Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 5 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.

Hand holding a blank framed sign in front of a blurry leafy background.
Photo by Rolands Zilvinskis on Unsplash

Teaching with primary sources, the African American Jewish community

Using resources primarily from the Library of Congress (OCLC Symbol: DLC), the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Partner Program funds grants to grow a nationwide network of organizations that create and share educational programming and tools. The TPS Teachers Network put together a collection of resources, “Celebrating Black History Month and the African American Jewish Community,” that looks at the complex relationship between these two communities.

Although February is designated in the United States as “Black History Month” these resources provide content of continuing interest and value. To borrow playwright Tony Kushner’s phrase, I am “an intensely secular Jew” who has had a lifelong interest in and fascination with Jewish kinship to other groups. The TPS album brings together resources on topics ranging from entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. to Black Jewish rabbis, cantors, and congregations. Contributed by Jay Weitz.

ALA CORE Interest Group week sessions on DEI

ALA CORE Interest Group week takes place the first week in March and features 30 different programs that are free for anyone to attend. The following IG sessions are particularly interesting to those working on DEI efforts:

  • 5 March 2024 2:00 p.m. CST: Conducting a Pilot for Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms Elizabeth Hobart, Interim Head of Cataloging and Metadata Services, Penn State (OCLC Symbol: UPM) – Register
  • 8 March 2024 – 10:00 a.m. CST: Homosaurus Usage in the OCLC Database: an Exploratory Analysis – Paromita Biswas (Continuing Resources Metadata Librarian), Amanda Mack (Cataloger in the Film & Television Archive), and Erica Zhang (Metadata Librarian for Open Access), UCLA  (OCLC Symbols: CLU & UCFTA) – Register
  • 8 March 2024 – 3:00 p.m. CST Diversity Audits and the Role of Technical Services Staff”, presented by Rachel Fischer, Member Services Librarian for Technical Services, Cooperative Computer Services (CCS) (OCLC Symbol: JED) – Register

IG Week provides a good resource for everyone working in cataloging & metadata areas. In addition to the DEI-focused presentations, there will be lots of good learning opportunities around next-generation metadata, workflows, and professional development.  Contributed by Richard J. Urban.

Applying toponymic justice to library spaces

Authors Natalia Fernández, Jane Nichols, and Diana Park explain toponymic justice was enacted in the renaming of a library classroom at the Oregon State University (OCLC Symbol: ORE)’s Valley Library. In the article, “Engaging in Toponymic Justice: Proactively Naming the Nishihara Family Classroom” (posted 7 February 2024 in In the Library with the Lead Pipe), they characterize the renaming of the OSU library classroom as “proactive naming,” that results in a name reflecting values, an inspiring person or other meaningful name, regardless of funding. (The classroom was temporarily named “2nd Floor West Classroom.”) The name “Nishihara Family Classroom,” primarily after Janet Nishihara, Director of OSU’s Education Opportunities Program, but including “family” for Nishihara siblings who had been student workers at the OSU Libraries. The classroom’s door contains text that gives context to the classroom’s name within the library space: “This room is named in honor of the Nishihara Family for the dedication to student learning and success.”

The authors place this OSU example in the context of the trend for many institutions to reevaluate their naming policies and change the names of existing spaces named after controversial people. However, their article is one part of a much larger and complex conversation about toponymic justice. The library classroom had a temporary generic name in 2019 when it opened. The renaming of the Louisiana State University (OCLC Symbol: LUU) main library building in 2020 from “Middleton Library” to “LSU Library” (a temporary name) is a more complex case. The library was named for Middleton in 1978 because of his accomplishment of having the new library built while he was university president. However, Middleton’s pro-segregationist views made keeping that name untenable. LSU’s decision to temporarily rename the library “LSU Library” may have been an imperfect solution, but it reflects the reality that removing a controversial name may be easier than providing a meaningful one. Contributed by Kate James.

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