Interview with LitTV

I’m honored that my interview with youth in San Francisco has been posted on LitTV.

LitTV is a series of video documents in collaboration with San Francisco Bay Area teens, exploring connections between fire and knowledge, showcasing some of the unique features and personalities that make up the San Francisco Public Library, and the vital role that librarians play in their communities. It is produced by the artist Minerva Cuevas for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Public Knowledge initiative.

LitTV with Jeanie Austin

Thank you to Minerva Cuevas and the amazing SF youth!

Access and Making Meaning

John Oliver, on Last Week Tonight, recently highlighted an often unaddressed aspect of library services to incarcerated people.  In an example that pales many mentions of what access to materials can mean for people who are imprisoned or maintained, Oliver highlights an individual formerly detained in Guantánamo discussing his experiences there.

Oliver is correct in mentioning that libraries in prison and detainment centers are considered ‘luxuries’ by many people (hinting that they are often used as a gesture toward reform), the words of this former detainee reflect the true value of library services to incarcerated and detained people.  He describes Guantánamo as equivalent to Azkaban, the prison in Harry Potter – a place where there is no possibility of feeling.

Watching this clip, I was struck by how access to materials can potentially assist people in understanding the worlds they inhabit (or have been forced to inhabit).  The full clip is available on-line at