Thursday, November 19, 2020

#NYLA2020 : Part 2 - Notes from the on-demand sessions I watched

The NYLA Annual Conferences included 32 on-demand sessions, which are available to participants through Dec. 31, 2020.  Below is the second of several blog posts of things that stood out to me from the on-demand sessions I watched.

Congrats! You’re a Prison Librarian – Now What?

Program Description: A panel of correctional facility librarians will share their experiences and how they are able to succeed at their job. Topics will include but are not limited to collection development, working with other facility staff, and programming. Leave the session feeling re-energized and ready to tackle the daily challenges that come with working in a correctional facility.

Program Speaker:  

  • Melinda Appleby, Senior Librarian, Willard Drug Treatment Campus
  • Matthew Cassidy, Senior Librarian, Woodburn Correctional Facility
  • Diego Sandoval-Hernandez, Correctional Services Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Andrea Snyder, Pioneer Library System (Moderator)

Brief Notes: 

  • Willard Drug Treatment Campus and Woodburn Correctional Facility are part of the NYS Department of Corrections. 
  • The speakers began by giving an overview of the facilities they work in/with and then talked about what they wish they had known when they took a position in/with a prison.
  • Cassidy gave an overview of the restrictions they work under in these facilities, e.g, no phones or smartwatches, no Internet access, limited "Internet" access for the incarcerated people through specific devices.
  • Sandoval-Hernandez gave an overview of what going through security is like at Rikers Island (part of the NYC jail complex). He goes through several security checkpoints during his day.  He noted later that most of his patrons at serving shorter sentences or are pre-sentence. This means that this facilities have  a high turnover.  This also means that books often go missing, because people leave quickly.
  • Appleby talked about what typical day is like for her. Some of her day is serving classes that come in (incarcerated people working towards their Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC™) [formerly known as the General Educational Development (GED®)].  
  • Cassidy also talked about his typical day. His library is in the same building as the classrooms and a gym.
  • Appleby's facility is a 90-day program. Because of that, she does not do active programming, but does do passive programming.
  • A program that Sandoval-Hernandez and his team does is "Daddy and Me." They work with parents who are incarcerated and do early literacy training. They are then recorded reading a children's book. They invite the family with kids to come in (if possible) and hear the story. The kids leave with the book and the recorded story. If the family cannot come, the book and recording are sent to the family.
  • Cassidy has done reading groups using public domain books that the incarcerated have access to on their tablets. Because they are public domain books, family members on the outside can read the same books.
  • Snyder noted that in non-pandemic times her system provides books through interlibrary loan to the facilities in her region.
  • They talked about collection development for their libraries/patrons.
  • Cassidy recommended The Prison Library Primer: A Program for the Twenty-First Century (2009).
  • Both Cassidy and Appleby have a background in security.
  • Cassidy encourages any librarian, who is interested in helping others, to consider prison librarianship.  He said it is incredibly rewarding to connect the incarcerated in these isolated communities with the information that they need. Sandoval-Hernandez noted that there are many other opportunities to volunteer in jails and prisons, and make a difference.

Organizing Media Literacy Activities for Prison Libraries

Program Description: Correctional facility libraries are critical sites for adult media literacy education.  United States correctional facilities house nearly a quarter of the world's prison population, many of whom are released after decades-long sentences into a society whose patterns of media engagement are distressingly different from the media landscapes they experienced prior to their periods of incarceration. Over the past three years, more than a dozen graphic novel-based media literacy education program sessions have been successfully conducted within New York State maximum and medium-security prison libraries.  The goal of this presentation is to share information about how these sessions were conducted and explore ways media literacy advocates and prison librarians can organize and facilitate graphic novel-based media literacy activities.

Program Speakers: Drew Emanuel Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Brief Notes:
  • He is interested in media literacy using fiction. His dissertation was How is Fanfiction Framed for Literacy Education Practitioner Periodical Audiences : Media Frame Analysis. He is the author of Framing School Violence and Bullying in Young Adult Manga: Fictional Perspectives on a Pedagogical Problem (2020).
  • Those who are incarcerated need to understand how the media (not just TV as media) has changed.
  • Media literacy in a correctional facility is often taught by simulating what is occurring outside of the facility. However, simulating does not provide the full experience. For example, you cannot simulate all of the aspects of a blogging environment.
  • In a correctional facility there can be restrictions to your pedagogy. You will not, for example, have the same tools available to you.
  • Berkowitz questions what the definition of a graphic novel is. Some are quite serious (e.g., From Hell), which others are more like traditional comic books.
  • He noted that facilities have content guidelines, which can limit what you are able to use with incarcerated people. The visual component may cause a work to not be allowed, but the non-graphic novel version may be permitted.  Very interesting to think about using Watchmen (e.g., Absolute Watchmen) versus Walking Dead, both in graphic novel form. One is more real life, while the other is fantasy with zombies.
  • My takeaways from this presentation are:
    • There is a wide variety of works that fall under the heading of graphic novel.
    • Graphic novels can help someone learn about and understand a topic in a different way. 
    • Because of the appeal of graphic novels, some people may learn about a topic that they would not have otherwise. Berkowtiz, for example, noted that most men have not read a novel about the lives of teenage girls.  A graphic novel could be a way of providing that perspective.
    • Part of what can be discussed about a graphic novel is its point of view. In other words, if it is fan faction, what make it different than the original? What is that point of view trying to teach us or get us to think about?
    • When you use graphic novels in a correctional facility, you need to be flexible. While you may not be able to use the work you wanted, you may find that you can use something else.

Visualizing A More Dynamic Annual Report

Program Description: It is vital, and sometimes mandated, for organizations to produce a document that shows how they are spending money and distributing their resources. Producing a comprehensive report of the library's yearly activity need not be an arduous task, and need not become the dreaded "wall of text." Thanks to modern, inexpensive publishing tools such as Canva, it is possible to create attractive and informative documents - even on a shoestring budget. Well-visualized data can be used for conveying information to key stakeholders such as: elected officials, patrons, and your wider community. In this workshop, we will talk about best practices for turning data points into visuals, software for creative reports, and printing options for the final product.

