Thursday, December 2, 2021, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Welcome: 9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
ACRL/NY business meeting
Keynote: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Session 1: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Collective Care for Library Workers: Creating Communities of Care
Workplaces have weaponized self-care against us, shifting the responsibility of healing and wellness to workers, instead of creating healthier workplace cultures. This co-option of self-care leaves us in danger of being isolated in our struggle and healing. We’re expected to leave our traumas at the door when we enter our workplaces. Our workplaces are not our families or friends; they will not take care of us. Rather, if we are struggling, especially if we are a part of a marginalized community, we will be pushed out and potentially ostracized. As revolutionary organizer, author, writer, and speaker, Grace Lee Bogg said, “The only way to survive is by taking care of one another.”
Community care is a strategy of collective interdependence that influences how we organize, take care of each other, and ourselves, stemming from disability justice activism. Community care is imperfect, sometimes messy, always a work in progress, and still a necessary political intervention to create communities where we don’t just survive, we thrive.
In this presentation, I will introduce the concept of community care and why it’s important, share strategies for integrating community care into our libraries, discuss how community care applies to themes such as accessibility, meetings, sustainability, working/caring practices, productivity, and inclusion, and provide participants a PDF of reflection questions and strategies for embracing this work at their own institutions. This presentation will be informed by my lived experiences as a chronically ill and disabled, queer femme survivor and librarian, as well as my professional expertise in trauma-informed librarianship, community building, engagement, and instruction.
Lunch break: 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Session 2: 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Remote Discussions During Tough Times: A Diversity Discussion Series for Library Employees
Vanessa Arce, Lehman College, CUNY | Alison Lehner-Quam, Lehman College, Education Librarian | Rebecca Arzola, Lehman College, Government Information and Student Engagement Librarian
The murder of George Floyd and other African-Americans at the hands of police sparked a wave of protests during Summer 2020. This historical moment witnessed proliferation of Support Statements for Black Lives Matter (BLM) from a variety of organizations. Drafting these Statements often generated debates. Some even revealed fatal tensions or blind spots within organizations such as National Book Critics Circle and Poetry Foundation. Controversy surrounding BLM Support Statements also affected libraries, even prompting investigation of a Nevada public library director by its Board of Trustees (Penrose, 2020).
While our Library fortunately did not experience this level of controversy, the process of drafting our BLM Statement did reveal discomfort and lack of shared vocabulary when discussing race. This is not surprising given that readings related to diversity and critical race theory are uncommon in LIS curricula (Gibson et al., 2018), not to mention acknowledged lack of racial diversity in our profession.
In this context, our Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group resolved to take action. Library Conversations on Diversity and Inclusion Discussion Series was engendered out of a desire to create a safe space, where we could conduct discussions and learn together in a supportive environment. Beyond providing the opportunity to discuss potentially sensitive and charged topics, we hoped these conversations would support reflections on our practice that could positively impact how we serve our diverse student population and greater community. We aspired to include both library faculty and staff in these conversations.
Our opening meeting took place on Zoom in October 2020 with discussion of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, paired with the film, I Am Not Your Negro, about this author. Two additional discussions were held that semester, followed by another two in Spring 2021. For each event, we paired a film with a book and encouraged all members of the library team to attend, even if they had not viewed or read the items under consideration in their entirety.
This presentation will discuss the origin and context of the Discussion Series and how it fostered community, engagement, and collegiality within our Library during a challenging year of remote work. We will share choices made to encourage this sense of community: from collaborative selection of works to guidelines creating a safe space. Cognizant of valid criticisms of the “anti-racist book club” phenomenon (Fallon, 2020), we will critically evaluate the Discussion Series and reflect on whether we avoided potential pitfalls. Finally, we will present future plans for this Series.
