food for thought: #BlizzardOf2015 edition

As those of us in the northeast dig out from under a few inches to several feet of snow gifted to us by winter storm Juno, here are a few links I accumulated in my inbox over the course of the week. Thank you P.G. & K.S. for emailing additional stories to the Amiable Archivists list this past week — I hope others will feel so moved to share what they’ve been reading as well.

Intern Labor Rights | Labor Rights of Interns to be Argued in Federal Appeals Court

On Friday, January 30, the movement towards eliminating exploitative unpaid internships will take another significant step forward. Lawyers representing interns, employers, and, possibly, other interested parties will appear before a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The court is considering interlocutory appeal questions stemming from two lawsuits brought by former unpaid interns who asserted that federal and state labor law obliged their employers to pay them at least the mandated minimum wage. The decision the court renders will undoubtedly have profound impact for interns, employers, colleges, the labor market, the economy, and the movement to improve the working conditions for interns across the country.

Given the dependence of many LIS programs and under-funded repositories on interns to supplement professional labor, I hope y’all are aware of these national discussions. I’d be interested to know — via comments or email — whether any discussion about intern labor has happened at your places of work, and of so what has come out of that conversation.

Quarts | Can You Discriminate Without Meaning To? The U.S. Supreme Court Will Decide

The Wall Street Journal has a great story this morning on a big civil rights case going before the US Supreme Court. At issue: A prominent legal strategy called “disparate impact” that’s used to prove discrimination even in the absence of intent.

In other words, America’s highest court is going to decide if companies and policies can be accidentally racist.

Inside Higher Ed | Workplace Bullies

We found the most common type was a chaos narrative. The stories were the most extreme cases and focused on isolation and loss. Targets felt shunned by the bully and witnessing co-workers. They shared how the experience negatively affected their health, job, relationships and dignity.

Interestingly, when a co-worker offered support targets had an easier time organizing their thoughts and constructing their story so it was less chaotic. The ability for a target to tell their story to supportive co-workers allowed them to tell more convincing narratives about their experiences. This made the story more believable and helped targets deal with the situation.

Ryan P. Randall | Freire and Critical Librarianship

Ultimately, my question is less about how we should foster Freire’s problem-posing pedagogy within individual classrooms and more about how we can reshape education to enable it throughout our campuses and society. To me, critical librarianship is one approach, as it helps students become capable lifelong learners. Although librarians like Emily Drabinski and Barbara Fister have advocated critical approaches to librarianship for years, posts such as Brian Mathews’ recent column for the Chronicle of Higher Education show that “#critlib” is receiving attention in venues beyond libraryland.

Please do share any additional stories you’ve found thought-provoking … and for those of you facing the aftermath of Juno, stay warm, stay safe, and good luck digging out!


food for thought: slim pickings!

It was a week that pulled me away from my news feeds much of the time, and thus I didn’t redirect many posts to my “include in ‘food for thought’!” queue. Here, however, are a few items that did catch my attention.

Sejal Parikh @ The American Prospect | Labor at a Crossroads: How We Know We Haven’t Yet Found the Right Model for the Worker Organizations

If we had already found the right model for a powerful, scalable, sustainable organization uniting low-wage workers, then organizations like Working Washington would have learned what was happening at Wet Seal from the workers themselves, not Reddit. We would have been able to develop demands together, further amplify the message, and lay the groundwork for larger policy and organizing campaigns that confront the roots of income inequality.

s.e. smith @ this ain’t livin | Diversity Should Never Be an Afterthought

The thing is, diversity is often considered an afterthought, and experts in the issue are even more of an afterthought. It’s only after a conference is organised that someone bothers to think about the accessibility at the hotel, and the possible expense of sign language interpreters, live captioning, and other support for d/Deaf attendees. It’s only after a new office building is commissioned that anyone wonders if gender neutral bathrooms should have been installed, or if the buildings in the bathroom should be gender neutral across the board. It’s only after the events at a company training are planned that anyone stops to think that maybe there should be a workshop or class on race in the workplace.

The Rainbow Editor | 9 out of 10 Transgender Employees Discriminated Against in the Workplace

The U.S. unemployment rate for gender non-conforming individuals is twice the national employment rate and a staggering four times the national rate for transgender people of color.  Nine out of every 10 of those who manage to find jobs also report they have experienced some form of workplace discrimination.




food for thought: welcome to 2015

Welcome to a brand new year. I hope that the first weeks of 2015 have treated you well and that you are looking forward to new chapters. Here are some things that crossed my desk over the midwinter break.

Critlib Unconference 2015

UPDATE 1/6/15: Our registration has filled up! We are keeping a waiting list, please fill out the form on our Registration page if you’d like to be added to the list. We’ll be in touch as the unconference date draws closer. Thanks!

Where — Portland State University, Portland, OR
When — Wednesday March 25, 2015 (9:00-3:00 pm, tentative)

Library instruction, assessment, cataloging and classification, collection building, staffing, administration, and other functions of academic libraries are all political projects that librarians undertake inside institutions that operate under capitalist, patriarchal, and racist power structures that many of us aim to contest. How do we do this in both theory and practice? This unconference, coinciding with ACRL 2015, aims to bring together a diverse group of voices to address this social justice work from a range of perspectives.

Critical LIS: A Social Justice Blog for LIS Scholars and Practitioners

We, the undersigned, are academic scholars and professional practitioners in the field of Information Studies and Library and Information Science. We support the role of information institutions such as libraries, archives, museums and academic institutions in fostering social justice and specifically affirm the importance of evidence and documentation in making sense of, and resolving, racial and social disparities, and injustice.