Program Speaker: Carolyn Bennett Glauda, Southeastern NY Library Resources Council

Brief Notes:

  • Very good presentation for getting you to consider what should go into your annual report and how they might look. It is good to think about what should be in your report, rather continuing to do what you have always done. She quickly reviewed a view tools and showed some reports that she liked.
  • She has been creating the reports with SNYLRC since 2012.
  • An annual report is a document for stakeholders that chronicles the past year.  It can include narrative of the organization's activities, making use of graphics and charts.  It contains detailed financial and operation information. This is different than the annual report your library might submit to the State Library.
  • Questions:
    • Who are your stakeholders?  Make a list of your target audiences, which might include the board, elected officials, future employees, voters, or donors.  You can be specific or general.
    • What do you want to highlight? What were the big events of the year? What made this year special? What are you proud to share with your stakeholders?
    • Where are you publishing this? In paper? Handed out? Emailed? Where will you keep archival copies? Where can you publish it so it is seen to more stakeholders? Do you need multiple formats?
  • Think about what things are worth, rather than what they cost. Convey value, rather than where you spent money.
  • Include data which your audience cares about the most, then connect it to a story. How did it change a life?
  • What was your best work in the year? Let that shine through. Keep track of your wins and successes.
  • Find your best images/photos from the year.
  • Make decisions on how you will publish. Online? Print? Hybrid?  How big do you want it to be? Do you need a shorter version for specific populations?
  • It is okay to look at other people's reports and see what they did for inspiration.
  • Resources:



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

#NYLA2020 : Part 1 - Notes from the on-demand sessions I watched

The NYLA Annual Conferences included 32 on-demand sessions, which are available to participants through Dec. 31, 2020.  Below is the first of several blog posts of things that stood out to me from the on-demand sessions I watched. 

Conversations with the New York State Librarian Access

Program Description: New York State Librarian, Lauren Moore interviews Interim Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York, Dr. Betty A. Rosa about NYS libraries. The conservation is continued with a panel discussion moderated by Ms. Moore. 

Program Speakers: 

  • Lauren Moore, New York State Librarian, New York State Library 
  • Nate Hill, Executive Director, Metro Library Council 
  • Grace Riario, Chief Executive Officer, Ramapo Catskill Library System 
  • Dr. Betty A. Rosa, Interim Commissioner of Education 
  • Arlene Way, Chair, Regents Advisory Council on Libraries 

Quick notes:

  • During this program the group used the word "library" and it generally seemed to mean public libraries.
  • Dr. Rosa comes from a K-12 background, so she thinks about libraries in terms of how they support K-12 education. This may mean that she is not automatically thinking of the breadth of what libraries do.
  • Digital equity is a topic that is important to the NYS Education Department both short and long-term.
  • When school districts turned to online learning, the digital divide became more evident.
  • Moore estimated that 25% of students in NYS do not have Internet access.
  • The need for libraries to have safe spaces for staff to talk with each other about what they are going through. 
  • Libraries have always had challenges, with some more than others.  Staff need to be able to talk about these challenges without fear of losing their jobs.
  • Grace Riario talked about library staff following up with community members who have requested information. They found that touching base with those community members was important, especially for those community members who were alone.
  • Libraries cannot solve every problem. Some problems need to be solved by other groups.  However, libraries do have the ability to connect resources. Arlene Way mentioned partners including the Chamber of Commerce.
  • What is the role of the library in the partnerships it forms?
  • NYSED is planning a digital equity summit for early 2021.
  • Hill talked about building digital collections - and how they are built - as being part of digital equity work.
  • K-12 schools need to reach out to public libraries as potential partners, and not just libraries reaching out to the schools.  I know that some K-12 school administrators don't understand how public libraries (or even K-12 libraries) can support what they do.

Bringing Low Vision Services to Your Library

Program Description: Learn how librarians at Westchester County Library System and Yonkers Public Library planned an executed the launch of VisionLab. VisionLab is a pilot program intended to pave the way towards more low vision services spread throughout Westchester County’s libraries. Staff will discuss the research process used to discover stakeholders, potential partners, and the state of low-vision services in Westchester County.  Attendees will also learn how the NYS Talking Book and Braille Library, TBBL, can be a valuable partner in providing reading materials to individuals who have difficulty reading standard print due to visual, physical, or reading disability.  TBBL staff will discuss eligibility for service, provide an overview of the program, and explain how to search and request audio and braille materials.

Program Speakers:  

  • Shawn Lemieux, NYS State Talking Book and Braille Library
  • Jane Bentley, NYS Library
  • Krishna Horrigan, Westchester Library System
  • Alan Houston, Yonkers Public Library

 Quick notes: 

The NYS Talking Books and Braille Library (TBBL) - Lemieux and Bentley

  • TBBL serves over 1400 patrons.
  • TBBL circulates about 1000 audio books per day on cartridge and 300 braille books per week.
  • TBBL serves approximately 2000 institutions, who serve TBBL patrons.
  • Playback equipment is provided for the audio cartridges (actually a USB drive in a larger cartridge) for free. This equipment is accessible for patrons with a wide variety of abilities.
  • Patrons can also download audio and ebraille books through BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download).
  • TBBL provides additional resources including:
    • NFB-Newsline - This is an amazing free audio service for those who cannot read the newspaper.
    • National Library Service for the Blind and Print-Disabled
    • Commission for the Blind
    • Bookshare
VisionLabs - Horrigan and Houston
  • The need: In the U.S., there are 52 million people who are 65 years old or older. Often people in this group can have difficulty reading print materials. In Weschester County (NY) there over 15,000 people who have difficulty reading print material, even when wearing glasses.  
  • In Westchester County, they interviewed people to understand they need as well as what services currently exist.
  • Learned that seniors often prefer low-tech solutions.
  • Grinton I. Will Branch (Yonkers) has created an initiative to seek out and service special populations.
  • What low vision services could they actually provide?
  • Newly blind adults often never learn braille, so building a braille collection did not make sense.
  • Thinking outside of the box - circulating objects.
  • VisionLabs components:
    • Hardware - sample or borrow accessible hardware
    • Education for patrons and library staff
    • Referrals
  • VisionLabs webpage
  • Accessible hardware is expensive. They were able to obtain grants to help with their purchases. 
  • Make your intentions known to potential partners. They may be able to donate funds or materials
  • With COVID-19, delayed their summer 2020 launch.  Looked at how they could work with this population online. Have been holding online programs.
  • Once libraries re-open, they can begin to acquire hardware and meet with people in-person.
  • A significant roadblock for organizations that serve this populating is marketing. They hope to boost the signal of other organizations,

