Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Disability Community in the Library: The Class

A cartoon cat in a space helmet with a key, emerging from a fancy door with a galaxy pattern behind it.
(Accessibility series logo by Chris at On a Roll Designs)
(who also wrote this amazing post)

A year ago, after hearing about the massacre at Sagamihara  I felt a lot of silence from, like, everyone, but also specifically from my online library communities. A lot of feelings I've had in libraries since I began came to a very abrupt head.

I decided that the hurt I felt was powerful enough to identify myself plainly as the disability killjoy I've always been so scared of being.

Never feeling "disabled enough" to identify as disabled, and not abled enough to shake a person's hand, I fought my entire life to hold onto the illusion  of a modicum of abled privilege that passing gets me; only to live through experiences that reinforced, again and again, how little society regards me once it finds out I tricked it and ~SURPRISE~ I'm not the "normal" person you thought I was and HERE I AM, IN YOUR SPACE. OOPS. (oh, and also how little it regards PWD in general, usually while "passing").

No more of that. After a summer of near constant grief I realized I had no choice, as someone with privilege/power both socially and professionally, but to talk about my disability as openly as I could and amplify the existing voices of the disability community within the world of libraries. I was new, and learning, and I'm still far from calling myself an activist, but it was all I could think of to do.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

2017 Summer Reading Videos

Baby sloth sitting in a tea cup.
photo by Sam Trull of the Sloth Institute
Remember a few months ago when I put out a call for contributors for Summer Reading hype videos? Perhaps understandably, I didn't get quite the response this year than I did last year. But did want to share with you the submissions I DID receive, in case you need a pick-me-up to get you through the last few weeks:

Abby from Abby the Librarian talks about finding awesome moments to hold on to.

Rebecca from Hafuboti left us in stitches with a video about existential crises.

And lastly, Julie from Storytime Underground and Tales for the Tiny created a parody song about the trials of SRP (Admitting that I felt 900 years old for asking: this is a parody of Lady Gaga song. In case you are also 900 years old.).

A big THANK YOU this year to our contributors, and a big HANG IN THERE to all you staff on the front line of SRP. Your patrons are so glad you're there and I'm grateful for you.

Also, have some more sloths.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tells, Safety, and the Tenets of the Profession

Black text on a grey background reads,
"Tells, Safety, and the Tenets of the Profession"

Should we do outreach to hate groups?
No.


The above was originally the entirety of a post I wanted to make about a comment thread in a library Facebook group this weekend. Some participants seemed to argue that yes, it is reasonable and appropriate to ask your outreach librarian who identifies with intersecting marginalized populations to cold-call or visit an organization whose mission is to promote the eradication of those populations from America.


I'm not linking it here because I don't want to exploit or endanger the Original Poster, who was sincerely looking for help. Additionally, I encountered two additional threads in other groups that have mirrored past conversations I’ve seen in list-servs, on Twitter, and in real life, so clearly this is not an isolated incident. My post here can’t be as simple or snarky as I originally intended.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Let's Be Teammates at WCCLS!

7 people posing with Elvis masks.
This is the team you could join,
if you dare!
Y'all may not be aware how much I love my job but I really, really love it. Which is why I'm SUPER excited to say that WCCLS is hiring an additional Youth Services Librarian II to increase our capacity! Check out the posting below, and follow the link to apply!

Are you passionate about your vocation as a youth services librarian and looking to take the next leap on your career path?  Are you adept at building and maintaining collaborative relationships with library colleagues and community partners?  Are you keyed into youth services trends locally and nationally?  If so, we want to hear from you and encourage you to submit an application packet for this exceptional opportunity!

Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) in Washington County, Oregon is in search of a Youth Services Librarian II to complete a collaborative, forward-thinking Youth Services team. WCCLS Outreach and Youth Services works with our 16 member library sites to deliver high-quality services to our county's children and families, a population that continues to grow and change.  In the position of Youth Services Librarian II, you can expect to:

Be a resource and advocate for local youth services staff and the services they provide,
Act as a liaison and voice of local youth services staff to WCCLS leadership,
Create content for countywide campaigns including Summer Reading,
Collaborate with school districts and community partners around shared goals,
Represent WCCLS and our libraries at countywide meetings and events, and
Dream and scheme with the existing Youth Services Librarian II, the Youth Services Library Assistant, and others on the Outreach and Youth Services team to expand programs and execute brand new projects, including those funded by the annual Oregon Ready to Read grant.

To learn more about our program and the services we provide, please visit:  WCCLS Home

We offer a collaborative culture and work-life balance.  Working within our local government agency provides daily opportunities to serve, build and sustain communities now and into the future. In addition to being an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer with a commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce representing the rich diversity in our region.  Women, minorities, veterans and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

ESSENTIAL JOB DUTIES
30%   Coordination of Youth Services Activities - Coordinates countywide youth services activities (ages 0-18) including the Summer Reading program and programs geared to school age children. Provides support for the countywide youth services meetings.  Leads and facilitates group meetings and committees. Provides professional assistance to member libraries through resource sharing, training opportunities, and coaching to develop or expand programs and services for youth and families.  Works with member library youth services staff to propose, implement, and sustain countywide library initiatives. Maintains and expands various kits to be used by member library staff.

30%   Community Outreach and Partnerships - Coordinates library outreach to, and training of, child care providers and parents in partnership with countywide community organizations.  Provides early literacy training for child care providers and parents when service by a member library is not possible. Networks with community organizations that provide services to families and children.  Represents countywide youth services librarians at county/regional networking meetings. Acts as a resource on library service to youth for community partners.  Acquires and maintains necessary early literacy curriculum certification and training.

20%   Other - Develops content for print and electronic resources.  Creates and delivers presentations and print pieces to promote countywide youth services. Prepares monthly statistical reports on services and activities. Selects and orders necessary supplies. Assists in the development of the youth services budget.  Actively participates in local, regional, state and national organizations and professional groups that provide early literacy, young adult and youth services.

15%   Grant Management – Shares responsibility for managing the annual Oregon State Ready to Read non-competitive grant. Develops and sustains projects created through Ready to Read Grant funds. Coordinates the grant application and reporting process with 4 member libraries. Researches and applies for grants to support program goals as appropriate.

5%   Supervision – May employ direct supervision over assigned staff including training and mentoring.  May act as person-in-charge in absence of Senior Librarian.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES
Education and Experience
A typical way to obtain the minimum required knowledge, skills and abilities for this vacancy would be:

A Master's level education in Library Science from an accredited American Library Association (ALA) program or related field; and
Two years of recent and relevant professional level library experience providing youth services.
*****************************************************************************
Click here to view the job ad and apply! Give yourself ample time to answer the supplemental questions. The position opening closes July 16th.

I know you want to apply. We'v got so much good work to do together!

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.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Countering Ableist Language in the Workplace


Accessibility Series logo
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.