National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC) 2016

This was a really great conference, and not just because I went to Universal Studies Hollywood to look at the Harry Potter section of the park when the conference was over. ūüėČ

I’m a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to things like this, so it might not be that exciting for more seasoned folks, but I co-presented a poster for the first time! I am on ACRL’s Instruction Section’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee, and during the last year, we have been updating a selected bibliography of resources for inclusive library instruction. A few of us from the committee decided to present a poster on our work to help advertise the bibliography. I met one of my committee colleagues in June at another conference, but it was nice to get to talk with the other group members in person. Working online with this group has been a great experience. This coming year, we’ll be working on the Multilingual Glossary. Click here for the description of our poster.

NDLC Poster

For quick access (the tl;dr version), here are the sessions I attended in a list. The links take you to the descriptions from the program. Below this list, I have included my notes/thoughts for each session. I really need to start doing summaries when they are more fresh in my mind.

Keynote Address

We had the very great honor of hearing a message from Lakota Harden. She spoke a little about her background, including her time at a residential boarding school; her people’s relationship to water; the protests happening against the Dakota pipeline; and unlearning racism and gender discrimination.

Harden took a few questions, as well. Someone asked about preservation and access to items in museums and archives. Harden asked how many of us had visited the National Museum of the American Indian. “How did those things get there?” Talk about living in a post-colonial world view. I didn’t grow up going to museums, so I have always thought of these these places as “fancy”rather than as places that serve to make a spectacle of native culture for the enjoyment of non-native people. But it is true. (Here is Ulali’s song “Museum Cases.”) She explained that when people visit or drive by reservations, they don’t want to see reality and yearn for a romanticized view of Native Americans. This makes me think about the part in Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad where Cora and a few other young black women posed for a museum installation. Harden explained that things were being returned to native populations.

She also spoke about white people’s tendency to “help” as a way to feel better and get an “innocent certificate.” Someone asked how the library community could help native voices. Harden expressed that the act of listening and hearing lifts the weight of the loss of language, devastation, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, and lack of education affecting Native American peoples.¬†Someone else asked about the lack of native representation in children’s literature, and Harden expressed that native communities are dealing with very scary, difficult situations, so it’s not surprising that there is a lack of materials. She asked that we become allies, that we continue to include native voices in our collections and programs, that we go out to meet the native community where they are and listen. “Coming together is a sacred act.”

Identity at Play: Exploring Racial and Identity Theory in Everyday Experiences in Academic Libraries

This panel was slightly different from that described on the program. The focus of the program was on these three questions.

  1. What is identity theory? How do race/ethnicity shape our sense of self?
  2. What does intersectionality mean? How do we unpack it?
  3. How can we apply this framework to our work?

In introducing racial and identity theory, the panelists asked us to think about how identity may play out in the library. Asking for help is simply uncomfortable; it’s a sign of vulnerability. One of the participants shared a story where a student who was not white had waited a really long time to ask a librarian a question related to blackness because she waited for a non-white librarian. I can understand how the student would have been uncomfortable, not just asking for help, but asking for help from someone who may or may not be an ally. The panelists brought up Hall’s chapter in The 21st Century Black Librarian in America (2012), “The Black Body at the Reference Desk: Critical Race Theory and Black Librarianship.” It sounded really familiar, and then I realized I had come across the citation in Hathcock’s article “White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS” (2015) from In the Library With the Lead Pipe.

In the intersectionality section, the panelists introduced the work of Kimberl√© Crenshaw, who coined the term in 1989. The panelists also pointed to Crenshaw’s Washington Post article from September 2015, “Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait.”

In my notes, I also listed the citations below, but I have no context for why I wrote them down.

Bonnet, J.L., & McAlexander, B. (2013). First impressions and the reference encounter: The influence of affect and clothing on librarian approachability. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 4 (39), 335-346. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2012.11.025

Ortega, A.C., & Ramos, M. (2012). Recruiting and mentoring: Proactive mentoring: Attracting Hispanic American students in information studies. In J.L. Ayala & Salvador GuerenŐÉa (Eds.), Pathways to progress: Issues and advances in Latino librarianship (103-124). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Price (2010)? Why would I write only this? I should use this to show students why taking good notes saves a lot of hair-pulling.