Assessing Your Library’s Makerspace

Program Description: Since makerspaces appeared in the library more than a decade ago, these collaborative learning environments have grown substantially in number. As their presence has become increasingly common within our organizations, it is vital that we accurately assess their performance. The less-structured, occasionally freewheeling nature of makerspaces can make them notoriously difficult to evaluate. With that in mind, what kinds of data can we collect on our makerspaces, and what questions should we seek to answer?

Book cover

Program Speaker: Nick Tanzi, South Huntington Public Library. He is the co-author of Best Technologies for Public Libraries: Policies, Programs, and Services (2020).

Quick notes: 

  • This slides for this presentation are well-done and Tanzi really provided good content. If you attended the conference, you should watch his presentation.
  • Because makerspaces provide wide-open learning opportunities, they can be difficult to access.
  • Given our current situation in the middle of a pandemic. Tanzi encourages:
    • A flexible collection of statistics is important
    • Think beyond the physical location
    • Plan for tomorrow
  • Often times the origins of a makerspace are:
    • Excess meeting space
    • Downsized media collections or reference collections
  • This decision is made using hard data and anecdotal evidence
  • Assessment is important in creating a makerspace
  • The South Huntington Public Library makerspace sits where the reference collection used to be.
  • The SHPL makerspace contains an amazing assortment of equipment and capabilities!
  • What questions am I seeking to answer about my makerspace?
    • How many people are using my space? There are high-tech and low-tech solutions for gathering this information. How many times is the spaced used? Is the space being used by the same users (power users)? Foot traffic is different than use.
    • What technology is being used? Track machine outputs, equipment "checkouts," software launched, or even self-reporting. Tracking software usage can help you understand if you have enough (or too much) software licenses. Be upfront with your patrons that you are tracking use and why, and that you are maintaining patron privacy.
    • What are our users learning? Think learning outcomes. Are people working towards certifications (even library-specific certifications)? What are people learning overtime? Are you using a badging system, which is a form of self-reporting?
    • What value is being delivered? How can that value be communicated? Compare services to commercial alternatives. You should not be more expensive. Are you covering your costs? Is your value that you are providing critical access?
    • What else are the users interested in? Make your space user-driven.
  • Understand your internal and external customers. Track what staff is doing, as well as your patrons. How are staff using the space? What is being created that the library doesn't have to buy? Staff training has a value.
  • Strike a balance in how to collect data. It does not have to be onerous.
  • Yes, stories help. What stories does the data tell? Use data in the stories.  Package the data as a narrative.
  • Be honest in your data storytelling. Don't force a rosy story if it is not there. Maybe you have learned that you need better marketing or more programming in order to increase usage.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Article: How Controlled Digital Lending Makes an Entire College Library Available to Everyone Everywhere

There is increased interested in expanding access to materials through controlled digital lending (CDL), which I've written about before. Recently EveryLibrary published an article about CDL, its benefits, and how it preserves access.  The article begins:

Books have been circulating for thousands of years and have changed with new technologies and resources. The trends and demands of the digital world — where consumers access materials in electronic forms — means that many books that were published before the digital age are not available online or for e-readers. Librarians across the country are working on fixing this problem.
If you are interested in increasing access to materials in your library, consider reading this article to learn about the impact CDL has on the Marygrove College and its library collection.


Friday, November 06, 2020

#NYLA2020 : TERF Wars - Transphobia, libraries, and trans workers

Program Description: 

Several public libraries have played host to anti-trans speakers, despite community feedback and protests. Those libraries proceeded with events, citing freedom of speech. Trans people are dealing with a constant state of precariousness legally, socially, and in workplaces. How do we align library policies, ideals, the Library Bill of Rights, and our codes of conduct when it comes to speech attacking marginalized groups? How do we uphold freedom of speech without allowing it to be weaponized? What is our responsibility as information professionals to vulnerable members of our communities?

Program Speaker: 

  • Djaz Zulida, Brooklyn Public Library (they/them)

Dumpster fire with the text "breathe with me"
Brief notes

  • Zulida started with a short breathing meditation using the image on the right.
  • What is TERF? Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism
  • Why are TERFs using library spaces? 
    • Space is free/cheap.
    • We are community hubs.
    • Free advertising.
    • Library policies are value.
    • Neutrality and both-side-ism.
    • Free speech.
  • Noted three libraries that held TERF events and three that we able to avoid holding TERF events.
    • Megan Murphy is a person who is connected with several of these events.
  • A silver lining to the pandemic is no library programs, so TERFs cannot come in and use the library space.
  • How do we plug up the holes in our libraries to reduce vulnerability? How do we make sure our patrons are protected from hate-filled groups?
    • Codes of conduct
    • Meeting room policies
    • Union contracts
    • Can you go beyond state or ALA guidelines?
  • Use the time now, when you do not have this as an issue to review and revise your meeting room policy.  Be proactive. If it has been an issue in other libraries, it could be an issue in yours.
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20
  • What does trans inclusion look like?
  • Inclusive restrooms - menstrual products in both gender restrooms, etc.
  • Inclusive language - for example, "parents and guardians" rather than "moms and dads"
  • Pronouns - normalize sharing pronouns
  • What does trans inclusion look like?
    • Beyond Pride Month
    • Beyond Drag Queen Storytime
    • Collection development
  • Trans & Queer Alternatives to Harry Potter - Brooklyn Public Library has lists of books
  • Be mindful of what is happening in your community outside of the library. How can you support trans community members non-library settings?
  • Book list on Goodreads
  • New York Transgender Advocacy Group
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine Transgender Resources

Questions:

