food for thought: another snowstorm edition

Just as the Northeast was digging out from blizzard Juno, another band of wintery whiteness blew across the plains through Great Lakes region and is now once again blanketing the Boston area with about a foot of fresh snow. Here are some of the stories that crossed my desk while hunkered down working from home.

Special thanks to the participants of the 1/27 #critlib chat where several of these pieces were originally linked.

Annie Pho @ APALA | But am I Really an Activist? Dealing with Impostor Syndrome

When I was first asked to write an article about being an activist librarian, I was really surprised that someone asked me to write about activism in libraries at all. I have never called myself an activist. To me, activists are very organized, well-spoken (and outspoken), proactive in spreading the messages of their cause, and inspire others to be better. While I do care about social justice, I often find myself struggling with the right response to those who critique social justice movements. I consider myself someone who is constantly trying to learn how to be a better citizen, not necessarily someone who inspires others. That’s when I realized the depths of impostor syndrome—always feeling like you are impersonating the role that you currently fulfill. Impostor syndrome is an issue in our profession, and something that permeates many spaces in librarianship.

Angela @ Without Edge | Job Interview as Performance Art

There’s this desire for a prescriptive answer for interview outfits, as though your clothes get you the job. Let me be clear: your clothes do not get you the job; your adherence to the white, middle class costume is what prevents your exclusion. The middle class costume is framed in the maintenance of surface, so much that entire industries are sustained by this desire. Plastic surgery, anti-aging creams, hair dye, vanity sizing, shapewear, dressing to look thinner, and conforming to gender performance expectations. If you like your anti-aging creams and hair dye, fine. They are part of the costume regardless of our empowerment from them. I like makeup. I feel more confident wearing it. But I can’t deny its role in middle class performance.

#critlib | Book CFP

This book will provide practical tools and activities to integrate critical pedagogy into library instruction. Short chapters introducing key ideas will alternate with lesson plans and workbook activities where readers will reflect on their own practice or walk through the steps to alter an existing teaching activity. This approach reflects our belief that all librarians can incorporate critical pedagogy into their teaching. One does not need to be an expert in critical theory to get started, but every teaching activity is an opportunity to reflect, learn, and incorporate theory into one’s practice.

We welcome proposals from anyone who teaches using critical pedagogies, whether in academic, public, or community libraries. We encourage proposals from individuals who belong to communities historically underrepresented in librarianship, and from those who work with learners from marginalized communities.

Victor Ray @ Conditionally Accepted | Reflections on Nominal Diversity in Academia

As a stopgap means of providing more support for race scholarship, students of color also organized a race workshop, providing a space for students, postdocs, and professors from across the campus and from other institutions.  The majority of white faculty in my department rarely attends this workshop—but this award gives them credit that work.  Further, faculty members get angry that students have the audacity to organize.  Essentially, for pointing out that there is a problem with racial inequality, you become the problem.  You have, after all, made (white) power uncomfortable.  The racial etiquette of our “colorblind” era means you’re rude for talking about such things.

bossladywrites | Not Just Surviving, But Thriving: How to Deal When You Can’t Get Out of Your Crappy Job

So, last week I gave my advice on knowing when to leave your job. But, what if you know it’s just shit, but you can’t leave. You are place bound. You have a home, kids in school, partner. You have a mortgage. Or maybe it’s because you just can’t find anything else. A full time job takes up the bulk of our time every week. And if this full time job is a part of your long term career goals, you have a lot vested in it.

I have only had to survive a real hellish job situation once. So, I am not an expert. But, here’s my advice (with some from my peers sprinkled in). You need to find out how you can not only survive, but thrive, until the right time comes along to leave. Also, before you go negative, the right time *will* come. This is a game of biding your time.

Chris Bourg @ Feral Librarian | Never Neutral: Libraries, Technology, and Inclusion

If you read the blurb describing this talk, you know that a fundamental tenet that undergirds this talk, and frankly undergirds much of the work I have done in and for libraries, is the simple assertion that libraries are not now nor have they ever been merely neutral repositories of information. In fact, I’m personally not sure “neutral” is really possible in any of our social institutions … I think of neutral as really nothing more than a gear in your car.

Homa Mojtabai @ McSweeney’s | Reasons You Were Not Promoted That Are Totally Unrelated to Gender

You don’t smile enough. People don’t like you.

You smile too much. People don’t take you seriously.

You’re abrasive, for example that time when you asked for a raise. It was awkward and you made the men on the senior leadership team uncomfortable.

You don’t speak up. We’d really like to see you take on more of a leadership role before we pay you for being a leader.

UC-Hastings | Double Jeopardy? Gender Bias Against Women of Color in Science (PDF)

We interviewed sixty scientists who were all women of color. Women of color face “double jeopardy” because they encounter race as well as gender bias (Epstein, 1973; Almquist, 1975). This study explores how the experience of gender bias differs by race.

Sarah Fenton @ AHA Today | Reflections on Ferguson and the Value of Historical Context

What made Session 245-A particularly well suited to unraveling that problem was not only the pressing importance of the topic, but also the variety of angles from which panelists approached it. Is it prosaic to talk about tools? There’s nothing prosaic about the tools themselves when handled by historian Colin Gordon; his maps and tables illustrate trends whose origins and impact can be hard to convey in words alone, uncovering chapters in the story of greater St. Louis lost in most reports on Ferguson last fall. Decade by decade, Gordon showed us neighborhoods segregated by race and wealth as “private and public strategies of exclusion overlapped and reinforced one another.” As black flight followed white, inner city poverty moved from the city’s near north side to its inner suburbs. “We’ve made some gains on wages and income,” Gordon concluded, “but the wealth gap is growing, and that is all about housing.”

Tylyn Hardamon @ NPR | The True Costs of Community College

Even though it was billed as bipartisan, Republicans did not welcome President Obama’s recent proposal to make tuition free at community colleges. It’s widely expected it won’t go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Congress, but it made us wonder what students at community colleges think about the plan. Youth Radio reporter Tylyn Hardamon went to his own campus to find out.

Jarrett M. Drake @ Medium | Marshawn Lynch and the Agency of the Silent 

Institutions that society empowers and funds to document our lives — including the news media and the archives — assume falsely that everyone wishes to be documented and reflected in the historical record. Moreover, we in these institutions take offense to anyone’s objections to our privilege to document their lives; particularly when we view the subject of the objection as someone who should be grateful to have microphones and cameras shoved in his face. “How dare he object to our authority to document?” As a result, when a person or organization obstructs our desire to document, we sometimes push them even harder, making us no better than the rank-and-file tabloid staff writer.

(via @NixoNARA)

What have you been reading? Share in the comments, via email, or on Twitter!

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