Cultivating conversation at a distance: Designing virtual speed networking to overcome isolation
Emily Hector, University of Toronto Libraries | Kate Johnson, University of Toronto Libraries, Innis College Librarian | Georgina De Roche, Youth Services Librarian, Ajax Public Library
The global shutdowns brought on by COVID-19 have engendered feelings of social isolation and moved many professional development and networking experiences online. Along with other professions, librarianship has experienced a decline in opportunities to organically connect with new colleagues and potential collaborators at traditional in-person events, such as speed networking sessions. Speed networking, which has been used across disciplines to facilitate mentorship and foster collegiality, is an activity in which participants rotate through a series of rapid-fire conversations. These fun, casual, and conversational sessions have proven to successfully engage attendees in knowledge exchange, build interdisciplinary collaborations, and promote learning.
As part of the annual eLearning in Libraries Symposium, a grassroots colloquium that gathers together library professionals interested in online learning, our team was tasked with coordinating the conference’s speed-networking session. However, as 2020’s events moved online in the wake of COVID closures, we were confronted with the question: is there still value in hosting an online speed networking session, and if so, how do we achieve those same outcomes without being in the same room? As we transitioned this social activity online, we discovered that virtual speed networking sessions can be designed to directly address the unique challenges posed by remote work and schooling experiences: feelings of isolation, disconnection, and, for early-career professionals, the lack of access to their field’s professional community. Additionally, we learned that virtual speed networking opens up new possibilities for accessibility and inclusion, making this format a viable alternative for both current and future event.
In this presentation, we will share the details of our decision-making framework, planning process, and recommendations for organizing and convening successful speed networking sessions. As we worked to coordinate an engaging, participatory, community-building online event, we established a set of guiding priorities and, through an iterative process, landed upon solutions that were consonant with our values. We’ll share what we wish we knew at the beginning of this process, what we would do differently next time, and provide actionable takeaways for attendees who wish to cultivate conversation and cross-pollination amongst library workers through the virtual networking model.
Collaboration Across Institutions: How Colleagues from Academic Libraries Across New Jersey Support Each Other During the Pandemic
Katie Cohen, Ramapo College of New Jersey | Bethany Sewell, The College of New Jersey, Access Services and Reference Librarian
In May 2020, the New Jersey Access Services Discussion Group transformed from a listserv to a group that virtually met bi-weekly to discuss plans and exchange ideas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Access services and interlibrary loan librarians from colleges and universities around New Jersey grew to value this forum as a way to communicate with colleagues at a time of isolation. Hear from two of these librarians and learn how the listserv and Zoom meetings continuously help them deal with ever-changing circumstances. Bethany Sewell (Access Services and Reference Librarian; The College of New Jersey), and Katie Cohen (Interlibrary Loan, Reference and Instruction Librarian; Ramapo College of New Jersey), will discuss how their libraries adapted to the pandemic; balancing resource sharing needs, with other core activities such as reference and instruction. Panelists will discuss reopening plans, adjusting policies and services, implementing curbside delivery, working from home, and cross-training non-resource sharing librarians and staff. They will share details about building hours, accepting returns, quarantining materials, interlibrary loan practices, patron communication, shifting to electronic resources, renewing materials, and reciprocal borrowing. As semesters pass and state regulations evolve, New Jersey academic libraries continuously adapt, meet regularly to share updates, and look towards the future. Panelists will share feedback from New Jersey Access Services Discussion Group members to show how the listserv and Zoom meetings affected policies at the members’ libraries, and how individuals benefited from sharing ideas. Participants will leave with new ideas for group collaborations in regards to handling the pandemic in their resource sharing operations.
Closing remarks: 1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Friday December 3, 2021, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Welcome: 9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Scholarship winners introduced
Session 3: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
There’s No “I” in Self-Governance: A Panel Discussing an Ongoing, Collaborative Process
Malin Abrahamsson, Hunter College | Stephanie Margolin, Instructional Design Librarian/Associate Professor | Meshaw Browne, Circulation Manager | Maria Guallpa, Stacks Manager | Sarah War
Earlier this year, in their portal Notes from the Field feature titled An “Anti-Handbook Handbook” for Unexpected Changes in a Library Organization, Malin Abrahamsson and Stephanie Margolin documented several years of their library organization’s work expanding participation and, as a collective, striving toward self-governance. As their library made these changes, one of the goals was to amplify the voices of staff members who had been historically excluded based entirely on their rank, despite having extensive expertise, institutional knowledge, and experience. When Abrahamsson and Margolin published their paper, one of their biggest concerns was, again, omitting the voices of other colleague-participants. As a remedy, they propose this panel that brings together four colleagues from their library, each of whom has had a different experience of this years-long process. Allowing people to tell their own story is the logical and necessary next step for this work which is founded on collaboration and has, more recently, turned its attention to effective inclusion.
