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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Blogging as an Exercise in Control; Ethnography in Libraries

Citation:
Donna Lanclos and Andrew D. Asher, “Ethnographish”: The State of Ethnography in Libraries, Weave: Journal of Library User Experience, Volume 1, Issue 5, 2016, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/weave.12535642.0001.503

So I think I am already getting the hang of how blogging will ebb and flow, in terms of the quantity of blog posts that I can reasonably manage at various times of the year. Late July and early August are, obviously, prime for daily reading of articles and blogging about them — it is right after the AALL annual meeting, and I am pumped about new ideas and scholarship. However, as mid-August approaches, we start preparing for the beginning of the academic year, and I have to cut back, which is OK.

I expect I will be back to daily blogging sometime in November, but even then it is too far in the future to worry about today. At least I am managing to do something today, which is good.

What did worry me today is that I noticed that a number of my previous blog posts had had their text replaced with an hyperlinked advertisement. WHAT?!?!?!?! I pay money for this blog and was very unhappy that this could happen. The poor person on the WordPress end of a support chat this morning got an earful from me. (An eyeful?) But they took it like a true pro, and showed me how to revert to previously-saved versions of posts, which I did. They also suggested I change to a stronger password, and I did that as well.

So three cheers for WordPress User Support. I am often on their end of our library’s chat reference, and I hope I handle difficult people as nicely as they handled me.

(Also, maybe I could have been a little less difficult, although I thought that HOURS of work had been deleted forever and I was not happy about it, so I am going to cut myself a little slack.)

Anyway, today’s article continues on the theme from last week: ethnography. I found an article written by two ethnographers who work full-time in academic libraries, and found that they had some very interesting things to say on this topic.

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Librarians: Is Your Community of Practice (CoP) Doing More Harm Than Good?

Citation:
Sarah Vela, Knowledge Management, Diversity, and Professional Hierarchies in Libraries, Journal of Library Administration, v. 58, no. 8, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2018.1516950.

I had originally scheduled an article about legal translation today. However, after yesterday’s article about identities in the workplace, I decided this was a topic I wanted to spend more time with. Various searches led me to this article from 2018.

The author is a PhD student, and her research on knowledge management (KM) and organizational and cultural management models is quite extensive. With this article, the author is attempting to fill what she views as a gap in the literature: how KM and its influence on organizational behavior manifests itself in libraries.

It took her a while (perhaps a bit too long) to get to the libraries part. She began with a historical explanation of the concept of KM, and how it is based on the idea that there are two levels of knowledge: explicit (“comprehension associated with education and intellect”) and tacit (something that is “learned by doing”).

She also described how, in the literature, a “continuum of the degree of tacitness” of knowledge has been developed, and that the nature of knowledge can change based on where it is located on this continuum.

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Librarians and Cultural Humility: Check Your Privileges and Recognize Your Biases

Citation:
Twanna Hodge, Integrating Cultural Humility into Public Services Librarianship, INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION & LIBRARY REVIEW, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572317.2019.1629070.

This article was written by the first-ever Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of Utah library. In it, the author challenges public services librarians to explore and address their implicit biases, and to incorporate cultural humility in their librarianship practice.

Of course, this type of exercise in self-auditing and vulnerability can be difficult and uncomfortable for people who engage in it. As the author points out, some of our most pervasive biases develop on a subconscious level from the time we are very young, as we process messages and opinions about the world, other people, and other cultures that we get from our families, our friends, and others. These types of biases, which include “both favorable and unfavorable assessments” are, as the author notes, “pervasive.” However, this does not mean that they have to be permanent.

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