Equitable Information Access and Librarianship Praxis: Let’s Get Critical

Today’s Read:
Lauren Smith & Michael Hanson
Communities of Praxis: Transforming Access to Information for Equity
The Serials Librarian, v. 76, nos. 1-4, pp. 42-49
DOI: 10.1080/0361526X.2019.1593015

I recently submitted a proposal to write a chapter on Critical Legal Studies for a new library science textbook, and it was accepted.

In the proposal, I used the Critical Legal Studies research guide I created for our library to create a framework for the future book chapter. Basically, I want to get the content of this guide into some kind of written form, since library research guides have a bit of an ephemeral quality.

While the chapter will be primarily about critical studies in law, it will also include some basic information about critical librarianship. I want to encourage future law librarians consider issues of disproportionate representation and information access in their own professional practice. Or, put another way, I hope that they will choose to incorporate praxis into their practice of librarianship.

For this reason, this recent article from The Serials Librarian caught my eye, and I decided to blog about it. The article is based on a presentation given by Lauren Smith at the 2018 NASIG (formerly the North American Serials Interest Group) conference. In her talk, Smith discussed three themes that are necessary to “democratize” information, which means making sure that all people are empowered to exercise their right to access it: power, praxis, and privilege.

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Creativity, Connection, and Conversion

Today’s Read:
Austen Ivereigh, An Interview with Pope Francis: “A Time of Great Uncertainty,” Commonweal, Apr. 8, 2020, https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/time-great-uncertainty

Today’s occasional read is not my normal fare. I was very moved by an interview with Pope Francis that was published on the Commonweal website last week, and want to talk about it.

I am not Catholic but I am a great admirer of many aspects of the pope’s ideology. I found many aspects of this article to be extremely relevant to my own experience of life under lockdown so far. There is clearly a reason that many non-Catholics see this pope as a moral and spiritual leader for our times.

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Contemplating Work and Burnout

Today’s Read:
Luisa Barthauer et al.
Burnout and Career (Un)sustainability: Looking into the Blackbox of Burnout Triggered Career Turnover Intentions
Journal of Vocational Behavior, v. 117, 2020
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2019.103334

Now that so many of us are working from home (WFH), I imagine there is a lot of thinking that we can never get away from work. Our worklife is bleeding into our homelife in ways that we have never experienced before.

I personally am struggling with uncertainty, a lack of diverse people to talk to about how I’m feeling about things that bother me, and the sense that every single one of my own shortcomings is (a) amplified, (b) unfixable, and (c) annoying and burdensome to anyone who happens to hear me talk about them. These have been standard thoughts for me in a work context for many years, and I have been practicing not letting those thought invade my non-work life lately. But that practice is, obviously, in tatters right now.

If there was ever a time for working on self-compassion and self-care, this is it, and I am doing it. When we do this, we face a lot of things about ourselves that we may not like that much, and that we are struggling to change. If this is happening to you, you are not alone. You are OK now, and you’re going to be OK later.

This is a rather lengthy lead-up to the article that I am looking at today, but I am not apologizing for that. We must talk about how we are struggling right now so that we can process it all.

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Social Connections in the Workplace: Why They Matter

Today’s Occasional Read:
Julianne Holt-Lunstad
Fostering Social Connection in the Workplace
American Journal of Health Promotion, v. 35, 2018
https://doi.org/10.1177/0890117118776735a

Every once in a while it’s nice to keep things relatively simple. I have read and written about some very complicated articles since I started this blog. Today, I decided to take a look at a short article about why we need social connections in the workplace.

This topic is timely, of course, as so many people (including nearly all my colleagues in the library) are working from home right now because of the coronavirus. This topic is also timely because I am serving on a committee at my library that is examining workplace culture and establishing a set of cultural norms for our organization. Since I volunteered for this committee, I have been asking myself a lot why workplace cultural norms are so important. This article was a good reminder of some of the answers to that question.

The science around social connections and relationships is pretty clear about their benefits. Social isolation and loneliness, each on their own, have been found to lead to physical and mental health problems, premature cognitive decline, and other things that make life unpleasant for people. However, it is those two factors working in tandem, meaning that a person is both socially isolated (lacks a social support structure) AND lonely (lacks sufficiently meaningful social connections), that really do some serious damage, especially if the person is experiencing this at work and it impacts the time and energy they can spend developing social connections outside of the office.