Over a period of several years, the rank and file in this library voted for substantial revisions to the by-laws, most significantly by expanding participation in departmental meetings. By granting voting status to all members of the staff group, this library deliberately shifted away from a traditional faculty-run model. Also included in these revisions was a collectively-built committee system which was designed to guide the strategic work of the library. As these changes began to take effect, in early 2020, the library was closed for COVID-19, adding a layer of complication to mandatory remote work, and giving this academic library new challenges to address.
Our panelists, who represent diverse work responsibilities in the library, will share their stories. None of this work has gone smoothly, or exactly as planned. In some cases, this work has hit roadblocks. In others, opportunities have expanded. Above all, this panel is about a work in progress. We don’t have all the answers. By inviting questions, comments, and feedback from the audience, we expect this panel to become a two-way street that is useful for panelists and audience members alike.
Session 4: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Ignite Challenge: Fueling collegial collaboration to support our community
Katrina Rouan, Wayne State University | Matthew Wisotsky, Wayne State University, Associate Director
In 2021, the Wayne State University Library System launched the Ignite Challenge, a series of events designed to bring together staff from across the Library System to generate ideas and implement a solution to address a challenge. The inaugural theme asked participants to consider the ways we may use our existing infrastructures to create or modify library services or spaces to promote social justice in our community.
Over three months, colleagues were invited to contribute as their availability allowed to a series of events organized to promote inclusive dialogue, brainstorming, collaboration, and development of solution-based ideas that support social justice. The initiative was never intended to be the only way these ideas could move forward, but rather, was designed as a platform to create engagement amongst colleagues to introduce, develop and share their ideas. While three proposals were formally submitted, open ideation throughout the challenge created additional ideas we hope to revisit. Offering multiple communication platforms was imperative to the success of the Ignite Challenge, which was held exclusively in a remote work environment.
At the conclusion of the Ignite Challenge, the creation of a dedicated co-working space intended to enhance the library experience for student parents was selected for investment. The proposal includes updating Library System policies and providing resources to recognize and support student parents and their children. Following a similar approach as the overall Challenge, team leads for this proposal implemented a phased approach, allowing for flexible engagement from colleagues based on individual interest and capacity.
The Ignite Challenge encouraged participation from a diverse range of colleagues, regardless of their role or years of experience in the organization. Continuous platforms of engagement allowed for more robust and consistent participation throughout the process. Transparent and inclusive ideation allowed for cross-pollination of staff, who organically developed working groups based on shared interest rather than historical working relationships. Collaborative exercises, opportunities to prepare and present to colleagues, and being included through the entire process of developing, selecting, and implementing an idea, allowed participants of the Ignite Challenge to expand their personal and professional development.
The hope is for the Ignite Challenge to be an annual event. While the theme of the challenge may be flexible, the phased approach will likely remain, taking into consideration timeline, programming, and marketing adjustments based on learned outcomes and received feedback. Attendees will learn about this original programming series and see potential for applying similar approaches to build morale and collaboration in their own institutions.
Lunch break 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Session 5: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Mentor Up: Real-Life Perspectives from a Minority Mentee
Sarah Rodgers, Oglethorpe University
Research within the Library and Information Science field has highlighted the importance of allyship, mentorship, and support in the community to recruit and retain minorities–but what does that really look like?
In this presentation, I will describe my experience as a black, female mentee in the LIS field. I will discuss how my mentor-mentee relationships were established, what we did to develop them, and ways that my mentors have found to “check in” despite their own busy schedules. I will point to specific practices that I found extremely helpful, especially throughout my MLIS studies. In the interest of transparency, I will also touch on mentor-mentee interactions that have not worked as well.
