Uncaged Library Information Services is a consultancy founded by Anand Jay Kalra in 2016. I earned a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Michigan in 2010; I had pursued the degree on the hunch that there was something about this “information stuff” that could transfer to social justice and nonprofit work to help us work more efficiently and humanely, and therefore compete better against more well-funded right-wing groups. It turns out that the organic librarians of an organization are its operations staff, and the work I sought to do shows up most naturally in operations and finance, and to a moderate degree in communications and fundraising. I incorporate lessons from sub-fields such as information organization and retrieval, information seeking behavior, information literacy, bibliographic and technological instruction, community informatics, and combinatorics in my current work. Since launching my consulting practice, I have helped more than thirty social justice organizations ground their systems, practices, and processes in principles of transparency, justice, and shared power in service of collective liberation.
I am pleased to support your work in a variety of ways. Below you’ll find samples of work in each of our core areas.
My work surfaces the invisible conduits of information in an organization, identifies breakdowns in internal communication channels, facilitates knowledge development about the power inherent in an organization’s information ecosystem, and proposes practical solutions that are both technically and relationally sound. Overall, the approach is about bringing organizations into internal alignment and improving the efficiency with which they map their values into practice, which in turn decreases conflict and increases spaciousness around the work. Specific projects have included conflict mediation, file management (architecture, reorganization, access & permissions), CRM database assessments and data model design, mail server migration, coaching operations staff, designing and hiring in an operations department, and tailored training in everyday language about all of the above and more. Here is a presentation I gave recently about information in social justice organizations.
Teaching, Training, & Speaking
As a librarian by training, I have a keen interest in breaking down complex ideas into understandable language. I am an experienced and enthusiastic speaker, trainer, and teacher on a wide range of topics. Here is a training I’ve given as comprehensive introduction to gender justice, with emphasis on transgender people in the HIV movement.
Community Based Research
While much of my video work is a result of community interviews, sometimes you just need some solid quantitative research to support your advocacy. In 2015 and 2016, while I worked at Transgender Law Center, I co-designed a survey instrument based on a community focus group, supervised data collection, analyzed the data, and wrote up the results in 2 of the 3 reports (“Some Kind of Strength” and “See Us as People“). For these reports, I did the data analysis in R.
Facilitation & Conflict Mediation
I went through my first conflict mediation training in 1994 and have grown my facilitation and mediation skills through thousands of hours of practice since then. You can read more about my approach here.
Since 2015, I have produced and mentored the creation of more than 50 short films. Click the image above to see a recent one, which was commissioned for Visual AIDS’ Day Without Art film screenings in 2018. You can also see a selection of my films on vimeo.
From 2016-2018, I directed and co-wrote a musical based on the life of afrofuturist luminary Octavia E. Butler. The musical, Octavia of Earth, was a collaboration among a group of artists and featured film and dance in addition to lyrics and music.
Musical styles vary from traditional choral to electronic, jazz, pop, ballads, and musical theater. For Octavia of Earth, the biographical musical about Octavia E. Butler, I co-wrote 2 songs, wrote 4 on my own, and collaborated with another artist on 3 additional ones. We recorded a studio soundtrack album in winter 2018-2019 and launched fall 2019 at www.uncagedlibrarianmusic.com. You can also listen to some of my tracks on SoundCloud.
Anand JK Kalra
Artistic & Managing Director