  • Do you have any examples with language we could use to refresh our policy? Look at LGBTQ and other organizations for examples. 
  • What do you suggest we could do to encourage a more inclusive environment but receiving pushback from staff and patrons?  Find allies who can help to advocate for this.
  • I use email signatures & put my pronouns on my Zoom profile, but I still often see patrons, presenters, and colleagues using the wrong ones for me. Is there a constructive way to emphasize these language shifts? Is there an ally who can help to advocate for you and take some of the weight off of you?
  • Does anyone have pronouns attached to patron accounts? Good question!  The information could go into the notes field. Would be interested in hearing from a library that is putting pronouns in the record. You would want patrons to be able to opt-in. 
  • Do ILS's allow for genders other than male/female or pronouns? Don't know.
  • I've heard different perspectives on the relationships libraries should have with Harry Potter due to the author's transphobia. I'd love to hear your thoughts on using Harry Potter in programming/taking up library space and if it can be appropriate. What do you think? Harry Potter is not the end-all or be-all. J.K. Rowling has taken toxic stance against trans people. Her impact does not stop with Harry Potter.  There are other ways of connecting with fantasy and wizardry without using Harry Potter.  Don't throw the books out, but on other works.  Some people will say to focus on the art rather than the artist, but it doesn't hurt to focus on other authors. Be creative.

FYI

 


#NYLA2020 : Author! Author! – Lester Spence

Event Description:

Lester Spence is a Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He specializes in the study of Black, racial, and urban politics in the wake of the neoliberal turn. An award-winning scholar (in 2013, he received the W.E.B. DuBois Distinguished Book Award for his book, Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics) and teacher (in 2009, he received an Excellence in Teaching Award). He can regularly be heard on National Public Radio and the Marc Steiner Show.

Brief Notes:

I could not take notes fast enough! Wow...I will definitely need to listen to this again, since it was recorded.
  • Spence started by asking that we stop and breathe to calm our anxiety.  We need to be prepared for the work that is coming.
  • There are higher levels of inequality than there were in the Great Depression.
  • The New Deal and programs in the 1950s-1960s lessened in inequality for a while. 
  • inequality increased in the 1970s due to inflation and unemployment.  That created a challenge for society and the theories used to problem solve the economy.
  • During neoliberalism (free-market capitalism) efforts worked against lessening inequality.
  • It used to be that wages rose as productivity rose. Thar ended in the 1970s when productivity continued to rise, but wages did not. Wages flat-lined.
  • It used to be that you did not need a high education to provide for yourself and your family.  Now the sectors that are growing which require more education.
  • Unions have been important, but union membership continues to decrease.
  • Welfare benefits have decreased over time.
  • The number of incarcerated have increased, beginning in the 1970s. 
  • Inequality is increasing within racial groups.
  • What does this mean for cities? An increase within cities of privatization, gentrification, etc.
  • What does this mean for libraries? 
  • Some libraries are being asked to function more like businesses. More "profit" focused or being assessed on a cost-benefit analysis.  More space or programming taken up for business like use. Decreased support by municipal spending.  More need for private donations.
  • The function of libraries has changed.
  • Social justice movement - Examples:
    • Occupy Wall Street - people were articulating the wealth gap. He believes this movement had a lasting impression.  
    • Black Lives Matter - There is an interracial aspect. Who is and who isn't worthy of political care. Also a reaction to the rise of the police state. While BLM hasn't generated policy shifts, he believes it is ongoing and that it is helping us think about our racial policies more broadly.
  • What roles do libraries play?
  • These movements were an ideological move. The 1970s was an ideological crisis. Institutions built on those old ideas cannot function.  In an ideological crisis, you need new ideas.  This is where schools and libraries step in. Libraries help us find old ideas and repurpose them.  It is libraries that have space for these discussions.
  • Libraries have been victimized by the neoliberalism era.
  • These movements represent what libraries are fighting for.
  • Whatever happens with the election, we are in the middle of a cultural war about truth. Libraries are not just a byproduct of social movements, they can support them.

Responses to questions:

  • Once you individualize taxpaying and create a taxpayer identity, that means they are more aware of if they are benefitting from their tax payments. Libraries need to be aware of what taxpayers want, but taxpayers cannot allow taxpayers to arbitrate what the library does. We are in a political movement, which means that people do need to take a stance for science and truth.
  • The increased used of algorithms on the Internet - creates personalized social networks and reproduces certain times of disinformation. We need to make a push to re-democratize the Internet, which will mean pushing against several large companies.
  • Are public intellectual spaces in jeopardy? Yes. We need to fight for the rest of our lives for these spaces.
  • Taxpaying isn't about me paying you.  Taxes are paid to provide for public services and the public good. 
  • How should we instruct our patrons to research the truth using the internet or books in print/online when all they have to do is google information which may or may not be factual? Libraries should begin to have programs on how to sift out the truth. Use music, movies, lectures.  Bring people together and not just individual conversations.

Comments on ALA:

Everything ALA is doing is important. Diversifying is important. We don't do that just for the people who are discriminated again, but you are also doing for the people who are in power.  For example, the people who really need to read about Black folk are White folk.

We need to articulate about the resources that libraries have. If you distinguish them by their communities, you will see that some communities have more resources that others.  Structural racism needs to be connected to this community dynamic.



#NYLA2020 : Malcolm Hill Lecture: Sites of Action How Libraries Advance Social Justice.

New Title: 

Is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Enough?

Program Description:

Libraries have long been places for community, learning, and sites of connection. Now more than ever, libraries have the responsibility and the opportunity to advance the stated core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to structural and systemic changes that advance social change. Developing an equitable, inclusive, and social justice organization requires buy-in and work from everyone, but without leadership’s vision and support many DEI initiatives fail to make systemic change. Dr. LB Hannahs, Senior Strategist at Tangible Development and scholar on strategic diversity change, will share practical tools leaders can take to be the driver of change in your library and help libraries become sites of action for the cultural shifts happening all around us.

Brief notes:

Wow...this session was packed full of information.  For those attending the conference, this may be one you'll want to watch the recording of more than once! 

