Quick overview

All posts still in progress. If you have additions you want to suggest, please let me know in the comments or on twitter @schomj.

Friday, June 15, 2018

thoughts on communicating value


image text: I used to believe that if we can "prove/communicate" our value we'd actually be valued but then I started trauma therapy and realized this is abuser logic. Yes, I'm being completely serious right now. 

  1. I have a lot of other writing projects in the works, so don’t have time to write this up as a Real Thing right now. If anyone wants to take this idea and run with it, feel free.
  2. I’ve spent the past 15 years working in a mid-sized, comprehensive, public university in the U.S. that’s accredited by HLC. It’s been too long since I’ve worked in a special or public library for me to pretend to have any real insights into that. That said, if you are a public library worker and are interested in pursuing this topic, but haven’t received the training to turn your ideas into written publications, contact me here or on twitter and I’d be happy to do what I can. There’s a lot of shit happening with this stuff in public libraries and not enough of it is making the published literature.

A few years ago, Angela Galvan made a comment on twitter about how, in a capitalist system, we show our appreciation by paying people. This is heavily paraphrased, and her account is usually locked so in respect for her privacy I’m not going to post a link. (Assuming I could find that precise tweet. Locked accounts + searching = failure. One thing twitter does right!)

What does that mean for libraries and library workers? If the legislators, trustees, city councils, etc. actually valued libraries, we’d be funded. Instead of getting funded, we are getting increasing demands to “prove our value.”

This year, my institution started a process of Strategic Budget Planning, in which we submit assessment information and the institution decides whether we get put in the increase, maintain, or reduce bucket. This is in addition to our normal program review process, by the way.

This budget planning process seemed to me to be very closely modeled on our accreditation process—that is, we were asked to talk about what kinds of assessment and quality improvement processes we are engaged with according to a precise template. Does this actually tell the institution that as a library, we’re awesome at supporting student learning? Eh, I’m skeptical. Does it tell them that we’ve mastered bureaucratic hoop-jumping? Yes. 

My takeaway: Our value is determined by our ability to engage in administrative-heavy assessment processes and effectively write about them in bureaucratic language. Thanks to the number of library workers we have and to ongoing efforts in that direction, we’ve gotten very good at that (several of us started seeing this writing on the wall a while ago). As the library’s department chair, one of the roles I have is the person who does a lot of this paperwork so my colleagues can do actual library work. (The gendered nature of this work is also interesting, but a topic for a different time. If that’s your jam, I’d highly suggest Veronica Arellano Douglas and Joanna Gadsby’s paper on the undervaluing of feminized work.)

When I tweeted the original statement above, someone asked if the demand to “prove value” is a deliberate digression that makes it harder for us to actually do the work. I don’t think that, but it’s possible. It’s not the model I’m working under, but I wouldn’t discount it.

What I actually had in mind was more in line with George Lakoff’s work on narrative framing in relation to my experience as a survivor of emotional abuse. 

The people in control of funding (are they really in control? That’s another question) set up conditions you have to meet in order to get funded. Maybe they’re realistic! Maybe they actually have the money! Maybe if you follow all the steps in the right order at the right time with the right documentation, you’ll actually get what you’re asking for! Maybe.

But what happens when you don’t get that money?
Is the funder saying “sorry, totes my fault, I flaked on paying you” ?
Or is the funder saying “I never promised and that’s not really what the conditions were and anyway you did it wrong and besides you don’t deserve it and your demands for money mean that you’re greedy and that means you should be punished” ?

Gaslighting: a form of emotional abuse that abusers use to maintain power and control, and make the abused feel dependent

Emotional abuse: creating conditions where you feel like you’re constantly monitored, maybe isolated, maybe forced to witness other forms of abuse as a threat. Once again, the goal is for the abuser to maintain power and control

Anyway, that’s what was in my mind when I made that tweet. And I’m about out of spoons, so going to end this here.

What’s the next step? I don’t have one. But for library people, I would recommend reading Emily Drabinski, Sam Popowich, Angela Galvan. Join a union. Start a union. Don't expect the union to work magic when the cultural narrative is framed this way, though.

The only thing I do know: this isn’t a thing that any one individual can take on, we need to work together.

Because I can, I’m going to end this with the immortal words of BeyoncĂ©

[gif from the music video Run the World (Girls) showing Bey with her middle finger in the air and a caption saying "Fuck you, Pay me."]

