved in a protest or two. I think a service that all libraries can offer is information on how to protest safely. A very simple and easy way to do this would to be to put together a display board of simple tips and tricks with a few simple steps on how people can stay safe while protesting. Here are a few bits of information that can be incorporated into a visual display with the following information:
Know Your Rights
It is important for your patrons to know that they have certain rights when they are at a protest. Along with their First Amendment right to protest, they are allowed to demonstrate in public forums such as streets, sidewalks and parks as long as they are not blocking traffic. Permit are not required to protest in response to a recent event. Protesters are also allowed to distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks without a permit. Photographing and videotaping police officers is also within their rights.
Make A Plan
Protestors should not go to a demonstration unprepared. A few helpful tips for making a plan include carrying your ID and any medication you may need. Identification is important in case your patrons get detained, and it makes it easier to prove that they are who they say they are. They should also bring any medication they may need just in case of a medical emergency because it’s better to be over prepared than to be under prepared. Another really important item to bring to a protest is one so common that many people often overlook it: a physical map. Libraries can further help this by providing free maps to their patrons, or durable ones that are able to circulate. Maps not only help with being oriented, but they also help patrons make a better plan on where they should go when protesting and on where to meet up in case they get separated from their protest groups.
Take Care of Yourself and Those Around You
Libraries are all about service. Reminding our patrons to go above and beyond their duty is just another perk of the job, and showing them ways they can take care of themselves and others while out protesting is helpful to all parties involved. Packing a first aid kit and a water bottle when going to a protest (or any other event) is smart. The library can encourage this by hosting a “Make Your Own First Aid Kit” program for adults and children alike. Protests can sometimes turn into sticky situations so it’s very helpful to remind your patrons to prepare for anything, including injuries and staying hydrated.
Putting all of these tips and tricks on a nice display board is a quick way to be helpful to your patrons who may be involved in more hands on activism. There are so many protests happening around the country currently that it is almost a disservice to not teach people how to act and stay safe at them. Our librarian users come from all walks of life, and our job is to provide service to those who will use them. If only one of our patron’s benefits from this information, then I would call that a success. Other options that could supplement this visual display board could be a list of books users can check out if they want more scholarly knowledge on the subject. I would recommend A people’s history of riots, protest and the law: the sound of the crowd by Matt Clement and 33 revolutions per minute: a history of protest songs, from Billie Holiday to Greenday by Dorian Lynskey. And of course, all other ideas are welcome, please feel free to mention them in the comments. And remember to stay safe out there!
S. (2017, September 15). DIY Dollar Store First Aid Kit. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://preparednessmama.com/diy-dollar-store-first-aid-kit/
Know Your Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://aclu-co.org/know-your-rights/Know Your Rights: Demonstration and Protests [Pamphlet]. (2016). ACLU.
Protect your protest. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://right-to-protest.org/protect-your-protest/
Warner, C. (2017, September 11). How To Stay Safe At A Protest By Planning Ahead. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-stay-safe-at-a-protest-by-planning-ahead-76212