Suggested Readings on Diversity and Decolonization

by Lise Doucette
Assistant Librarian, University of Western Ontario

What role does the library have in addressing issues of privilege and oppression? What do we mean when we talk about diversity? How can libraries contribute to decolonization and reconciliation processes? I’ve raised these topics with colleagues at my own institution and beyond, garnering a range of responses from defensiveness and discomfort to thoughtful and critical conversation.

Learning through reading, listening, reflecting, and discussing is essential, and in this post I’ve compiled selected links and brief summaries of reports, conference keynotes, journal articles, blog posts, and books, which often have their own list of references or recommended readings. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts, as well as recommendations of other readings in the comments below.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Interrupting Whiteness is a book list put together by the Seattle Public Library to support their public programming on “What is the role that white people can play in dismantling white supremacy and its related oppressions?”
• Ithaka S&R’s 2017 report on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity: Members of the Association of Research Libraries Employee Demographics and Director Perspectives details the results of an investigation on inclusion, equity, and diversity-related issues in staffing of academic libraries. Some of the findings demonstrate a significant lack of self-awareness – for example, libraries that are more racially homogenous than the average see themselves as more equitable and more inclusive than the overall library community, by a larger margin than the more diverse institutions.
• The 2017 ARL SPEC Kit on Diversity and Inclusion documents activities that ARL libraries are currently engaging in and provides materials related to staff development programs that foster an inclusive workplace and climate. It’s an updated and expanded version of the 2010 ARL SPEC Kit on Diversity Plans and Programs.
• Dave Hudson’s article On “Diversity” as Anti-Racism in Library and Information Studies: A Critique (Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies) challenges diversity as the dominant framework of anti-racism in library and information studies.
• Two books from the Litwin Books and Library Juice Press series on Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in LIS have been published – Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science, edited by Gina Schlesselman-Tarango; and Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom, edited by Nicole A. Cooke and Miriam E. Sweeney.
• In the article White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS (In the Library With The Lead Pipe), April Hathcock examines how whiteness has “permeated every aspect of librarianship, extending even to the initiatives we claim are committed to increasing diversity.”

Decolonization, Indigenization, and Reconciliation

• The Canadian Federation of Library Associations published its Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations in May, 2017, which includes recommendations for decolonizing practices in Access and Classification, Indigenous Knowledge Protection, Outreach and Services, and Decolonizing Libraries and Space.
• The two keynotes from the WILU 2017 conference are available to watch online: Appropriation or Appreciation: How to Engage Indigenous Literatures (Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair) and Librarians, wâhkôhtowin, and information literacy instruction: building kinship in research relationships (Jessie Loyer).
• The keynote from the Access 2017 conference is available to watch online: The trouble with access (Dr. Kimberley Christen). In her keynote, Dr. Christen examines “library and archives practices related to access in the context Indigenous sovereignty, reconciliation, and on-going struggles of decolonization.”
• In her blog post Beyond territorial acknowledgments, âpihtawikosisân discusses the increased presence of territorial acknowledgements in Canada and delves into the purpose and practice of territorial acknowledgements, and the spaces where they happen.
• In 100 Ways: Indigenizing & Decolonizing Academic Programs (aboriginal policy studies), Dr. Shauneen Pete provides a list of “ways to indigenize and decolonize your academic programs [that] is not meant to be prescriptive. This list provides suggestions to help deans and faculty begin to commit to greater levels of Indigenization in their program planning and delivery.”
• In Decolonization is not a metaphor (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society), Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang note that the “easy adoption of decolonizing discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to ‘decolonize our schools,’ or use ‘decolonizing methods,’ or, ‘decolonize student thinking,’ turns decolonization into a metaphor.” However, “Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools.”

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Surviving Conference Season

This week we are going back into the Brain-work archives to revisit tips on surviving and thriving during conference season. Happy spring everyone – let us know in the comments which conferences you are planning to attend this year and what your plans are to maximize your time and resources.


by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan
*originally posted May 3, 2016

It’s that time of year again: conference season. It seems like myself and all of my library colleagues are out there right now, presenting, networking, and gathering ideas to bring back to the workplace. That being said, not every conference experience is a positive one. Here are some of my tips and tricks for making it through your next conference like a pro!

