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.