Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Get to Know My New Blogging Intern!

2018 is shaping up to be a stellar year here at BDP. After my recent webinar with the Ohio Library Council, I was inspired to start a new periodic series about child management, so stay tuned! Additionally, we'll be returning to regular posts on youth services programming with the help of my new blogging intern, Jennifer!

I'm pleased to introduce Jennifer Johnson, School Age Program Coordinator at Johnson City (TN) Public Library! Of her job, Jennifer says, "I have been serving the school age population of Johnson City for about two years now and loving every minute of it!"

Brown-haired women (Jennifer) dressed in a red and gold tie, socks, and a white dress shirt
(cosplaying as Hermoine Granger) posing with a school-aged child
(Harry Potter celebration, June 2017)

Jennifer was game to answer some questions so we could all get to know her better.

What do you like best about working in a library? 
There are two things I love most about working in a library. The first is being able to help people. I love doing research and helping people find resources, especially when it’s something that’s more obscure. I love seeing their faces light up in appreciation when you are able to locate that super specific book or information that they need. It’s like a scavenger hunt and it helps people to see that they do still need the library and a librarian’s particular set of skills in today’s digital age. The second thing I love is geeking out with people about books that I love. It’s incredibly fulfilling to me to be able to share book recommendations with people and especially kids. When they come back and tell me that they loved the book and they want to talk about it and read more, there is no better feeling than that.

How do you approach library programming?
I really try to listen to what our patrons and our community express an interest in. Our library currently does not have a dedicated makerspace, but our families have expressed an interest in STEM programming, so I have begun a series of makerspace programs over the last year where we focus on a particular skill/material at each program, and have tried to incorporate it into other existing programs (coding with LEGOs, engineering challenges related to book club, etc.).

Besides patron input, I also try to pay attention to what’s relevant for the community at the time, especially when it comes to pop culture and other happenings. Right now, I am in the planning stages of a Star Wars Celebration for the release of The Last Jedi next week. This past summer, we were one of the libraries fortunate enough to receive eclipse glasses, and we had a couple of programs leading up to that. That was a huge event for our community even though we weren’t in the path of totality, but it was all everyone talked about for months.

Other than that, I just follow librarians on social media and look for ideas from them that I can adapt or tweak for my patrons. I love to see what others have successfully done and implement it for our patrons if there’s an interest.

Jennifer in a pink shirt with shooting start (cosplaying as Mabel Pines)
posing with a school-aged child. Child is giving the "thumbs up" sign.
(LibCon event, September 2017)

What is your favorite program you’ve ever done? 
Ooh, this is a really tough question. I have different programs that I love for different reasons. I guess if I had to choose it would be our annual Thrill the World events. For the past two years, starting in September, we have held practices to learn the dance moves to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and then on the last Saturday in October, we have a sort of flash mob performance of it at the front of the library. It’s part of a world record event that happens globally and everyone dresses up as zombies and has a great time!

I love this program for so many reasons, but the biggest one is the feedback I get from the patrons who participate. Our dancers’ ages have ranged from 4 to 60 in the past, and particularly, the older participants always express a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end for seeing it through. We host hour-long practices over the course of five weeks and then our culminating event is two hours long, plus all the time they put in at home practicing, and “Thriller” is not an easy dance! I am always so proud of them for taking on something so physically demanding and owning it. And our young patrons love the dress up aspect of it. One mom told me last year that her little girls and several others who were participating had a big dress-up/makeup party at their house beforehand and it was like they were getting ready for prom!

Another reason I love this program is that it tends to get the library some positive press and attention. It shows the community that we are not just stuffy shushers and peddlers of books. We have a wild side and we are not afraid to get loud and have fun!

[Bryce note: Check back in January for a full write up of this program! ARE YOU PUMPED FOR THIS YET ARE YOU]

Tell us about your biggest program flop! 
This past spring I tried to put on a homeschool project fair at our library. We had had patrons asking for special programs for homeschoolers for so long and we thought that would be an easy way to see if they would actually come if we offered something just for them. We advertised it specifically to all of our homeschool families and seemed to have genuine interest, but when it came down to it, only one kid actually signed up to show his end-of-the-year project and we ended up cancelling the entire thing. I’m still not sure where I went wrong on that one. Maybe it wasn’t the type of programming our homeschooling families wanted or maybe I didn’t get the word out with enough time in advance. For whatever reason, it just did not take off. So back to the drawing board on that one.

If could have any superpower, what would you choose? Probably telekinesis because I can be super lazy sometimes and I’m short so it would help me reach things in tall places. Also it’s basically like using the Force! You want the TV remote but it’s all the way across the room? Don’t get up! Just float it over!

