Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 19 March 2024

The following post is one in a regular series on issues of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility, compiled by a team of OCLC contributors.

Practical Approaches for Reparative Description workshop series 

DPLA’s Metadata Working Group has developed a workshop series designed for people working with cultural heritage data looking to deepen their understanding and practice of reparative description. Reparative description focuses on remediating or contextualizing potentially outdated or harmful language used in descriptive practices, ensuring accuracy and inclusivity (definition derived from Yale’s Reparative Archival Description). 

This series will cover a wide range of topics such as representations of gender and sexuality in cultural heritage data; description strategies for problematic collections, non-English language materials, and graphic images; and the use of Traditional Knowledge (TK) labels for indigenous cultural property. 

Through engaging presentations, discussions, and panels from invited speakers, participants will gain practical skills and insights to enhance their description workflows and promote a more just and inclusive environment. 

Approaching reparative description for the first time can feel challenging for many of us who have the right intent but worry about having unintended impacts. Learning in a welcoming community setting can help grow our confidence and build connections.  Contributed by Richard J. Urban.  

Wake County Public Libraries earn Sensory Inclusive™ certification 

On 14 March 2024, the Wake County, North Carolina Government website reported that the Wake County Public Libraries (OCLC Symbol: NXA) became the first library system in the state to earn a Sensory Inclusive™ certification from the nonprofit disability advocacy organization KultureCity®. The certification process ensures that Wake County Public Libraries staff are trained by leading medical professionals in how to recognize visitors with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. All 450 permanent WCPL staff members have earned certification. Each of Wake County’s 23 libraries has been provided with Sensory Inclusive signage, weighted lap pads, and sensory bags that contain noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, visual cue cards, feeling thermometers, and a KultureCity® VIP lanyard to create a welcoming experience. There will also be new programming including a Sensory Storytime designed to engage children who may find the regular programs to be overwhelming with smaller audiences, lower volumes, and sensory kits with headphones and fidgets. 

Providing services that create a comfortable and accommodating experience for library users with sensory issues should be the norm for all libraries. I agree with Wake County Commissioner Tara Waters that programs like these move us further “in our journey toward creating a more accessible and inclusive community for all.” Contributed by Morris Levy. 

Making virtual meetings neuroinclusive 

 Virtual meetings can cause exhaustion and anxiety (often called “Zoom fatigue”) in everyone. For neurodivergent people, these effects are often heightened because of sensory and cognitive overload. The blog post “A Neuroinclusive Approach to Virtual Meetings” by Victoria Tretis, a certified coach for neurodivergent workers. Tretis’ recommendations for online meetings include providing agendas in advance, considering the necessity of having cameras on, and using plain language by avoiding jargon and abbreviations. A Zoom blog post about inclusive online meeting practices also emphasizes the importance of a clear agenda and explains how Zoom’s avatar feature alleviates the pressure of being on camera while providing facial expressions. 

As someone with ADHD, virtual meetings can be difficult for me. The amount of visual and auditory stimulation increases with virtual meetings. In an in-person meeting, I can only look at one thing at a time, e.g., the presentation screen or a person. In an online meeting, I see multiple people and presentation content all crowded together on one screen. Reducing the visual stimuli is possible but requires me to actively change settings and rearrange windows on my screen. The impact of disorganization is magnified in virtual meetings, sometimes causing headaches, dizziness, or nausea. As Tretis notes, “… when we consider that neurodiversity means 15-20% of the world think, learn and respond differently than most, neuroinclusive meetings will, quite simply, become more effective.” Contributed by Kate James. 

Women’s History Month with the Towards Inclusive Excellence blog 

Toward Inclusive Excellence (TIE), the blog from ALA’s Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), reliably brings together diverse resources to keep libraries, especially but not only those that serve higher education, abreast of ideas and initiatives that can help move society forward.  To mark Women’s History Month — March in the United States — TIE makes available “Commemorating Women’s History Month with TIE and Choice Content.”  Webinars, interviews, blog posts, resource lists, reviews, podcasts, and other material from the past year on women’s rights, gender-based violence, and other aspects of women’s history can be found, as well as links to similar resources from the March 2023 Women’s History Month. 

For 2024, the theme of Women’s History Month is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion,” according to the National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA), which helped to establish the commemoration in 1987.  Then as now, the organization has been devoted to “writing women back into history.”  In 2023, OCLC worked with NWHA to create the Women’s History topic page on Because of the dynamic nature of the WorldCat bibliographic database, the preprogrammed searches included on the topic page are as up-to-date as WorldCat itself.  Contributed by Jay Weitz. 

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