I've tried to organize my notes by the different sections in Hannahs' talk, but I might have failed at it.
  • Hannahs is from Upstate NY and went to college in several places across Upstate NY. 
  • Hannahs began has a K-12 music teacher and then switched to higher education. 
  • Has worked in DEI in higher ed and in other places.
  • People who have experience issues with EDI and those in administration have different points of view. Hannahs understands and can make connections between them.

The evolution of diversity work: Inequity Regimes in Organizational Practice

  • Three P's - Pandemic, Protest, and Politics
  • The trajectory of the diversity field began in the 1960s. 
  • Implicit bias trainings take an individualistic approach. They have not made large change in what is occurring.
  • “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” ― Audre Lorde 
  • All organizations has inequality regimes.  Inequality is built into what they do. Organizations are not inherently neutral.
    • The basis of inequality.
    • The shape and degree of inequality
    • Organizational processes that produce inequality
    • The visibility of inequality and the legitimacy of inequality
    • Control and compliance

Tangible steps for change

  • The feel good parts of diversity can be damaging. We need to get to the riskier parts. We need to treat it like a disease. Working on this is not always pleasant.
  • Diversity focuses on numbers
  • Equity focused on policies and practices
  • Inclusion is the work to make ensure that all people feel that they belong. How do practice accountability? How do you manage conflict?
  • (Social) Justice is work that is focused on systemic or transformative change at the root of the problem and attempts to right historical wrongs.
  • Social justice practices = Anti-racist practices
  • Neutrality is no longer an option
  • Where Does Your Organization Fall on the Scale of Anti-racism? (2020)
  • Anti-Racist Organization Development

 How to be an anti-racist leader (did not get all the steps mentioned)

  • Think beyond equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Vigilant self-awareness
  • Acknowledge white supremacy and its impact
  • Reflect on your leadership team
  • Identify and acknowledge the problem
  • Do an assessment. Think tactically.
  • Define DEI for your organization. Where is it? How explicit is it?  It is integrated into your mission, etc.?
  • you also need to do strategy development, implementation, learning....
  • Anchor yourself and your organization in common language.

Questions:

  • Is a community an organization? Yes...but work internally first, then apply it externally. 
  • How do we respond to organizations that aspirationally call themselves anti-racist though they acknowledge they are “not there yet” to encourage the motivation for change without misrepresenting the current culture? Anti-racism is a practice, not a destination.  It is okay that you want to be one and to work towards it.
  • For a library just getting started, is it best to invite those interested employees in meeting regularly (with administration's support) to begin to form a solid foundation, then move toward all-staff and board education? Yes, bringing the people together who want to do the work is good. However, they need the skills, power, and budget. Be clear about purpose and capacity.
  • How do we help communities understand the difference between equality (the same for everyone) and equity (the need for some to be elevated or receive more in order to receive justice)? There are lots of good resources available on the Internet and many examples.
  • What if you are the only person of color in your workplace? Build your support network. Find your allies and accomplices. Understand your capacity on any given day to be "the" spokesperson. 
  • Our staff reflect the community. Some of them are racist. Any words of advice? Raise the expectations of what is permissible at work.

 


#NYLA2020 : NYLA President's Program

 This is a new program, because there can't be an Inaugural Banquet this year. The two speakers are the current President, Dr. Jennifer Cannell, and the President-elect, Claudia Depkin.

Questions for Jen Cannell:

Accomplishments as NYLA President?

  • Most proud of interaction with members and NYLA unit leaders. Conversations about what NYLA is, what people can do together, what NYLA can be, etc.
  • She recognizes how hard this year has been on staff and is proud of what NYLA staff has done this year.
  • At the start of the pandemic, NYLA had 2.5 staff members and now has 5.
  • A focus on core values.  The way the conference program is organized, you can see which sessions support which NYLA values.
  • First cohort of school librarians who are participating in the Sustainability program.
  • Because she is NYLA president, she has been asked to do professional development for school library systems (approx. 70 hours of professional development).

What had Cannell planned to do, but could not get done because of COVID?

  •  Two different task forces: 
    • Diversity - focus on understanding diversity and what it means for our organization.  How can we be culturally responsive? Review policies and procedures. How can it drive our work? Jeremy is leading this.
    • Pathways to Librarianship - What are the barriers in place for people who want to join our profession, but can't.  Tim Furgal is leading this effort. Your rank in the profession should not be based on the color of your skin or your socio-economic background.
  • Civil Service Committee
  • Strategic Plan - It didn't seem right to move forward with it during the pandemic.  Depkin can move forward with this in whatever way she sees fit.

Advice to Depkin:

  • Focus on the members. This is your why.
  • Your time and energy shouldn't be divided up like a pie. You have to give your time equally.
  • Use your team - council, committees, NYLA staff, and members. 

Questions for Claudia Depkin:

Triple Bottom Line Defined
Top three goals?

  • Launching the Sustainable Libraries Initiative outside of NYS.  Libraries across the U.S. - and even outside of the U.S. - are interested in this. All of the decisions a library makes can be viewed through the triple bottom line of sustainability.  This connects with social justice.
  • The two task forces - the work of both will inform each other, and inform the strategic plan.

What do you think people need to know about NYLA?

  • It is for everyone, not just public libraries. The way the president is elected reflects this.
  • 5600 members currently.  Hopes more people will get more involved.

Questions from the audience:

  • How will NYLA help the state libraries and library workers deal with {long list}? 
    • This is the question of our age.  The task forces relate to this as well as the Sustainability Initiative.
    • NYLA has been working with systems to leverage opportunities.
  • A previous session mentioned professionals leaving the field, particularly people of color. Will the work on pathways to librarianship also include focus on people already in the profession and pathways for them to grow within the field?
    • Yes, this is part of it.  The Pathways page will be (not up yet) https://www.nyla.org/pathways



Upcoming Webinars in November and December

I haven't posted recently about webinars I'm giving, so...