Academic Libraries Spearheading Diversity and Cultural Initiatives on University Campuses

In this lightning round, librarians from four institutions shared what they have been doing on their campuses to support diversity and introducing students to new cultures.

I was very impressed by the programming work at the University of Cincinnati Library. One thing they did was provide students with diversity/inclusion journals at the beginning of the year. These are just composition books, so not at all expensive. During each cultural event or program, the library provided a writing prompt for students to reflect on. The journals were not collected; the intent was to help cultivate a culture of writing. While the librarians shared several wonderful examples of diversity programming and events, there were two that I was very interested in. Around Thanksgiving, the library held an event called Coming Together to Give Thanks. The speakers were students who shared cultural foods, rituals, and traditions from their home countries or ethnic backgrounds. I was also very drawn to the library’s Reading Around the World book club. Click here to find their LibGuide to learn more about it.

At the University of Tennessee Knoxville, there is a campus-wide diversity committee with library representation. I believe there are also campus representatives on the library’s diversity committee. For the last 15 years, the University Libraries have had a three-year diversity residency program. I was very impressed to learn that the library still has a relationship with former residents. The university also has an Office for Diversity and Interculturalism, a Black Issues Conference, and an International Festival. I didn’t write down how the library is involved, which is a bummer, but I can contact the librarians who spoke about these programs and events. The campus and the library seem very engaged in diversity efforts.

Chapman University, which has an emphasis on global citizenship, has a very robust exhibit program focused on diversity in its Leatherby Libraries. Essraa Nawar (check out her TED Talk!), the library development coordinator, explained that she has had great success in pairing fundraising with diversity efforts. I was so blown away by the sorts of donors and exhibits they have had at Chapman that I didn’t even write down a single example.

I was so happy to see folks from California State University Fresno! I’m a CSU graduate–both for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and Fresno is just south of Merced. I was also very impressed with the Henry Madden Library‘s diversity work both in and outside the library. Click here to see the library’s diversity committee Facebook page. The committee supports the university’s mission to promote and celebrate diversity through library programming and exhibits, LGBTQ Allies, Library Diversity Lounge, Meditation and Prayer Room, and International Coffee Hour Presentations.

Educating the Educators: Proactive Approaches to the Inclusive Classroom

This session was comprised of two individual presentations. The first presentation was given by Paula M. Smith from Penn State Abington and focused on the Global Awareness Dialogue Project (GADP). GADP is a faculty development program that engages faculty in the exchange of ideas about contemporary global issues in education, with an emphasis on non-Western educational systems. The sessions are three hours long and are open to 20 or so faculty members who register for the program.

After Smith introduced the session, we were asked to complete The Numbers Exercise, which was developed by Roxanna Senyshyn and Marianne Brandt. Essentially, it’s a list of simple math problems, but the directions indicate that subtract means to multiply; divide means to add; add means to divide; and multiply means to subtract. So 12 x 2 really means 12-2. After a few minutes, Smith asked how we felt completing the worksheet. I said it was stressful. The idea behind this is that this is the sort of frustration international and immigrant students feel navigating American academic life.

Smith then discussed the types of GADP sessions they have had at the university. In one program,  a panel of international and immigrant students, representing East Asian, African, South Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, were able to tell faculty members about some struggles they have had in the classroom. For example, Chinese students were not familiar with cursive. Students were Googling the characters one by one! The students also said they felt stupid because many of their classmates would leave exams early. Chinese students, if given 30 minutes, will use the whole time. There are also some challenges about what academic integrity means in a western framework. What a wonderful way to include student voices and help faculty foster more inclusive classrooms.

I’m really itching to talk to someone about this, but being so new, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for me. However, the person in charge of Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning is also new. We actually sat next to each other at the new employee orientation.