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Libraries + Disabilities

Disabled Library Workers

Oud, J. (2018). Systemic workplace barriers for academic librarians with disabilities. College & Research Libraries. Retrieved from: https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/16948 
Leftwich, A. M. (2017). "Librarians with disabilities: Accessibility in action." Bryce Don't Play Accessibility Series. Retrieved from: https://brycedontplay.blogspot.com/2017/11/librarians-with-disabilities.html 
Schomberg, J.  (2018). Disability at work: Libraries, built to exclude. In Nicholson and Seale (eds.) The Politics and Theory of Critical Librarianship. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/lib_services_fac_pubs/149/
Schomberg, J. (2015). My (library) life with invisible disabilities. Letters to a Young Librarian (blog).  http://letterstoayounglibrarian.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-library-life-with-invisible.html

Disabled Library Users
Adler, M., Huber, J. T., & Nix, A. T. (2017). Stigmatizing disability: Library classifications and the marking and marginalization of books about people with disabilities. Library Quarterly, 87(2), 117-135. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=121891160&site=ehost-live
 Bodaghi, N. B., Cheong, L. S., & Zainab, A. N. (2016). Librarians empathy: Visually impaired students' experiences towards inclusion and sense of belonging in an academic library. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42(1), 87-96. 10.1016/j.acalib.2015.11.003 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=111975310&site=ehost-live
Bonnici, L. J., Maatta, S. L., Brodsky, J., & Steele, J. E. (2015). Second national accessibility survey: Librarians, patrons, and disabilities. New Library World, 116(9), 503-516. 10.1108/NLW-03-2015-0021 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=110311029&site=ehost-live
Brannen, M. H., Milewski, S., & Mack, T. (2017). Providing staff training and programming to support people with disabilities: An academic library case study. Public Services Quarterly, 13(2), 61-77. 10.1080/15228959.2017.1298491 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=123074530&site=ehost-live
Brimhall-Vargas, M. (2015). Where the rubber meets the road: The role of libraries and librarians in bringing equitable access to marginalized communities. Library Quarterly, 85(2), 193-199. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=101529264&site=ehost-live
Clossen, A., & Proces, P. (2017). Rating the accessibility of library tutorials from leading research universities. Portal: Libraries & the Academy, 17(4), 803-825. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=125590540&site=ehost-live
Decker, E. N. (2017). Encouraging continuous learning for librarians and library staff. Library Management, 38(6), 286-293. 10.1108/LM-10-2016-0078 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=124884432&site=ehost-live
Desjardins, M. (2010). Invisible disabilities. Feliciter, 56(3), 106-108. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=54370071&site=ehost-live
Ekwelem, V. O. (2013). Library services to disabled students in the digital era: Challenges for outcome assessment. Library Philosophy & Practice, , 1-28. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=97849586&site=ehost-live
Fulton, C. (2011). Web accessibility, libraries, and the law. Information Technology & Libraries, 30(1), 34-43. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=58478965&site=ehost-live
Grassi, R. (2017). Libraries for all: Expanding services to people with disabilities. ILA Reporter, 35(1), 20-23. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=120801010&site=ehost-live
Guder, C. (2010). Equality through access: Embedding library services for patrons with disabilities. Public Services Quarterly, 6(2), 315-322. 10.1080/15228959.2010.499324 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=53155446&site=ehost-live
Hoover, J., Nall, C., & Willis, C. (2013). Designing library instruction for students with learning disabilities. North Carolina Libraries (Online), 71(2), 27-31. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=95738754&site=ehost-live
Jaeger, P. T.  (2018). Designing for diversity and designing for disability: New opportunities for libraries to expand their support and advocacy for people with disabilities. International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion 2(1-2), 52-66. https://publish.lib.umd.edu/IJIDI/article/viewFile/462/264 (warning: contains ableist slurs)
Kaeding, J., Velasquez, D. L., & Price, D. (2017). Public libraries and access for children with disabilities and their families: A proposed inclusive library model. Journal of the Australian Library & Information Association, 66(2), 96-115. 10.1080/24750158.2017.1298399 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=123914489&site=ehost-live
Kaufmann, K. F., Perez, G. & Bryant, M. (2018). Reaching shared goals in higher education: A collaboration of the Library and Disability Support Services. Library Leadership & Management 32(2), 1-15. https://journals.tdl.org/llm/index.php/llm/article/viewFile/7194/6444