For the South Central Regional Library Council (and available to those who are members of ESLN):

Nov. 12 (10:00-11:30 a.m.) - Part 1: Communications: Stemming the Tide
This year, the methods we use for communication have increased, as well as the frequency of communication. Information is arriving in your inbox, through social media tools, on your phone, and other methods. How do you tame these streams and stay on top of the messages you are receiving? This webinar will help you think through the ways you are receiving information and how to ensure that you see important communications. We will also think through what your communication preferences are, and how to communicate your communication preferences to others. At the end of this workshop, you will have a set of action items to help you tame those overflowing streams of information heading your way.

Nov. 19 (10:00-11:30 a.m.) - Part 2: Communications: Being Understood
We don't just receive information; we are also senders of information. In this webinar, we will consider how to use the preferred communication methods of our teammates, and how to seek compromises. Because of the dominance of email, we will discuss email best practices, and then consider best practices for social media (both as individuals and as representatives of our organizations). At the end of this workshop, you will have ideas for new practices to implement, as well as ideas for possible staff or community member training. 

For the Central NY Library Resources Council (and available to those who are members of ESLN):

Dec. 10 (10:00-11:30 a.m.) - Webinar: SMART Goals – A How-To, Hands-On Working Session
When creating project, team, or organizational goals, we are often told to make them SMART. What does it mean to have goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based? How do you create SMART goals?  How does their creation help you think about your definition of success?

This 90-minute working session will teach you about SMART goals. In other words, how do you make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based, without making them unreasonable? You will learn what they are and then put what you are learning into practice by creating SMART goals for a project you have in mind. During the session, you will have time to work on your own goals and gain feedback on them from other participants.


Thursday, November 05, 2020

#NYLA2020 : What's new in employment law?

Program Description: How do changes in employment law, particularly New York State law, change what is required of libraries as employers, including new policy requirements, increased potential legal liability, and other concerns?

Program Speakers: 

  • Ellen M. Bach, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP 
  • Robert T. Schofield, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP 

Brief Notes

This session is always packed full of good information.  My notes will be brief and generally just note the topics, so they will not misleading.  Look for verified online resources to learn more, talk to your HR department, or contact an employement law counselor if necessary.
 
COVID-19 Related
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act is due to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. Bach notes that this applies to all of the employers "in the room."  This can apply to an employee who travels outside of NYS and now needs to quarantine.
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
  • Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act
  • NY Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave - This was passed before the federal act. This then became much less applicable.  The federal law covers more circumstances.  This does not cover an employee who travels outside of NYS and now needs to quarantine.

Long-Term Changes or New laws

  • New York State Sick Leave - This is not specifically for COVID and is for private sector employers. Effective Sept. 30, 2020 with leaves available beginning Jan. 1, 2021.  This is complicated.  Employers should have a written policy about this.  This law includes "sick leave" and "safe leave." [Personally the definition for "sick leave" seems like "wellness" leave, because it covers doctor appointments.]  "Safe leave" relates to domestic violence or domestic incidence. This does not apply to public employers.
  • Updated to the NYS Human Rights Law
    • Reduced Standard for Proving Harassment
    • Proving Unlawful Harassment - change to how to prove harassment
    • Training and Policy - Bach notes that it makes sense not to focus the training only on sexual harassment, but rather including all areas of discrimination or harassment.
    • Coverage - non-employee service providers are covered, and applies to all NYS employers no matter how many employees they have.
    • Litigation Rules
  • NYS Reproductive Health Law - If you have an employee handbook, this must be in the handbook.
  • Updates to the NYS Voting Law 
  • NYS Salary History Ban - There are interesting details here and some squishy areas.  An employer can ask about a person's salary expectations, but an employer should be very careful because it could lead to a discussion that should not be had.
  • Minimum Wage is going up on Jan. 1, 2021 and is based on location.
  • Federal law is increasing the minimum salary - I did not catch the details.

Questions:

  • Since we have sick leave already for staff by contract in place would you recommend changing it to PTO or sick/safe leave time?  Answer: Don't just tinker with the policy. When you revise your policy or create a new one, use the language that is in the law.
  • NY State recently passed a law that allows face shields instead of face masks as suitable face covering. How do we protect our immune-compromised front line staff and comply with this law? Answer: If someone comes in with only a face shield, offer them a disposable face mask.  Have a copy of the CDC guidelines to refer to.
  • Do staff members need to be given a copy of the sexual harassment policy every year? Answer: Provide the policy at the time of training, which happens yearly.  Give it to them in hardcopy or provide a link and have them access it.

#NYLA2020 : Beyond Thunderdome Regenerative Thinking for Libraries

Program Description: Is your library, library staff, building, programs, collections adding new capital to your community? Would you agree that your library is "bringing new and energetic life to fruition" by all you do? If the answer is maybe or no, then come explore the concept of regenerative thinking. Explore the concepts of capital, who are the true stakeholders in our community, and are they being heard.

Speakers: 

  • Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Mid-Hudson Library System
  • Matthew Bollerman, Hauppauge Public Library

Pentad imagw
Brief notes

  • The damage that we're seeing caused by climate change is going to get worse.
  • What if we put respect and empathy in the center of what we do?
  • "We think libraries can help lead the way."
  • Regenerative: processes that restore, renew, or revitalize their own sources of energy or materials
  • Examples:
    • The Eco Machine - Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY - "All the water from Omega's campus, including water used in toilets, showers, and sinks, flows to the Eco Machine™, where it is purified by microscopic algae, fungi, bacteria, plants, and snails. This natural water reclamation process cleans the water using zero chemicals. In large dispersal fields under the parking lot, the purified water is returned to the aquifer deep beneath campus."
    • Greyston Bakery creates baked goods so they can hire people. Building the post-COVID economy: The case for open hiring.
  • Pentad (see image above) - These five areas need to be in balance in your decision-making in order to be regenerative: Consumer, Community, Co-creator, Investors, Earth
  • Sustainable Libraries Initiative
  • Info from Bill Reed and the & Group (see image below) 
  • Kay Raworth TED Talk (16 min.) 
  • The US city preparing itself for the collapse of capitalism (2019)
  • The Santa Monica Wellbeing Project
  • Wellbeing Index 
  • Four libraries in NYS has been certified as sustainable and one in the wings, with 30 more on their way!