One neat thing I jotted down that was a result of one of the GADP sessions was that faculty members who speak more than one language started putting little stickers (or signs) on their windows/doors that said, “My name is_____. I speak ________.” How fabulous! I’m thinking about doing that underneath the name plate on my office window.

The second presentation was given by Shannon Simpson from Johns Hopkins University. She helped developed the Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE), which is a toolkit of “best practices [and] a repository of specific examples that all faculty are welcome to replicate or re-use.”

Simpson shared a sample assignment that professors/librarians teaching information literacy, business, marketing, and communication could use. It’s a simple but effective assignment. “In 2014 a food and entertainment public relations firm called Strange Fruit was the subject of a media backlash. Ask the students to Google the term strange fruit to see why.” (I literally gasped out loud that no one at this company knew what this meant!) Students then answer these questions:

  • To what does the term refer?
  • Where did the term originate and who has used it since then?
  • What would you tell this firm if during the media firestorm they had come to you for advice?

During the session, we also did a pair-share in which we came up with groups or people we could partner with to share about TILE, such as a diversity committee, student life/affinity groups, teaching and learning groups, university departments, human resources, provost/president’s office, and other relevant people or groups. I plan to share this resource with the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning. I will probably also share this resource with some of the writing lecturers I know who I think would be interested in this. I also plan to ask my colleagues from ACRL’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee if we can add this resource to the bibliography; the general resources section is a great catch-all.

Why We Stay: The Motivation of Veteran Underrepresented Minority Academic Librarians

I actually met Antonia (Toni) Olivas trying to find where the keynote address was going to be held, and I am glad I was able to attend the session she was moderating. While Olivas was completing her dissertation on motivational theory, she realized she wanted to do a larger project and decided to edit a book. Choosing to Lead: The Motivational Factors of Underrepresented Minority Librarians in Higher Education will be published in early 2017, and I can’t wait to read it.

At the beginning of the session, Olivas briefly discussed Chan and Drasgow’s (2001) Motivation to Lead (MTL), which includes personality, values, self-efficacy, and previous experience. Motivational identities include affective, social normative, and non-calculative. Most minority librarians stay in the profession due to these identities.

This panel was organized around the themes of the chapters in Olivas’ book. The panelists included Shannon Jones, Oscar Baeza, and Binh P Le. Each gave advice or their perspective based on the themes of the chapters. I actually found this to be a very applicable session, and I honestly feel like the advice is helpful for all new and early career librarians.

Chapter 1, for example, is on self-development, and Jones explained that librarians should have a strategic plan for themselves. Write your own SWOT analysis and make a three-year career road map. I haven’t actually done this before. I have had goals and met them and made new goals, but I’ve not ever done this systematically. This is definitely a project I need to undertake this semester, especially as I have started a new job.

Chapter 2 is on knowing yourself. Baeza explained that librarians should know who they are, including knowing their strengths and weaknesses and where they come from. He emphasized family history. I find this to be absolutely true. Every time I begin to think of myself as not being successful, I remind myself that my family is proud of me. That is enough. I am so thankful for the support they have given me, even if they didn’t understand what I was doing.

Chapter 3 is on trust. Le said it plainly, “People need to trust you in order for you to lead.”

Chapter 4 is on family impact. This sort of goes with chapter 2 for me. Jones shared a beautiful story about her grandmother wanting her grandchildren to go to college, to do the things she was not given the opportunity to do as black woman born in 1912. Jones’ grandmother had a seventh grade education. She had a saying that if people wanted to keep things from black people, they would put them in books. She cultivated a culture of reading, taking her grandchildren to the library and teaching them that they should look for answers to questions. It was so touching to hear Jones talk about the impact her grandmother made on her life.