Describe yourself in a GIF or a meme.
Wholesome Memes are my jam. Below is one of my favorites. =)

Cat with a birthday hat and a wand, looking like a wizard
casting a spell.
Text reads "WOOSH, you have my love and support"

Join me in giving Jennifer a warm welcome!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Librarians with Disabilities: Accessibility in Action

Accessibility Series logo by Chris Frantz (On a Roll Designs)

Amanda M. Leftwich is currently a Circulation Supervisor at a small fine arts college in Philadelphia, PA. She tweets as @thelibmaven. 

As a person of color with visible and invisible disabilities, navigating librarianship has been a complex and oftentimes frustrating experience. Most conversations about equity and diversity in librarianship solely involve race or gender, but exclude people living with disabilities or chronic illness. Dealing with health concerns in a rigid environment such as libraries can seem impossible; however there are ways to thrive in the field with disability.

Understand your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1991 & ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA)! Although these protections set in place by law they are under attack due to H.R. 620. It’s still important to learn about both laws. The ADA is the original law granting people with disabilities civil rights protections. The ADAAA expanded the terms of “disability” which previously had not counted learning disabilities under civil rights protections. Your disability may be under the protected class, but you have to learn the basics of the laws first.

Reasonable accommodation exists for a reason; use it. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) policy employees with a disability have the legal right to request accommodations to perform their job duties. For example, employers providing changes to schedules, assistive technology, an interpreter, removing job duties that are deemed harmful to one’s disability, and moving office space are all examples of reasonable accommodations. Employees may request reasonable accommodation at any time (including the interview process). One must provide written notification of outlined restrictions from a medical professional. Although most librarians shyaway from the topic of reasonable accommodation, it shouldn’t be avoided if it’s needed to complete job tasks! Most requests can be filled cheaply and without much hassle to employers.

Don’t feel the need to apologize for your disability. Most librarians are used to working with few colleagues. This can create familiarity in the workplace. However, this doesn’t mean that anyone has to give detailed information about their health issues. The only person who should be concerned about your disability is your health care professional. Others will frequently ask questions (to the point of harassment) about your illness, especially those that are invisible. Quite frankly, it’s none of their business. You don’t have to prove nor should you feel guilty about having an illness while “looking perfectly healthy”. You do not need to explain anything related to your health to your colleagues, friends, neighbors, or anyone that you aren’t comfortable with providing.

Save your Spoons. Spoonies (anyone suffering from a chronic invisible illness) understand the importance of pacing themselves. I suffer from Meniere's Disease, an invisible chronic illness that impacts balance and hearing. Some days, I have enough spoons to complete all of my duties and tasks. Others, I only have one spoon just to get out of bed. For me, saving my spoons means not completing certain balance-heavy library projects (shifting, moving heavy carts, or anything that requires lots of walking around the Library, etc.) and on my “drop attack” days; it means calling out sick. Prior to being diagnosed with Meniere’s, I had to call out frequently due to issues with vertigo. I felt like a failure until my parents reminded me that “sick days are there for a reason”. I never used sick days prior, simply because I wasn’t sick. Not even for mental health days; this was a mistake. Sick days (and personal days) are there for a reason- they aid in you allowing your body time to recover from an episode, if necessary. If you need them due to illness (or mental health), TAKE THEM. Never be afraid to put your health ahead of your job.

Have compassion for yourself. We all know that one librarian that’s been with the Library since they “graduated from Library school”. The super dedicated, always dependable person ready to answer a reference question in a jiff. Most importantly, never called out sick a day in their career! As a spoonie, this will not be your testimony. Perfection does not exist. You’ll need to accept yourself at whatever stage in life you’re in. This will mean accepting the fact you won’t be able to control your illness. You are more than your illness! Remind yourself every day that your self-worth doesn’t revolve around your profession, but life outside of work.

Acknowledge that others won’t get it. Others will question your illness. What’s wrong with you? Are you really sick? You look fine to me. Unfortunately, questions and statements like these will continue to occur. In the face of chronic illness, most people have no idea what to say. This is not your problem. Only you understand how your disability affects you. Don’t concern yourself with the thoughts of others.

Get involved in the conversations about accessibility. Unfortunately, the conversations about inclusiveness and access oftentimes exclude librarians with disabilities. Organizations like the Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and ADA Center aim to train and promote scholarship for disability justice. Although these organizations don’t fall under librarianship, we can carry the conversations had in those spaces into our field. Write about your experiences as a disabled librarian to library blogs (this one), chats, discussion boards, etc. Follow disability justice leaders such as Mia Mingus, Emily Ladua, Lydia Brown, and Haben Girma to get involved in a larger discussion about accessibility to bring these ideas into the libraries.

Compassion in libraries shouldn’t only be directed towards patrons we serve, but also the librarians and paraprofessionals working in these settings. Don’t be afraid to challenge the norm and fight for your place in the field. There’s more than enough room for all of us, including those with disabilities.

Want more on accessibility? Click here for more in the Accessibility Series.

