May 23, 2017

Obama Presidential Center Gets Mixed Reception at Unveiling

On May 3, Barack and Michelle Obama joined a crowd of approximately 300 Chicago community leaders at an invite-only forum to unveil renderings for the OPC and answer questions. “It’s not just a building. It’s not just a park,” the former president told the assembled crowd. “Hopefully it’s a hub where all of us can see a brighter future for the South Side.”

Tolerance Is Not Good Enough | BackTalk

In early 2017, a call for chapter proposals began circulating on library Listservs for a forthcoming book titled Tolerance: Social Justice and Activism in Libraries, Moving Beyond Diversity to Action. The aim of the book is to discuss how librarians can take diversity, social justice, and social change to the next level and promote tolerance in libraries. As a librarian, scholar, and educator who specializes in issues of diversity and social justice, and how to integrate them into LIS pedagogy and education, I was instantly taken aback by the use of the word tolerance. Tolerance and diversity are not words I regularly put together; in fact, I view them in opposition to each other.

Joy Doan and Ahmed Alwan: Examining Status Microaggressions and Academic Libraries

Ahmed Alwan and Joy Doan are research, instruction, and outreach librarians at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). A discussion of Jaena Alabi’s work on racial microaggressions in academic libraries led them to consider other intersectional microaggressive instances in that environment—in particular, status-based microaggressions experienced by academic librarians in their interactions with non-librarian teaching faculty. From that conversation, their Microaggressions & Academic Libraries project was born.

Conference Catch-Up

The 2017 conferences held by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L), in March and April respectively, covered trends ranging from diversity to emerging technology.

Jamillah Gabriel, Thinking Outside (and Inside) the Box

When Jamillah Gabriel, African American studies information specialist and the manager of the Black Cultural Center Library at Purdue University, IN, realized that there weren’t many book box subscription services that focused on African American literature—and those that did were targeted to children and young adults—she decided to start her own. In summer 2016 Gabriel launched Call Number, a monthly literature subscription box for adults featuring works by non-bestselling black authors.

Paralibrarian of the Year 2017: Patricia Pacheco

Just two years after she immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic, Patricia ­Pacheco landed a library assistant position as the first bi­lingual staff member at the Sterling Branch of the Loudoun County Public Library system in Virginia. She had been a kindergarten teacher for nearly 20 years and had dealt with children of all ages in her home country. Early on in her time in the States, she volunteered part time in the Ashburn Library of Loudoun County. So when the Sterling branch announced that it sought a bilingual staff member, Pacheco applied and was hired. That was back in May 2015.

Librarians Mobilize Resources, Information, and Solidarity in Response to New Administration

The results of the 2016 presidential election caught many by surprise. With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, and his immediate remaking of American policy through executive orders, public and academic librarians began to mobilize. From book displays addressing resistance and inclusivity, to graphics proclaiming that all are welcome in the library, to topical LibGuides, to online groups organized by discipline or principles, library staff and supporters across the country joined forces with like thinkers to do what they do best: share information where it’s most needed.

Louisville Library Workers Champion Preferred Pronoun Badges

Six months after librarian Valerie Pfister was told by administrators at Louisville Free Public Library that wearing a preferred pronoun button was a dress code violation, the library has honored its promise to list preferred pronouns on the library-issued name badges of any employee who requests it. The library also agreed to update the city’s Transgender 101 training with Pfister’s help, and offer it to any library employee who wished to take it.

Libraries Nationwide Seek to Foster Dialog

In the weeks since the 2016 presidential election, librarians across the United States have taken actions to foster dialog, confront intolerance, and reaffirm public libraries as safe spaces for all patrons. Whether as a reaction to the need to initiate community conversations or as a response to incidents taking place within the library, library employees are looking at ways to get people talking—and listening.

Public Libraries Grapple with Hate Incidents

From the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to its aftermath, incidents of hatred, anger, and intolerance have been on the rise across the country and beyond. Academic libraries have been the sites of several incidents, as have schools. Even public libraries, generally thought of as safe spaces for their communities, have not been immune.