Chapter 5 is on support groups. Jones mentioned that mentors are “for a reason and a season.” I find this to be true. Currently, I realize I am in need of a couple of new mentors. She also mentioned that mentors advise and friends inspire. Certainly, your mentor should be a cheerleader in some ways, but constructive criticism is needed, too.The other thing Jones said that I found particularly inspiring was to be brave enough to walk through doors people open for you. I was intimidated about starting my new job, but then I heard from one of my references about a conversation she had had with the folks here. Without saying too much, I knew it would be both a place where I could help the library meet its goals and mission and also grow as person and professional. Jones also advised that we ought to open doors for others. If you are in the position of being a mentor, be honest, realistic, responsive, and create an exit strategy for the mentorship for both yourself and the person you are mentoring if it doesn’t work out. s

Chapter 6 has to do with involvement. Some of the most fulfilling experiences for me have been participating in campus and national committees. I am really glad that I didn’t shy away from contributing where I could in my previous job, and I am also finding ways to contribute at my new employer, both in the library and university-wide. Le really spoke well when he said committee work is not something we should avoid but actively seek out, even if it means you have to ask how you can contribute if there isn’t a specific call.

Chapter 7 is on preventing burn out. I know this is the area where I struggle. The panelists all emphasized that self-care is essential, and each shared some ways that they blow off steam or find inspiration, from keeping thank you notes to finding non-library people to you can vent to. Jones also advised that we ought to be selective about projects we take on. Some questions to ask yourself include whether an opportunity fits within your plan and/or if you can do it well in addition to your other duties and responsibilities

We skipped a couple of chapters to wrap up the session, but one of the last words of advice I wrote down was that it’s okay to sell yourself and toot your own horn.

The Library as Connector: Creating Collaborative Outreach Opportunities for Diverse Student Populations

I was really interested in attending this session because one of the people on the ACRL committee I am on works at University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and I also wanted to see my fellow University of California colleagues Roberto Delgadillo and Robin Gustafson from the University Library at UC Davis. This was a fantastic session!

The UNLV University Libraries have done fantastic work with the LGBT community at the university and area high schools. I was impressed, and it was good to know that the library is helping students who may be struggling with their identity find a place where they can be themselves and be successful college students.

The presenters introduced research about why it is important for them to work with LGBTQ students. GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey “… has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” The presenters briefly asked if anyone in the audience had seen the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Ask Me video. I have, and it is very moving. In the video, LGBTQ students express what they want their professors to know. Lastly, the presenters shared a book called Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2010). Not only can the library “play a big role by providing student access to LGBTQ people, history, and events through library and internet sources,” but we can also build a community where students can pursue education and learning with less fear. Click here to check out the UNLV University Libraries’ LGBTQIA LibGuide.

In order to build community, the University Libraries have had some really neat events. For example, for this year’s REMixed Week (as a culturally mixed person, I was really excited to see this), the Lied Library, in collaboration with UNLV’s¬† Center for Social Justice, MEChA, Jean Nidetch Women’s Center, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University, and Students Organizing Diversity Activities (SODA), held a paint party and screening of Transvisible: The Bamby Salcedo Story. The library also participated in the Coming Out Carnival and GSA Talent Show. They also held a Banned Books Buffet Book Tasting, which was an interactive, self-paced event that highlighted books censored for various reasons. The library also has helped foster partnerships between the University’s GSA and the GSAs at area high schools.

The presentation from from UC Davis focused on how the library aligned its diversity goals to the campus goals by creating strategic partnerships to empower all students. This presentation was interesting because it included mini presentations from the director for the new Strategic Chicana/o and Latina/o Retention Initiatives and the director for Academic Services in the¬† the Athletics department at UC Davis, who touched on how the library has been assisting in their efforts to aid Latino students and student-athletes. While the University doesn’t yet have a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students yet, it does have a Center for African Diaspora Student Success and plans to open a Native American student center and a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students. (Click here to see a list of multicultural resources available at UC Davis.) In reaching the student-athletes, the library has helped in a life skills class that is designed for athletes but is not required. In the class, the library has given workshops and gone over services, such as the 24/7 chat service. The library also has allowed the football team to have evening study sessions. The Academic Services director from the Athletics Department let participants know that every athletics department has academic services staff and suggested getting in contact to form a collaboration to reach student-athletes.