Are you a disabled/neurodivergent/chronically ill library staff member who would like to guest post on BDP? Click here for more information on writing a post of the accessibility. Posts on accessibility by abled members of the library community are not accepted.

The Accessibility Series was made possible by a grant from Awesome Without Borders.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Be my Blogging Intern!

This post is now live at BryceKozlaBlog! Click here to view it.

This blog will be unpublished indefinitely beginning December 31, 2018.

Update your feeds to never miss a post!

To ensure no interruption of my content on your feed, be sure to add brycekozlablog dot blogspot dot com to your preferred reader. If you follow by email using Feedburner, you can subscribe here.

Apologies, but the redirect option for Pins will not work the way I intended. I'll update current links to link directly to the new archive as I migrate the content!

Thanks for being great readers, and I hope to see you over at BryceKozlaBlog.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Autistic Perspectives on Dr. Temple Grandin at the ALSC Blog

Do you remember Justin Spectrum, the first autistic librarian to write about autism at the ALSC blog? Last week, he published a new blogpost regarding his thoughts on The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin, a new biography for children by Julia Finley Mosca (illustrated by Daniel Rieley). It's a thought provoking piece. Please take a minute to read and consider it.

Representation has been on my mind recently, since I've been writing content on evaluating books with disabled characters for my upcoming course. You may remember that I started the entire Accessibility Series  with a story about how I didn't really see my experience with disability reflected in a book character until I was 29, and how dismayed I was to find that as whole the book was not well-received, because I wanted more. Justin, similarly, praises this book for its representation and potential for mainstream appeal, while lamenting that its subject can be problematic. He does a great job summarizing much of the autistic community's criticism of Temple Grandin, and I encourage you to dive in.

Lydia Brown at Autistic Hoya additionally outlines some ways that Temple Grandin is used by abled people as a "token" autistic person and the problems with that, notably: "Because she is autistic and her statements align with those articulated from an ableist sensibility, neurotypicals advancing the views that autism presents a problem of pathology can claim authenticity or legitimacy for their position through Temple Grandin's reiteration of the same sentiments."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Youth Services in Action: Here's What We Do

Black text on a green background:
"Youth Services: Here's What We Do"

When libraries consider disbanding age-specific departments, it particularly affects youth services in a way that it might not in other sections of the library. This tweet at Librarian Problems, which right now has 700 engagements between Twitter and Tumbler, plays on this idea: Homer Simpson gasps as he's met with a room full of babies; this GIF is accompanied by the phrase, "When a reference librarian wanders into storytime". In the episode this GIF comes from, the room full of babies is silent save for their pacifiers; in storytime, as we know, this is not the case.

It's a funny concept, which is why so many liked, retweeted, and reblogged it. But those engagements and the comments it's garnered definitely tell me: it's funny because it's true. 

I have no doubt that plenty of libraries disband age-specific departments in a supportive way that values the strengths of all staff, and I've even seen it happen at libraries in my cooperative. Heck, my program is doing this when we soon on-board our new Youth Services Librarian, as the two positions were originally conceived as "Early Literacy" and "School Services" but will now work in a more collaborative, project-based way. The pearl clutcher in me, however, is ever the cynic and the skeptic.

There are lots of things to consider when thinking about the design of services to youth in your public librarian, and librarians much smarter than me have already begun to tackle them. Karen Jensen of Teen Librarian Toolbox and Melissa Depper of Mel's Desk have some awesome, required reading threads. Kendra Jones started a Facebook conversation about a recently announced PLA Conference session; the post and comments are edifying and worth a read. Tess Prendergast wrote an open letter to PLA  about it complete with a citation list, and was able to get the title changed, at least. Please follow those links. I'll be here.

I am so grateful that my cooperative has a position like mine, and that it's valued so much we are expanding our program. I do coordinating things, but I also take advocating for youth services and our youth services library staff seriously. I try my best to help our library staff break down barriers to youth access and provide the highest quality services to youth possible. It's a job that can be tough but I'm honored that the trust has been bestowed upon me to do it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Accommodations and the ADA: Writing Policy to Exception

Accessibility series logo by Chris Frantz

I had a less shouty post brewing. I really did. It was about research or maybe it was about other favorite tools or trust and maybe I'll get to those later.

But then I found out about H.R. 620. And I thought about how little I'd seen about it yet. But then I read the intent of the bill, and I thought about how libraries sometimes approach disability, and I feel the need to talk about this instead. I also feel compelled to say that the appropriate response from abled people here is not outrage/shock. (Seriously, read that link, it's really good).