I will connect my narrative to various papers, op-eds, and research that has already been done on the topic. Some of the works that I will be citing include “The Role of Mentorship Programs in LIS Education and in Professional Development” by Lacy and Copeland (2013), “White Librarianship In Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS” by Hathcock (2015), and talks by Nicole Cooke.
The overall goal of this presentation is to educate mentors and mentees on ways that they can create productive and positive relationships. It is also constructed with the knowledge that some libraries are in areas that are not as diverse as some would like, and that some white librarians may feel hesitant to approach BIPOC librarians and library workers as potential mentees. As someone who has had mentors from different races and backgrounds, my hope is to emphasize that all of them have fulfilled different needs.
Embracing Diversity through Metaphor: Connecting with Others by Employing the Four-Frame Model of Leadership
Susan Frey, Marywood University
One of the most challenging aspects of working with a diverse workforce is learning how to connect with people who see the world in radically different ways. Cultivating an appreciation of diversity is an expression of inclusive excellence and becomes a transferable skill that not only strengthens working relationships, but also enhances people’s wellbeing and ability to adapt to change. The disciplines of educational leadership and social justice advocacy have successfully employed metaphor to unpack and understand behavior when embracing racial, cultural, and generational diversity, as well as diversity of perspective and communication style. Metaphorical framing allows for the consideration of other ways of knowing that encourages the equitable treatment of others and enhances the appreciation of collaborative teams and creative decision-making. The use of one of these metaphorical framing techniques, the four-frame model of leadership, provides a positive, respectful, and practical mechanism for understanding people, situations, and environments in new ways. This leadership model challenges each individual to recognize previously unexamined aspects of their own behavior, and provides perspective for supervisory, mentoring, peer, and library patron relationships. In this presentation, the four-frame model will be presented via fictitious scenarios based on real-world situations of library environments as a way of exploring how this leadership model can be employed effectively and respectfully in responding to people’s behaviors. A bibliography of canonical resources will be provided as an introduction to the large body of literature on metaphorical framing models.
Lightning Poster Session: 1:30 p.m.–1:55 p.m.
Collegiality in Support of Student Veterans on two SUNY Campuses
Laurel Scheinfeld, Stony Brook University Health Sciences Library | Keith Pardini, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Suffolk County Community College
Student Veterans are often older than traditional college students since many return to school after military service. They can feel out of place on college campuses since they are more likely to have spouses & children, be employed outside of school, and have had experiences that traditional students may not easily relate to. Stony Brook University Libraries and Suffolk County Community College Library have each separately offered programs in the past to show support for Veterans and Military members on our respective campuses. When all library programming was required to be moved online due to the pandemic, it provided an opportunity to think creatively. We decided to reach out to our Community College neighbors and ask them to join forces on a novel idea to offer virtual events together. Suffolk County Community College is often a pipeline for students who plan to transfer to Stony Brook University so we felt this could be an avenue for building relationships that could provide multiple benefits. A film discussion and a ‘Literary Karaoke’ event were planned. These were ‘resource-light’ events that highlighted library collections and librarians’ availability and approachability. We found that students, veterans affairs staff and librarians from both campuses enjoyed meeting each other and participating in these casual activities together. The engaging discussions that occurred spoke to the excitement of the program and encouraged all participants to share their thoughts. There was a synergy in our efforts to make our Veteran and Military members feel welcome and to celebrate this aspect of diversity on our campuses. In this presentation we will share the details of how we planned, promoted and carried out these events which could be easily replicated in other institutions.
Mutual Aid through Mindfulness: Building Morale Through Partnerships
Dana Reijerkerk, Stony Brook University | Caterina Reed, Stony Brook University, Instructional Support Associate
Commiserating in our shared isolation, two early career librarians from immigrant backgrounds practiced mindfulness as a form of collegiality and mutual aid by actively investing in each other’s work projects and professional development goals. In this poster, we describe examples of how we shared reciprocal resources to support our individual and collective needs in Technical Services. We describe lessons learned from only just meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic and how working remotely shaped our workflows and partnership in anticipation of returning to onsite work. It will highlight how diversity of lived experiences and backgrounds fosters collegial relationships and forms a mutually-beneficial support network for early career librarians.