Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 2023 March 7

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

International Women’s Day

Since 1911, International Women’s Day, March 8, has been “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women” as well as “a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.” The 2023 theme for IWD is “#EmbraceEquity.” “Celebrating International Women’s Day in Schools” includes all sorts of resources for librarians and teachers, book club materials, and reading lists. “International Women’s Day 2023 #EmbraceEquity Videos” invites submissions on this year’s theme and gives access to hundreds of videos submitted in years past from around the world.

Restorative library practices

On March 22 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Stephen Jackson, Restorative Justice Practitioner/Trainer and Director of Equity and Antiracism; and Tatiana Swancy, Restorative Practices Coordinator, both of Oak Park Public Library (OCLC Symbol: IUO) in Illinois, will present a free WebJunction session on “Creating a Restorative Library Culture.” Addressing and repairing the harm done within a community are the goals of restorative justice. Restorative practices can likewise be applied to enable libraries to serve their communities and staff more equitably and humanely. Jackson and Swancy will present both actionable strategies that can be implemented quickly as well as longer term means by which to build support within the institution.

“Universal Design at Your Library”

Also free from WebJunction, on March 31 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, the author of Creating Inclusive Libraries by Applying Universal Design will introduce the theory of Universal Design and offer practical advice about designing for inclusion. Drawing from her 2021 entry in the Library Information Technology Association Guide series, Carli Spina will offer low and no cost suggestions that any library can use to enhance accessibility and usability in the webinar “Universal Design at Your Library.” Spina is Associate Professor and Head of Research and Instructional Services at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (OCLC Symbol: UVV). During 2016/2017, Spina was the first chair of LITA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. LITA is now part of ALA Core, which has its own Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Empty shelves.
Photo by Miguel Pinto on Unsplash

Books in Florida

At Parrish Community High School in Manatee County, Florida, “bookcases have been covered with signs reading, ‘Books Are NOT for Student Use!!'” At Greenland Pines Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida, bookshelves have been “papered over to hide the books,” during the annual “Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida” in January, no less. Charles Bethea of The New Yorker writes about these efforts and more in “Why Some Florida Schools Are Removing Books from Their Libraries.”

Resisting book bans

In the February 2023 issue of Educational Leadership (Volume 80, Number 5), published by the nonprofit Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), two educators from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (OCLC Symbol: AZS) offer a “A Framework for Resisting Book Bans.” Daniel Liou and Kelly Deits Cutler “found that books written by and about women and people of color are disproportionately targeted for complaints and removal, restricting students’ access to the perspectives of an important segment of America’s population. Due to mounting political pressures, harassment, and even death threats, some teachers and administrators have had to recalibrate their curriculum plans and determine if such texts will be viewed as unpatriotic, anti-police, pornographic, or anti-white.” Their “critical inclusivity framework” posits five practices to help “reclaim contested curriculum materials” by researching student and community voices, reading the books, reinforcing formal reviews and legal precedent, reemphasizing relevancy, and reaffirming expectations for inclusivity.

Colorado librarian fired illegally

The Colorado Civil Rights Division has determined that the High Plains Library District (OCLC Symbol: SO$) in Greeley, Colorado, broke anti-discrimination laws by firing librarian Brooky Parks in 2021. She had objected to the cancellation of programs she had planned for LGBTQ teens and youth of color. It appears that this is one of the first cases in the United States where a state government found that censorship aimed at these groups violates anti-discrimination laws. The Denver Post of February 8, 2023, and CBS Colorado have reported on this case.

Library service in a time of book bans

“On a practical level, the added work and problems that have arisen from all of the challenges have really impacted our ability to pursue many of the projects that we want to take on to serve the community. It’s pretty discouraging to realize how much taxpayer money is being wasted as a result of these attempts at censorship,” says an anonymous librarian in “a medium-sized library in the Midwest” in “Notes from the Field: Library Work in an Environment of Book Banning,” by Susan Maguire in ALA’s Booklist Online. Maguire, who is Senior Editor, Collection Management and Library Outreach, at Booklist, interviews the librarian and the librarian’s supervisor, both of whom chose to remain unnamed to protect their jobs.

