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.

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