Koford, A. (2014). How disability studies scholars interact with subject headings. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 52(4), 388-411.  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01639374.2014.891288
Kumbier, A., & Starkey, J. (2016). Access is not problem solving: Disability justice and libraries. Library Trends, 64(3), 468-491. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=114253310&site=ehost-live
Lewis, J. (2013). Information equality for individuals with disabilities: Does it exist? Library Quarterly, 83(3), 229-235. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=88128483&site=ehost-live
McNaught, A. (2014). Accessible libraries - strategic practice. ALISS Quarterly, 10(1), 30-32. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=99253105&site=ehost-live
Mooney, G. (2016). Students with invisible disabilities: Unique challenges for academic librarians in Ireland. (dissertation) https://esource.dbs.ie/bitstream/handle/10788/3055/msc_mooney_g_2016.pdf?sequence=1
Mulliken, A. (2018). Eighteen blind library users' experiences with library websites and search tools in U.S. academic libraries: A qualitative study. College & Research Libraries.  https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/16947
Mutula, S., & Majinge, R. M. (2016). Information behaviour of students living with visual impairments in university libraries: A review of related literature. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42(5), 522-528. 10.1016/j.acalib.2016.06.019 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=118497875&site=ehost-live
Oud, J. (2016). Accessibility of vendor-created database tutorials for people with disabilities. Information Technology & Libraries, 35(4), 7-18. 10.6017/ital.v35i4.9469 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=120615158&site=ehost-live
Oud, J. (2011). Improving screencast accessibility for people with disabilities: Guidelines and techniques. Internet Reference Services Quarterly 16(3), 129-144.  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10875301.2011.602304
Peet, L. (2018). Marrakesh treaty act introduced. Library Journal, 143(7), 10-11. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=128930532&site=ehost-live
Pionke, J. J. (2017). Toward holistic accessibility: Narratives from functionally diverse patrons. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57(1), 48-56. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=125571432&site=ehost-live
Pionke, J. J. (2018). Accessible instruction. Public Services Quarterly, 14(1), 92-97. 10.1080/15228959.2017.1404547 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=127676349&site=ehost-live
Pionke, J. J. (2018). Functional diversity literacy. Reference Services Review https://doi.org/10.1108/RSR-02-2018-0024
Pionke, J. J., & Manson, J. (2018). Creating disability LibGuides with accessibility in mind. Journal of Web Librarianship, 12(1), 63-79. 10.1080/19322909.2017.1396277 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=127520132&site=ehost-live
Remy, C., Seaman, P., & Polacek, K. M. (2014). Evolving from disability to diversity. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 54(1), 24-28. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=98545900&site=ehost-live
Rosen, S. (2017). Accessibility for justice: Accessibility as a tool for promoting justice in librarianship. In the Library with the Lead Pipe. http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/accessibility-for-justice/
Rust, M., & Wise, M. (2017). The importance of establishing assistance animal policies for your library. PNLA Quarterly, 81(2), 37-53. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=127646197&site=ehost-live
Small, R. V., Myhill, W. N., & Herring-Harrington, L. (2015). Developing accessible libraries and inclusive librarians in the 21st century: Examples from practice. Advances in Librarianship, 40, 73-88. 10.1108/S0065-283020150000040013 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=111720308&site=ehost-live
St. Jean, B. & Jindal, G. & Chan, K. (2018). “You Have to Know Your Body!”: The Role of the Body in Influencing the Information Behaviors of People with Type 2 Diabetes. Library Trends 66(3), 289-314. Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved May 23, 2018, from Project MUSE database. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/691948
Turner, J. & Schomberg, J. (2016). Inclusivity, gestalt principles, and plain language in document design. In the Library with the Lead Pipehttp://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/accessibility/
Vandenbark, R. T. (2010). Tending a wild garden: Library web design for persons with disabilities. Information Technology & Libraries, 29(1), 23-29. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=48049875&site=ehost-live
Yoon, K., Dols, R. & Hulscher, L. (2018). Applying inclusive principles in web design to enhance accessibility for disabled users. In Applying Library Values to Emerging Technology Decision-Making in the Age of Open Access, Maker Spaces, and the Ever-Changing Libraryhttps://works.bepress.com/kyunghye-yoon/27/
Yoon, K., Hulscher, L. & Dols, R. (2016). Accessibility and diversity in library and information science: Inclusive information architecture for library websites. The Library Quarterly 86(2), 213-229.  https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/685399