1) Plan for success. Preview the conference schedule beforehand and prioritize the things you absolutely need to attend (committee meetings, chapter sessions, your own presentation (!), etc.) and then the ones you’d really like to see. Pick your scheduling method of choice. A colleague of mine prefers to highlight the heck out of the print schedule, while I’ve found that taking advantage of the conference apps such as Guidebook can be really handy.

Don’t forget to give yourself time to see some of the local sights as well! If there’s an afternoon you can get away from the conference or – even better – if you can book an extra day or two on either end of the conference, you’ll be happy you did. It can be really frustrating to travel across the country to only see the inside of a convention centre. Plus, exploring the city with your fellow conference attendees is a great networking activity.

2) Surf the backchannel. Find the conference hashtag and tap into real-time Twitter/Facebook/Instagram conversations to find out what folks are saying about everything from the conference sessions, venue, and the best place to grab a quick bite to eat. It can be a great way to feel engaged and connected. Just remember, if you’ve got something negative to say on Twitter, be sure you’re ready to have the same conversation in person at the coffee break.

When I’m presenting, I find Twitter provides a quick and easy way to see how my presentation went over with the audience and gives me an opportunity to answer questions or send out links following the allotted presentation time. It’s always good to include the presenter in the conversation as well with an @ mention and use the conference hashtag, so those following from afar can also tap into what’s going on. There’s a lot to consider about the merits, drawbacks, and etiquette of conference tweeting. Check out Ryan Cordell’s article and suggested tweeting principles for more ideas.

3) Making networking meaningful. Small talk can be intimidating, but it’s certainly not impossible. Fallon Bleich’s article Small Talk at Conferences: How to Survive It offers some good tips.

As much as it can be tempting to talk to the people you already know, try to also work in some conversations with people you’ve never met, or someone you’ve always wanted to chat with. When in doubt, ask them what they’re working on at the moment. You might learn something new or even find someone new to collaborate with! I’ve had some great collaborative research projects come out of a simple conversation at a conference reception.

4) Presenting like a Pro. So much has already been written about how to give a good presentation. But as a rule of thumb, whether you’re using PowerPoint, Prezi, Google Slides, or Reveal, make sure your presentation slides aren’t more interesting than you are as a speaker. Selinda Berg discussed this in a previous C-EBLIP blog post where she argued for “PowerPoint as a companion…not as a standalone document to be read.” I couldn’t agree more. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be outdone by your own conference slides!

5) Mindful reflection. Take time before the conference to set an intention for your experience there. Is there a particular problem you want to solve, certain people you need to have a face-to-face conversation with or vendors that you need to approach? Conferences can go by quickly. Make sure you’ve identified your goals in advance so they become a priority while you’re there. I like to use a free note taking system such as Evernote to write everything down. Once I get home, I reread my notes and reflect on my experience. How can I apply what I learned in my own practice or research? Who do I need to follow up with?

Everyone has their own approach to traveling, presenting, and networking at professional events. These are some of the things that have worked for me and helped to make the whole experience more beneficial and enjoyable overall. Whatever your approach, I encourage you to sit back and enjoy the ride. Happy conference season, everyone!


This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Digital humanities and the library: Where do we go from here? C-EBLIP Journal Club, October 6, 2016

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan

Article: Zhang, Ying, Shu Liu, and Emilee Mathews. 2015. “Convergence of Digital Humanities and Digital Libraries.” Library Management 36 (4): 362-377. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1684384505/abstract/D65EF9A05834DADPQ/2

In October, the C-EBLIP Journal Club met to discuss an article focused on the evolving domain of digital humanities and its role with the academic library. The article in question, “Convergence of Digital Humanities and Digital Libraries” was published by Zhang, Liu and Matthews in Library Management, a journal that aims to “provide international perspectives on library management issues… highly recommended for library managers.”1 The article discussed ways that libraries might support scholarship in digital humanities (DH), digging into aspects of content, technology, and services that the library might develop for digital humanities scholars. I was compelled to select an article that addressed this subject, as I recently attended a web broadcast of the “Collections as Data” livestream where DH and librarianship were discussed together several times2, leading me to consider my own background in musicology and librarianship and how they might overlap through a digital humanities lens.

