Friday, June 02, 2017

Full-Time Library Staff: A Community Investment

Icons on a green background: human reading in black, a grouping
of people in gray. Text reads: "Full Time Library Staff: A Community Investment"

Lately there's been an underlying theme of the value of staff in online conversations I've encountered. If you haven't already, please go read "Grit? Git!" by April Hathcock, this tweetstorm on the realities of salary compensation by Lisa Hinchliffe, and "The Emotional Labor of Librarianship" by Julie Jergens. I'll wait.

EDIT 6/7: AND OH CRAP PLEASE READ "Vocational Awe?" by Fobazi Ettarh.

These posts have refueled some thoughts I've had for awhile on the social sustainability of librarianship: namely, recruitment and retention. And a few recent posts on a Facebook group I follow have underscored the reality of a large portion of librarianship today: working at several jobs with few hours, sometimes volunteering (I'm sure when some imagine a part time employee, they think of an employee juggling 2 twenty-hour positions; but in my conversations it's more like 4-7 different jobs at 5-10 hours per week each). Doing this wherever you can find a library job, sometimes thousands of miles away from your support network, driving up to 2 hours to get the job you found. Not being able to afford to take trips to see family or friends, little to no sick or vacation time, not qualifying for employer-offered insurance. When a sustainable, full-time librarian position opens up, you might be passed over for any number of related and frustrating reasons: Little to No Real Experience, Job Hops, Why Would This Person Want This Job When They Live Far Away?

The hiring end has its own frustrations with this reality. Often, really great candidates turn into beloved employees, only to leave less than a year later because they finally got that full time job. While it's true that money is saved in the form of the former employee's wages, job searches are extremely costly and it can be difficult to get people to cover the desk or other duties when you're down a staff member during this process. Sometimes it's "easier" to just get rid of the position.Which is totally understandable when budgeting-slashing time comes around, if we're being honest.

This is not a sustainable model, and it's not a model where productivity and morale thrive.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Perspective of an Autistic Children's Librarian at the ALSC Blog

Accessibility Series logo
I am so, so excited to share that there is an #actuallyautistic perspective on the ALSC blog. This has been a nearly a decades-old wish come true. I want to thank ALSC blog coordinator Mary Voors for her thoughtful consideration through this process, and the autistic librarian contributor--writing under the name Justin Spectrum-- for sharing their story.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Social Model of Disability in the Children's Area: ALSC Blog

Accessibility Series logo
Today I'm honored to introduce the community of readers at the ALSC blog to the social model of disability.  Framing your considerations with the social model of disability in mind can completely change the way we think about our space and service. I look forward to opportunities to dive in further in the future!


Monday, March 27, 2017

"All Are Welcome" Buttons: Now in Arabic!


Button with colorful text, "All Are Welcome"
in both English and Spanish.
Soon after a team of Oregon librarians made their bilingual "All are Welcome" buttons available, they received quite a few requests for Arabic.

I'm happy to share that this has become a reality!

Button with colorful text, "All Are Welcome"
in both English and Arabic.
The artwork for these buttons is by a local artist in the Portland, OR area. The artist generously donated his time to create the design and wished to remain anonymous, otherwise we would gratefully give credit where credit is due.

These buttons are now available on Etsy. All proceeds benefit EveryLibrary. So far, the team has raised $3,000 to support funding for libraries!

All questions should be directed through the Etsy shop.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Social Sustainability in the Workplace

A Venn Diagram that intersects social
sustainability with environmental and
economic sustainability.
A situation can be viable, but if it is not
bearable or equitable it cannot be
sustainable.
At our team meeting every month, a volunteer shares a sustainability tip to help us be more sustainability-conscious. This month was my turn, and I shared a little about social sustainability.

According to Social Life, a UK-based enterprise specializing in place-based innovation, social sustainability is "a process for creating sustainable, successful places that promote well-being, by understanding what people need from the places they live and work. Social sustainability combines design of the physical realm with design of the social world – infrastructure to support social and cultural life, social amenities, and systems for citizen engagement and space for people and places to evolve."

Social sustainability has many aspects to it, and you can read more about it at the United Nations Global Impact. Since our tips focus on small changes we can do today, I decided to focus on the one that might be the one the most immediately within our control. Namely, the idea that a workplace is not sustainable without employee retention; and workplaces lose money in production and staffing every year due to staff burnout; and it’s important with everything going on that we are sure to make our workplaces as socially sustainable as possible. I was in fact so happy to learn about this whole concept, because it rectifies the problems I have with the term "self care"-- while I was on board for awhile, "self care" has seemed to become this catch-all of workplace happiness and quite frankly, I've begun to think about it as a way that toxic workplaces can blame employees for their own low morale or other reactions to systemic workplace toxicity. This article helped to validate those feelings when I thought it was just me. I like viewing workplace culture through the social sustainability lens because it seeks to work on the workplace as well as the individual. It's about how we can make small changes to improve our workplace, not just about how we can steel ourselves against workplace toxicity as if it is an unexplained phenomenon that cannot be helped.

Stressful situations can flip your lid, and I know regular readers are familiar with this term but here is a video that explains it (it talks about kids, but we all need it!) Here are some things that have worked for me to stay engaged when it's tough:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Summer Reading Hype videos: Call for Contributors

Quote by Brene Brown written in black on a blue background. Text says:
"You either walk inside your story and own it or you
stand outside your story and hustle through your worthiness"
Source
All right everyone, I know a lot of us are feeling it right now. Doubling down to welcome our patrons, worrying about a bunch of different stuff. Perhaps your compassion fatigue is pretty high and  your regular attempts at self-care aren't working as well as they normally are.

I've got a post brewing that addresses this new normal, but until then, I figured I would put out this call:

Did you enjoy last year's Summer Reading hype videos?
Do you want to contribute to a culture of support in the Youth Services community?
Do you have tips, commiseration, encouragement or just plain humor that you want to share, connecting to others to lift each other up when the going gets tough?

I'm currently in search for volunteers to create a new batch of Summer Reading hype videos!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"All Are Welcome" Buttons

Button that says "All are Welcome" in English and Spanish
with colorful artwork
Public libraries are community spaces that are welcoming to all, and we need to demonstrate that now more than ever. Make a small gesture to show that you welcome everyone in your library by wearing this colorful bilingual button. (All are welcome / Todos son bienvenidos)

A team of library staff in Oregon is are selling these buttons in packs of 5, 10, or 20 on Etsy. 100% of the proceeds will be donated directly to EveryLibrary, a nonprofit which helps libraries across the nation win their local ballot initiatives. Consider buying enough to share with your local library workers and community partners.

The buttons are 1.75” across, and have the usual metal pin on the back. The team made the button design not library-specific, so that you could share them with other people in your community.

This is a initiative taken by some librarians working in Washington County, Oregon, on their own time and with their own funds. The artist generously donated his time to create the design and wished to remain anonymous, otherwise we would gratefully give credit where credit is due.