Friday December 1, 2023

8:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast, registration, and posters

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

President’s address and ACRL/NY business meeting
Liam Adler, President, ACRL/NY

9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.

Opening remarks
Ian Beilin, 2023 ACRL/NY Symposium Chair

9:20 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Session 1: Defining and Theorizing Slow Librarianship
Unpacking Slow Librarianship: Defining and Deriving the Many Meanings of Slow
Israt Abedin, New York University

Julia Glassman argues librarians should move away from the current trend of innovation fetishization in the corporatized environment of academic libraries. Instead, how can we center ethical and sustainable practices to move toward “slow librarianship?” To meaningfully approach a “slow librarianship” mindset, we must first unpack the many definitions of “slow.” This lightning talk will begin by defining “slow” in multiple contexts, from one’s processing abilities to more sustainable work practices. What truly comes to mind when people hear the word slow? I will draw on my own experience in service-oriented positions where I was sometimes referred to as “slow.” What are the underlying connotations of “slow” and how do they intersect with neurodivergence and disability? How do these perceptions of “slow” feed into the toxic hyper-productivity and innovation fetishization of current library practices? After acknowledging some of the negative connotations of “slow,” I will conclude by offering some suggestions and approaches librarians can incorporate in their practice as they interact with colleagues, students, and administration. These approaches seek to dismantle the current toxic productivity and innovation fetishization while centering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through a focus on neurodivergence in users.

Dialectical materialism and slow librarianship
Betsy Yoon, Baruch College, CUNY

This presentation offers a theoretical framing that will hopefully lend clarity to the aims of slow librarianship. The slow movement is not monolithic. Not only are there multiple foci (e.g., education, tourism, librarianship), but practitioners range in their perspectives on the dynamic between capitalism and the harms they seek to address through the slow movement. I argue that it is necessary to firmly ground slow efforts within a clear anticapitalist framework using the method of dialectical materialism. Dialectical materialism is a methodology of change in which not only the things themselves, but the relations between things and the dynamics of change that exist within and across phenomena are subject to analysis and understanding. The intention behind offering this framework is to arrive at a collective understanding of the aims of slow librarianship and embed these efforts within larger struggles.

10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Session 2: Slow Librarianship at Work I
Quick, quick, slow: responding to urgency and equity work with care
Cecilia Tellis, University of Ottawa
Sajni Lacey, University of British Columbia Okanagan
Donna Langille, University of British Columbia Okanagan

We, as librarians committed to equity work, reflect on Okun’s oft cited White Supremacy Culture Characteristics, specifically that of “urgency” and how this manifests in our organizations’ calls to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. In this panel presentation, we ask ourselves the following questions: Are we doing this work reflexively, carefully, and with intention? How do we build in time to pause, rest, and recover? Do we / our institutions value any of the principles embedded in slow librarianship? And are we, people who live with marginalized identities, practicing social justice through care, empathy for ourselves and others? How and when do we say no (often considered a subversive act)? We will respond to the way care work is exploited by institutions to perpetuate the marginalization of library workers while also acknowledging how caring (to ourselves, each other, and to our communities) is one way in which we can potentially slow down and resist urgency. As three academic librarians at different stages in their career (early, mid, “seasoned”), we will share our experiences in responding to workplace pressures and expectations around DEI initiatives and projects, while balancing our own needs, boundaries, and hopes.

10:50 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.

Break and posters


11:10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Session 3: Slow Librarianship at Work II — Recruiting, Developing, Mentoring
Taking it Slow at Summer Camp: Creating Structured Activities to Support Relationship Building at Work
Jillian Sandy, Binghamton University

With workplace structures, funding, and staff makeup changing, many of the frameworks that helped us to intentionally slow down and connect with our colleagues are missing. What can we do to carve out time for our social and emotional needs at work? This presentation will share how the Binghamton University Libraries addresses some of these challenges by initiating a “summer camp” for employees. Goals for the summer camp focus on providing support for building and maintaining work relationships, mitigating some elements of burnout, and encouraging employees to address their needs as a whole person. The summer camp structure means the Libraries’ team members have the permission and encouragement needed to make time for enjoying walks, lunch, arts and crafts, and friendly baking competitions during work time. Highlighting examples from the Binghamton University Libraries’ program, this presentation will share applications for creating similar activities based on concepts from slow librarianship that emphasize the value of time and the needs of employees as whole people. Participants will learn how to structure and scale a program that translates to their work environment, including tools for organization and strategies to gain buy-in from peers and administrators.

Embracing the Principles of Slow Librarianship in Mentorship
Israt Abedin, New York University and Long Island University
Sam Mandani, New York University

This presentation will explore how in a mentor-mentee relationship two women of color in early stages of librarianship, a current graduate student in a dual-degree LIS program and an early career librarian, embraced practices of slow librarianship within mentorship. We will outline our preconceived notions and expectations of mentorship, how we approached mentorship, and our reflections for the future. Each of the ways we approached mentorship, whether intentional or unintentional, retaliated against traditional forms of librarianship. We did not aim to topple conventional hierarchies present in the LIS field or tackle toxic productivity, but in some ways we did just that while also cultivating an environment of solidarity and collaboration between each other.

