We have been thinking about the values that define Rabbits Road Institute Library. The ‘we’ here is Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck, but the ideas are informed by conversations with people involved in RRIL in the last 18 months. Below we have expanded on what these values mean, and illustrated the aims, ambitions and actions we want to take here. These are all a work-in-progress - evolving live documents which will be the source of constant research, discussion, conversation, action and change to the Library and its future. We also have a visual document of the values, along with the aims and ambitions around taking them forward, along with resources and links - which you can view on miro <here>.
The values are:
Made by Many
Self-Education & Joy of Reading
Made by Many – RRIL is a common resource; its collection is made from nominations by users, participants and friends of the Library. It continues to grow in this way, shaped by the people involved. We are aware of power dynamics, and committed to collaboration and decentralising our governance model through transparent and open processes, over time, as we build our network. This is about flexibility to evolve and change. The Future category of the Library is full of books with ideas of different ways to do things.
Self-Education & Joy of Reading - We embrace learning as we go along. Books can change our understanding of the world and our position within it. They can also be useful and practical. The Making it Happen section, and the Library as a whole, creates space for self-education, intellectual and creative growth, literacy, and political consciousness building, creating potential for moving knowledge into action.
Accessibility – Knowledge should be accessible. We are thoughtful and creative about how to make the books in the Library available to people with different access needs, as a creative and active component of what the RRIL does.
Creativity – We welcome different kinds of creative, generative engagement with the Library - from reading and research, to articulating personal experiences, to sharing through artworks, writing, workings, discussion, or passing books along, to making new knowledge that goes back into the Library. We are keen to collaborate people with different skills and experiences, including artists, writers and makers, and to support the creation and publishing of new art and writing.
Localness – We value the local; the specialism of local knowledge, and how a local library can support the self-education of a community. We value how the local is made from many people, many communities, reflecting the globalised world and its issues, and allows us to understand and explore these issues on an accessible scale. The ‘People and Place’ category allows for a growing collection of books specialising in ideas of the local.
Diverse Economies – RRIL is situated in the art economy, the knowledge economy, and in a ecologies of the local. It exists both materially and through relationships. In a more-than-capitalist world, we welcome what these different value systems demand and offer.
Care – Care is integral to how we engage with the books, with each other, and with collaborators, participants, readers and audiences. We want RRIL to be a comfortable, welcoming and approachable space (online and in person). We care for the objects we have (books), and recognise ongoing maintenance work as care, whilst being mindful of the extractive, colonial aspects of collecting.
Anti-oppression - RRIL is opposed to any discrimination based on class, gender, nationality, race or colour, age, sexuality, disability or beliefs. Books in the collection explicitly address these non-discriminatory values. RRIL positions itself within a larger ecosystem of creative, grassroots educational and activist initiatives that reject and seek to challenge systems of oppression in everyday life.
Slowness – RRIL has gone through active times and fallow times. We recognise the value of time to read and rest, and for things to grow and develop, to resist the pressure for productivity, and to balance caring for RRIL alongside other life and work responsibilities.