Monday, April 17, 2017

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

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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

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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.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Countering Ableist Language in the Workplace


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Amy is a public librarian in New York City and they have a passion for reference work of all kinds. They are neurodivergent (ADHD, and learning disabled: nos), chronically anxious, and chronically ill and aren't afraid to talk about any of it. They believe education is fundamental and work hard to combat stigma against disabilities. (Amy uses They/them/their pronouns)

CW: For the use of slurs (particularly the r-slur and mental health related slurs) and a discussion of hurtful ableist language.


I find that ableism is something most of the neurotypical and non-disabled people I work with have never heard of. I find that even co-workers who fit within the various disabled and neurodivergent categories don't understand what it means or how it works. Particularly, there are a lot of misunderstanding about the realities and consequences of ableist language.  


Ableist language is insidious, nasty, and ingrained into so much of our everyday discourse that it can be difficult to begin rooting out. Disabilities, and thus disabled people our/themselves, are often the butt of jokes. Words like “insane” and “psycho” are solidly entrenched as appropriate adjectives to use when discussing people or situations that seem abnormal or even just annoying.  Individuals without mental health issues or learning disabilities may jokingly claim these identities when owning up to perceived mistakes or irregularities. The normalization of casual ableist speech is so pervasive that I catch myself engaging in it as well, for all that I'm disabled and neurodivergent myself.


It is important to steadily counter this perceived norm, particularly within the library, as we are often seen as authority figures, or educators. Not only that, libraries are billed as welcoming for all people, we should be mindful not to exclude people by careless language use. What follows are some examples of ableist conversations that I find myself repeatedly running into in the library, and how I counter hurtful “jokes” and slurs while educating against their use.