Kevin Seeber | Affect, Evidence, and Oppression

The purpose of my writing this is not to wade too far into the #teamharpy debate, but rather to point out that this is a large discussion of “information” and “evidence” which is taking place within the library profession. Most of the people following this case and discussing it are people for whom “information” is something we take seriously. We often refer to ourselves as “information professionals.” And yet, it’s been fascinating to see how different people state their feelings about this case and the kinds of information they cite as “credible” to them. Once more, at the risk of oversimplifying things, I’ll summarize two of the main arguments as being “I’ve heard too much for these claims NOT to be true” or “Unless we have ‘evidence’ of specific cases, these claims are unfounded and unfair.” It would seem that despite our common background, librarians do not have a shared definition or taxonomy of “information.” I already suspected as much, but this case has really brought that to light.

Jonathan Sterne | The Pedagogy of the Job Market

The academic job market*which everyone I know simply shortens to ‘‘the market’’*is a magic word in doctoral education. It is an occasion for consolidation of professors’ authority, a liminal space that students cross in a rite of passage as they become professors, a means of explaining or justifying choices or advice, and a strangely personified entity. The market has good and bad years. It has whims and fashions. Like the Jewish god, it is temperamental, sometimes visiting its wrath on its Job-like subjects to test their faith; and merely speaking its name can be a form of almost mystical incantation in some settings. The market is the place where doctoral students and new PhDs focus their anxieties and uncertainties. So too for graduate teachers: decisions regarding curriculum are just as often justified in terms ‘‘the market’’ as they are in terms of intellectual or political values.

 Sinclair Sexsmith @ Sugarbutch | Things I, as a white sex educator, do to foster inclusivity in this community

On Facebook recently, Mollena asked: “White ‪#‎SexualityEducators‬: what are you doing to actively foster inclusivity? Diversify your audience? Support your Peers of Color?” [link.] I’ve been writing and writing and thinking about all of the things I’ve been reading and digesting around #blacklivesmatter and race and inclusion, and this question got me thinking hard, and answering with some clarity, and identifying some places I need to keep working.

Ginia Bellafante @ The New York Times | Raising Ambitions: The Challenge in Teaching at Community Colleges

One enormous challenge for community college instructors is that many students arrive with the notion that a college education is essential, but remain unconvinced that what they will learn during the course of their studies is equally so. To create a world of young people skilled at analysis you first need to create a world of young people receptive to complexity, and many of Dr. Vianna’s students, he said, “cringe at complexity.”

“There’s a mistrust and antagonism between teachers and students because authority hasn’t traditionally been good to them,” he said. “Their experiences in the education system have been coercive. It’s not really clear to them what the value of academic knowledge actually is. If they come here with the goal of doing something very specific — to become a stewardess, or a makeup artist — they may think, ‘What’s the point?’ ”

J. Maureen Henderson | Will Millennials Be Trapped By Traditional Gender Roles

Millennials view themselves as socially progressive and no one quibbles with this perception. They’re more likely to openly embrace their LGBTQ identity than other generations. They identify as politically independent and religiously unaffiliated. They support same sex marriage. More Millennial women value high-powered careers than do Millennial men.

It’s largely been a waiting game – made longer by Millennials’ delayed entry into the workforce and ambivalence about marriage and children – to see whether these lofty ideals would produce reshaped relationships between the sexes and a new emphasis on equality on the job and in the home. The early results are in and, unsurprising to cynics everywhere, Millennials are at risk of falling into the same gendered patterns as older generations.

Lauren Chief Elk and Shaadi Devereaux | The Failure of Bystander Intervention

Relying on who is most physically capable on a given day and on the unpredictable response of the perpetrator is not the answer to ending sexual assault. In fact, bystanLike Aaronson, I was terrified of making my desires known- to anyone. I was not aware of any of my (substantial) privilege for one second – I was in hell, for goodness’ sake, and 14 to boot. Unlike Aaronson, I was also female, so when I tried to pull myself out of that hell into a life of the mind, I found sexism standing in my way. I am still punished every day by men who believe that I do not deserve my work as a writer and scholar. Some escape it’s turned out to be.der intervention further serves to uphold a culture of patriarchy in which whoever can most effectively carry out violence, on institutional and physical levels, is most able to successfully carry out his agenda. There can be serious consequences to physically intervening. Bystanders who “did what they were supposed to” have ended up injured, incarcerated or killed.

Brynn Tannehill @ Everyday Feminism | 10 Misconceptions Every Trans Ally Needs to Understand

Some recent conversations I’ve had have revealed prevalent myths and misconceptions about transgender people that we need to move beyond. Simple definitions aren’t enough: we need to be talking about lived realities. So here’s your Trans 201 lesson on 10 common misconceptions.

Laurie Penny @ The New Statesman | On Nerd Entitlement

Like Aaronson, I was terrified of making my desires known- to anyone. I was not aware of any of my (substantial) privilege for one second – I was in hell, for goodness’ sake, and 14 to boot. Unlike Aaronson, I was also female, so when I tried to pull myself out of that hell into a life of the mind, I found sexism standing in my way. I am still punished every day by men who believe that I do not deserve my work as a writer and scholar. Some escape it’s turned out to be.

s.e. smith @ this ain’t livin | Why Do You Fight Accessibility?

I can never really tell if people are just defensive because they’re embarrassed about the fact that they’ve never thought about the issue, have done no research, and have not invested in welcoming disabled people to the spaces they maintain, or if they’re indifferent to disability issues, or if they just straight up hate disabled people. But I keep coming back to the same thing: Why are people so resistant to accessibility that they actively fight it? They whinge and complain and post passive-aggressive signs and beat their chests and tear their hair and rend their garments at the very thought of making an environment more accessible.

As always, share your own links by email, in comments, or via Twitter.