Documenting the Future (& Past)

As of yesterday, I have exactly one month before I leave Merced College, and I have started preparing for the new librarian who will be making the Los Banos Campus Library his or her new work home. (Here is the job ad for the position I am leaving, by the way.)

Last summer, Meredith Farkas’ American Libraries column was about what to do¬†to ensure your projects continue after you’ve left a position, “Future-Proof Your Project.” Documentation is so important when leaving a job. When I got my position, documentation wasn’t necessary because my predecessor (and librarian mentor) was switching¬†to the other campus, so I could easily call to ask questions.¬†I have been working on a Word document that is simply a list of things to know: a little library history, accounts to get set up (LibGuides, Text-a-Librarian, Sirsi Workflows, etc.), collection needs and procedures, things I worked on and things I still wanted to do, etc. I also have a message about how important it is for him or her to make the library his or her own;¬†I have my strengths, and the new person will¬†have other strengths.¬†I also included my personal email and cell phone number. I have nine single-spaced pages so far.

I added the librarians at the other campus as co-owners to all of my LibGuides, so they can share those with the new librarian. I got¬†rid of paper and digital files¬†the new librarian won’t need and re-organized the file drawers. ¬†Our campus has a shared drive, so I am updating the Library folder in there, too, with various folders for electronic copies of handouts, important forms, instruction calendars, and other things I mention in the Word document I am writing up.

I switched all my listserv subscriptions to my Gmail, started forwarding a few emails, and boxed up the things to take home, including a binder full of flyers I made over the last few years for displays, events, and contests.

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I also started cleaning out my office.

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Doing these things has also helped me realize that I was able to accomplish some good¬†things in¬†the three years I was full-time in Los Banos.¬†Ultimately, I am glad I was able to be an energizing force on our small campus. Their librarian wasn’t a shushing, stern type.¬†I was able to make small steps to get¬†a more user-centered space. Culture is the hardest thing to shape, but I made progress.¬†I was able to have some fun displays, contests, and activities, including Game Nights. Through these and other communication efforts, the¬†faculty and student groups began to see and use the library as a campus hub. Our student government even had a campus suggestion box in the Library at one point. And let’s not forget about the food pantry! I feel great that the¬†faculty and staff knew they could count on the Library to help,¬†in both instructional and non-instructional efforts. I was able to build solid relationships in our campus¬†community.

And the students knew they could count on me, too. To quote one of the student comments on my evaluation this year,¬†“Definitely not the crusty old librarian stereotype.” I feel really good about that.

December 2015 & January 2016 Library Displays

The last day of the fall semester was December 18th, and the spring semester started on January 19th, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

I don’t really have a whole lot of time in December as students are hurriedly finishing final papers. Our library media technician pulled some winter and holiday items out for a quick display, which always stresses me because we don’t have a whole lot of variety when it comes to holidays. I always forget to have the main library order me some children’s titles about Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Ramadan, and I vow to ask by the end of today. We have a part-time child development instructor at our site, so we have a small children’s collection specifically for an assignment involving multiculturalism. As someone who worked as a bilingual (Spanish/English) library assistant in the children’s department at a public library, I desperately need to make this a priority before embarking on the next chapter in my library career (more on that soon). Because of those changes, my display game this term will be even simpler. I decided to forgo linking the titles in Smore and will just be posting photos.

Sure enough, I didn’t even have time to link the titles I used for the refugee display I had in December anyway. I was really pleased–people checked items out!

Refugees

For the latter half of January, I had some Martin Luther King, Jr. books out, and I also highlighted some of our biographies (I did a little cleaning in this section, and I think I am done for now) about survival, failure, and success.

MLK

Survival

 

November 2015 Library Displays

So it’s February, but here¬†are the displays I had up in November.

I love highlighting Native American Heritage Month. This year, I focused on items that relate to California and CA’s Central Valley.