The members of the journal club chose to assess the article in question from a few different angles: context, audience, methodology, and findings, and conclusions. Our discussion of the article was aided by use of the EBL Critical Appraisal Checklist.3 Developed by Lindsay Glynn, this tool is made up of a series of questions that help guide the reader through assessment of the study including: study design, including population, data collection, study design, and results.4 We found that using the checklist allowed us to think critically about each aspect of the study design, to assess the reliability, validity, and usability within our own professional context. A summary of our discussion is presented below.

Context & Audience

During our conversation, we noted that this article is aimed at library managers, or those who may be in an administrative role looking to gain a quick picture of the role of libraries in interacting with digital humanities scholars. It was noted that the link between libraries and digital humanities has already appeared in the literature on many occasions, and that to get a fuller picture of how libraries might approach this collaborative work, reading other critical opinions will be of utmost importance. One may want to consult the list of resources provided by the dh+lib folks, which can be found on their website, to get a sense of some of the core literature.5

Methods

The methods section of this article describes how the researchers consulted various evidence sources to identify current challenges and opportunities for collaboration between DH and libraries. In this case, the authors state that they have combined findings from a literature review and virtual and physical site visits to “humanities schools, research centers, and academic libraries.” The databases were shared, though search terms were not. We felt that including this information would be helpful both for assessing the quality of the search and for other researchers hoping to replicate or build on the review. The search resulted in 69 articles, 193 websites, and 2 physical site. While discussing the validity of these evidence sources, we felt that while the literature and online site visits may provide a more representative selection of sources to draw conclusions from, the sample of physical sites was not large enough for sufficiently precise estimates.

Findings

Zhang, Ying and Mathews’ findings include both challenges and opportunities for collaboration between DH and digital library communities. Description of how the evidence was weighed or analysed to retrieve these results was not clearly outlined in the paper, and we felt that including such information would assist the reader to evaluate the usefulness and reliability of the findings. A summary of these findings is provided in the accompanying chart.

Challenges Opportunities
• “DH is not necessarily accepted as qualifying scholarship… novel methodologies and the theoretical assumptions behind their work have been questioned by their peers from traditional humanities schools of thought.” • Creating “knowledge through new methods”
• “The DH community has unbalanced geographical and disciplinary distributions… Related DH collections are not yet integrated. These digital collections are distributed in different schools, academic units, museums, archives, and libraries. Few efforts have been made to link related resources together.” • Working “across disciplines [that] are highly collaborative”
• “The technologies used in DH create barriers for new scholars to learn and for projects to be sustainable” • Producing a “unit of currency…[that] is not necessarily an article or a book, but rather, a project…usually published using an open web platform, allowing users to dynamically interact with underlying data,”
• Establishing “major scholarly communication, professionalization, and educational channels”

Conclusions

In the conclusion of the article, Zhang, Ying and Mathers present a positive perspective on the opportunities for collaboration between the DH and library community: “To make collaborative work more successful, we, LIS professionals, need to challenge ourselves to continuously grow new skill sets on top of existing expertise and becoming hybrid professionals. The DL community should strive to make ourselves more visible, valuable, and approachable to the DH community. Even better, the DL community need to become part of the DH community.”

On this point, the journal club’s conversation focussed on the capacity of libraries to take on these new collaborations, and whether we are necessarily prepared for such projects. These thoughts are echoed by Posner, who writes in her article, “No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library” that “DH is possible in a library setting…but that DH is not, and cannot be, business as usual for a library. To succeed at digital humanities, a library must do a great deal more than add ‘digital scholarship’ to an individual librarian’s long string of subject specialties.”6

The domain of DH is compelling and creative: it incorporates new methods, produces innovative means of dissemination, and combines diverse perspectives on research. Libraries are well positioned to contribute to this domain, though exactly how this should or can happen is not found in a one-size-fits-all answer. Zhang, Ying and Mathers present some good points that may serve to begin a conversation on how libraries and DH folks might work together. Further research on each of these points is up for further investigation for the librarian or administrator aiming to implement these strategies in their own institution.