Image on steps to become resilient based on work from Bill Reed


Six steps on regenerative thinking for libraries


#NYLA2020 : Annual Meeting & Session on Privacy

NYLA Annual Meeting

Bacon
  • Jen Cannell, NYLA President, gave an overview of the year and how the pandemic affected NYLA.
  • A tough year with many changes.
  • Roger Reyes, NYLA Treasurer, provided an overview of the NYLA finances.
  • Lower revenues and a tighter budget.  Kudos to staff for managing expenses.
  • Jeremy Johannesen, NYLA Executive Director, provided highlights to his written report.
  • 1300+ people attended NYLA in Saratoga last year for the conference. 700+ this year for the virtual conference.
  • Jeremy talked about changes to NYLA's professional development offerings, advocacy efforts, bills passed by NYS, staff changes, etc.
  • Tim Furgal spoke about Pathways to Librarianship task force,which wants to expand the diversity of our library staff. People can join this effort. There will be a town hall about this on Dec. 3, 3 p.m. There will be more about this at the President's Forum on Friday. 

Lunch & Learn: Privacy - Make it Happen!

Program Description: Privacy is a core value of librarianship, but protecting and promoting this value often feels like an overwhelming and onerous undertaking. We have a professional responsibility to protect the privacy and confidentiality of our users' data and information regarding library use, and state laws may require libraries to safeguard patron privacy. However, there has been until now been a lack of practical guidelines for enacting concrete measures to protect privacy in the library. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, in partnership with the American Library Association, has sponsored the creation of Privacy Field Guides. During this interactive session, Erin Berman (@mohawklibrarian) will discuss these guides, along with other privacy-protecting tools and best practices. Join us to discuss privacy concerns and ask questions in a judgment-free zone, and leave empowered to improve privacy measures in your library.


#NYLA2020 : Keynote Address by Rebecca Miller: Hold Fast, Stay True

Bio: Rebecca T. Miller is Group Publisher of Library JournalSchool Library Journal, and The Horn Book. Born a twin and raised in a large family in the rural West, her background in libraries dates to 1998 when she joined the book review staff of Library Journal. In 2020, Miller was named Group Publisher, after a seven-year tenure as Editorial Director of LJ and SLJ. She guides the strategy and operations for these core library brands and is deeply involved in exploring the trends affecting patrons, libraries, and the library ecosystem. Among her accomplishments, Miller collaborated with the Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation to create the annual Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize for public libraries, which carries a $200,000 purse; initiated the LJ Index of Public Library Service (America’s Star Libraries); and envisioned and launched the ongoing New Landmark Libraries project. 

Under her leadership, LJ and SLJ have won a number of FOLIO Awards and honorable mentions for editorial coverage and design. Miller is the coeditor with Barbara A. Genco of Better Library Design: Ideas from Library Journal (2016) and Scales on Censorship: Real Life Lessons from School Library Journal (2015). Miller served for six years on the board of the National Book Critics Circle, two as president. Currently, she is a New York Library Association Sustainability Initiative cocreator and a trustee and treasurer of the Great Neck Library, NY. Prior to LJ, she worked at Utne Reader. She has a BA from DePauw University, IN, and an MSLIS from New York’s Pratt Institute.

Quick Notes:

  • Miller began by talking about her public library as it has been before and during the pandemic.
  • She showed LJ and SLJ headlines from the last eight months as a way of showing what libraries have been through since the pandemic began. This was really interesting, because I feel like we're in the middle of it all and have forgotten all that we've been through.  This would be an interesting slideshow (or something) on the LJ website.
  • What libraries do has changed over the last 8 months, but not the why.
  • Closing libraries for an extended length of time is unprecedented.
  • Every practice and habit has been impacted by COVID-19.
  • Resilience is being adaptable.
  • Our lives can be transformed and changed in a heartbeat.  What did we need to know? How will we do better next time?
  • Libraries - staff, leadership, and trustees - have been tested at every level.
  • Psychologically it was disturbing to suddenly close libraries (close the building).
  • The "open" has new definitions.  Libraries are open, even though their buildings are closed. Open by moving work online.  Open by using library spaces in different ways (e.g., creating masks in makerspaces).  Open through our wifi.  Open with staff working from home. Open by archiving what is occurring during the pandemic. 
  • Open by reaching into where people live. What does it mean when the home becomes the person's resource and learning center? What does it mean when a person does not have a home?
  • Libraries have felt an immediate funding impact and will feel the impact of the long-term recession.
  • Some places will see that libraries can help to spearhead their community's recovery.
  • Libraries can be part of the problem, e.g., racism. Libraries still have work to do.
  • What does policing mean in our libraries, when many have negative experiences with the police?
  • Good information can literally mean life or death. Society needs good information.  Continue information literacy training.
  • Can a community truly be resilient when it is racked with problems such as racism?
  • Apply our core skills to the changing dynamics. Do what we do.
  • Show people that they need libraries and work with partners on this.
  • Help people understand the past regarding racism and inequity, and then help the community move towards being an anti-racist society.
  • Libraries are space independent.

Questions:

  • Future articles on LJ/SLJ - They have been conducting surveys. Maybe too early to think about what has been learned, etc., because we're still learning. We're still in the pandemic.
  • Advice to MSLIS students - there will be library work and library jobs. Take the long view.  Invest this time in getting training and gaining a perspective on the field. 
  • Advice as we look towards another shutdown? Make staff feel safe and secure. Control the environment. Create protocols that everyone agrees to. Create redundancy.  Listen to library workers and frontline people. What are they hearing?
  • Any policies we should be monitoring?  Many! Those things that support digital resources, for example.  
  • About budget cuts...priorities. Recognize that you cannot do everything. Plant "seeds" for when resources come back.  
  • How can NYLA help address the problems we're creating in our own libraries? NYLA can support by driving conversations and asking questions.  Support trustee work. Help libraries and trustees dig into their policies.  NYLA should also look at itself. NYLA should model the work. 
  • Some of our library users are not online and thus do not know what we're doing now. How do we gain their support?

 


#NYLA2020 : Pre-conference COVID-19 Panel

View of the panel on the conference site
This was held on Wednesday afternoon (yesterday), before the conference officially opened on Thursday (today).