12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Lunch and posters


1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Session 4: Slow Librarianship in Action — Collections, Description, and Discovery
Driving in the slow lane: Improving digital collections one quarter mile at a time
Mikala Narlock, Data Curation Network, University of Minnesota
Hanna Bertoldi, Data Entry, Research, and Integrity Lead, Bowdoin College
Peggy Griesinger, University of Notre Dame

Recently, LAM institutions have begun to grapple with the biases in our systems and collections, with many institutions turning to increased efforts to make accessible materials that represent diverse and marginalized communities. Yet, when digital projects focus on the fallacy that more is better, and seek to digitize diverse collections under the guise of democratizing access, they fall short of achieving an equitable and inclusive sphere. Such work often uses the rhetoric of radical librarianship, but – consciously or unconsciously – sidesteps addressing the root of inequality in areas such as digitization, digital projects, metadata, and authority control. This presentation offers an alternative: slow down and make small improvements towards radical change. The presenters will discuss a number of practices to make this work more meaningful, including valuing maintenance work and workers, critically examining the use of linked data, changing how name authority records are created, and the use of dynamic digital collections.

Piloting Archival Processing: Insights from the Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) Archive
Steven D. Booth, Getty Research Institute

Acquired in 2019 by a consortium of philanthropic and cultural heritage organizations, the Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) Archive is co-owned by the Getty Research Institute (GRI) and Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Dating from 1942, when John H. and Eunice W. Johnson founded JPC, to the 21st century, the Archive contains over 4.5 million photographs of published and unpublished works documenting the Black experience, many of which were taken by staff photographers and featured in JPC’s 12 publications, most notably Jet and Ebony. In addition to the historically significant events and behind-the-scenes moments depicted, the Archive presents an unmatched and unique record of many facets of the life, work, and contributions of Black individuals, communities, groups, organizations, and businesses. In preparation for full-scale archival processing, archivists from the GRI and JPC project staff conducted a two-part pilot to test and evaluate the efficiency of the processing guidelines, workflows, and tools developed for rehousing and cataloging the photographs. This presentation will provide insight into the planning, preparation, and implementation of the JPC Archive processing pilot and offer lessons learned for cultural heritage professionals and the community to consider when working with large-scale archival collections.

2:15 p.m. – 2:35 p.m.

Coffee and dessert break and posters


2:35 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

Session 5: Slow Librarianship in Action — Instruction, Reference, and Discovery
Slowing Down with ‘Care’ in the Information Literacy Classroom
Adam Cassell, Dominican University of New York

This lightning talk will explore a hierarchical questioning technique that I’ve developed to aid meaning-making during first year composition research. The aim is to recognize that as students are thrown into the anxiety of freshman research, the default mode doesn’t have to be limited to that of the ‘writing producer’. A mode that sees information as harvested content propelled by rapid accrual of articles that are then plowed through with an extractive mindset — which can lead to struggles with later analysis and synthesis. There are other ways of being, namely that of the gardener, the cultivator, who is an active participant that creates authentic knowledge by asking and applying relevant questions. Using Heidegger’s concept of care (Sorge) transformed into a questioning worksheet, I invite students to recognize the state that they are in, but also provide them with the tools to wrest ownership of both the assignment and their learning. This caring/questioning approach helps clarify information needs (both individual and assignment specific) and chart a purposeful path forward through each resource. Meaning making is achieved through an active, hierarchical questioning that functions as a companion to confront sources, assess evolving research needs, and critique the source systems themselves. A lesson plan and worksheet will be distributed.

Slowing Down for Metadata Justice: On Learning to Trust our Bodies and Ourselves
Bailey Hoffner, Oklahoma State University

Indebted to the work of Black women writers Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, and Tricia Hersey, and the continued efforts of library workers from Sandy Berman to Emily Drabinski, this session will explore why slowing down is not only a viable approach to metadata justice work, but the only sustainable approach allowing us the restful space necessary to: see, understand, and subvert the structural discrimination built into our information systems imagine and create new systems truly trust ourselves. We’ll cover necessary steps towards creating an individual and/or group framework for metadata justice (based on a thoroughly constructed example) including the essential place of a non-punitive grievance process. We’ll also investigate how the persistent fear of scrutiny can contribute to our inability to slow down, if we don’t take the essential first steps of grounding ourselves in our principles. Essentially: the question should not be “will this look right to outsiders” and instead should be “do I trust that I have taken the time and the care to truly consider the impacts of this work?” Only when we truly slow down can we learn to trust ourselves in this work.

On the Importance of Personal Narratives: An Approach to Academic Reference Interviews
Tricia Clarke, University of the District of Columbia

As a form of conversation, reference interviews are uniquely positioned to embody several principles of slow librarianship, namely a focus on meaningful interactions, relationship building, collaboration, and community care. In academic libraries, reference interviews present especially significant opportunities to cultivate a sense of well-being within academic environments, where expectations of productivity, efficiency, and high achievements often dominate. Storytelling plays a vital role in human interaction, and personal narratives, in particular, offer unique insights into a person’s worldview and sense of identity and can help to foster essential connections. By making room for personal narratives as part of the academic reference interview, librarians can help foster a sense of belonging, positively impacting student success and staff and faculty job satisfaction. Additionally, by encouraging mindful conversations and transcending the limitations of purely transactional interactions, librarians can better understand patrons’ information needs and offer more effective assistance.

3:35 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Closing remarks and door prizes



Please note that all attendees are expected to abide by our Code of Conduct.

Embracing Slow Librarianship