Native American Heritage Month

Although I am Mexican-American, D√≠a de los Muertos is not something my family does, mostly because my mom’s side is not Catholic. I really enjoy how much interest develops around the display.¬†Here’s the online display, which I especially like.¬†I re-used last year’s D√≠a de los Muertos sign. One of the¬†evening librarians made the tissue paper flowers during Hispanic Heritage Month, so I re-used a few.

Dia de los Muertos

For Veterans Day, the library media bookstore technician (she is now full-time–the first full-time staff position our little library has ever had!) re-used a banner we had last year for people to honor those who have served in the military. It’s blue butcher paper with white stars attached. People are encouraged to write in a veteran’s name with markers i leave on the windowsill.¬†We put the banner in the hallway outside the library. The technician¬†also put together the display we had inside the library. She also advertised the city’s second annual Veterans Day parade.

Veterans Day

I had one Major Idea display about criminal justice (you can read more about this¬†display series¬†in my August 2015 Library Displays post). I stopped doing this series in November because the space I was using is where I moved our children’s and young adult section. Our history section is out of control, and it was getting way too full, so I moved things around to create room before tackling the 900s this semester.

Criminal Justice

October 2015 Library Displays

In October, I had two Major Idea displays (see the August 2015 Library Displays post to learn more about what this is), one about math and another about English, which focused on fairy tales as a theme to explore literature studies.

English

Mathematics

October 15th was also the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. See the September 2015 Library Displays post about it here..

I also put together a quick display for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which included directions for conducting a breast self-exam in both English and Spanish. I snagged up the instructions during an event our campus had last year that had booths from the community, including the local health center.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

One of our part-time evening librarians put together our Halloween display this year, for which I am very grateful. Here’s the online flyer I made for her display. Since I have more¬†people to rely on in the library and now know what can be delegated, it’s been fun to see others’ creativity.

Halloween

October is always the beginning of research paper season around here, so it’s been busy! I’ll have to share more about that¬†soon.

Participatory Culture & Vernacular Collections at the Library

I have a bad habit of collecting links through the save feature on Facebook. However, I seem to notice a penchant for public art. Consider this Colossal post about an artist who bought billboard and this NPR article about kids’ art taking over billboards in Times Square. I love members of communities being able to¬†take part in their communities.¬†Participatory culture is something I have been trying to cultivate in the community college library.

In Fall 2013, I did half of the Hyperlinked Library MOOC through San Jos√© State University, my MLIS alma mater. It allowed me to explore a little more about user experience, and it really got my excited about the possibilities for participatory culture in libraries. In one class discussion, I shared about the display space kids in the community are able to use to display collections of all kinds¬†in the children’s department of the Stanislaus County Library (I worked as a bilingual Spanish/English library assistant in the children’s department for a couple of years). Kids ages 4 and up can sign up for either a display table or display case to show off rocks, soap, dolls, books, trains, cars, PEZ dispensers, LEGO creations, etc. The collections were very unique and customers of all ages love looking at new arrrivals. The collections stay in a locked¬†case or table for two weeks. It truly is one of the coolest things that allow kids in our community to really feel that the library is theirs. (As it turns out, the idea of displaying everyday items is a thing. I did a little research, and these are called vernacular museums. I have to do a little more reading about them, but I did contact a professor from Pine Manor College about her work last year.)

I also think this idea would work well in even an academic library if locked displays cases are available.¬†The University Library at my undergraduate alma mater, California State University Stanislaus, sort of has this with their Warrior Book Contest, which is essentially a topical bibliography students can submit. Winners can have some of their books put on display, and it’s always really interesting to see the winners’ lists and displays. I have a friend from college who won one year. I have tried a similar tactic to have individual students sign up to do book and online resource displays at the community college library, but it hasn’t worked out so far. We only have one student club on campus, so I am going to check with them this semester. But the idea of displaying collections doesn’t have to just be books and online resources. It could be action figures¬†or Hello Kitty memorabilia. College can be fun.