Hill, H. (2013). Disability and accessibility in the library and information science literature: A content analysis. Library & Information Science Research 35(2), 137-142.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740818813000030

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


2nd grade: Our teacher wouldn’t let my classmate go out to recess because he wouldn’t eat the ham she’d brought to share. He was Jewish. She didn’t care. I was enraged that she was being so horrible to him, but didn’t know how to respond other than with tears.
7th grade: My social studies teacher made fun of the girls in the class because they complained about getting groped. The boys doing it were on the tennis team he coached, so he didn’t care. I was the best student in the class and not a boy, so he didn’t like me anyway. I never complained, but I did miss a lot of school that year.

College: I joined the Minnesota PIRG and Amnesty International and Equality (a local LGB group) and was very White Liberal in my activism and outlook. I also got cancer and my sister almost died and I learned that most of my female friends had been raped.

My 20s: Recovery. I dropped out of everything but grad school and work.

My 30s: I started easing back into political awareness and activism. I specifically and somewhat accidentally learned about anti-racism and the social model of disabilities. I also started going to K-12 classrooms to talk about how to be respectful of differences – a very White Liberal model at base, but it also was good practice for listening and speaking about difficult topics on an accessible level.

My 40s: Going deeper, going further. I can sometimes speak up in meetings without crying when people are being appropriative or racist or whatever. No one cares about White Tears when you’re in a room of white people and upset at discrimination, not when you’re calling someone out.

2014: I fight with a coworker about the impact of the Supreme Court overturning the Voting Rights Act. He was “factual,” I was right.

2015: I enter my 40s. Trump campaigns on a platform of deporting Muslims and Mexicans. My mother likes him because “he tells it like it is, tee hee.” I point out that he’s an abusive bully. She gets quiet. (She’s married to an abusive bully, it’s not so funny when you live it.)

2016: Trump’s running mate is Mike “let’s kill all the gays” Pence. They get elected. RIP VRA, we miss you. Also, the NoDAPL protests capture attention and outrage, except on the part of the Democratic party, which mostly tries to pretend it's not happening.

2017: White liberals (especially, but not exclusively) completely ignore all of US history and are appalled that a misogynist, racist, ableist asshole is elected president. I am appalled too, partly because all the political gaslighting is bringing back memories. All the talk of PTSD on the twittersphere does help me discover that that’s (probably) the basis of my anxiety/depression, so I start a helpful therapy course to deal with that. Still, that kind of therapy is hard and spring is awful. Is it because of Trump? Because of the “let’s kill sick Americans” monsters running Congress? Both? Then, Weinstein and Franken and etc. Sometimes cleaning house causes adverse reactions before you’re done.

2017 in libraries
Librarians on social media start fighting about whether literal Nazis should be allowed to use library spaces to meet. I am glad that people are speaking out against helping groups that want people like me dead. I am annoyed that people act like this is a new thing. Where have you been? Why are you just speaking up now?

Librarians on social media continue to fight about what the ideas “neutrality” and “intellectual freedom” mean. These fights have been ongoing since I was in library school (late 1990s), but apparently they’re new to some people? Are these fights just new to new professionals or have people spent their entire careers unaware and uncaring?

Librarians on social media fight about representation in books and in LIS curricula. Outside of #critlib twitter, the curriculum arguments seem new. I’m glad to see more people advocating for inclusive curricula. I’m annoyed but not surprised to see people continue to advocate against it. I’m disappointed to see people advocate for “both sides.” Also a little confused, to be honest. Like with the Nazis in libraries thing: both sides means white people get to exist and non-white people get to fight for the right to exist so long as they’re nice about it? Huh?

The look-backs on 2017 as if it's a year that exists separate from time annoy me. None of this is new, it's just a continuation. But I don't want to disregard or disrespect the paths others are on. Maybe your upbringing completely protected you from the need to be politically aware and active. I don't know your life. But you're here now. You've become aware that neutrality is as much a myth as meritocracy. What are you going to do?