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Keep Calm, Carry On, and Wash Your Hands

Today’s Occasional Read:
Dori B. Reissman et al.
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Adaptive Responses to an Evolving Challenge
Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
V. 3, No. 2, Article 13, 2006
doi: https://doi.org/10.2202/1547-7355.1233

Welcome to our new reality.

As the country slowly shuts down due to the CoronaVirus pandemic [https://perma.cc/3P5T-GZ2D], I decided to return from my long hiatus of reading and writing about a scholarly article to focus on the literature that discusses the psychological impact of dealing with a global health crisis like this.

This article was written in 2006, in response to the avian flu virus, but it honestly could have been written yesterday. I found so much content here that is extremely relevant to life today.

The authors begin by defining a pandemic virus as having four characteristics; (1) it’s a new virus emerging from an animal-related source; (2) people don’t have immunity to it; (3) people get sick from it; and (4) the virus spreads easily and efficiently, “through coughing, sneezing,or a hand-shake.” (p.1)

Check, check, check, and check.

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Reading and Processing

Citation:
Paul N. Edwards, How to Read a Book, v.5.0, http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/howtoread.pdf.

Happy new year! I hope you had a restful break and feel refreshed.

For my first post of 2020, I decided to discuss a short paper by Paul N. Edwards about effective reading of non-fiction materials. This paper has been sitting on my to-be-read pile since last summer, and the beginning of the new year seems like an excellent time to visit it.

The author briefly outlines 11 reading strategies and techniques for all types of non-fiction works. It is an excellent high-level overview of methods that can be employed by anyone who needs to get some reading done, and they are simple enough that they can be adapted based on personal preferences and goals.

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Diving into Legal Pragmatism

Citation:
Michael Sullivan, Legal Pragmatism: Community, Rights, and Democracy (2007), introduction and chapter 4, https://www.worldcat.org/title/legal-pragmatism-community-rights-and-democracy/oclc/219688202&referer=brief_results

It is likely that we have arrived at my final blog entry for this year. I am travelling the next few weeks and cannot promise that I will read and blog something scholarly while I am away. I have not had a vacation in a very long time and hope to enjoy some downtime reading for fun.

I finished several research guides this past year, and I am especially pleased at how two of them in particular turned out:

These two guides were definitely a bit of a stretch for me. I do not have a lot of experience in the social sciences aside from my time in library school, and both of these guides turned out to be, by necessity, very multi-disciplinary.

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Casting a “wide and imperfect net”: Legal research platforms as data brokers for government surveillance activities

Citation:
Sarah Lamdan, When Westlaw Fuels ICE Surveillance: Legal Ethics in the Era of Big Data Policing, 43 N.Y.U. L. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 255 (2019), https://perma.cc/42HV-9AW6 .

To be completely honest, this is a topic I have been avoiding reading or thinking very much about, although it has been on the forefront of a lot of law librarian minds for well over a year. However, as more and more lawyers, law students, and librarians organize a protest movement against what is happening, the more compelled I felt to educate myself about it.

So here we are — it’s time to talk about the relationship between the parent companies of Westlaw and Lexis and the federal government, notably the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, as it has developed in the area of immigration surveillance.

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“Get out of the bitter barn and play in the hay”

Citation:
Hansjörg Znoj, Features of Embitterment, in Embitterment: Societal, Psychological, and Clinical Perspectives 5 (Michael Linden & Andreas Maercker eds. 2011).

The TV show Friends has resurged like no one’s business recently. The quote in the title of this post comes from that show, and it was Phoebe Buffay who said it in “The One With The Prom Video,” which happens to be the first episode of the show that I ever saw. That was the episode that had the whole Chandler/Joey gold bracelet thing, and, of course, the prom video that started the whole Ross and Rachel relationship.

That quote comes to mind whenever I perceived bitterness in myself and others, which I promise is relevant here.

Anyway, this is the first time in this experiment that I have analyzed a book chapter instead of an article. It was helpful in terms of understanding the psychological construct of bitterness, which has been on my mind a lot lately. However, and perhaps more importantly, it showed that book chapters rarely can stand alone in a rewarding way.

In other words, I may know more about embitterment than I did before, but I’m still not really sure what to do about it.

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