Program Description: This panel discussion will focus on the challenges faces by library leaders in making operational decisions during the past seven months. Library directors from different sizes and types of public libraries will share their insights on lessons learned and the challenges ahead.

Program Speakers:

  • Tina Dalton, Library Director, Cuba Circulating Library (small public library in southwestern NY)
  • Scott Jarzombek, Executive Director, Albany Public Library (7 branch library with ~140 staff members)
  • Caitlin Johnson, Library Director, Schuylerville Public Library (east of Saratoga Springs serving about 10,000 people)
  • Christopher Sagaas, Director, Utica Public Library (Utica has ~60,000 residents. 25 staff members when fully staffed. Furloughed 1/3 of staff.)

Quick Notes:

There was SO much more to this session that I was able to capture.  This was an excellent session for other directors, library staff, and other library people, because it provided information from different libraries with different points of view, that were all going through the same crisis.

Biggest challenges 

  • Moving to work at home mode. Assuring people had the right technology at home and work to do. (Sagaas)
  • What type of programs they could offer virtually and what did people want to attend. (Johnson) They didn't have great interest in virtual events for children, which she thinks was due to students already spending so much time on their computers.
  • From a leadership position, the human resources part was challenging. (Jarzombek) The emotional toll and extra stressors.  Hard to "read the room" when you're not in the same room with your staff.
  • To get the community to see that the library was doing virtual programming and getting them to connect with it. (Dalton)  Also had staff that were not immediately comfortable with newer technologies.

Now that limited in-person services have resumed, what are the challenges or what's surprising?

  • Telling people that they cannot hangout in the library. (Johnson)
  • Worried that people would be combative about the restrictions, but the community responded to the sound reasoning provided by the library and its board. (Sagaas)
  • Surprised by how slow it has been, since they reopened. It is picking up. (Dalton) 
  • Moving to a more transactional model takes more time. More logistics. Everything that took one person now takes two people (or more).  While the statistics are down, what they do takes more more work. (Jarzombek)  Answering reference questions is more like what librarians learned in school and are more in-depth.  They are communicating better because they are meeting weekly. They are using this time to fix some of their processes and make improvements.

What would you tell "past" you to put into your crisis plan?

  • This has changed their long-range planning. They are thinking further out. (Sagaas) He feels that putting more worst-case scenario into long-range planning would have been helpful nine-months ago.
  • Stock up on emergency personal protective equipment (PPE). Purchase laptops for staff. Spend more time on staff tech training. (Dalton) 
  • Know the why of what you're doing and what roles you need to fill. (Johnson)  Make the strategic plan is based on community input and keep the plan in people's minds.
  • Have a crisis plan and have a phrased approach to the plan.  Make it reversable, so you know what to do when you are coming out of the crisis. (Jarzombek)  Make it something you can share with stakeholders and with the public. He was lucky to have expertise on staff and on the board to help the library think about this.  Also look at what other libraries are doing.  Promoting the plan can help the public be comfortable in what you are doing.

Unsung heroes at your library during this crisis?

  • Circulation supervisor who figured out how to do library appointments. This person had retail experience. (Sagaas)
  • The children's librarian was able to reach out into the community to do online storytime and other programming.  (Johnson)
  • The youth service coordinator who did virtual programming and high quality videos. A library page did crafting videos. (Dalton) 
  • Core leadership group who did consensus building, took on new responsibilities, outside of the box thinking, etc. (Jarzombek)

What would you say to Gov. Cuomo on how can libraries serve their communities during COVID-19?

  • Traditional library services are still popular.  Wish the Governor had a better idea of how libraries operate and what they do. Wish libraries had been given better support.  (Jarzombek)
  • Libraries do more than books, e.g., farm to library, summer meals,  the social services side of libraries (Johnson)
  • Libraries are not just buildings in their communities. They understand the needs of their communities and work to fill those needs. (Dalton) 
  • Thanks for the press conferences and statewide leadership.  Wish that a public librarian had been part of those press conferences. (Sagaas)

As you think about operations over the next 1-2 years, what is keeping you up at night?

  • Income shortage which means they will do less than what they are capable of. (Sagaas)
  • We're not through this pandemic yet. We need to maintain relevance to the community. (Dalton) 
  • Have people's well-being in her hands (staff and patrons).  Libraries are continuing to evolve and fit new roles in their communities. (Johnson)
  • He has been vocal about airflow in libraries, etc. Has been following REALM, but would like someone locally who can translate what REALM is learning into information everyone can use.  Libraries are spaces in the community and those spaces need to be safe (e.g., air quality).  Need to focus on operations and facilities. (Jarzombek)

 


Monday, November 02, 2020

#NYLA2020 : Physical and digital library space

SocksAlmost a year ago, I headed to Saratoga Springs, NY for the New York Library Association (NYLA) Annual Conference. The sessions were good, as was the networking and I enjoyed being in Saratoga. Looking back, I wish I had known what this year was going to bring, so I would have enjoyed it even more. Now this year's NYLA conference will be an online event with both broadcasted and on-demand content. I know it will be an awesome conference, even though it is going to be quite different. There will be no quick lunches with colleagues. No fun meetups in the trade show. No alumni events. And no going to the bourbon bar or a new brewery.

There are always architects at library conferences. Last year one firm was handing out socks, while talking to NYLA participants, which is where I got these above. And of course, there are always companies that create library software.  In super hindsight, I wish we had asked all of them about the things that have become important this year:

  • How does your software support a library that needs to become completely virtual in the blink of an eye?
  • How does your software support remote library staff?
  • How can a library with open architecture pivot to something less "open"? 
  • What advice would you give your clients on making that wonderful library you designed become the physical space they need during a pandemic?

I don't think there are any architects speaking doing the conference, but it would be interesting hear what advice they have for libraries. Perhaps they could tell us how their designs are changing based on this pandemic. And for those involved in digital libraries, it would be interesting to hear what they are thinking about now. This pandemic isn't over, so it would be good to know what they are all thinking and doing. 

By the way, NYLA is Nov. 5-6.  I'm hope to post several blog posts about the event before it is over.