Here's what the link to H.R. 620 says: "The bill prohibits civil actions based on the failure to remove an architectural barrier to access into an existing public accommodation unless: (1) the aggrieved person has provided to the owners or operators a written notice specific enough to identify the barrier, and (2) the owners or operators fail to provide the person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to improve the barrier or they fail to remove the barrier or make substantial progress after providing such a description. The aggrieved person's notice must specify: (1) the address of the property, (2) the specific ADA sections alleged to have been violated, (3) whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier was made, and (4) whether the barrier was permanent or temporary."

Right now, the Americans with Disabilities Act puts the responsibility of ensuring accessibility on a building's owner, proactively. Meaning, if your building does not comply with ADA, whether or not anyone told you about it, or whether or not a disabled person had to compromise their humanity to tell you about it, your building is breaking the law. This bill would put the responsibility on disabled people to announce themselves in order to use a space effectively, in writing, not only the specific ADA non-compliance but also that they asked for assistance. One reason for this proposed change is that many, many buildings built before ADA passed in 1990 still do not comply, after 27 years, and their owners cannot be bothered to think about disabled people as actual people who need to use or work in their buildings.

FYI: There's a very good chance your library is one of those buildings.

Not that you need to be told that, of course; disabled people in libraries are reminded of their statuses as potential lawsuits all the time. I recently heard from a librarian whose library's elevator wasn't working, told that it would be "fine". When another brought up that people using walkers couldn't get through the exactly 36" wide hallway in a library during construction, they were told "no one will probably say anything, and they can't sue."

I really implore you to think about what it tells disabled patrons and staff when your ADA compliance is based on convenience and lawsuits rather than, I don't know, actually giving a damn that people can accessibly use your spaces.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"When You Find a Hill to Die On": A Tale of Workplace Toxicity

this image is decorative

A US librarian recently approached me about doing a guest post on the topic of workplace toxicity. I was honored, especially since I've been reading and writing more about workplace culture in my attempt to continue to foster a healthy working environment for myself and my team. They wish to remain anonymous.

CW: Sexual harrasment.

Can we talk about toxic expectations and working environments in public libraries? You know, the ones that tell librarians that we are meant to live for our jobs and that being a librarian is a sacred calling that must be honored by keeping our criticisms of the field very kind and positive.

Public libraries have a long history of building on a foundation of unhealthy cultures and they tend to be breeding grounds for harmful concepts in the workplace like a culture of poor boundaries and expectations of personal sacrifice. It creates an unspoken pressure to perform tasks outside your job description, to work up to and through burn out, and to shape our personal plans, like vacations, around the needs of patrons. It makes us more likely to sacrifice our personal time to work more than 40 hours a week. It sets us up for occupational martyrdom and there are very real dangers that lurk around its edges.

I have experienced an extreme version of these issues and, as a natural result, extreme consequences. When we’re reluctant to see problems and to raise concerns with our employers, they gain a false sense of their progress as leaders and they can easily start to think of poor working conditions as normal and necessary. This was my disaster and it led me to a place where, in addition to a lot of other minor abuses, I was expected to place myself in physical danger without complaint. I was a solo librarian (with backup from paraprofessionals) for a system made up of small town and rural branches and, as part of my position, I sometimes needed to work alone in a building. This standard of solo librarians is still so common in rural and small libraries, but even some urban libraries are built on the idea that staff should face physical danger and unhealthy working environments for the sake of work and our patrons. Maybe you haven’t faced working alone, but I bet you can relate to feeling the pressure to give endlessly because, well, you love your job don’t you? You want to provide the very best for your community, right?  (For more on this concept, check out Fobazi Ettarh’s blog post where she coins the term vocational awe.)

I feel so strongly that these kinds of toxic cultures need to be addressed that I want to share my personal experience with trying to do just that.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Prizeless Prize Wheel: My New Favorite Outreach Tool

A blonde woman in a blue sweater and dress standing
behind a table with a black tablecloth on it. On top of the table are
various pamphlets and other small giveaways. To her right is
an 18-inch, rainbow-colored prize wheel.

Last week my coworker Cynthia and I attended a Health Fair on behalf of our cooperative. It was a "tabling event", as opposed to an outreach event like a class visit. Those who have been following me for awhile probably know how much I've wanted to crack this type of event, how a couple years ago I started seeing the similarities between tabling events and brewfests; and my hard-held belief that, all other things being equal (for instance, we are tabling among other community organizations) we can be the most popular table on the block.

So. Last week: we were.

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

This post has moved. You can view it here. 

This blog will be unpublished indefinitely beginning December 31, 2018.

Update your feeds to never miss a post!
Here's the follow a page for my new blog for for Feedly.

To ensure no interruption of my content on your feed, be sure to add brycekozlablog dot blogspot dot com to your preferred reader. If you follow by email using Feedburner, you can subscribe here.

Apologies, but the redirect option for Pins will not work the way I intended. I'll update current links to link directly to the new archive as I migrate the content!

Thanks for being great readers, and I hope to see you over at BryceKozlaBlog.

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.

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.

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
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"
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.