This e-zine is published by the McGill Library and Information
Studies Student Association, known around the school as MLISSA.
The aim of the Marginal is to be a place to publish experiences;
not only do we publish articles related to the LIS field,
but also those related to other aspects of the lives of library,
archives and knowledge management students. We would like
to see your creative side, your intellectual side, your humorous
side because, we all know, library school and archive school
and knowledge management school could each use a little livening
up now and then.
Submissions to the Marginal are accepted from any MLIS student,
or former students as well, from any university. While it
is a publication for all MLIS students, the majority of submissions
come from current MLIS students at the Graduate School of
Information Studies of McGill (SIS).
wonder how the name 'The Marginal' originated?
The following is an email exchange between previous Editors
of the Marginal and one of the students who was around at the
very beginning of (Marginal) time...
The Editor: This is a short email to give you a bit of History
on "The Marginal Librarian". In the Fall of 1994
There was no "Marginal Librarian" or any student
publication for the students in the MLIS program at McGill.
The class of '96 was in its first week and we were going through
the ritual "This is a Librarian in your neighbourhood"
sadism inflicted on all first year MLIS students. That of
course was in the bad old days.
I am sure GSLIS has changed radically since then. However,
in the Fall of 1994 we were crowded into the over heated and
under ventilated rooms at the bottom of the McLennan-Redpath
Library and a variety of different librarians were brought
in to talk to us about what being a "librarian"
meant to them.
About half-way through the second day a Librarian from a Bank
in the Montreal area came in to talk about what it was like
to be a special librarian. Most of the class were dropping
off to sleep when the speaker started to talk about clientel
in a special library, prefaced by this comment, "Because
we're a special library we only serve the needs of the bank.
We don't have to deal with all those marginal people outside."
It is often difficult to point to a moment and say "That
is when it happened!!", but those words seemed to galvinize
several people in the class. At the next break most of the
conversation was about those words and everything they implied.
This was a period when homelessness was becoming an increasingly
serious problem in Canada's larger cities. There were, as
today, concerns about how successful Canadian society was
and how well social institutions were responding to homelessness.
With one comment it seemed like this corporate flunkie had
written off 99% of the population as unnecessary and irrelevant.
Alot of us were really appaulled by that sentiment but more
importantly it lodged the word "marginal" in our
A few days later as the introductory Library week was ending
one of the professors, probably Professor McNally brought
to our attention the fact that there was no student publication
in the School. I don't recall how it actually evolved but
the name Marginal Librarian was chosen as a play on words
and as a dig at a type of librarianship which we saw as exclusive
and willfully oblivious of the broader social context.
Thus the implication the title for the McGill student journal
is that there is a social context to Librarianship. None of
us exist in a vacuum. The mandate of a library can be as broad
or as narrow as the Librarian wants to make it, but there
will always be marginal people in your community needing support
and the resources which only a library can provide.
I hope this is informative and helpful to you and your fellow
students. RK (Feb. 2006)
note, April 2007) Thanks for the info, RK! It seems not
much has changed over the years ... we have the same first
year rituals and the classrooms still suffer from poor ventilation
and climate control (although we are much more likely to freeze).
But the winds of change do not completely stop at the GSLIS
doorway. In November 2005 (Vol 13.2), the word 'Librarian'
was used for the last time in the name of the e-zine. In the
summer of 2006, the MLISSA executive council decided that
the name would officially be changed from 'The Marginal Librarian'
to 'The Marginal'. The new name is thought to better reflect
the diversity of interests and areas of specialization of
the student body.