Hacking the Stacks—Using Virgo’s Purchase Request as an Engine of Social Change

In the wake of last summer’s white supremacist torchlight demonstration on the Lawn and the deadly “Unite the Right” rally, the Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation (CSCL) came together to publish the Charlottesville Syllabus—an alternative media platform they hope will “educate readers about the long history of white supremacy in Charlottesville.”

Recently, the coalition brought the same passion for social justice to the Music Library to “Hack the Stacks.” The idea originated with Aldona Dye, a graduate student in the Music Department who approached Research Librarian for Music and Performing Arts, Abby Flanigan, about using Virgo’s purchase request feature with the goal of expanding the Library’s collection to include books by underrepresented authors and independent presses on a variety of social justice topics.

On April 6, members of the coalition came to the Music Library to make requests. They coordinated with the library’s collections and acquisitions teams, who were on hand to keep requests flowing smoothly and ensure that the number of purchase requests were what the system could handle.

To Flanigan, the event was a perfect convergence of interests, combining the coalition’s goal to ensure that there are adequate resources available on Grounds for “learning about and combating white supremacy” with the Library’s primary goal to ensure that students and the faculty have access to the research materials they need and want.

According to Dye, “Faculty are more likely to use library books as classroom materials, and students are more likely to use these books in their research papers when they can easily find them in the library stacks. Hack the Stacks helps to diversify the curriculum and topics of study that our students and faculty engage with.”

Among the titles on the coalition’s request list are:

  • Jennifer Baumgardner & Amy Richards, Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activisma how-to guide for social activism based on individual stories and personal experience
  • Clare Land, Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Strugglesexplores what can go wrong when well-intentioned activists from colonial backgrounds take up the cause of Indigenous peoples, and how to get it right
  • Corbett Joan O’Toole, Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History—first-person essays and observations on the history of disability rights in the U.S.
  • Amy Sequenzia, ed., Typed Words Loud Voices—experiences of people who communicate in nonstandard ways in a world where only speech is valued
  • Sally Tomlinson, The Politics of Race, Class and Special Education: The selected works of Sally Tomlinson—writings on the history of social class, race, and gender, and how individual “problems” were connected to wider social structures and policies

Comments are closed.