Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 2022 October 18

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

Library sensory spaces

Workers from three libraries — Ohio’s Louisville Public Library (OCLC Symbol: L7S), University of Wisconsin–Stout in Menomonie (OCLC Symbol: GZS), and Idaho’s Lewiston City Library (OCLC Symbol: IDLEW) — talk with Carrie Smith of American Libraries about products that make libraries more comfortable for users with autism, sensory processing disorders, and other disabilities in “Good Vibrations: Libraries supply sensory spaces.” They discuss how the products — the Experia USA Interactive Game Floor, the Alpha Egg Chair, and the Vibro-Acoustic Platform — are used in actual library settings, as well as the benefits and shortcomings.

Civil Rights Digital Library

The collaborative Civil Rights Digital Library (CRDL), created in 2008 as part of the University System of Georgia GALILEO virtual library, made its newly expanded site available on September 9, 2022. Fifteen years of updated content have been given a new online look to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the 1957 Civil Rights Act. The CRDL comprises three main components: “1) a digital video archive of historical news film allowing learners to be nearly eyewitnesses to key events of the Civil Rights Movement, 2) a civil rights portal providing a seamless virtual library on the Movement by connecting related digital collections on a national scale, and 3) a learning objects component delivering secondary Web-based resources – such as contextual stories, encyclopedia articles, lesson plans, and activities–to facilitate the use of the video content in the learning process.” The University of Georgia (OCLC Symbol: GUA) is home to the CRDL.

Threats to libraries

On September 27, 2022, the American Library Association Executive Board transmitted a “Letter of Concern” to FBI Director Christopher Wray “over threats that are being directed at public libraries and library workers.” The letter cites five public library systems that have been forced into temporary shutdowns recently because of bombing and shooting threats: Hawaii State Public Library System (OCLC Symbol: HISPL), Utah’s Salt Lake City Public Library System (OCLC Symbol: UUP), Colorado’s Denver Public Library (OCLC Symbol: DPL), Texas’s Fort Worth Public Library (OCLC Symbol: IFA), and Tennessee’s Nashville Public Library (OCLC Symbol: TNN). “Given the seriousness and proliferation of these threats of violence and other acts of intimidation increasingly taking place in America’s libraries, we are gravely concerned for the safety of library workers and the millions of Americans who visit libraries each day,” the letter states. Local officials and library directors are quick to stress that there is currently no evidence of “a direct connection between recent threats and opposition to library materials and programs.”

Expungement clinics podcast

The July 12, 2022, “Advancing IDEAs” post included an item about “Expungement clinics” offered by Worcester County Library (OCLC Symbol: RT9) in Snow Hill, Maryland, as one of the WebJunction resources related to libraries and legal services. Now, the Public Library Association‘s Public Libraries Podcast presents an episode “Hosting an Expungement Clinic at the Public Library,” involving the librarians who created the program in partnership with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. The library hosts bimonthly clinics that enable participants and lawyers throughout the state to connect virtually by using library-supplied laptops in the process of expunging criminal records, clearing the way to employment.

Raising voices

Children’s book author, former teacher, and immigrant workers rights advocate Alejandra Domenzain tells us “What Happens If You Don’t Teach Social Justice Books” in the September 2022 issue of the online newsletter Latinxs in Kid Lit: Exploring the World of Latinx YA, MG, and Children’s Literature. Domenzain points out six problems that we exacerbate when we deny representation to marginalized voices in schools (and libraries), along with examples of books that take a stand against each problem. “Let’s push back on the bans based on the impulse to silence inconvenient voices insisting on recognition, dignity, and rights. Book banning won’t help solve injustice– it just sweeps them under the rug so that we are not accountable for fixing them,” she writes. “We’re accountable for the world we create, and it all starts with the stories we tell our children and ourselves.” In the process, she also draws our attention to the nonprofit Teaching for Change and its Social Justice Books project, which seeks “to identify and promote the best multicultural and social justice children’s books, as well as articles and books for educators.”

Building in multilingualism

Nicholas Brown of Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (OCLC Symbol: MDK) in Maryland wrote “Three Lessons for Launching Successful Multilingual Programs at Your Library” first for OCLC’s Next blog on May 4, 2022. Then on September 22, 2022, the essay was made available by WebJunction. Brown recounts what his library has learned about expanding multilingual access and how others can apply the same ideas to promote inclusion: start your commitment anywhere, but start it and build; think creatively across everything your institution does; hire for the direction in which your library wants to head. “This is what multilingual support is all about—reflecting the people who need our content, programs, spaces, and resources,” Brown says.

Deportation databases

Mijente, “a political home for Latinx and Chicanx people who seek racial, economic, gender and climate justice;” the Library Freedom Project, which “provide[s] librarians and their communities with the skills necessary to turn ideals into action;” and Library Futures, “the think tank for the future of libraries” that is a project of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at the New York University School of Law (OCLC Symbol: YLS), will present a free webinar on October 25, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. “Databroker Dragnet: LexisNexis, ICE, and How Librarians are Fighting Back” will consider “how data brokers like LexisNexis (OCLC Symbol: MLG) and Thomson Reuters (OCLC Symbol: NYTHO) are increasingly contracting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (OCLC Symbol: DCICE) to sell databases full of personal information for use in deportations” and what libraries can do.

First Amendment in libraries

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, will present a free webinar, “The First Amendment in Libraries” on October 20, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The Indio Branch of California’s Riverside County Law Library (OCLC Symbol: RCI) organized the webinar.

EDI conversations

Episode 7 of the podcast Overdue: Weeding Out Oppression in Libraries from the Oregon Library Association (OLA) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism Committee is now available. In “Facilitating EDI Conversations,” recorded on July 25, 2022, hosts Brittany Young of the Lane County Law Library in Eugene, Oregon, and Ericka Brunson-Rochette, Community Librarian at the Deschutes Public Library (OCLC Symbol: DCH) talk with Priya Charry, Adult Services Librarian at the downtown Bremerton location of Washington’s Kitsap Regional Library (OCLC Symbol: YEQ); Nicole Rawlinson, a former Teen Services Librarian at Kitsap; and Leah Larson, an independent library consultant and former librarian, about workplace equity, diversity, and inclusion conversations. At the March 2022 conference of the Public Library Association, the trio presented “Facilitating EDI Conversations in Professional Settings and Public Programming.” Growing a more diverse workforce involves both the hiring and the retention of BIPOC employees.

Countering microaggressions

Two researchers report on how allies can take action when they witness microaggressions in any situation, field, or organization. Jennifer Kim of the Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University School of Medicine (OCLC Symbol: TFW) and Alyson Meister of the IMD International Institute for Management Development Business School (OCLC Symbol: MZM) in Lausanne, Switzerland, write in the Harvard Business ReviewHow to Intervene When You Witness a Microaggression.” Knowing what sorts of behavior to be alert to, speaking up in your own voice, and reaching out to validate an experience are means by which allyship may be expressed and made more common, an can lead to a more respectful and inclusive environment.

“Instructional Technologies and Accessibility”

ALA’s Core Instructional Technologies Interest Group will present a free and open e-forum, “Instructional Technologies and Accessibility” on November 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern each day. Melissa Johnson, Instructional Design Librarian at the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business (OCLC Symbol: ISM), and Breanne Kirsch, University Librarian at Briar Cliff University (OCLC Symbol: IOB) in Sioux City, Iowa, will “explore the impact of accessibility on instructional technologies; discover accessibility resources; and consider how instructional technologies and accessibility relate.”