1“Library Management.” https://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com/title/1478296246359/117078

2Library of Congress. “Collections as Data: Stewardship and Use Models to Enhance Access” September 27, 2016. Accessed November 4, 2016: http://digitalpreservation.gov/meetings/dcs16.html

3EBL Critical Appraisal Checklist. http://ebltoolkit.pbworks.co/f/EBLCriticalAppraisalChecklist.pdf

4Glynn, Lindsay. “A critical appraisal tool for library and information research”, Library Hi Tech 24, no. 3 (2006): 387 – 399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/07378830610692154

5“Readings” dh+lib. Website. Accessed November 4, 2016. http://acrl.ala.org/dh/dh101/readings/

6Posner, Miriam. “No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library.” Journal of Library Administration 53, (2013): 43-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2013.756694

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

The Librarian’s Guide to Surviving (and thriving) During Conference Season

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan

It’s that time of year again: conference season. It seems like myself and all of my library colleagues are out there right now, presenting, networking, and gathering ideas to bring back to the workplace. That being said, not every conference experience is a positive one. Here are some of my tips and tricks for making it through your next conference like a pro!

1) Plan for success. Preview the conference schedule beforehand and prioritize the things you absolutely need to attend (committee meetings, chapter sessions, your own presentation (!), etc.) and then the ones you’d really like to see. Pick your scheduling method of choice. A colleague of mine prefers to highlight the heck out of the print schedule, while I’ve found that taking advantage of the conference apps such as Guidebook can be really handy.

Don’t forget to give yourself time to see some of the local sights as well! If there’s an afternoon you can get away from the conference or – even better – if you can book an extra day or two on either end of the conference, you’ll be happy you did. It can be really frustrating to travel across the country to only see the inside of a convention centre. Plus, exploring the city with your fellow conference attendees is a great networking activity.

2) Surf the backchannel. Find the conference hashtag and tap into real-time Twitter/Facebook/Instagram conversations to find out what folks are saying about everything from the conference sessions, venue, and best place to grab a quick bite to eat. It can be a great way to feel engaged and connected. Just remember, if you’ve got something negative to say on Twitter, be sure you’re ready to have the same conversation in person at the coffee break.

When I’m presenting, I find Twitter provides a quick and easy way to see how my presentation went over with the audience and gives me an opportunity to answer questions or send out links following the allotted presentation time. It’s always good to include the presenter in the conversation as well with an @ mention and use the conference hashtag, so those following from afar can also tap into what’s going on. There’s a lot to consider about the merits, drawbacks and etiquette of conference tweeting. Check out Ryan Cordell’s article and suggested tweeting principles for more ideas.

3) Making networking meaningful. Small talk can be intimidating, but it’s certainly not impossible. Fallon Bleich’s article Small Talk at Conferences: How to Survive It offers some good tips.

As much as it can be tempting to talk to the people you already know, try to also work in some conversations with people you’ve never met, or someone you’ve always wanted to chat with. When in doubt, ask them what they’re working on at the moment. You might learn something new or even find someone new to collaborate with! I’ve had some great collaborative research projects come out of a simple conversation at a conference reception.

4) Presenting like a Pro. So much has already been written about how to give a good presentation. But as a rule of thumb, whether you’re using PowerPoint, Prezi, Google Slides, or Reveal, make sure your presentation slides aren’t more interesting than you are as a speaker. Selinda Berg discussed this in a previous C-EBLIP blog post where she argued for “PowerPoint as a companion…not as a standalone document to be read.” I couldn’t agree more. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be outdone by your own conference slides!

5) Mindful reflection. Take time before the conference to set an intention for your experience there. Is there a particular problem you want to solve, certain people you need to have a face-to-face conversation with, or vendors that you need to approach? Conferences can go by quickly. Make sure you’ve identified your goals in advance so they become a priority while you’re there. I like to use a free note taking system such as Evernote to write everything down. Once I get home, I reread my notes and reflect on my experience. How can I apply what I learned in my own practice or research? Who do I need to follow up with?