Active and passive censorship

Also in Booklist Online is an extended passage from Emily J. M. Knox’s 2022 book Foundations of Intellectual Freedom, “Excerpts from the Experts: Recognizing Both Active and Passive Censorship Practices.” In her research, the associate professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (OCLC Symbol: ILG) has identified “three primary themes” that motivate the removal of materials: concerns about the collapse of society, concerns for the innocence of children, and concerns for “community values.” Knox talks about “The 4 Rs” of active censorship: redaction, restriction, relocation, and removal, as well as such passive censorship practices of bias and self-censorship.

Information literacy and UDL

As part of its Carterette Series Webinars, the Georgia Library Association will present “Promoting Equity in Information Literacy Instruction Through Universal Design for Learning” on March 29, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Kristina Clement, Student Outreach and Sponsored Programs Librarian and Librarian Assistant Professor for the Kennesaw State University Library System (OCLC Symbol: GKJ) will address building Universal Design for Learning principles into information literacy instruction to increase the provision of equitable access to all users regardless of learning and communication styles.

Irish American Heritage Month

In the United States, March was first declared as Irish American Heritage Month in 1991. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (OCLC Symbol:  NAR) maintains an extensive collection of relevant articles, images, aids to research, and records on its Irish American Heritage Month page.  Photos, videos, and documents of various presidential visits to Ireland; immigration, naturalization, census, and military records; and stories of the Irish experience in America are included. In Reader’s Digest, Farrah Penn suggests “20 Books by Irish Authors to Add to Your Reading List,” ranging from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and James Joyce’s Ulysses to Anna Burns’s Milkman and Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies.

“Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (OCLC Symbol: EOC) published its updated “Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act” in January 2023, providing “information on how the ADA applies to job applicants and employees with hearing disabilities.” “Updated EEOC Resource Explains ADA Requirements for Individuals with Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace,” a brief article about the new document with links to related resources, appears in the February 2023 issue (Volume 20, Number 2) of the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) Library Worklife.

Trans Accessible Libraries Initiative

The Federal Depository Library Program will present a free FDLP Academy Webinar on “UNT’s Trans Accessible Libraries Initiative” on March 22, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Julie Leuzinger, Women’s and Gender Studies/LGBTQ Studies Subject Librarian, and Coby Condrey, Psychology and Technical Communications Subject Librarian, both of the University of North Texas (UNT) (OCLC Symbol: INT), will talk about the creation of the initiative and how it may be applied to federal depository libraries regardless of size. The Trans Accessible Libraries Initiative Library Guide “provides practical information and library resources for UNTs transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender variant, and gender diverse students.” It includes resources organized by topic and format, as well as a section “For Librarians” tracing the history of the initiative, collection development, outreach, best practices, and resources consulted.

Inclusive policies

The recording and materials from the recent webinar “Library Policies for Today’s Communities,” hosted by OCLC’s WebJunction in cooperation with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, are now available. Jennie Garner, Library Director of Iowa’s North Liberty Library (OCLC Symbol: N3L) and current president of ARSL, spoke about the vital importance of clear standards and policies for libraries to help ensure safety and equity for both workers and users. Garner relates how North Liberty Library reconsidered its operations through a perspective of inclusivity, enabling staff to be more empathetic to their public.

During comic book challenges

In the 2023 January 10 issue of “Advancing IDEAs,” attention was brought to “Preparing for comic book challenges” about steps to take before your institution receives such challenges. On March 15 at 5 p.m. Eastern, ALA’s Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table (GNCRT) will present the second free webinar in this three-part #LibcomixOnline series, “Preparing for Challenges to Comics and Graphic Novels: What To Do When You Get One” on what to do while such a challenge is in process. Speakers will include Ziba Pérez, public librarian, zine creator, and Los Angeles Zine Fest 2023 organizer; Kelly Jensen former teen librarian and editor at Book Riot; Dawn Zimmerer, Adult & Youth Services Director at Mississippi’s Madison County Library System (OCLC Symbol: M6L); and moderator Eti Berland, Youth Services School Engagement Librarian at Illionis’ Wilmette Public Library (OCLC Symbol: GP5) and member of the GNCRT Addressing Comic Book Challenges Committee. According to the registration site, “Attendees will leave with actionable steps for responding to challenges and making sure they aren’t alone in the fight.”