Everyone has their own approach to travelling, presenting, and networking at professional events. These are some of the things that have worked for me and helped to make the whole experience more beneficial and enjoyable overall. Whatever your approach, I encourage you to sit back and enjoy the ride. Happy conference season, everyone!

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Useful, Useable, Desireable: C-EBLIP Journal Club, January 7, 2016

by Jaclyn McLean
Collection Services, University Library
University of Saskatchewan

At our first journal club meeting of 2016, I chose an article from Weave; a new peer-reviewed, OA, web-based journal, to start a discussion about usability principles and teams in academic libraries:

Godfrey, K. (2015). Creating a culture of usability. Weave: Journal of Library User Experience, 1(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/weave.12535642.0001.301

I’ve been reading a lot in the areas of usability and user experience (UX), especially in libraries, as I build a foundation of knowledge for my program of research. This article seemed like an interesting introduction for those less familiar with usability principles, and the idea of a culture of usability across the library intrigued me. I also like the Weave editorial philosophy, especially their primary aim “to improve the practice of UX in libraries, and in the process, to help libraries be better, more relevant, more useful, more accessible places.” This aligns well with some of the reasons I picked usability and UX for my research, and ideas I keep in mind in my practice as well. And before I dig into the article, and our discussion, I just want to mention something about usability and UX. Weave is a journal aiming to improve UX, but the article we read was about usability teams and principles. Usability and UX are not the same (though you’ll see the terms used nearly interchangeably at times, incorectly).

Godfrey’s article could be divided into two broad sections: a description of usability and usability teams, and an examination of the local experience at Memorial University Libraries. In the first section, she frames her discussion with a literature search on usability principles and practices, and the newer concept of standing usability teams in libraries. She also discusses the importance of making usability a core concept in all areas of library development – physical, virtual, and service. She describes the core concepts of usability, and how Memorial is consciously applying the idea of examining pain points and other concepts usually confined to online environments, to their physical spaces. The challenges of creating a culture of usability (or of changing any culture), and especially the concept of join-in rather than buy-in when attempting such a significant change were very interesting to think about.

The second section gives an overview of the Memorial University Libraries context, and how the implementation of a usability team went there. Godfrey outlines how the team was formed, what’s been done so far, and some plans for the future. She identifies the creation of their usability team as “the first step to creating a culture of usability and improving the user experience.”

Our discussion ranged widely, from the style of the article, to ideas of usability beyond the web, concepts of building culture, and beyond. Several of us were hungry for more – details of the actual projects undertaken by the usability team and their outcomes – but recognized that this wasn’t the article we had in our hands. This article felt more like an introduction to the concept of standing usability teams in libraries, an overview of usability concepts, and some local experiences rather than a full case study or assessment of a usability team in a library.

The bulk of our discussion focused on local context. We already do a lot of talking about our different cultures and how to build them here, and have focused recently on building cultures in the area of leadership, project management, assessment, and EBLIP. How many cultures can one workplace consciously foster, we wondered? Could we honestly see something like a standing usability team happening here? In the end, we thought that adopting usability concepts and ideas into work we already do, and good standing committees that are already in place would be more successful in our context. In that way, we specifically talked about EBLIP – because by it’s very definition, EBLIP takes into account our users. So maybe rather than adding a new culture shift to our agenda, it’s more about keeping the user aspect of EBLIP in mind when we implement or assess services and programs – and use that as a reminder to stop assuming we know what our users need, or as a reminder to check in with our users on a regular basis.

Libraries have a bad reputation of looking inward and forgetting about our users – so even broad discussions of user preferences and initial user consultation could be a significant improvement. I know from my own area of work (technical services), a key example of how we fall down on user consultation is when a discovery system needs to be reconfigured, and only library staff are consulted for needs/preferences, rather than users.

In the end, this article made us hungry for more. As practitioners, we were immediately curious about the how and the what of the work. We wanted to see the outcomes of the iterative testing, the aggregated responses from the survey, and the results from this standing team. We hope that Godfrey is planning a follow-up with more of the details from on the ground, so we can continue to learn from what seems to be a unique project. Krista, if you’re reading this, I hope that you are planning to share more about the work you’ve done so far and what’s planned next!